Clouds on the horizon
Published on -9/21/2012, 12:24 PM
As the students return to area schools, the hopes are that we will have an exciting and successful school year. Teachers and students share these hopes as we complete our first month of school. Students see the new year as the beginning of the next adventure, even though many of them won't admit it. As you walk the hallways of grade schools, middle schools and high schools, you can see by the looks on their faces that the majority of students enjoy the time with friends and teachers as they prepare themselves for the ultimate adventure of life after their K-12 education is complete.
But there is a gray cloud on the horizon that might not bring much-needed rain, but could have a dramatic effect on our schools.
As everyone is aware, the Kansas primary elections were held a few weeks ago. The results of those elections paved a path for a change in the political structure of Kansas that may be felt at our local level. Around the state, many incumbent legislators that tended to vote in a more moderate manner were defeated by their more conservative counterparts. With the general election to still be held in November, it would appear that the more conservative side of political factions in Kansas will assume a majority in the state Senate in the upcoming legislative session. If that holds true, Kansas would have a governor, House of Representatives and Senate all very like-minded with leanings toward a far-right conservative mindset. For many in Kansas, that would sound like a great prospect on the surface due to the conservative mantra of cutting taxes and reducing big government. What lies under the surface is what concerns educators around the state of Kansas.
In Kansas, slightly more than 50 percent of state spending goes to public K-12 education. When the governor or legislators talk about making substantial cuts to state spending, what will that do to local school districts? There are three probable solutions to that question. Schools will have to increase local taxes. They will have to cut programs such as art, music, vocational programs, etc. Or, finally, local communities would have to close the school completely due to lack of funding. Politicians are very careful when talking about taxes with their constituents when they ask the question "Are you in favor of cutting taxes"? Well certainly, we would all like to pay less in taxes. The appropriate question, particularly in western Kansas should be, "Are you in favor of cutting taxes if it means closing your school"?
School is back in session and children are excited to learn. Take an opportunity sometime to visit any of our schools and watch the great things that are happening. Then take some time to visit with those political candidates that could be our state leaders and ask them the question, "Do you support the schools in our community? Do you support the children of Kansas?"
Robert L. Young, Ellis USD 388 superintendent