We know SUBV members vote, and educate themselves prior to voting, do their best to know how their legislators are voting in Topeka, and email them to oppose anti-Blue Valley legislation. But how do we reach *everyone else*? How do we - as a BV community - get parents and patrons to realize what is happening to our kids’ schools - before it’s too late?
What are we up against?
Diverting tax dollars from public schools to private, exclusive, even unaccredited schools: So-called “Tax Credit Scholarships” have become law not only in Kansas but in multiple other states, diverting tax money away from public schools to fund private schools; other voucher-like bills in many states (including Kansas) are being introduced and passed every year.
Attacks on curriculum and teachers: Google “Parent’s Bill of Rights” and you’ll see legislation on this subject proposed not only in several states (including Kansas) but at the national level, by MO Sen. Josh Hawley. So-called “Parent’s Bill of Rights” legislation in Kansas actually enables ANYone to contest what is being taught in public schools, including anti-public education groups like Kansas Policy Institute and Americans For Prosperity.
NPR reports that “Since January 2021...35 different states have introduced 137 bills limiting what schools can teach with regard to race, American history, politics, sexual orientation and gender identity.” Such legislation could directly impact a school district’s ability to teach college-credit Advanced Placement classes, including US Government, US History, World History, Human Geography, Biology, Physics, Psychology, and even Literature.
This is happening in Kansas, yes - but also all across the country. “National School Choice Week” funds statehouse demonstrations across the country in favor of diverting tax money to private schools and homeschooling families. (In the photo, BV-area State Senator Kellie Warren poses with “School Choice” lobbyists.) Well-funded (often dark money) “think tanks” and corporate-funded bill mill ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) write and submit legislation to state lawmakers, testify in support of legislation, and work in other ways in coordinated national efforts against public education. A national Political Action Committee, The 1776 Project PAC, self-described as “committed to abolishing critical race theory and ‘The 1619 Project’ from the public school curriculum,” spent over $890,000 across the country in an attempt, in their words, to “take over the entire school board.” Two of their 3 endorsed candidates are now on the School Board in Blue Valley.
While Blue Valley parents - who moved here for the schools - are going to work, taking kids to activities, signing up to volunteer at the PTO Carnival, attending church, and living their lives, highly-coordinated and well-funded efforts are working to:
- Divert tax money away from public schools to private schools using renamed voucher-type programs - Organize far-right voters to oppose their local public schools - Limit what teachers can teach - Require extra, duplicate work for teachers and district-level admins - Attack local control of schools - Make it unattractive to be a public school teacher or administrator - Manufacture or stir up controversies over “CRT,” Covid-19 mitigation measures, etc. - Support School Board candidates who share their agenda and will promote chaos on the Board
How and why is this happening in Blue Valley - home of some of the best public schools in the country? To put it bluntly, our community has elected anti-public education legislators. Of the minority of voters who do vote, a slight majority of those voters either want to elect legislators who will not support our schools, or fall for their claims that they do support our Blue Valley Schools - then don’t hold them to it or follow their votes. Over the years, we’ve learned that many Blue Valley residents seem to think it’s the legislators from Western Kansas who are to blame for school funding problems and anti-public school legislation. Yet MANY Blue Valley-area legislators vote against our kids and our community every time - supporting taxes funding private schools, voting against local control of our schools, and making it harder for every district to attract and retain quality teachers and other staff.
How does our community reach voters who aren’t aware of what is going on? Your thoughts - please!