Andrew Ujifusa at Education Week (“Kansas Ruling Fuels Debate on Adequacy of Funding”) quotes me:
But the union’s solution of significantly higher funding for schools isn’t the obvious or correct one to Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Cato Institute. In a March 10 blog post on the website of the libertarian think tank, Mr. Olson said that Kansas’ finance fight is just one piece of a larger strategy that seeks to “seize control of school funding” through the courts.
In the process, he argued in a subsequent interview, that movement is subverting representative democracy by ignoring what state legislators decide on K-12 funding.
“I see it as a way in which the educational establishment uses litigation to entrench itself against supervision by other branches of government and voters interested in cutting budgets,” Mr. Olson said.
I go on to discuss California’s Serrano v. Priest and its unexpected consequence, voters’ limitation of property taxes through Proposition 13. And this from Ben Wilterdink at American Legislator on the latest ruling:
Kansas has faced this problem before. In 2005 the State Supreme Court ordered Kansas to spend more on education. Kansas lawmakers complied, but now the Court is again ordering more spending. Kansas already spends more than 50 percent of its budget on K-12 education, and if this ruling stands, it will be forced to spend 62 percent of its budget on education. All of this is despite the fact that when measured against regional per-pupil spending, Kansas is funding education quite well.
Earlier here, etc.
Related: Steve Malanga on school finance lawsuits and other “positive-rights” litigation at state supreme courts [City Journal]
And now he must pay child support, a judge has ruled, reasoning that William Marotta had not succeeded in waiving his parental responsibilities because a physician had not overseen the artificial insemination as required by Kansas law. [ABA Journal, earlier]
“A Kansas district court heard arguments [last] Friday in the case of a man who is being sued for thousands of dollars in child support by the state after donating his sperm to a same-sex couple he found through a Craigslist ad.” By law artificial insemination in Kansas requires a doctor’s supervision, but mechanic William Marotta instead relied on a private contract with the women who wanted his services, which the state argues cannot excuse him from parental responsibility. [NBC News]
The Colorado Supreme Court, wisely resisting a national campaign of school funding litigation, has turned down a lawsuit arguing that the state is obliged under its constitution to step up school spending. [Denver Post, KDVR, opinion in State v. Lobato]
I’ve got a post up at Cato at Liberty about the Colorado decision, noting that although school finance litigators make a lot of noise about educational quality, they are actually on a mission of “control —specifically, transferring control over spending from voters and their representatives to litigators whose loyalty is to a mix of ideologues and interest groups sharing a wish for higher spending.” I quote from a section on school finance litigation that I wound up cutting from my book Schools for Misrule about the enormous impact such suits have had in other states:
Vast sums have been redistributed as a result. Lawmakers in Kentucky enacted more than a billion dollars in tax hikes. New Jersey adopted its first income tax. Kansas lawmakers levied an additional $755 million in taxes after the state’s high court in peremptory fashion ordered them to double their spending on schools.
The results have been at best mixed: while some states to come under court order have improved their educational performance, many others have stagnated or fallen into new crisis. Colorado is fortunate not to join their ranks. (& reprint: Complete Colorado)
P.S. From a Colorado Springs Gazette report, Jul. 31, 2011:
“Putting more money into a broken system won’t get a better results. There are improvements that could be made without money,” says Deputy Attorney General Geoffrey Blue. …
He points to a Cato Institute study that showed spending on education across the country has skyrocketed but test scores didn’t improve.
“That would mean that potentially every cent of the state budget would be shifted over to K-12 education,” says Blue, who heads the office’s legal policy and government affairs.
The couple say they believe they were raided because of their use of an indoor gardening setup to raise six tomato, melon and squash plants in their basement. “A drug-sniffing dog was brought in to help, but deputies ultimately left after providing a receipt stating, ‘No items taken.’” [Heather Hollingsworth, AP]