Sunday, February 24, 2013

Zach's Email Exchange with a Tea Party State Rep

A few days ago, Zach came across a newsletter from the office of Kansas State Rep. Amanda Grosserode (R-16th District, Lenexa) which attacked the Kansas Supreme Court for ordering the State Legislature to do their duties as outlined in the Kansas Constitution and properly fund education - and contained a few noticeable grammatical errors.

You can read the newsletter at this link.

If you are unfamiliar with Rep. Grosserode, here's a brief bio: She's a Tea Party person who unseated Democratic State Rep. Gene Rardin in 2010 and somehow ran unopposed in 2012.

Anyway, this newsletter led to an interesting email exchange, which Zach had published on our Facebook page.  Included in the exchange is a standing invite to Rep. Grosserode to appear on the podcast and discuss the situation.

Here's the initial letter from Zach:

Rep. Grosserode:

I received a copy of your newsletter entitled Update Week 5. You are not my elected official so I reviewed your background. According to the Kansas House website, you serve on the House Standing Committee on Education. Also, your website states that you obtained a Bachelor's in Elementary Education.

Here is my problem. You have made a number of comments that are critical of the Kansas educational system. Yet, you send out a newsletter that contains numerous grammatical errors (I stopped counting after 20). This highlights concerns about of your ability to direct education policy in Kansas.. If you send out a document containing these errors, how can you effectively represent a child's interest?

I host a weekly podcast on Kansas politics and would love to hear your side of the story. Please let me know if you are available in March to record a podcast session.

Here is Rep. Grosserode's response:

Dear Zach,
I'm sorry that you find problems with my newsletters (though you may want to double check your own writing when criticizing another's- see below). The newsletters are designed for my constituents in order to inform them of House happenings. These newsletter have always been on the informative side and have been available for all without regard to political party or ideology.
Please list all of these critical statements I have made regarding education. Having taught within the public school system, I do understand the system and support the educating of the children within our state. While you may disagree, I think there is room for much discussion about what works, what doesn't, positives, negatives, and different proposals and options.
Recognizing your name, I initiated a google search. This leads me to believe that your podcast is probably partisan in nature, and thus I shall not be accepting your invitation to appear.

Amanda Grosserode

Paid for by Amanda Grosserode for State Representative;
Christie Glasgow, Treasurer

Here's Zach's response:

Rep. Grosserode:

I would recommend a review of your prior statements on the Kansas educational system. The quoted language below showcases your basic lack of understanding of the Kansas Constitution Article 6 Section6(b) which states: "The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state."

In your Legislative Update: News from Topeka - January 20, 2013:

"Last week, we received the “jolt” of news when a three-judge panel ruled that the state legislature MUST fund education at a set level in the base state aid per pupil. I strongly disagree with this ruling, because no matter what one’s feeling is on the issue of school funding, it is not the role of the courts to order specific
appropriations – that is the role of the legislature, duly elected by
the people[.]"

This is not a "jolt" of news. The Kansas Supreme Court, beginning with the 2005 Montoy case and culminating with Gannon, has stated that the Kansas legislature has not funded schools to the appropriate level. The Kansas Supreme Court relied upon empirical data to reach the decision that the Kansas legislature was not meeting its constitutional duties. The Supreme Court has correctly pointed out that you have failed in your role to properly fund education. Are you asserting that the BSAPP is funded at an appropriate level and the elective officials have done their job? The facts would strongly disagree with your assertion.

I'm a registered Democrat. My podcast, however, is an attempt to hear all sides of an issue. It is not partisan in nature. I do not edit for content and any statements you make will not be altered. This is an opportunity for you to address concerns that voters may have about your voting record.

As a public official, you should welcome any opportunity to engage in a healthy debate on the issues of the day. My concern, as a voter, is that you will only appear on programs and with people like Ben Hodge that support your position.

Finally, I failed to correct the double period and the "about of" that
you mentioned. Thank you for pointing these out. We should all peer edit before sending out a document. My errors, however, were not included in a letter sent to constituents nor do I vote on policy matters that impact Kansas schools.

My invitation stands. I would love to have you on the program.

Rep. Grosserode, if you're reading this, I echo Zach's sentiment and hope you'll reconsider.

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