Friday, April 18, 2014

"Kansas Teachers Lose Due Process in Firings"

March 10, 2014, vol.43, no.16, pp.4-5

The following is quoted in full from this week's Library Hotline:

Kansas Teachers Lose Due Process in Firings
On April 6, the Kansas State Legislature narrowly passed House Bill 2506, a school finance bill allowing teachers to be terminated without due process. The bill would make it easier to fire teachers and also relax licensing standards for schools hiring teachers in subjects like math and science. The passage of the bill follows the passage of an amendment on April 3 to cease state spending to implement Common Core standards adopted by the Kansas Board of Education in 2010.

Teachers and education activists protested over social media the passage of the bill, and the Moderate Party of Kansas has begun to circulate an online petition to restore due process for teachers.

The bill was in response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling in March 2014 ordering the state to address the funding discrepancies between rich and poor schools by July 2014. The school finance reforms have been lobbied by far-right conservatives such as Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and tied to a series of reforms aimed at closing the spending gap between economically diverse schools by allowing the privatization of public schools and their funding, among other changes.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
The bill has been passed to Gov. Sam Brownback to sign, but he has yet to do so. The Republican governor seeks a second term, and while the Kansas State Legislature is in a firm Republican grip, the powerful Kansas National Education Association— Kansas’s largest teacher’s union—issued a strong message the day after the bill’s passage on April 7, as reported by the New York Times:

“We expect you, Governor Brownback, to VETO this bill as it diminishes teachers’ ability to advocate for their students without fear of retribution,” the group stated.

During the first weekend in April, hundreds of teachers in red T-shirts protested at the capital’s statehouse in Topeka. While Governor Brownback has yet to sign the bill, he issued a formal statement regarding the bill on the Kansas Office of the Governor website on April 6 indicating his support of the bill:

“House Bill 2506 increases funding to Kansas schools by $73 million and includes $78 million of property tax relief. The bill ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently, putting money in the classrooms to help teachers teach and students learn.”

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