Kansas values

The Kansas Way (Brownback Note Downbeat Mix)

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) speaks, in undated, uncredited photo.

“In the next three years I think we’ll have maybe the worst teacher shortage in the country―I think most of that is self-inflicted.”

Tim Hallacy

In November we learned that “Kansas will face a $279 million budget shortfall by July”; by April the crisis began taking shape as some school districts faced an early ending to the school year under such financial pressures as reality brought to bear. And all of this really is intentional; the economic hypothesis is validated, in the eyes of its creator, Arthur Laffer, because people will vote for it. The shortfall, of course, was unexpectedly larger than estimates tailored to make the destruction of Kansas government palatable had suggested, but even faced with this grim reality, Kansas voters re-elected Gov. Sam Brownback (R), asking for more of the same.

Rebecca Klein of Huffington Post explains how residents of the Sunflower State are now getting their wish:

Kansas school superintendent Alan Cunningham has been involved with hiring teachers for the past 35 years. In that time, he has never had a harder time filling positions than this year.

Qualified applicants for job openings in elementary schools or physical education “used to be a dime a dozen,” Cunningham said. Now Cunningham’s school district, Dodge City School District, is starting the school year with teachers in those positions who are not fully certified.

“We’ve had to go to substitute teachers,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham’s predicament is one superintendents throughout his state are facing. In Kansas, where teacher pay is low and schools are underfunded, hundreds of teaching positions throughout the state are still vacant just a few weeks before the start of the school year.

“This is the first year we’ve experienced a shortage as significantly as we are this year,” said Cunningham, referring specifically to his district. “We’ve had to combine some classrooms where we weren’t able to find a teacher and made class sizes significantly higher than we’d like them to be.”

Considering the conditions facing educators in Kansas, it is not an unlikely spot for a teacher shortage. Teachers in Kansas have some of the lowest average pay in the country. In 2014, the legislature voted to cut back on job protections for teachers that gave them certain due process rights if they faced dismissal. In June 2015, a three-judge district court panel said that the state’s school funding system is unconstitutional, in a ruling that was soon kicked up to the state Supreme Court. As a result of this funding system and pervasive tax cuts throughout the state that led to extreme revenue losses, several districts throughout the state had to end the 2014-2015 school year early because they did not have the money to stay open.

Capitalizing on the unrest among teachers, one school district in the neighboring state of Missouri even put up billboards in Kansas attempting to recruit dissatisfied teachers. Amid all this, an aging workforce has led to an increase in teacher retirements.

As one educator, Superintendent Tim Hallacy of Silver Lake Schools, explained, “In the next three years I think we’ll have maybe the worst teacher shortage in the country―I think most of that is self-inflicted.”

It is also by design.

This is the Kansas way.

____________________

Associated Press. “Kansas faces $279 million budget shortfall by summer”. KSN. 10 November 2014.

Klein, Rebecca. “Kansas Underfunded Education And Cut Tenure. Now It Can’t Find Enough Teachers To Fill Classrooms.” The Huffington Post. 31 July 2015.

A Note on “Family Values” in “Flyover Country”

In this May 3, 2010 photo, attorney Kris Kobach poses for a photo in Kansas City, Mo. When politicians and police across the county want to crack down on illegal immigration, they often reach out to Kobach, a little-known Kansas attorney with an Ivy League education who is the architect behind many of the nation's most controversial immigration laws. Kobach helps draft proposed laws and, after they are adopted, trains officers to enforce them. If the laws are challenged, he goes to court to defend them. His most recent project was advising Arizona officials on a new law that empowers police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Two words: Middle America.

Two more: Flyover country.

Do the phrases ring a bell, maybe hearken back to 2008 when Republicans condemned coastal liberals as treating the interior states like a foreign country?

How about two more words? Sunflower State.

And two more: Kris Kobach.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the chief architects of the anti-immigrant movement’s legal and legislative strategies, told a caller to his weekly radio program last week that while he thought it was “unlikely,” it would not be a “huge jump” to predict that the Obama administration could call an end to the prosecutions of African Americans for any crime. Claiming that “it’s already happened more or less in the case of civil rights laws,” Kobach told listeners that “I’ve learned to say with this president, never say never.”

(Blue)

This is standard fare for Kobach. Remember, people in Kansas elected him, not despite the lying and racist paranoia, but because of it.

The next time you hear a conservative crying about “Middle America” and how the nasty liberals in the Democratic Party―(What? All three of them?)―”hate” the “family values” of “Middle America”, remember that these are the values in question. Mr. Kobach’s tenure in office is its own condemnation of Sunflower State values.

____________________

Blue, Miranda. “Kris Kobach: ‘Not A Huge Jump’ To Think Obama Could Ban Criminal Prosecution Of Black People”. Right Wing Watch. 4 March 2015.