The anger apparently built up in Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab for more than three months.
Earlier this week, the Olathe Republican unleashed his fury at leaders of the Olathe School District, singling out Superintendent Marlin Berry — who had criticized the Kansas Legislature way back in mid-July over some of its funding strategies for schools.
Schwab’s email attack, sent directly to Olathe teachers and administrators, is part and parcel of Gov. Sam Brownback’s war on K-12 education.
The criticisms range from Brownback’s absurd one of Kansas City, Kan., school officials for buying a grand piano to blaming districts for somehow creating their own budget shortfalls to dictating how Kansas schools should use reserve funds.
Schwab, Brownback and others are defending their 2015 decision to dramatically alter the K-12 school finance formula, and criticizing school district leaders throughout the state if they speak up against that move.
In Schwab’s case, part of his email said this: “Dr. Berry sent a very depressing email on or around July 17 talking about the dire disposition of the district’s finances. Members of the Olathe delegation to the Kansas Legislature were more than disappointed in his communication with you for a few reasons. First, it kills morale. It is difficult to go with passion into your daily work when the district’s top leaders are pulling your heart out of it. It was sad to see such poor leadership, with no good regard to how it would affect your daily work and life. The other issue was the premise of the entire email that the district was somehow cut in aid from the state. This could not be further from the truth.”
The response from the Olathe district noted, “We find it unfortunate that an elected leader chose to interrupt your workday and misuse the taxpayer funded email system the district provides for you to communicate with parents and peers.”
Updated at 4 p.m. Friday: Here is a response from the Olathe National Education Association to Schwab’s contentions.
Unfortunately, the school district’s response missed an opportunity to more forcefully spell out exactly why Schwab was wrong in his assertions.
But as things go, chalk this up as just another way for Republican legislators to threaten and bully school districts that dare to try to rally people to see things their way.
It’s par for the course for politics these days in Kansas, where Brownback’s income tax cuts have failed to produce the jobs and revenues once promised.
As a result, K-12 schools will be suffering for years to come from being underfunded, unless the courts step in and rectify the situation.
Scott Schwab, it appears, won’t be rushing to assist the schools in that category.