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Kansas lawmakers at odds over a bill that would allow state funds to be used for private education

Young girl sitting at wooden table looking at a computer with a small coffee cup to the side of the computer. Behind the young girl is bookshelves filled with books
Annie Spratt
If passed, H.B. 2218 would allow caregivers of students in grades K-12 to use taxpayer dollars to pay for homeschool, private schools or other educational opportunities.

A Kansas Republican wants to give families more choice over where their children are educated, but one opponent says H.B. 2218 takes funding away from public schools and gives taxpayer dollars away with no government oversight.

If passed, H.B. 2218, also known as the sunflower education equity act, will allow caregivers for students in grades K-12 to receive $5,000 of state education funds to apply towards their choice of educational curriculum.

Rep. Kristey Williams, a Republican representing a district just east of Wichita, introduced the bill. She says not all students excel in public school.

"Right now we're seeing that our public schools are not able to meet the the needs of many of our students," says Williams, pointing to the state's low ranking in reading proficiency.

The bill puts money into a flexible spending account families can use to fund education that they decide best suits their child's needs — private school, homeschool, microschool, tutoring or other educational opportunities.

"[W]e've got to break away from status quo, and give the opportunity, the freedom to educate our students back to our parents," says Williams.

Critics of the bill argue it provides no oversight of the educational materials it would pay for. They say tax dollars could be used to teach neo-Nazism, critical race theory or other topics.

"Under this bill, taxpayers would be required to pay for neo-Nazi curriculum that's submitted as an expense," says Rep. Mari-Lynn Poskin, a Democrat representing the Kansas City suburbs who opposes the bill.

"We don't need to require Kansas taxpayers to pay for that curriculum," Poskin says.

Williams says arithmetic, social studies, history, English and grammar are required, but it's up to families how they're taught.

"[R]egulating it does not guarantee success," says Williams.

  • Rep. Kristey Williams, R-Augusta
  • Rep. Mari-Lynn Poskin, D-Overland Park
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