State school funding system ruled unconstitutional...in Kansas

Washington isn't the only state grappling with K-12 education funding issues. On March 2, the Kansas state Supreme Court ruled that the State of Kansas was violating the state constitution by not adequately funding public schools. Sound familiar? The Kansas City Star reports:

The court determined that the state is failing to provide roughly one-fourth of its public school students with basic math and reading skills. If the state fails to demonstrate the adequacy of a new funding system by June 30, then the state’s current system will become invalid, which would trigger a shutdown of the schools.

The Kansas court's ruling covered not just financial but also student-outcome concerns, "point[ing] to the achievement gap that exists between low-income and minority students and their peers," as well as to what it deemed inadequate proficiency among all students.

Here in Washington state, of course, lawmakers are racing to meet a 2018 deadline for full state funding of basic K-12 education, as ordered in our state Supreme Court's 2012 McCleary decision. In Kansas it'll be a full-fledged sprint, since they only have until June 30 of this year to comply. But the cost of compliance will be considerably less than here, with some estimates ranging from $535 million to $800 million (as the Star notes, Kansas already spends about $4 billion per year on education, making it the largest item in that state's budget).

To read our brief comparing the four major education-funding plans in the Washington state Legislature, click here.

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