Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the editor in chief of Kansas Reflector. He writes about things that powerful people don't want you to know. A two-time Kansas Press Association journalist of the year, his award-winning reporting includes stories about education, technology, foster care, voting, COVID-19, sex abuse, and access to reproductive health care. Before founding Kansas Reflector in 2020, he spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. He graduated from Emporia State University in 2004, back when the school still valued English and journalism. He was raised in the country at the end of a dead end road in Lyon County.

A police officer's gun is strapped to his hip

Wichita legal fees exceed $267K in defense of ‘absolutely asinine’ gang list

By: - April 21, 2023

TOPEKA — Tracey C. Mason Sr. says the City of Wichita’s defense of its police department gang list is about leverage. Authorities don’t want to treat young Black people as human or equals, Mason said. The city has spent more than $267,000 in legal fees since being sued over the gang list in April 2021 […]

Adam Proffitt

Kansas revenue forecast expects surplus to grow to $3 billion, pending tax cuts

By: - April 20, 2023

TOPEKA — Budget analysts and economists expect cooling inflation and modest growth to push state revenues slightly higher than expected over the next couple of years, preserving a surplus cushion of billions of dollars. The projection is expected to shape tax and budget policy when legislators return next week. The forecast is based on current […]

Faculty senate president Shawn Keough listens as history professor Chris Lovett raises concerns during an April 18, 2023, meeting

Two Emporia State University professors reinstated as bonus tension swirls

By: and - April 19, 2023

EMPORIA — A state appeals officer has reinstated two Emporia State University professors who were fired last year as part of a realignment process, citing the university’s refusal to explain why their jobs were eliminated. The decision to reinstate history professor Amanda Miracle and associate math and economics professor Rob Catlett provides hope for other […]

Emporia State University president Ken Hush appears at his office desk

Emporia State University president defends performance bonuses for ‘high-performing faculty’

By: - April 11, 2023

TOPEKA — Emporia State University president Ken Hush defended the decision to award performance bonuses to select faculty members, complained about Kansas Reflector reporting and said the Emporia mayor’s comments about the university “cannot be tolerated” in an “open letter” published Tuesday by the Emporia Gazette. Kansas Reflector revealed last week that the university awarded […]

A participant in the March 31, 2023, March for Queer and Trans Youth Autonomy at the Kansas Statehouse holds a sign that reads: "Make no mistake, they are killing us."

Kansas City Democrat risks exile from party after vote on transgender athletes

By: - April 10, 2023

TOPEKA — A day after casting a decisive vote to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a transgender athlete ban, Rep. Marvin Robinson appeared on a conservative radio talk show to defend his vote. Robinson, a Kansas City Democrat, said a colleague had told him transgender teens would kill themselves if the legislation were to […]

House Minority Leader Vic Miller leads a meeting Thursday of House Democrats to review legislation they would vote on

Kansas Legislature packages new flat tax rate with quicker end to food tax

By: - April 7, 2023

TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers passed a tax cut package in the early Friday morning hours that fuses a flat tax rate for individual income with an accelerated reduction in the state sales tax on food, corporate tax breaks and residential property tax relief. The policies assembled into Senate Bill 169 add up to $1.3 billion […]

Kansas Senate passes constitutional amendment restraining property tax valuations

By: - April 5, 2023

TOPEKA — Independent state Sen. Dennis Pyle questioned Wednesday the real intention of placing a constitutional amendment about property taxes on the November 2024 general election ballot. The Senate declared an emergency and suspended rules Wednesday to take action on Senate Concurrent Resolution 1611 shortly after it materialized. The resolution asks voters to consider a […]

Emporia State University president Ken Hush, says financial realities compelled ESU to realign the budget through a process that includes employee layoffs and changes in academic programs.

Emporia State University awarded bonuses to 68 faculty after firing tenured professors

By: - April 5, 2023

TOPEKA — Six weeks after Emporia State University fired tenured professors in a cost-saving move last fall, the university secretly awarded $137,741 in performance bonuses to select faculty members. Kansas Reflector obtained financial documents confirming the bonus payments after filing a records request with the university. The documents show 68 faculty members received amounts ranging […]

Emporia State University president Ken Hush, right, received approval from the Kansas Board of Regents to deploy a policy designed to expedite personnel and program reform. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Kansas Supreme Court dismisses Emporia State University professors’ request to intervene in firings

By: - April 4, 2023

TOPEKA — Amanda Miracle was leading a field trip for 100 students Sept. 15 on the Emporia State University campus when she received an urgent email. The tenured professor was about to be fired under an emergency policy authorized by the Kansas Board of Regents to help ESU avoid financial failure. A couple of weeks […]

A crowd passes Friday in front of the Kansas Statehouse as part of the National March for Queer and Trans Youth Autonomy

Defiant transgender children, filled with love and rage, march on Kansas Statehouse

By: - March 31, 2023

TOPEKA — A throng of angry queer and transgender children marched Friday evening on the Kansas Statehouse grounds in joyful defiance of legislators who promote state-sponsored discrimination. As the crowd of 200 children and adults gathered on the south side of the Capitol, individuals stepped forward, one by one, to deliver speeches bubbling with love […]

As Kansans celebrate equality, House lawmakers vote against transgender women’s rights

By: and - March 31, 2023

TOPEKA — Kansans gathered at the Statehouse this week to celebrate equality while GOP legislators executed their latest attack on transgender people. House Republicans who endorsed an attempt to legislate the meaning of “man” and “woman” describe their legislation as a science-based attempt to keep women safely isolated from their dominant counterparts. The ironically titled […]

Rep. Tobias Schlingensiepen

Kansas House advances ‘state-mandated deception’ of abortion pill reversal

By: - March 28, 2023

Rep. Brad Boyd, an Olathe Democrat, admonished fellow lawmakers Tuesday for ignoring the will of Kansas voters who overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment on abortion last year. He spoke in opposition to House Bill 2439, which would require doctors to tell their patients it is possible to reverse the abortion pill — a dubious claim […]