End of Regular Session (More to Come)

Mar 25, 2016 by

KSCapRegular Session Ends with Adoption of School Equity Bill

The 2016 regular session came to an end at about 4:30 p.m. today with the House adoption of Senate Sub for HB 2655, the school finance equity “fix” drafted in response to the Supreme Court ruling in the Gannon case.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee had taken their finance bill, SB 555, made a few amendments mostly telling the Court why this was a good bill (something of a preamble “statement of intent”) and then on a gut and go motion inserted the contents into HB 2655.

The gut and go was a way around having hearings in the House with the possibility of House amendments that would put the bill in conference and slow the whole process down. They wanted out for the Easter weekend and if the House would just concur in regards to the changes to HB 2655, they could all go home.

Earlier in the morning, the Senate on final action passed the bill 32-5. All Republicans voted for the bill, five Democrats opposed it, and three Democrats did not vote.

The bill was in the House for the afternoon session. It was debated there for a couple of hours but since it was simply a matter of either concurring with the changes to the bill or sending it to conference, no amendments were permitted. The bill was passed on final action in the House on a vote of 93 – 31. Slightly less partisan, the bill got 91 Republicans and two Democrats voting yes, 26 Democrats and five Republicans voted no. Representative Rubin was absent.

Check the House Roll call by clicking here.

Up for debate now is whether or not the court will accept this as addressing equity constitutionally. If they do, then schools will be open in August. If not, then the legislature will have another opportunity to come up with another bill during the veto session which starts on April 27. Whether or not this bill will be acceptable is purely a matter of speculation. The Supreme Court will have the final say.


SB 469 Not Taken Up in the House

Senate Bill 469, the “Melcher bill” intended to end representation for teachers at the bargaining table and passed by the Senate last night by a slim margin was not taken up today in the House. The bill is no longer available for a hearing and debate or amendment in the House. But don’t think things are over yet. We will continue to be watching this issue and working to point out the chaos it would cause in local communities for school boards, administrators, and teachers.

The bill is opposed by the Kansas Association of School Boards, The Kansas School Superintendents’ Association, United School Administrators of Kansas, and the KNEA. The only proponents (other than Senators Melcher, Lynn, and Smith) are the ALEC/Koch-aligned anti-education groups the Kansas Policy Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. And, of course, Mr. Anonymous who wrote a letter to Senator Lynn excoriating the teachers’ unions and those who are members, which she read aloud with great vigor during debate.


They’re Going Home!

All 165 Kansas legislators will be home for the next month.  This gives supporters of public education in Kansas lots of time and opportunities to meet with them, talk with them, ask them questions, and advocate for public schools.

Don’t miss this opportunity to be an education lobbyist!  Head for those forums, breakfasts, and meet-and-greets wearing your school colors and ready to ask the tough questions.  If you see your representative in the community, approach them and respectfully request a few minutes to chat.  Remember, although some may have forgotten, they were elected to represent all interests, even yours.  Don’t let this opportunity to engage your representatives pass without doing so.

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Melcher leads senate floor attack on teachers.

Mar 23, 2016 by

Gov Brownback outside today's Senate hearing stripping teachers of more rights.

Gov Brownback outside today’s Senate hearing on SB 469 attempt to strip teachers of more rights.

Jeff Melcher, the man who has fought to completely eliminate collective bargaining and other rights for teachers continued his war today with his bill intended to end teacher representation.

SB 469 would require that every teachers’ association would be subject to a recertification vote annually; that an organization would need 50% + 1 of eligible voters (not votes cast) to be certified; would force the teachers to pay for state mandated elections; and would ban teacher representation for three years if the Department of Labor failed to hold an election.

Make no mistake, the intent of this bill is to end professional representation for teachers and leave them as at-will indentured labor.

Why would legislators like Melcher, Pilcher-Cook, and Lynn want to destroy the teachers’ association? Because it is the only thing that stands between their corporate masters’ desire to turn public schools into profit centers and the right of every child to a free, appropriate public education.

In a very fundamental way, this war on teachers and schools is about selling off public schools to the highest corporate bidder and making a quality education a privilege not a right.

Thanks to Senators Molly Baumgardner (R-Louisburg), Pat Pettey (D-Kansas City) and Tom Holland (D-Baldwin City), the bill was significantly amended.

As it is now, elections would be held once every three years with 1/3 of districts each year. Also, the vote needs to be 50% + 1 of votes cast; representation would stay in place if the DOL failed to hold the election, and voting would be allowed for 14 days not just 7. Amendments that failed would have dropped the requirement that teachers pay for these elections and moved the elections from the spring to the fall.

