Teachers and proponents of education rallied in Topeka, last Saturday to protest the education policies supported by Kansas Governor Brownback. Participants of the rally felt that the new methods are more harmful than helpful to the education system.
The protest fell on the 60th anniversary of the historical U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, which affirmed that segregated schools are unconstitutional. Protesters argued that that the budget cuts prevent the achievement of equal education opportunities for all students, which was the bedrock of the Brown case.
Members of the American Federation of Teachers and the Kansas National Education Association joined in the protest as well, to better advocate the issues. Speakers at the rally included Randi Weingarten, AFT president, Paul Davis, Kansas House Minority Leader and presumed Democratic nominee for the upcoming Kansas Governor race, and Reuben Eckels, Reverend of the New Day Christian Church in Wichita.
There were several key issues that led to the organization of the rally.
Largely unknown by many, the per-pupil funding amount from the state is not meeting the requirements set by the Kansas Supreme Court in a 2005 ruling, which set the base aid amount at $4,492 per-student. Since then, the amount peaked at $4,400 in 2009, and currently sits at $3,838 per-pupil for the 2014 fiscal year, according to a report by the Kansas Association of School Boards. In order to meet the Supreme Court mandate, the state would have to find $400 million.
The new education bill also included two other points of contention; a clause eliminating the requirement of teacher tenure, along with a tax-credit system that gives exemptions to corporations that award scholarships to at-risk students for private school education. The protesters voiced concerns that teachers may be fired for inappropriate reasons if tenure is eliminated. They also stated that there would be a weakening of the public school domain, as more students would be persuaded to seek private school education with the new tax-credit system.