What’s an education worth?


Cameron Hamm, Writer

What’s often been argued about my generation is that we’re not engaged with the world around us, be that in our government or nation. And while it’s not always easy to keep an ear to the ground and listen to what our policy makers are really saying, when governor Sam Brownback announced in a statement cutting education funding in Kansas by 1.5 percent, alarm bells started going off in my head.

On more than one occasion this week, I have heard from Northwest teachers on how Brownback’s economic policy is only serving to harm school districts across Kansas. One teacher mentioned how he hasn’t had a raise in six years. He’s got two kids to worry about, and several schools from different states offering him higher paying positions. For the most part, the Northwest staff values us, the students, so much so that they are willing to accept the fact that teaching is not a high paying job. But when a teacher is forced to choose between ensuring his kids will have enough money to pay for college, or enriching his students’ lives, it is clear which choice takes precedent. If Kansas schools were funded appropriately, as the state Supreme Court asserted, teachers wouldn’t have to consider this tough choice. With his proposal, Brownback is not only ignoring the sole interpreter of the law, but also he is also draining what makes our state strong.

The more Brownback’s economic policies harm our state, the less likely Kansas will attract people with skills to offer. With a $344 million deficit, brought on by Brownback’s proposals to lower income taxes, the things that make our community and state truly great will begin to dry up. I have found myself thinking more and more of my four-year-old brother. What will Kansas schooling be able to offer him when he’s ready to embark on a path of learning and maturation? I fear that the resources offered to my peers and me, such as the expansive library, wide array of courses to choose from, and the stalwart character of our educators will falter without the funds deserved by Kansas schools.

When the Founders crafted the Constitution, their primary way of forming a relationship between the citizen and the government was through education. That idea has ballooned since then; it is a common belief that every citizen deserves an education in order to develop critical thinking and form a powerful electorate, one that has a say in what our leaders are doing. I call for the students and teachers of our state to make our voice heard, to advocate that the education budget is left alone while a reasonable income tax is reinstated. The opportunities education provides us are unlike anything our ancestors had in the past. Although the school system needs changes, no positive change will come from the government taking away what is already in short supply.