People who live outside of our fair state might be under the false impression that many citizens of Kansas openly dislike our Governor, Sam Brownback. This is likely due to the reaction he receives when he shows up at most any large public gathering. Untrained, out-of-state ears may think they hear something that leads to this unfortunate misunderstanding that I would like to take this opportunity to clear up.

The people of Kansas know our governor as a champion of education and like to take every opportunity to thank him for the difference that he has made in the lives of teachers and students in this state. That is why when he graces us with his presence at a speech, a public event, or in the stands of a big-time NCAA basketball game, Kansas residents honor the governor’s various accomplishments by yelling “Schoooool!” at the top of our lungs.

I would heartily invite anyone who wants to fit in better into our state to participate in this unique greeting for our governor.

I am sure that Governor Brownback and those in his party are going to attract even more of this type of acclaim with the block grant funding bill that he signed last week. The governor told the voters who always greet him so warmly that this bill increases funding for schools, although districts in our area are actually due to receive less money in total state aid under its provisions. This was done in much the same way as the governor’s political campaign last year, where he bragged about increasing funding for education while our local schools actually got less money under his policies.

It is a pretty neat trick whenever a politician can publicly convince voters that they are getting more of something when they are actually getting less of it. With so many voters in this state so willing to embrace this kind of politics, it’s no wonder that our governor got reelected so easily. The people of Kansas know they should always trust the words of a politician trying to get votes more than what can actually be seen at a local level by their own lying eyes.

Voters willingly bought the rhetoric from Brownback about having a “road map” on education, while ignoring that there’s a perfectly good reason that very few drivers even use road maps any more. With most of us having easy-to-use GPS apps on our phones, a fixed paper road map that can’t quickly adjust to changes in routes and can’t help drivers find their way to specific locations and addresses doesn’t seem that appealing or effective. In much the same way, Brownback’s “road map” on education couldn’t adjust to social changes and specific adjustments that might need to be made. For most of the state, it just seemed to lead to certain districts being lost.

It should be fairly stated that some schools have gotten a little more money during Brownback’s tenure; those schools up in Johnson County and other places near big cities that have a few more voters than this region. Those schools are a little more important to statewide politicians who want to use education funding as a handy bargaining tool that can be used to shore up their support during a contentious election season. However, poorer and less populated areas of the state, those where generally only one political party has a real chance to win any elections anyway, are likely to be taken for granted when devising these kinds of political strategies.

This is all done as part of the “Brownback experiment,” a unique attempt by our beloved governor to both try to make the government work better by drastically cutting it and limiting its ability to actually do anything, and to provide fodder for comedians across the nation. If Brownback was an automobile mechanic, he might suggest that the way to increase a car’s performance would be to cut the size and horsepower of its engine. It’s this kind of thinking that gets the governor so warmly greeted at basketball games.

With more than three years to go and a cooperative legislature that will do his bidding, I am sure Brownback will be making plenty of decisions that will inspire people everywhere who care about education to yell “Schoooool!” at him at any public appearance.

Please send all questions, comments, hate mail, marriage proposals, invitations to hear our beloved Governor speak, or offers to be a political party spokesman to brian@chanute.com.

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