Governor Brownback is pressing forward with his education reform. This legislation led by Republicans and written by ALEC advocates some major changes in our state. They involve:
* Removing Due Process from teachers.
* Removing requirements for teacher certification.
* Tax Credits for all companies providing vouchers to students to attend private schools.
A big part of why Kansas has taken this track is because of how we have come to this conclusion.
Kansas Republicans advocate a position that says: the states that spend the most are the worst, the states that spend the least are the best..
How do they get that figure? By using numbers from Americans for Prosperity. Not rankings based on any real academic criteria.
Over the last few weeks, I've tried to put a lot of effort into this. In part because this is a piece of legislation that has significant impacts for about 35k Kansans, teachers and their families.
Gov. Sam Brownback will sign a controversial school finance bill that sends millions more to schools, but also strips public school teachers of a protection they’ve had since 1957.Some of it is just sheer confusion.
The governor will sign the bill at a ceremony at 4 p.m. Monday at the Capitol. He will be joined by Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, and House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell.
The state was ordered by the Supreme Court to fix inequities in funding between school districts before July 1. HB 2506 will allocate $129 million to go toward closing gaps in capital outlay and local option budget funds, two areas where the court found unconstitutional inequities.
The bill has been strongly opposed by the Kansas National Education Association for tying the funding to what some say are unvetted policy changes.
“The policy pieces in this bill are poisonous to Kansas public schools and if he signs it he takes ownership of it, that is all I have to say,” said Mark Desetti, the union’s legislative director.
As Republicans conflate constitutional due process (right to a trial, attorney, facing your accuser/etc.) with the rights of those who are terminated, without realizing the two are not the same thing.
Over the last few weeks, I've taken time to talk to several of the key players in this situation, and I encourage you to go back and look through some of those diaries, which develop this from beginning to end.
Assessment after passage:
And this piece:
Our second day at the capital tell the story in the most clear way I can muster.
It is no surprise that this moment would come. Yesterday, in the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, legislators noted that a veto was a 'longshot'.
What should not be a longshot though is an effort to inform more Kansas teachers of the real world realities that this legislation brings them. It will take years to undo the Brownback administration. Several years. I don't envy someone like Paul Davis his monumental task ahead of him.
The proposal to repeal tenure was attached by Republicans without any public hearing or public input on the measure.This year we've seen Kansas in all it's glory. From Turn Gay Away debates to fights over registering mothers who have miscarriages to an education plan that was rushed and full of ill-thought policy.
Asked if that was the proper way to repeal tenure, Brownback said, "I'm impressed the Legislature got a bill through in the amount of time they were given by the court."
Brownback's remarks were made after a news conference touting higher education funding at the Kansas University Medical Center.
Brownback said he would have a signing ceremony on the school finance bill later Monday.
But this is a teaching moment... a chance for educators to step out from behind their desks and, in their private time, talk to those around them and let them know exactly the direction that education is taking in our state.
November 2014 will be a 'last stand' for Kansas educators in many ways. Either they overturn the governor and build some ground in the state senate and house, or they have to be prepared for radical changes in the way their career path will work for as long as they reside in Kansas.
We've just made teaching a part time position for our students. Bad for the teachers. Bad for our kids. Bad for our future.
If people needed motivation in an off year, this is it.