TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A teachers union has endorsed Democratic Sen. Laura Kelly in her bid for Kansas governor, casting her as an ally to education and warning her opponents will hurt schools.

The National Education Association's Kansas chapter released a list Tuesday of recommended candidates for statewide, congressional and legislative races, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported . The chapter said it evaluated the candidates through interviews and by reviewing their voting record.

Kelly has supported efforts to comply with state Supreme Court orders and provide adequate public school funding. Lawmakers lowered school funding in response to the 2008 economic recession and struggled to balance the budget after former Gov. Sam Brownback's tax policy.

"I'm not new to the struggle educators and students have endured in recent years," Kelly said. "I have fought against policies that put the interests of a select few ahead of the promise of opportunity for every Kansas student. Throughout my career, I have stood with our teachers and the professionals who are closest to our students in the classroom."

Her Republican opponent, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, opposed a plan lawmakers passed this year to phase in a $522 million increase over the next five years. Kobach has supported a constitutional amendment that would get rid of the high court's authority to decide whether funding is adequate. He also wants a mandate requiring that 75 percent of all education funding be spent in the classroom.

The Kansas National Education Association "is not looking out for the interests of teachers," said Kobach spokeswoman Danedri Hebert. "Secretary Kobach's proposal to spend 75 cents of every education dollar in the classroom would result in more money being spent on teacher salaries and less money being spent on redundant administrators."

Critics of Kobach's proposal have said he's blurring the line between state funding and bonds that local taxpayers approve for construction projects. The proposal would also lead to cuts in areas like transportation, counseling and food to meet the 75 percent goal, according to critics.

Multiple KNEA members are Republican, said union spokesman Marcus Baltzell. But he said many Republican candidates declined to answer questions, contributing to the disparity between parties for recommended candidates.

"It's not about partisanship one way or the other," Baltzell said. "It's about who stood up for Kansas children."


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal,