A new law stripping teachers of due process rights is far more significant than some claim.
Last year, the GOP took away the dues deduction for political purposes, which only serves to silence the voice of teachers in the political arena.
This year, it was due process, which was slipped into a bill on funding and therefore is certainly unconstitutional.
Next year, what is to stop the GOP from taking away our collective bargaining rights?
These acts are not supportive of students, teachers, or public schools. This is a GOP/Brownback/Koch brothers plan to divert funds and support from Kansas public schools and students and increase support for private schools.
The Kansas National Education Association is the strongest statewide organization that actually stands in opposition to all of this. Therefore, we see these extreme measures that are intended to diminish KNEA’s influence.
School districts already had the ability to dismiss ‘bad’ teachers, so don’t believe that is the purpose of abolishing our due process rights. The law is a product of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a “union” of ultraconservative state legislators and powerful businessmen opposed to employee rights.
Removal of teacher due process allows a school district to dismiss a teacher for no stated reason. It allows teachers to be fired for not giving a passing grade to a star athlete, for pushing too hard for the services needed by a special needs student, or for attending the wrong church. We’ll never know because the district will not have to give a reason for the dismissal.
Yes, Johnson County superintendents have stated their support of due process to some extent, but there are more than 200 other districts in this state that might think otherwise.
Teaching has now become a less attractive vocation in Kansas. Why would young teachers choose to teach in Johnson County when they can go across the state line and earn due process in Missouri? I’m sure many out of state school systems will start recruiting at Kansas universities, knowing it has now become fertile ground for young people seeking the job security that has traditionally been assured for teachers while they accept lower lifetime earning power than many of their peers.
In the school funding bill, the GOP did not increase school funding for Olathe, Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission. The law allows our local school boards to increase local property taxes to add back a fraction of the funding that has been cut over the past five years. That’s hardly a big “win,” as columnist Steve Rose characterized it recently, unless winning in his book is not losing by as big a margin as you thought you might.
And let’s not forget that this funding was ‘added’ at the order of the Kansas Supreme Court and not out of a sense of support or fairness for public schools and their teachers. If Gov. Brownback and the GOP did not comply with that order, we would have a constitutional crisis.
The KNEA is the voice of reason of many thousands of Kansas teachers. However, we have been shut out of all public discussion and the GOP seeks to keep it that way. Instead, Brownback and his legislative allies seek the advice of narrow corporate interests not aligned with middle class American values.
I truly fear for the educational outcomes of Kansas students, and the future prosperity of our state.