Palace Intrigue! Ethnic & Financial Studies. Due Process Fight!

Feb 15, 2016 by

Pilcher-Cook Punished!

Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) lashed out at Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee), removing Pilcher-Cook as chair of the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare and removing her from the committee altogether.

The disagreement was over a floor maneuver in which Pilcher-Cook tried to add an amendment expanding Medicaid to a bill on step-therapy. Her intent was to demonstrate that the Senate was adamantly opposed to any expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The amendment was challenged as not germane to the underlying bill. The rules committee determined that indeed it was not germane and thus it was out of order.

Pilcher-Cook then demanded a roll call vote on a challenge to the ruling of the Chair. This was a classic “postcard” move. If one voted to sustain the Chair, it could be used in election postcards as showing support for “Obamacare.” Wagle was furious that any Senator would try such an obvious trick.

As Senate President, Wagle has the power to appoint and remove committee chairs and assignments. After losing her chairmanship and seat on the committee, Pilcher-Cook lashed out at Wagle implying that she might be a moderate like former Senator Steve Morris. She told the press that Wagle was supporting Hillary Clinton’s position on Medicaid expansion.

So now we see a not-so-subtle shift in the extreme right talking points as we approach the 2016 election. They’ve gotten by for a few cycles by tying moderate Republicans and Democrats to President Obama. Their new Satan will be Hillary Clinton.

Wagle has been as anti-Obamacare as anyone in the Kansas Republican party. This blow-up could be indicative of new splinters within the party. How far to the right must one be to please the extreme end of the party?


House Ed Committee in Long Meeting

The House Education Committee met today beginning at noon and kicked out a few bills.

The first bill was dealing with Ethnic Studies in schools. The bill, brought forth by Rep. John Alcala (D-Topeka) last year. HB 2207 as introduced would have directed the State Board of Education to develop curriculum and materials for local school boards to use if they so choose related to ethnic studies. Ethnic studies was defined as instruction that “includes, but is not limited to, the experiences of African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, Latinos, Native Americans and other racialized peoples.”

When Rep. Becky Hutchins asked if this would allow teaching about Muslims and Sharia Law, the bill was amended to remove “other racialized peoples” and change “but is not limited to” to “and is limited to.” This essentially says that ethnic studies only applies to the five specifically listed groups.

The bill was further amended on a motion of Rep. Jerry Lunn (R-Overland Park) to assure that no materials related to ethnic studies would include “social justice remedies.”

The amended bill was then passed out of committee and will go to the full House for consideration.

The committee also passed out HB 2532, the financial literacy bill without amendment.


Bill Killing Due Process Scheduled for Vote on Thursday

The House Education Committee will work HB 2531, the bill repealing due process protections for instructors at community colleges and technical colleges.

The bill had a hearing last week where instructors from Johnson County Community College and Hutchinson Community College led the opposition. The President of Garden City Community College entered into a heated debate with members of the committee in his support for the bill.

Click here to access the committee roster with links to their email addresses and office phones. Let them know how important due process for teachers and instructors is to academic freedom and student advocacy.

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New Common Core Ban Bill; House Passes Budget

Feb 11, 2016 by

New House Bill Would Essentially Ban Education

Today’s bill releases includes HB 2676. This is a rehash of a Rep. John Bradford (R-Lansing) bill from last year that prohibits the use of any standards related to the Common Core or developed by any consortium or any other organization. As we reported on last year’s version, this bill would ban AP, IB, SAT and ACT, all of which are aligned to common core standards. It would also end participation in the Lexia reading program – a program singled out by conservatives in the legislature as a preferred reading intervention program. Lexia too is aligned with the common core standards.

This bill includes another proposal from last year dealing with a requirement for prior written consent from every parent before any data can be collected on a student.

“’Prior written consent’ means that a parent or legal guardian’s signature is required on a written document that notifies the parent or legal guardian what data will be collected, how the data will be collected, how the data will be used, what person or entity the data will be shared with and the dates over which the disclosed data will be used.”

Wow. You might want to read this one! Click here for a copy.

