School funding fix? Not important. Attack Teachers? By any means necessary.

Feb 15, 2018 by

Clay Aurand

House Education Committee Chairman Clay Aurand seems content to ignore school funding and allow schools to close, choosing instead to spend his time ensuring teachers are expendable chattel.  

If you’re House Education Committee Chairman Clay Aurand, you are feeling quite exhausted today.  You’ve spent the last three days trying to slam the door shut on any bill brought before your committee to restore due process for K-12 teachers.

If you’re Aurand, you willfully ignore the ticking clock that will ultimately signal an end to Supreme Court patience and the closing of public schools leaving students to pay the price.

If you’re Aurand you’ve taken no concrete steps to deal with the funding crisis in the K-12 budget committee where you are a member. You haven’t introduced a bill to solve the problem, you haven’t spoken of solutions. Instead, you’ve spent all of your time and energy to ensure that teachers continue to be treated with insult and injury in the House Education Committee where you are the Chair.  You ignore the fact that the full House took a position last year in support of restoring due process when it passed a bill to do just that.  But in your committee, you are judge and jury and when the majority doesn’t bend to your personal will you make it clear that you will not allow any vote contrary to your ideology; you will not permit your committee to show Kansas teachers appreciation and respect. You will not tolerate a bill that protects teachers from arbitrary and capricious terminations even if the majority of members of the House vote for just such a bill.

And then you couch your actions in worry about bullying when you are the biggest bully of them all.

And to be clear on the bullying issue, that bill has already been passed out of the education committee on a unanimous vote. It has been read in on the floor of the House and is ready at any time to be voted on. There is absolutely no need to pass the bill out of committee again today.

If you’re  school board member and Representative Clay Aurand, it’s more important to focus your energy on ensuring teachers have no ability to advocate for students than to make sure schools will open for those students in the next school year.

How did we get here?  Remember that last year, when a bill to restore due process came before his committee Chairman Aurand would not allow the bill to be worked, regardless of the fact that a majority of his own members wanted to debate and vote on the bill.  When it became clear that the committee was ready and willing to overrule him, he simply ended the committee meeting and refused to allow the bill to be worked.  Restoring due process instead came before the full House as a floor amendment and passed last year.  But Clay Aurand is clearly not one to be satisfied with a result passed by a majority of House members when that result defies his own personal will.

This year, Aurand again proclaimed that he would not entertain a bill restoring due process to all Kansas teachers in his committee.  On Monday, Representative Valdenia Winn offered an amendment to a bullying policy bill which would restore due process.  Her motion to amend was seconded by Rep. Good (R-El Dorado) and after trying unsuccessfully for nearly an hour to find some procedural maneuver to kill the amendment, it was adopted on a vote of 9 to 7.   Several Republicans joined Democrats in a bi-partisan show of support for Kansas teachers.  Finally, Aurand could turn his focus to other committee matters and look towards a school funding solution; but instead, he spent the intervening hours conspiring to subvert the democratic majority vote in his own committee.

What did he try to do?  In committee yesterday, Aurand with help from Rep. Willie Dove (who also voted against restoring due process) hatched a scheme to gut another committee bill, insert the bullying policy bill leaving the due process amendment out entirely.  That’s right, the one that was passed by a majority of his own committee.  We can’t help but wonder why Aurand is expending so much energy to continue the insult against teachers while ignoring his responsibilities to work towards a school funding fix.  The answer is that for Aurand keeping schools open must take a back seat to ensuring that teachers can be fired for no reason at all.  And Aurand is trying to do this using the “gut and go” maneuver that is a standard practice of the most secretive legislature in the nation – a practice that has come to be seen as part and parcel of a Legislative desire to hide their actions from the public.

How did he fail (for now)? In their rush to trash the democratic process, Aurand and Dove tried to gut a bill that never had a hearing.  Rules of procedure do not allow a committee to take action on a bill that has never had a hearing.  Aurand and Dove either didn’t know that rule, didn’t care or most likely were too focused on succeeding with their sneak-attack to realize they were running afoul of the rules.  But, Clay Aurand is clearly not one to let small things like democracy or fully funded schools get in his way.  We fully expect that Aurand, Dove, and others are conspiring right now to manufacture a way to end the possibility that K-12 teachers may have due process restored.  What we know- based on their actions- is that they are almost assuredly NOT working on a school funding fix as they should be.

What can you do right now?  Use the contact information below to call AND email committee members and Chairman Aurand.  Let them know that you expect them to be working on a SCHOOL FUNDING FIX and to stop wasting valuable time and energy scheming ways to subvert democracy in an effort to stop the will of the majority who have voted to restore due process for K-12 teachers.  *The vote was a division vote (not recorded, but by raised hands) those who voted aye (yes) are noted by the asterisk.

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