Now it appears this practice is coming to Kansas and the legislature. We’ve dealt with ALEC (an organization that drafts legislation to be introduced that is clearly slanted to the far-right’s interests) for years. The funding for such work goes back to Americans for Prosperity and the Koch Brothers who have also helped elect legislators anxious to do their bidding. But this direction moved into totally new territory when legislative leaders sought outside consultants to evaluate the current funding of public schools and, given who they sought out, it is likely to be a shot back at the Supreme Court and Dale Dennis. Dale Dennis has for many many years headed up the school finance area for the Kansas State Board of Education and, in doing so, has huge support.
The practical side of all of this is that if the various interests in any given challenge can not agree on the basic facts to be used to work out their differences, final resolution will be much, much more difficult. Historically, Kansas has been a model of quality legislative research staff and revisors who legislators could work with to draft legislation and provide expert testimony to legislative committees. That started to change some time ago, but this move to discredit Dale Dennis and to reach out to a known right wing consultant, goes way over the top.
That is why former Governors (Hayden, Graves, Sebelius, and myself) sent a clear message of support for Dale Dennis to the Board of Education in advance of their meeting last Friday. They were to decide whether to implement the setting aside of Dale Dennis, discrediting him to the point that the Attorney General was asked to look into fraud. Thankfully, the board voted (9 to 1) in favor of Dale Dennis, rejecting the request of Republican legislative leaders.
In a recent blog post, I wrote about how difficult the challenge of satisfying the court's ruling on school finance will be. But when you add into that the use of alternative facts, the challenge goes to a whole new level, increasing the chance of a real constitutional crisis over funding schools in Kansas. Decisions that are this important require us to operate from the same set of facts.