Supreme Court Should Dismiss Gannon for Lack of Rose Measurement and False Spending Premise – Policy Brief

James FrankoEducation, Research

In 2014, in Gannon v. State of Kansas, the Kansas Supreme Court determined that the adequacy of the state’s education finance system is met when students meet or exceed the Rose standards. The Court is now ready to hear arguments as to the adequacy of school funding.

Pursuant to the arguments, the attorneys for the plaintiffs in Gannon have filed a legal brief contending that the funding mechanism is inadequate. They claim low assessment scores provide evidence that Rose standards have not been met and, therefore, more money should be spent on K-12 public education.

PB-School-Funding-Adequacy

However, there are two central issues that place the Court in no position to determine that the finance system is inadequate and order an increase in K-12 funding.

  • The Rose standards, which are to be the basis for determining an adequate education financing system as stipulated in the 2014 Supreme Court Gannon decision, have neither been designed nor measured.
    • The State Board of Education, which is both constitutionally and statutorily charged with the “general supervision” of public schools – including setting standards – has failed to make provisions for either designing or measuring the Rose standards.
    • Instead, there is evidence that the State Board has ceded the lead on Rose standards to the Kansas Association of School Boards, a non-statutory body.
  • The arguments by the plaintiffs’ attorneys that a) low assessment scores prove Rose standards have not been met, and b) those scores are a function of inadequate funding and should be disregarded.
    • The plaintiffs’ attorneys have no authority to determine whether Rose standards have been met.
    • The claim that an increase in spending will lead to an increase in student performance is fundamentally flawed. Ample evidence provided herein at both the state and national levels indisputably demonstrates that virtually no correlation exists between an increase in education spending and an increase in student outcomes, let alone a causal relationship between the two.

Given these realities, it is impossible for the Supreme Court to determine whether the state’s school finance system is, in their words, “reasonably calculated” to determine whether Rose standards are being met.

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