Kansas gubernatorial candidates on K-12 school funding: Republican Jim Barnett

Last week, University of Kansas Political Science Professor Patrick Miller floated the following idea on Twitter:

We said, you know what, Patrick Miller? That’s a really great idea!

So we extended an invitation to the many, many candidates running for governor to share their plans for addressing Kansas’s K-12 funding situation. We asked them to “lay out specific ideas” and to keep it to 600 words.

And today we’re going to begin running the responses we’ve received. Look for more on Thursday and Friday.

We’ll start with Jim Barnett, the physician who was the Republican party’s 2006 nominee.

Here we go:

Excellence in education is the economic driver in Kansas. In Johnson County and across the state, Kansans know that and want to support our schools.

For most of the past 12 years, decisions on education funding have been stuck in court. The primary reason is that we have not funded schools equitably or adequately. We need to end the cycle. We cannot make the necessary changes we need in education if we are constantly arguing in front of a judge or arguing with teachers. We should work together for changes and innovations that will help our children succeed.

The Court has clearly marked school finance as inequitable and inadequate. I have traveled the state and agree with their decision. Tribune, Kansas holds school only four days a week. Wakeeney, Kansas does not have band, driver’s education and their only foreign language is taught over the Internet. Schools in Johnson County struggle with suicides, homeless children and poverty, yet are not adequately equipped with the tools to help.

A key concern is that the Court used what are known as Rose Capacities as part of their decision. These capacities stem from court decisions made in Kentucky in 1989. In 2014, the legislature set these capacities into law and tasked the State Board of Education with how to meet them. The State Board did what the legislature asked. That is the basis of the Court’s decision. The Court performed it’s constitutional duty of interpreting the laws of our state that were passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.

When I am Governor, I will get us out of court and keep us out of court. I will bring educators, business leaders and parents together to develop new educational standards that are pertinent to Kansas and that are measurable. We are now using 20th century standards when our children need a 21st-century education. The long-term impact of spending all our time in court is very harmful. Sadly, we are telling Kansas children that we do not value teachers and that we do not value education. This is extremely dangerous. We already have a teacher shortage. Other states are taking our teachers, where they are better paid and respected. I have heard educator after educator say that they tell their own children to not go into education. The economics do not make sense and state leaders have taken away respect from teachers.

We should fund education by increasing funding $600 million. That should be stair stepped over three years ($200 million each year). When I am governor, I will sign the legislation necessary to fund our schools adequately, along with other essential needs of government including infrastructure, KPERS and behavioral health.

We must invest in education and our state. Economic development and education are joined at the hip. That is why people move to a community that supports good schools.

In 2016, we elected a functional legislature. Now, we need a functional governor.

Thank you.

Jim Barnett