Does Local Governance Need to be Fixed? (Repeat Post from February)

Does Local Governance Need to be Fixed? (Repeat Post from February)

“A Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll reported that nationwide, 64
percent of respondents wanted more local government influence on
schools, while only 24 percent said there should be
less.” 
For a student at the University of Kansas, being from Hutchinson
was considered being from “western Kansas,” or as we referred to it “God’s
country.”  I got closer to
learning the truth about the westernmost meridians when I taught government and
history at Bazine Jr.-Sr. High School.  But
it wasn’t until I moved to Leoti as superintendent that I really knew how far
west Kansas goes.  At the
time, Leoti had the westernmost Kansas stoplight on highway 96. 
Teaching government and history, I thought I knew something about
politics, but Leoti taught me the real meaning of Tip O’Neil’s famous statement
that “all politics is local.”  Being
superintendent one sees the pride of community and begins to really understand
the Kansas value of local control.  I
remember our Representative (a Democrat) and Senator (a Republican) talking to
me about solving problems at the lowest level.  It made sense then, and it continues
to stick with me. State interference isn’t needed in local matters. Local
control is a Kansas value.
Kansas has a history of rugged individualism.  We stepped up and fought against
slavery. We formed communities to help us be more efficacious in tough
times.  Those communities
grew strength from hard-times in the depression, the dust bowl, WWII, and the
divisive 60’s.  Every
community did this in their own way.  Every
community set their own standards and solved problems in a unique manner.  The state helps with resources, but
making decision has always been best when done at the local level.
Our system of local governance is being challenged now by some
members of the state legislature.  
 These legislators
want to add party politics to the local mix, move election dates, and change
representative voting plans.  State
politicians want to meddle in local government.
Local officials consistently trump state and federal
representatives when it comes to the trust and confidence of the general
population.  Surveys consistently say that the electorate supports their
local officials, including those they send to Topeka and Washington, far more
than the state’s as a whole.
 A Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll reported that nationwide, 64
percent of respondents wanted more local government influence on
schools, while only 24 percent said there should be less.
An Ohio study done by Fallon Research found that 65 percent
of respondents said they had the most trust and confidence in their
local school board, by far outpacing their governor, legislature, and state
school superintendent combined.  
Local control is a Kansas value.  Unwarranted interference from the
state level will create less focus on local issues and more on party positions
and litmus tests.  Take a
minute and contact your legislator to tell them how you feel about
state-imposed changes on your local governance structure.