Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Letter to Governor Brownback- please stop the insanity

I sent this via email and snail mail to the Kansas Governor office. My pessimism says no one will read it. So I'm sharing it with you. I want someone other than my husband to hear my frustrations and sadness. So here is my letter to Governor Brownback expressing my deep sorrow over the state of education and funding in Kansas

Governor Brownback,

I'm writing you about my deep concern surrounding education and educational funding in your state. Let me introduce myself, my name is Kristin Saner and I am a native Kansasan.  I was born in Kansas, raised in Kansas, went to college in Kansas, got married and gave birth to my three boys in Kansas. Five years ago I moved away to pursue graduate education. Now I long to move home. In fact I was exploring buying a business in Hesston, which is near my family and friends. Sadly your policies and new laws, which continue to cut funding to education, terrify me so badly that I decided that I cannot  move home at this time.
With 3 boys in elementary school, I am looking at what public schools offer for kids. I’m a huge advocate for public school, which provide education and opportunities to not only my kids but all our kids. These kids are our future. I know Kansas teachers are working hard day and night to make the education system the best it can be for the kids they teach. I hear about the daily struggles from friends, about how they are attempting to persevere. The reality is limited funding and resources continue to be huge barriers for both teachers and students.  My heart breaks knowing that friends, who have dedicated their lives to teaching, must face these barriers on a daily basis. But, at the end of the day, I have to look at what's best for me and my family. While all the teachers and administration staff where I currently live have their own barriers and hurdles to cross, I feel we are making positive strides for the education my kids are getting. I cannot say the same for the schools in Kansas.
Governor Brownback, your policies have made it so that I feel I cannot move home. And I wonder, if I feel this way how many other thirty something adults dismiss our state as a place to makes roots?  How many other born and raised Kansasans  went somewhere else to pursue an education but don’t move back due to your policies? How many people look for a place to raise their own families but dismiss Kansas due to the current state of the education system? How many young families currently living in Kansas are fleeing because they feel their kids would be better off elsewhere? Listen to your people, Governor, for I know that they are working to fix your mistakes. They are trying to provide the best for our kids with what limited resources you have left them. I can only hope and pray that in the coming years things will get better. I pray this for my friend's sake, for my friends kids, for the families I don’t even know.  Selfishly I pray for my own sake. While I can't in good conscience move home now, I still long to do so. And I desperately hope, in a few years time, I can feel that it is safe for me to do so.

A Homesick Kansas girl


Jay said...

Unfortunately, this heartfelt plea for reason and change will fall on deaf ears. It is the policy of Governor Brownback and his administration to eliminate all opposition to its radical agenda. Public education is a prime target for the supply-side economic believers. They want to starve the public schools of revenue and resources, diverting as much of those to charter and for-profit schools, so that failure of the public schools is assured, and then the public will complain about how terrible the public schools are. At that point our governor and legislators will say, "See, we told you public schools were no good." Then parents will be clamoring for the opportunity to send their children to private schools. That is the plan, and unless the voters in Kansas remove the radical legislators who rubberstamp every ill conceived policy of this governor, things will get much worse before it ever gets better.

Kristin Saner said...

Jay, you are not wrong. It is very much war on public education. And I have seen it in the state of Indiana where I currently live. That being said, I am a firm believer in good, quality education that is easily accessible to all. And I have yet to be convinced there is such a thing outside of public education. I also know that parents and citizens can make a difference. I'm starting to see small changes in my boys' school. And I know that in part these changes are due to parents outcry to make public education better. I just can't bring myself to put my children through the frustrations of starting from scratch on these issues. Thus I feel it is not viable to move to join the fight in Kansas. So I'll cheer on those that do fight for better education from the sidelines, while continuing to fight for progress where I live.

Roberta Hickman said...

Kristin, what we need is more people with your mindset to vote the legislature that supported Brownback and his policies out of office. Please come back and help us. I am a 7th generation Kansan. All five of my kids were born and raised here and educated totally in the public schools, as was I(Moundridge, Coffeyville CC, PSU, KSU and WSU). The schools in the smaller, less rural communities like Moundridge and Hesston are still excellent, and community support will keep them that way. I feel badly for the large districts that can't count on that level of support. I totally understand your concern, though. Four of my five kids live out of state, with no interest in returning unless the damage done by Brownback and his minions can be reversed. My daughter, a truly gifted early childhood teacher, sees no future for her profession here.

Cait McKnelly said...

Dear Kristin. I, too, am a native Kansan. I have very deep roots there. My father's family moved there as pioneers in the 1800s and my great grandfather was the town constable for Galena KS in the 1890s-early 1900s. My entire family of ancestors, including my parents, are buried at Oak Hill Cemetary in SE Kansas. I am 63 years old and have spent over 50 years of it in the state. If anyone has a right to call themselves a "Kansan", I do.
I am currently living in Arkansas. I desperately want to go home to my home state to be with other family members still living there. I can't. I am retired, disabled and on Social Security and Medicare. Sam Brownback wants to take over Medicare in the state and administer it the same way he does Kancare. This would, given the complexities of my condition, almost assuredly result in my death.
And this is the point. It isn't just the gutting of education. People are actually DYING under this tinpot dictator's "regime". It's already been estimated that as many as 3,000 people in the state have died because of his refusal to expand Medicaid under the ACA.
There is a war in that state on it's own citizens. It will take more than a generation to repair the damage he has done and that's if he were stopped RIGHT NOW by the election of a Democratic majority legislature that would rein him in. I don't see that happening.
RIP Kansas. I loved you well.

Kristin Saner said...

Roberta, Thank You! Your words are encouraging. And I hear that I could make a difference by moving. The trouble is I'm not ready to put that strain on my kids. This year their school introduced a project based science classroom for all grade levels. My husband is on the search committee to help develop a plan to implement project based learning in all classrooms. This committee is also working towards achieving a STEAM certification for the school. We are making strides here. And while I know I could pick up and work to bring similar solutions to the any school district I moved into, I don't feel that's fair to my kids. Especially my 3rd going on 4th grader. We have had enough years of hating school. I don't want him to go back to that. So for now I'm depending on family, friends and strangers to fight the fight for me.

Kristin Saner said...

Cait, I had not realized that the policies for medical aid and mental health were that bad. I knew they too were being hit but don't pay as much attention as I do education. I'm saddened to hear that you too cannot move home.

Philip Nel said...

I have lived and worked in Kansas since 2000. I have wonderful colleagues at Kansas State University — couldn't ask for a better people to work with. My colleagues are all friends of mine and of each other.

But,... come July 1, 2017, all public universities in Kansas must admit guns into dormitories, libraries, classrooms, faculty offices, dining facilities — everywhere. In 2015, the legislature and governor removed background checks and the requirement gun-owners learn to use their guns. So, we now face the prospect of unregulated firearms everywhere. 70% of all university employs across Kansas oppose the policy. But the legislature is indifferent to those they purport to represent. They're quite happy to put the lives of students, faculty, and staff at risk.

Contrary to their claims, increasing lethality does not increase safety. So, in addition to protesting this dangerous policy, I'm looking for another job — out of state. And I'm not the only one.

Kristin Saner said...

Phil, thanks for response. I don't often think about the new gun laws, but I know that many are disturbed by them. And when I stop to think about them they are scary. I can see why you want to leave. Sadly I have several college friend leaving Kansas, many do to various policies and laws passed by the state. Makes me very sad. Best of luck as you peruse a new job.