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Thursday, April 9, 2015

An Open Letter to Kansas Legislators and Kansas Voters

An Open Letter to Kansas Legislators and Kansas Voters,
Writing an open letter is not something I would often do.  However, since direct letters to legislators have had no response and conversation about such issues is important, I thought this might be the best way to go.  

I always try to understand controversy from perspectives which differ from my own.  I want to be able to understand opposing views even if I find them unpersuasive.  So, I have contemplated the issue of threats to school financing from a point of view more conservative and more Republican than my own.  It is difficult to understand when it seems so clear to me future cuts to our school budgets will not benefit our children and will further disrespect and bring hardship to the teachers who are pouring their hearts and long hours of work into our children's education.  

But, I try to understand.  It seems the argument goes something like this: the tax cuts which have brought about our current revenue shortage will eventually improve our economy tremendously and are therefore worth our current hardships for the sake of future benefit.  Even if I thought this was a likely possibility, our own governor has referred to this as an experiment.  One might venture to call it a gamble since there is no way to be certain such an economic upswing will occur.  So, here is what I want to say to those who are supporting such a gamble: it is not your money with which to gamble.  This money which you would cut from the budget of schools to support your economic agenda belongs to our children.  It is their education, their future with which you are gambling.  

Investing in education affects everything from the economy, to crime, to health care and beyond.  Furthermore, consider many of us will grow older.  Eventually today’s students will be our doctors, architects, and engineers.  In the future when you get cancer, build a house, or drive across a bridge, their education will have crucial relevance to you.  

“But,” you might say, “the school financing formula was too complex and needed reform.  We are not really cutting school funding, we are just reforming the way it is done.”   Two years from now this could possibly be a legitimate argument.  However, as it stands we are replacing the school financing formula with a temporary system which has not been appropriately researched and has not had the input of experts, or educators, or students, or parents.  It is intended to be temporary until such research can be done.  The logic eludes me.  If my washing machine is functional but not to my liking I do not throw it out and wash my clothes in the river for two years while I research the purchase of a new one.  

So, to my fellow voters: Please, think it through and if you come to disagree with the way our legislators are handling school financing, let them know.  I am a liberal in a “red” state.  They don’t care what I have to say.  Maybe they will listen to you.

To my legislators: Get your hands off of our children’s money.  Find a way to fund your “experiment” which doesn’t hurt children, or the poor, or the vulnerable.  If you can’t find another way then take responsibility and repeal the tax cuts.  

A Concerned Citizen,
Sheri Ellwood

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