Let me make this very clear. I don't want any misunderstanding of what is happening in Topeka right now.
Last night, in a legislative session that extended until 3AM, and might have extended to 5AM if Republicans thought the teachers would leave the building, Kansas Republicans put forward a bill that would, in effect, end public education.
The legislation that came out of conference committee would provide an open check for parents to opt out of public school for 'home schools' giving them instant tax credits (and a financial incentive to keep from educating their children). The legislation removed Due Process from the rights of teachers, provided a multi-million dollar corporate tax break for private school tuition scholarships and offered vouchers.
Not enough? It reduced teacher base pay to $0. Teachers - all teachers - would have to renegotiate their contracts on an individual basis on July 1, and each district could set it's own pay system. In effect, every public school teacher in Kansas would be told their status was not guaranteed until they re-negotiated. I tend to view that as 'being fired'.
The situation in Kansas reached crazy status last night when Kansas Republicans implied everything from 'are we any better than before Brown V Board' (Rep. Kasha Kelley), to the assertion that we should pass potentially unconstitutional legislation in order to show that the Kansas Supreme Court are not 'our masters' (Rep Kinzer)
When debate started in Kansas late night on a Saturday, it took a few hours for Democrats to keep the floor debating as teachers filtered in, filled the rotunda and demanded that this nonsense get attention. If you want to know how crazy this became, check the twitter tag: #ksleg.
Today, at 12Noon, the Senate is prepared to forward back KS-SB84, the Kansas Senate revised conference bill on this issue to the house for a vote. Kansas representatives promised weeks ago they would have this addressed in plenty of time, but here we are, last minute and prepared to go into another dark of night session in the statehouse.
Why? Because a late night debate on a Sunday serves the Republican ideal. They tried to wait out teachers in a staring game last night, but the teachers and KNEA refused to blink. It might be easier on a Sunday, KS Legislators figure, as teachers have to go to work tomorrow.
I'll be updating this through the day... and back in Topeka late tonight. If my Son's special ed teachers can't be there because they have to work, I'm happy to be there for them.
This is a reckless, dangerous game with education. In the end, it harms the state in a way that is hard to really appreciate in the short term. As we lower educational standards, run out teachers we also run out the next generation of entrepreneurs and job creators. It's hard to attract talent to a state that offers cut throat education on the cheap.
(This Diary will be updated through the day and replaced later tonight when House goes in session)
8:27 AM PT: Kansas Senate Progress Current revision would remove most of the unscored tax credit for companies. End of teacher due process stays. Homeschooling tax credit stays. This is no better.
8:28 AM PT: Teachers are leaving from Wichita to be at the Capital at noon, there is also a carpool from Manhattan, KS. Trying to organize teachers around the state to get to the capital. Thank you, KNEA!
8:54 AM PT: Vote for us, or you will be primaried Kansas, unhappy with 'moderate' republicans have told them if the don't vote to end Due Process for teachers, they will face a primary on the right. 'We will find someone'.
8:57 AM PT: Wagle (R) Believes she has the vote.. I'm hearing 9 or 10 will flip in the house. The threat of being primaried is sinking in and many are afraid to face down the Brownback machine from the right in their home district. If this count out of staff is right, Kansas (R)s will sell out for their own job over what is right.
9:17 AM PT: KNEA Is in force in the building now. "Who's Schools?!" Teachers are not going to back down. Unfortunately, I have to go eat. Sleep dep. killing me.. if you're in Kansas, and you're near Topeka, feel free to comment. I will catchup as best I can as soon as return.
9:19 AM PT: From Wichita Eagle (Hey Bryan!)
10:04 AM PT: Had to update twitter first my laptop is dead so stealing a PC.. Koch Brothers have setup shop in Wagle's office... pressure on house moderates: Vote for us or you won't get to the general in 2014.. primary pressure being directly applied.
10:14 AM PT: Susan Wagle Accused of negotiating in bad faith; Senate quickly recesses.. senators return to offices... Republicans make a straight line for Wagle.. Moderate Republicans in house report pressure is "VERY HIGH"
10:24 AM PT: Unscheduled 4AM Conference meeting Went down that was not public after moderates, teachers and others had left the building. Democratic senators are now saying this violated the Open Meetings law and are demanding accounting of event.
1:34 PM PT: Note: I'm updating mostly my twitter due to laptop fails. In senate now. Den Hensley is raising issue of violation of rules.
1:54 PM PT: Senate is currently debating a Rule 23 open meetings violation
2:00 PM PT: Rules committee sides with Republicans, no violation, voting to go forward.
2:17 PM PT: SEN Hawk is making an impassioned defense of teachers, and advocating for teachers who can stand up to parents and tackle tough cases.
Sen Hawk puts up defense.
2:33 PM PT: Notice the empty seats? Republicans who aren't sticking around for debate b
2:45 PM PT: I'm getting word Ks Rs are stuck and 9flips is it. Not enough to reverse last nights 'no' in current standing but pressure is high and that can change.
3:01 PM PT: Sen Pat Petty is making the Republicans who stay deal with the reality teachers are real people.
3:07 PM PT: She's holding the floor and Republicans are getting unnerved. She's not obligated to yield and she's got a stack. How long can she go?
3:12 PM PT: Sen Wagle takes to her cell phone while Sen Petty refuses to yield, speaking for teachers
3:22 PM PT: Message from legislative staff: "where is Sam? No one is talking from Governors behalf"
3:33 PM PT: KNEA gathering at 545.
3:46 PM PT: The KS senate is now full of empty desks as Republicans went from huddling behind cell phones to leaving the body
3:53 PM PT: Republicans return to desks but no sign of senate president Wagle
4:06 PM PT: KS House gavels into session to recess til 9pm
4:17 PM PT: Kansas senate passes legislation. 28-16. Ends due process. Promotes tax cuts instead. Home schooling over schools. No debate. 'This is Shameful'
4:38 PM PT: Kansas teachers raise their hands like their pupls: let us be heard.
5:02 PM PT: Official voter list. Say thank you to those that voted Nay.
7:07 PM PT: Kasha Republican who knows how to cure dyslexia and wishes for pre Brown V Board of education leads R parade
7:22 PM PT: House confirms no substantive change. Rep trimmer says so what
7:41 PM PT: House Republicans pass legislation 63-57. Teachers lose as Republicans come home.
8:16 PM PT: Brownback finally talks. Claims a win.
8:45 PM PT: Paul Davis talks to teachers. He's as tired as we are but says: Do not give up. Fight. Fight for what is right for you and your students
Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 7:09 AM PT: Last Update Last update. I want to note that out of the last conference, the give away for homeschoolers was removed. It was the only thing removed. The give away for companies offering scholarships to private schools remains. So, file those LLC paperwork papers now.... yeesh. Thank you everyone, I had little sleep last night, a very busy phone and lots of email. If you're in Kansas and you see a teacher today, thank them for their service. They need some good reasons to stay at their job, and reminding them that some of us appreciate them helps.
Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 1:40 PM PT: One photo I couldn't upload after my laptop died, but I love it. Teachers took to the Governor's office, which was empty all day and left notes. "Where are you?" "Thought you cared about education" "Please see me"
Brownback never showed up. His office and staff were not present. A Republican aid sent me this:
"No one knows where the Governor's staff is at the moment. I don't know if they realize this looks bad."