A Kansas education advocate sees the potential light at the end of the tunnel for school funding based upon his observations of the oral arguments that took place Thursday.
“If the court accepts what was done now, even if they retain jurisdiction, then there may be a tendency to let this go forward,” said Mark Tallman with the Kansas Association of School Boards. “I think if the court rejects this, that will reopen the idea that will bring back some of that frustration on legislators as to whether, you know, they just feel things have gone too far.”
Education advocates are ultimately glad that Article VI is there and that the money has been invested by the Legislature.
“One of the things that has helped Kansas is to have some Constitutional language that at least somehow holds education up as saying, this is an absolutely core state function,” said Tallman. “The key that was mentioned a couple of times yesterday is, it really is all tied, when we talk about money, to the idea of are we improving education? What does it take to continue to serve the needs of our students? Those needs continue to change and frankly, get higher. We continue to expect more from our system all the time.”
The case, as it goes back to evidentiary arguments in district court that adding more money has seemed to help, but that help may not be easy to see right away.
“It’s going to take some time,” said Tallman. “I think everyone agrees. We’re putting money into early childhood. We’re not going to start having test scores on those kids for three or four or five years. We need to be making those investments now. We’ve argued that over the last two years, when you look at what districts have done, the positions they’ve added, the programs they’ve started, trying to address issues like teacher salaries, to make sure we’ve got good people in the classroom and supporting schools. That’s what we think will happen over the next five years.”
The Court has said they will take the arguments under advisement and likely render a decision next month.