The Garden City Telegram
4/11/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

School time

Transparency elusive in Kansas Statehouse.

Kansans have a right to know as much as possible about the people they elect to govern them. Arguments to the contrary show a lack of respect to the citizens of this state.

Legislators and candidates seeking seats in the Legislature frequently talk about their life experiences and how those, in their younger years or as professionals, will benefit their constituents and the state. They are right. Many legislators bring to Topeka knowledge and experience that will prove helpful as they try to improve Kansas and the lives of its citizens.

Those experiences include their school background, although some legislators recently decided citizens didn't need to know how they were educated or what decisions they had made about their children's educations.

At a time when the Legislature is considering bills that range from school funding and charter schools to how educators will be allowed to pay their union dues and on what items they will be allowed to bargain collectively, citizens certainly have a right to know how much knowledge and experience legislators bring to the table on those issues.

When this newspaper conducted a survey to gather information on legislators' educational backgrounds and their children's education, the Senate majority leader urged lawmakers not to respond.

Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, said his children's education was not of public concern and asking about it was in bad taste.

Of 165 legislators, only 57 — 12 senators and 45 representatives — responded to the survey, which asked lawmakers if their K-12 education had been through public, private or charter schools or through home schooling. The survey also asked lawmakers what type of schooling they had placed their children in.

Those are fair questions, especially given the educational issues legislators have been dealing with. ...

That's not to say legislators who attended private schools aren't interested in making the best decisions for our public schools, or that legislators who attended public schools wouldn't be interested in expanding charter and private school options.

But legislators should be willing to let citizens know where they're coming from and what they bring to the table on any issue, including education.

-- The Topeka Capital-Journal