Power check and balance

Some of the most memorable situations from my elementary school years involve incidents on the playground during noon recess. Kickball was the go-to activity, and fairness was always subject to interpretation.

“Johnny” was the self-proclaimed individual who had the “rules” when there was a procedural disagreement. These rules did not always seem to be fair or consistent. The one consistency was that they always benefited Johnny’s team. One particularly heated argument occurred when Johnny stated that a home run was invalid because it went too far — crossing an alley. This home run scored enough runs that it would have won the game for not-Johnny’s team.

This analogy comes to mind in light of a proposal to change the state’s constitution. The groundwork to change the rules of the game has already been established. This is an attempt to eliminate the power of the Kansas Supreme Court to enforce constitutional compliance by the Kansas Legislature for the suitable education of Kansas kids.

A recent study was conducted and released by Lori Taylor, the researcher hired by the Kansas Legislature to evaluate the funding level for educating kids in Kansas. Her study was very consistent with past studies. To attain the educational results that have been identified as “suitable” through the Kansas constitution, the Kansas legislature will need to put more resources into education.

One controversial bill that has been proposed is to change the state constitution so that local boards of education are the only entities that are able to “close schools.” I am in favor of local control, but this constitutional amendment is not about local control; it is about eliminating the consequences that can be enacted by the Kansas Supreme Court. In essence, it is saying that this amendment is needed so that if the constitution is not followed there will be no consequences.

Do I always agree with the court’s interpretations? No. I do have respect for the wisdom of our forefathers in crafting a constitution that has sustained the test of time. I do not agree with having a kickball home run overturned because it is “too far,” nor do I agree with changing the constitution because it doesn’t agree with my opinion. I don’t believe in changing the rules just so my team will win – especially not something as monumental as the Kansas State Constitution.

Since the study authorized by the legislature reflects additional money to be put into education, I expect additional effort to be put toward a constitutional amendment limiting the necessary “Check and Balance” power of the Kansas Supreme Court. This is when the kickball home run just became too far.

I agree with the Kansas Association of School Boards’ Delegate Assembly position (see https://kasb.org/0109-2/) on the role of the courts: KASB supports the role of an independent judiciary in enforcing constitutional provisions. We oppose either changing the selection process for judges or limiting the ability of the courts to enforce those provisions, which would weaken the traditional separation of powers in Kansas.

Repeated studies all indicate the Kansas Constitution is not being followed with the education funding formula. Does a constitutional amendment that reduces the check and balance of power in Kansas help Kansas kids?

Todd Evans25 Posts

Todd Evans currently serves as Superintendent of Prairie Hills USD No. 113 in Kansas. USD No. 113 operates Pre-K through 12 schools in the communities of Sabetha, Wetmore and Axtell.

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