Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his defenders continue their attempts to deceive the public about his record on education.
After sharply cutting the money schools use to pay employees and meet the day-to-day expenses of educating children, Brownback tried to disguise that fact by inflating the state’s investment in education with teacher pension and building maintenance payments.
Now, in the midst of his re-election campaign against Democrat Paul Davis, Brownback is using a phony scare tactic.
The Republican candidate has seized upon a three-year-old comment made by John Vratil, a former GOP state senator who is Davis’ appointee to a commission on school spending.
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Back in 2011, Vratil, of Leawood, noted correctly that more affluent districts could survive school funding cuts, but “rural districts will be starved out of existence, and the sooner they realize that, the better off they will be.”
Translation from the Brownback campaign: Vratil must favor forced school consolidation, hence the “Davis-Vratil education agenda” is all about consolidation.
Total hogwash. School consolidation is already taking place in rural Kansas as a result of population loss and funding shortages, most recently inflicted by Brownback and the Legislature. As a consistent voice for adequate school funding, Davis is a much better bet for the survival of rural schools than Brownback and his devotion to tax cuts.
Another member of the commission, Kansas Policy Institute President Dave Trabert, has also said that rural Kansas schools might have to look at consolidation. But while Brownback and some legislative Republicans are insisting that Vratil leave the commission, no one has made a similar demand about Trabert, who was appointed by conservative Republican House Speaker Ray Merrick.
Brownback’s attempt to scare rural voters looks deceitful and more than a little desperate.