Yael T. Abouhalkah

Suddenly, Parents as Teachers under assault by Kansas lawmakers

Kim Ingalls, parent educator with Olathe Parents as Teachers, worked with Lindsey Ware and her 15-month-old daughter Tegan during a 2014 visit to Ware’s home in Lenexa.
Kim Ingalls, parent educator with Olathe Parents as Teachers, worked with Lindsey Ware and her 15-month-old daughter Tegan during a 2014 visit to Ware’s home in Lenexa. Special to the Star

A Kansas legislative committee moved Tuesday to defund Parents as Teachers, a sudden but sadly predictable move given the ultra-conservative mindset now in place in Topeka.

What was behind the potential cut of $7 million in state funding for a program that has earned longtime plaudits for the work it does getting preschool children ready for a better future?

Income tax cuts, of course.

Oh, the Republicans leading the defunding charge won’t say that, but it’s true: Kansas is running out of money because of the tax reductions endorsed in 2012 by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Now that revenues are drying up, the Legislature is looking for nickels and dimes in the sofa, leading to this quote from Parents as Teachers critic Rep. Peggy Mast, an Emporia Republican, on Tuesday:

“In times when we have an abundance, we can give more. In times when we are looking at how we find efficiencies to fund the necessities, we have to look at things that are disposable.”

Mast went on to mumble something about how a few parents she knew had used the program were college-educated and pretty well off so — naturally — Parents as Teachers must die.

Nancy Keel, director of the Kansas Parents as Teachers Association, and other supporters pointed out that the program has scored well when evaluated for its effectiveness.

The full Legislature should not endorse the reduction recommended by the House Social Services Budget Committee.

The move to cut the funding comes as Parents as Teachers is on the verge of its 25th anniversary in Kansas. That’s scheduled for next week.

But instead of a celebration, supporters of the program may be holding a wake, with Parents as Teachers potentially yet another victim of the Brownback tax cuts in Kansas.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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