Sponsors of the bill, in addition to John Bradford, are Republicans Joe Scapa, Tony Barton, Blake Carpenter, JR Claeys, Pete DeGraaf, Willie Dove, Estes, Randy Garber, Mario Goico, Houser, Becky Hutchins, Dick Jones, Kevin Jones, Mike Kiegerl, Jerry Lunn, Macheers, Connie O’Brien, Jan Pauls, Virgil Peck, Randy Powell, Rahjes, Read, Marc Rhoades, Rubin, Seiwert, Sutton, Jene Vickrey, Weber, and Whitmer.


House Passes Budget Bill on Final Action

The House passed SB 161, the budget bill debated yesterday on a vote of 68 to 56. There was some thought that the Gannon decision handed down this morning might impact the vote since the ruling will require approximately $50 million in additional funding for K-12 schools.

A number of traditional Republicans and Democrats explained their NO votes, decrying the failure of the legislature to address the real issue – tax breaks that have eaten away at the state’s ability to fund services.

The bill also delays payments to KPERS. While an amendment offered by Rep. Steven Johnson (R-Asaria) were adopted that would require KPERS to be paid within the first quarter of the next fiscal year with 8% interest, it does not ease the concerns of hard-working teachers and other public employees who have watched as the legislature drained funds from the highway fund. There is little faith outside of the statehouse that revenues will recover sufficiently to meet state needs.

The roll call vote is as follows:

YEA: Anthimides, Barker, Barton, Billinger, Boldra, Bradford, Campbell, B. Carpenter, W. Carpenter, Claeys, Corbet, E. Davis, Dove, Esau, Estes, Ewy, Garber, Goico, Gonzalez, Grosserode, Hawkins, Hedke, Hemsley, Highland, Hildabrand, Hoffman, Houser, Huebert, Hutchins, Hutton, Johnson, D. Jones, K. Jones, Kahrs, Kelly, Kiegerl, Kleeb, Lunn, Macheers, Mason, Mast, McPherson, Merrick, O’Brien, Osterman, Pauls, R. Powell, Prroehl, Rahjes, Read, Rhoades, Rubin, Ryckman, Ryckman Sr, Scapa, Schroeder, Schwab, Schwartz, C. Smith, Suellentrop, Sutton, Thimesch, Todd, Vickrey, Waymaster, Weber, Whitmer, K. Williams.

NAY: Alcala, Alford, Ballard, Becker, Bollier, Bruchman, Burroughs, Carlin, Carmichael, Clark, Clayton, Concannon, Curtis, DeGraaf, Dierks, Doll, Edmonds, Finch, Finney, Francis, Frownfelter, Gallagher, Helgerson, Henderson, Henry, Hibbard, Highberger, Hill, Hineman, Houston, Jennings, Kelley, Kuether, Lewis, Lusk, Lusker, Moxley, Ousley, F. Patton, Peck, Phillips, Rooker, Ruiz, Sawyer, Scott, Sloan, S. Swanson, Thompson, Tietze, Trimmer, Victors, Ward, Whipple, Wilson, Winn, Wolfe Moore.

The Senate is debating a similar budget bill today. They began general orders debate at 3:00. The budget bill is third up and after a debate on a gun bill. We’re looking for a long night and so will report on the outcome tomorrow.


Education Committee Actions

The House Education Committee held a hearing on HB 2532, a bill putting financial literacy into the Rose Standards. The bill was supported by Committee Chairman Ron Highland (R-Wamego), KNEA, KASB, the Kansas Chamber, and State Treasurer Ron Estes. Walt Chappell was listed as a proponent but asked the committee to replace this bill with one that would mandate a course in financial literacy as a graduation requirement. No action was taken on the bill.

The Senate Education Committee worked Senate Bill 323, the Jason Flatt Act on suicide prevention. The bill would require training for teachers and principals on recognizing signs of potential suicide. KNEA support the bill while asking the Committee to ensure that teachers could not be held liable should a child actually commit suicide. The bill was amended so that the required training is one hour each year. They also added the liability protection and parental notification. The bill will now go to the full Senate.

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