Anti-Common Core Bill First Up Tomorrow!

Mar 21, 2016 by

Anti-standards Bill First Up for Debate in House Tomorrow

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Anti-Standards bill as amended by Rep. Amanda Grosserode on House Floor for debate tomorrow.

Anti-Standards bill as amended by Rep. Amanda Grosserode will be on House Floor for debate tomorrow.

House Bill 2292, the newly minted anti-common core bill, will be the first bill up for debate on the House floor tomorrow.

While the bill is not nearly as offensive as the original Bradford version that would have banned AP, IB, SAT, ACT, and most everything schools are using in Kansas today, it still reverses all the hard work educators have done since 2010 to implement the Kansas College and Career Ready standards. The bill would still prohibit new standards from being aligned in any way to the common core or to any other “federal” standards.

Additionally, this bill appears to strip some authority for educational standards from the State Board of Education by requiring legislative review of any new standards prior to implementation.

The State Board of Education is charged with oversight of public education in Kansas. The legislature should not have veto power over the actions of the SBOE.

Contact your Representative tonight and urge a NO vote on HB 2292. Click here to send a message.


Plowing Through Bills

The House and Senate both had full agendas of bills to debate today but serious work had to wait until after a ceremony honoring the Kansas City Royals as baseball’s world champions.

On the agenda of the House today were five bills of interest:

  • SB 168, A KPERS working after retirement bill, which was advanced on a voice vote,
  • SB 2724, a KPERS bill dealing with 409A and 457(f) plans as related to final average salary was amended to include some data gathering on accrued leaves and advanced on a vote of 75-34,
  • SB 388, requiring a consistent Regents policy on the awarding of CLEP exam credits was advanced on a voice vote,
  • SB 323, the Jason Flatt Act requiring suicide prevention training for educators was amended by adding the seclusion and restraint bill, HB 2534 and advanced on a voice vote, and
  • HB 2483, a postsecondary career technical education performance-based funding bill was passed on a voice vote.

On the Senate side there were two bills of interest to KNEA:

  • HB 2441 establishing a language assessment program for children who are deaf or hard of hearing was advanced on a voice vote, and
  • SB 512, Sen. Masterson’s funding equity bill that sweeps the extraordinary needs fund and takes 1.45% of funding from all school districts to be redistributed to meet the equity requirement of the Supreme Court. At the end of a relatively short debate, this bill was sent back to Committee.

Joint Meeting to Grill Folks on What to Do

Senator Masterson compares Supreme Court equity ruling to "holding a gun" to the head of KS children.

Senator Masterson compares Supreme Court equity ruling to “holding a gun” to the head of KS children.

During a recess of both chambers, a joint committee convened to grill folks on what to do about the equity decision.

Questions were directed primarily to Toby Crouse, the attorney hired by the legislature to represent their interests, and Commissioner Randy Watkins. Much of the questioning seemed to center on who should be responsible for the distribution of school funding. Masterson asked why the legislature should not simply give the money to the State Department and allow the Department to distribute it in such a way as to be both equitable and adequate. Watson said the Department did not have the capacity to do that to which Masterson responded that it was not a question of capacity but of the appropriate place to make such decisions.

There is beginning to be some speculation in the press that the way things are going under the dome, it looks like they may have to extend the session (the regular session is supposed to end by this Friday) or convene a special session. Of course, during an election year, it would be difficult to schedule a special session. After all, legislators would rather be on the campaign trail than sitting in special session.

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Confronted with math text, Rep. John Bradford calls math “hokey”.

Mar 19, 2016 by

House Ed Committee Sends Anti-Common Core Bill to Full Chamber

Rep. John Bradford, Lansing

Rep. John Bradford, Lansing

The House Education Committee, meeting on adjournment yesterday, radically amended HB 2292 (the bill essentially banning education in Kansas) and sent the new version out for consideration by the full House.

An amendment offered by Rep. Amanda Grosserode (R-Lenexa) gutted the bill and replaced it with language repealing the current Kansas College and Career Ready Standards while replacing them with new Kansas standards adopted with no help or ideas from outside Kansas. The amendment specifically bans any federal or common core standards.

The amendment as adopted was not available in print during the meeting and the new bill is not yet posted on the legislature’s website so we are unable to fully report on its impact at this time.

