School-choice debate heats up in Kansas – The Washington Post

Top Republican lawmakers in Kansas are focusing on helping conservative parents remove their children from public schools over what is taught about gender and sexuality.

A proposal to allow parents to use state tax dollars to pay for private or home schooling was to be available online Tuesday, a day after a committee on K-12 spending introduced the measure in the state House of Representatives.

Funding and lesson plans for public schools have become important issues for conservative politicians nationwide. Lawmakers in Iowa approved a similar law last week, and at least a dozen states are considering similar legislation.

Funneling public money to private schools is not a new idea, but it picked up fresh steam after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic partly because of parents’ concerns over masks and vaccines. The issue also has been driven by opposition to how some schools conduct lessons about topics such as gender, sexuality and race.

Public education groups and Democratic lawmakers argue that such proposals will take money away from the state’s K-12 schools for the benefit of private and home schools. They say that Republican conservatives are trying to dismantle public education.

State Representative Jarrod Ousley, a Kansas City-area Democrat whose wife serves on a local school board, said public schools help build communities. “That’s the fabric of our nation,” Ousley said.

Democratic Governor Laura Kelly strongly opposes a plan such as the one introduced in the House.

Advocates of private schools and home schooling say that parents want more choices because they have been unhappy with remote schooling during the pandemic.

Wade Moore, a bishop at the Christian Faith Center in Wichita, Kansas, told the crowd at a school-choice rally that a school-choice law like the one in Iowa allows parents to avoid “crazy stuff” in public schools. After the rally, he said that he meant violence, such as fighting, and issues such as which bathrooms and locker rooms transgender students can use.

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