Judges in the Kansas school finance lawsuit are being asked to decide how much responsibility the state has in making sure all children have the same chance at a quality education.
And when it comes to teaching the most disadvantaged children, that question may be more complicated than it sounds.
Teachers from some of the state’s poorest inner-city schools testified Wednesday how they often spend money out of their own pockets to buy basic supplies, including pencils and paper for their students, reading books, sports equipment, and in one case, even toilet paper for the bathroom.
One elementary P.E. teacher from Wichita described how she keeps a locker full of sneakers and socks for the kids who come to school – even in winter – with nothing but flip-flops on their feet.
But the question for the three-judge panel hearing the case is: Do those conditions amount to a constitutional failure to provide suitable funding for education?
Attorneys defending the state argue they do not, because the state’s only duty is to fund the classes and services required under the Kansas Quality Performance Accreditation System, or QPA.