Six legislators on the committee were recorded as voting NO on both the amendment and the bill. Those voting NO were Ed Trimmer (D-Winfield), Nancy Lusk (D-Overland Park), Valdenia Winn (D-Kansas City), Jarrod Ousley (D-Merriam), Sue Boldra (R-Hays), and Chuck Smith (R-Pittsburg). These six all vocally supported the State Board and the current Kansas College and Career Ready Standards throughout the meeting.

Smith told the committee that the current standards are far better than anything he experienced and that Kansas schools have produced better educated students that ever. Ousley had brought in his daughter’s textbooks to demonstrate that there was no “hokie math instruction” as asserted by Rep. John Bradford (R-Lansing).

Another very concerning part of this bill is that it gives the legislature review of what the State Board of Education does. The bill requires the SBOE to write new standards and submit those standards prior to implementation to the legislature for review. Frankly, this very act – the legislature essentially vetoing work that rightly and constitutionally belongs to the SBOE is alarming. A very bad precedent is being set with this bill.

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Transparency (n.) – when Kansas extremist legislators admit to open attacks on public education.

Mar 10, 2016 by

silentHouse Ed Returns to Their Extremist Agenda Tomorrow; Plans Include Stripping Due Process Rights from Higher Ed Instructors!

House Education Committee Chairman Ron Highland (R-Wamego) announced publicly today that he will bring SB 136 back into committee for a hearing tomorrow. This made many of us curious given that SB 136 contains only current law on collective bargaining – it is the bill that contained the education community’s PNA proposal that passed in another bill.

Now why would a committee have a hearing on a bill that already passed, albeit under a different number? The only reason is that one intends a “gut and go.” Highland, under questioning from Rep. Valdenia Winn (D-Kansas City), admitted that he intended to gut SB 136 and insert the contents of HB 2531, the anti-due process bill. So this bill will be coming out of the House Education Committee yet again tomorrow.

But in addition, we’ve just learned that he will also bring back HB 2292, the bill repealing Kansas learning standards! Look for amendments to this bill and then sending it back to the floor.

CLICK HERE to Keep the Pressure On! Don’t be silenced!

 


True to Her Word, Senator Lynn Pushes Anti-teacher Bill out of Committee

Waging her war on Kansas teachers, Senator Julia Lynn (R-Olathe) railroaded Senator Jeff Melcher’s (R-Leawood) anti-teacher bill designed to stop collective bargaining for teachers in Kansas out of committee this morning. She had to cut off a Democratic senator from trying to make an amendment; she had to cut off KNEA General Counsel David Schauner’s response to a committee member’s question, but she got her way.

Senate Bill 469 would require the recertification of all teacher representative organizations every three years. This would be done via elections run by the Kansas Department of Labor.

Among the provisions specifically written to diminish teacher rights to representation are:

  • The Department of Labor would be required to conduct nearly 300 representation elections. If the department were unable to conduct all of these elections due to manpower constraints, those districts in which elections were not held would automatically be decertified. Teachers would be statutorily denied a representative for at least 12 months and lose their contract protections.
  • SB 469 mandates elections through the Department of Labor but requires the teachers to pay the Department for those elections – a classic “unfunded mandate.” Even if there was no challenge in the election, teachers would be billed by the Department of Labor for an unnecessary election.
  • Under this bill, representation would be denied unless one organization received more than 50% of the votes of all eligible voters. If people chose not to vote, it would essentially be counted as a vote for no representation. If the Senators on the Commerce Committee were held to the same super majority standard in their elections, not one would be serving in the Senate today – even the two who were unopposed in their last election! Those Senate seats would remain vacant until the next election, denying representation to all the voters in those districts.

Make no mistake about this bill. Its sole purpose is to deny teachers representation and ensure that collective bargaining cannot take place. The only proponents for the bill (other than Lynn, Melcher, and other anti-union, anti-teacher legislators) were the Kansas Policy Institute’s Dave Trabert, the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity, and the Association of American Educators, an alleged teacher organization funded primarily by right wing foundations for the purpose of ending collective bargaining.

The Kansas AAE has successfully de-certified a few KNEA locals using the process currently in law and then left those teachers to fend for themselves at the bargaining table. Passage of SB 469 would assist KPI, AFP, and AAE in eliminating collective bargaining for nearly all teachers without having to do any work whatsoever.

Opposition to the bill came from all Kansas education organizations (KASB, KNEA, USA, KSSA), a number of private citizens, and other labor organizations.

The bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration sometime next week.


Sen. Masterson Pulls SB 311 in Response to Overwhelming Public Criticism

Citing public outcry and bad press, Senator Ty Masterson (R-Andover) abruptly cancelled the hearing on SB 311 which would transfer education funding from the Department of Education to the Department of Administration. Masterson said it was impossible to have a rational discussion of the issue given the level of negative press. The hearing drew a large number of opponents ready to testify. There is enormous suspicion about the motives behind a bill that would take school funding out of the department controlled by the State Board of Education and shifting it to a department controlled by the Governor.

This should not be surprising given the number of attacks launched on schools, school administrators and board members, and teachers by this legislature.

This year we’ve seen serious consideration of HB 2457 transferring millions of dollars into unaccredited private schools via tax credits, SB 469 intended to destroy teacher organizations, HB 2292 eliminating Kansas education standards, and HB 2531 denying due process to community and technical college instructors.

And it’s not over.

 

 

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No Bad Stuff Today…But STAY VIGILANT!

Feb 22, 2016 by

House Debates Bills

The House debated a number of bills today, two of which have an impact on public schools.

House Bill 2532 adds financial literacy to the Rose Standards. KNEA supported the bill in committee. It was amended on the floor on a motion of Rep. Sue Boldra (R-Hays) to put specific mentions of mathematics and science in the Rose standards. The Boldra amendment was adopted on a voice vote.

Rep. John Alcala (D-Topeka) moved to amend the bill by adding in his ethnic studies bill but not in the same form it came out of committee. The Committee had changed the bill so that it could not teach social justice remedies. The Alcala amendment allows this. The amendment was adopted on a division vote of 70 to 51. But when the bill came up on final action, it was defeated on a vote of 43 to 81.

The second education related bill was HB 2578 which allows chiropractors to clear a sports team member to play following a head injury. Much of the debate on the bill focused on chiropractors versus physicians. Some from Western Kansas had argued that it was often very difficult to find a physician to examine the player and make a decision. The bill was passed on a vote of 73 to 51.

The House was finished shortly after 2:00 today and will reconvene tomorrow at 9:00 am when they will debate 17 bills.

No education bills are on the debate agenda for tomorrow.

The bills that we are following most closely have not yet passed but the session is far from over.

Bills on tuition tax credits – the voucher bills – HB 2174 and HB 2457 are not scheduled for debate nor is the common core bill, Sub for HB 2292. The bill repealing due process for community and technical college instructors will not be debated tomorrow but has been referred to a time-exempt committee and so could be brought up for a vote any time after the break. We will know more about the status of these and other bills at the end of the session mid-point tomorrow.


Senate Going Long; 35 Bills Today!

The Senate put 35 bills up for debate today and they are still going on as we write today’s edition. Of interest to educators is SB 342, a bill tightening up online privacy requirements for software companies that provide resources to schools.

Assuming the Senate completes all of this today, they will still have 10 bills to debate tomorrow, none of which are education bills.


Half Way Point – What About the Bad Stuff?

Upon adjournment tomorrow, we will be half way through the 2016 session. The second half will be hard. School finance is not finished and so far there are no responses to the Supreme Court’s decision on equity in Gannon. Many negative education bills are still around.

If we’ve learned anything over the years, it is that no bad ideas ever go away. We must never forget April of 2014 when anti-education legislators brought forth all the terrible ideas that had not passed a committee and made them floor amendments to the budget. Those legislators waging a war on public service and public education are determined. Those of us who value public education must be just as determined.

All of us must stay vigilant through the session and into the election cycle. Your job back home is to use every opportunity to meet with legislators – at forums, in your communities, in the supermarket – and make your voice heard.

Your other job is to continue to work with parents, civic organizations, and all of your colleagues to get them engaged in this effort.

Read and share Under the Domewww.underthedomeks.org.

Follow KNEA on twitter – @MLBOIG, @desettiks, @Kneanews, @Kansasedtalk

Send your friends and neighbors to www.Joinusks.org to sign up for alerts and information.

Tune in to www.ksEdTalk.org and listen to our monthly education podcast featuring teachers, parents, school board members, and legislators.

Be vigilant…be vocal…be determined.

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Due process, reading and math under attack in House Education Committee.

Feb 17, 2016 by

House Ed to Consider Bill Attacking CC/TC Instructors Tomorrow

Take action tonight!

The House Education Committee plans to work House Bill 2531, repealing due process for instructors at Community and Technical Colleges, tomorrow.

A few of the Community College presidents – most notably Herbert Swender of Garden City Community College – support the bill which would enable them to fire instructors for any reason or no reason whatsoever. This bill is an extension of the bill passed in 2014 stripping K-12 teachers of due process and another in 2015 eliminating due process for most state employees. It appears that extreme elements in the Kansas legislature and the Governor won’t be happy until all public employees are low-wage at-will employees.

While the bill was also supported by the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees, some have publicly opposed the measure. The Kansas City, Kansas Community College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to oppose HB 2531 and Lee Cross, a member of the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees has publicly announced his opposition to the bill.

Kansas NEA opposes the bill and several Community College faculty members from JCCC and Hutchinson Community College appeared before the Committee last week to oppose the bill. The bill was also opposed by Kansas Families for Education, a parent school advocacy group from Johnson County.

Committee Chairman Ron Highland (R-Wamego) has scheduled the bill for possible action tomorrow at 1:30. Now is the time for everyone who believes in academic freedom and wants teachers and professors that are willing to stand up for education and students to contact members of the House Education Committee and let them know that HB 2531 is bad public policy and should be rejected.

Below is a list of Committee members with their office phone numbers and hyperlinks to their email.

House Ed Hears from Anti-Common Core Zealot; Votes to Ban Anything Aligned with Common Core

Duke Pesta, and English professor from the University of Wisconsin at Osh Kosh, was the invited guest of the House Education Committee for their meeting today.

Pesta is revered in Tea Party circles for his vitriolic attacks on the common core standards. He is the Academic Director of Freedom Project Education, an on-line high school providing a “K – 12 classical education with a Biblical foundation and Americanist perspective.”

Members of the Committee, most notably John Bradford (R-Lansing), Tony Barton (R-Leavenworth), and Marc Rhoades (R-Newton), have been working tirelessly for several years to ban the common core standards and the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards. The latest bill, HB 2676, is a resuscitated bill that has gone nowhere in the past that would almost ban education entirely.

HB 2676 would prohibit Kansas from using anything aligned to the common core standards and to stop using anything created with a consortium. The result would be a prohibition on AP classes and materials, the International Baccalaureate Program, use of the SAT or ACT, and even a ban on the Lexia reading program that Rhoades personally got designated at the state’s reading recovery program in a budget bill.

Pesta has toured the country talking to Tea Party groups and attacking education standards. Just google “Duke Pesta Tea Party” for a sampling.

Pesta is best described as an old school evangelical fire and brimstone preacher – think Elmer Gantry. He shouted his presentation, wandering around in front of the Committee, waving his arms, and noting the applause of the audience most of whom were part of today’s Tea Party Religious Freedom Day Rally in the capitol.

When Pesta was done, Chairman Highland pulled up a bill from last year, HB 2292. This was the anti-common core bill from the 2015 session that had a hearing on Feb. 23 last year. Rep. Tony Barton (R-Leavenworth) moved to gut HB 2292 and insert the contents of HB 2676, this year’s more expansive anti common core bill that has not had a hearing.

The move was done so that Highland could avoid having a hearing on the bill and thus stop any opponents from appearing. When he was challenged on this basis, he responded that the bill had a hearing last year. While HB 2292 did have a hearing, HB 2676 which now replaces it has many more provisions in it and that bill has never had a hearing. But this is par for the course for Republican leadership that revels in passing legislation that is broadly opposed by the public but supported by their benefactors.

Today was essentially a pre-emptive re-opening of a hearing that had been closed, inviting only proponents to the hearing and notifying the public about the hearing by titling it a “Presentation on the History of Education.” Had the Chairman actually posted what they were doing, opponents would have been at the hearing.

Do you remember April of 2014 when Speaker Merrick, President Wagle and their leadership teams brought amendments that had never had public hearings to the floor and attached them to a budget bill, ramming it all through with no public input at three in the morning? Today’s meeting utilized the same tactics. Secret agreements behind closed doors suddenly executed with no ability for the public to speak. We suppose we should have expected this from this legislature.

Only the Democrats (Valdenia Winn, Ed Trimmer, Nancy Lusk, and John Alcala) and one Republican (Sue Boldra) opposed this anti-education bill. Republicans John Barker and Chuck Smith had mysteriously been replaced for the day by Speaker Merrick. Taking their seats and voting for the bill were Peggy Mast (R-Emporia) and Jene Vickrey (R-Louisburg).

It will now go to the full House where it will likely be debated on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

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