While the amended version is better than a “poke in the eye” (to quote Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer [R-Grinnell]), it is still unnecessary and is opposed by KNEA, KASB, USA/Kansas, and KSSA. The only supporters are the Kansas Policy Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the Kansas Chamber each a Koch/ALEC backed organization seeking to dismantle public education.

The bill was brought up for emergency final action (EFA). Usually final action votes take place the next day but at this time of year, EFA is not unusual. 

The bill was passed on a vote of 22-18. Given the conservative nature of the Kansas Senate, this is a good vote count despite the loss.

Your job tonight is to thank those 18 Senators who stood up for Kansas teachers and supported the education community (KASB, KNEA, KSSA, and USA/Kansas) over the anti-education establishment in the KPI, the KCC, AFP, and ALEC.

WHAT TO DO RIGHT NOW:

Just as important as your action last night, now we MUST call and email the following Senators with your sincere APPRECIATION for their NO vote on SB 469.  Supporting them in return for their support of teachers could help prevent this bill from reaching the Governor’s desk:

Elaine Bowers; 785-296-7389  Elaine.Bowers@senate.ks.gov

Oletha Faust-Goudeau; 785-296-7387  Oletha.Faust-Goudeau@senate.ks.gov

Marci Francisco; 785-296-7364  Marci.Francisco@senate.ks.gov

David Haley; 785-296-7376  David.Haley@senate.ks.gov

Tom Hawk; 785-296-7360  Tom.Hawk@senate.ks.gov

Anthony Hensley; 785-296-3245  Anthony.Hensley@senate.ks.gov

Tom Holland; 785-296-7372  Tom.Holland@senate.ks.gov

Laura Kelly; 785-296-7365  Laura.Kelly@senate.ks.gov

Dan Kerschen; 785-296-7353  Dan.Kerschen@senate.ks.gov

Jeff King; 785-296-7361  Jeff.King@senate.ks.gov

Jeff Longbine; 785-296-7384  Jeff.Longbine@senate.ks.gov

Carolyn McGinn; 785-296-7377  Carolyn.McGinn@senate.ks.gov

Ralph Ostmeyer; 785-296-7399  Ralph.Ostmeyer@senate.ks.gov

Mike Petersen; 785-296-7355  Mike.Petersen@senate.ks.gov

Pat Pettey; 785-296-7375  Pat.Pettey@senate.ks.gov

Vicki Schmidt; 785-296-7374  Vicki.Schmidt@senate.ks.gov

Rich Wilborn; 785-296-7354  Richard.Wilborn@senate.ks.gov

Kay Wolf; 785-296-7390  Kay.Wolf@senate.ks.gov

While Molly Baumgardner voted YES on the final bill, she was instrumental in offering amendments and getting them approved. She needs our thanks for our help in making this bill better if still offensive.

Molly Baumgardner; 785-296-7368  Molly.Baumgardner@senate.ks.gov


New Equity Bills Introduced in Both Chambers

With the first equity bill in the House not making it out of Committee and the first one in the Senate having been referred back to Committee, two new bills were introduced today to address the issue.

HB 2740 and SB 515 appear to be identical. The Ways and Means Committee and the Appropriations Committee both met yesterday and again today to review the bills with staff and will have hearings. We would expect quick action since this is the last week of the regular session.

The bills do not use the prior formula for determination of LOB aid, creating a new formula for the determination. Neither bill sweeps the extraordinary needs fund although it is reduced by just over $2 million and sent the the Department of Education which will be expected to distribute the money appropriately.

The bills also have a “hold harmless” provision for those districts that would lose money under the equity distribution. This is called “School District Equalization Aid.”

The Senate Ways and Means Committee has put their bill (SB 515) into a House bill in an attempt to speed up the process. If the Senate passed it, it would go to the House for a non-amendable vote to concur or non-concur in the changes. Should the House concur, the bill is passed.


Common Core Debate Goes Off the Rails!

The House had HB 2292 up for debate first thing yesterday but put it off until last. Since the bill had been amended in committee, the first thing to do in bringing it to the floor is to move to adopt the Committee’s report. On the voice vote it sounded as if the motion failed. A roll call vote was called and the motion failed on a vote of 54 to 69.

This almost never happens. In fact, we can’t recall the last time it did. What it means procedurally is that the amendments made in committee are no longer part of the bill – it goes back to the form it was in before the committee amendments. In this case the bill reverted to a data privacy bill which is how it was originally introduced.

The vote caused the House to temporarily stop working while they figured out what to do. Anyone who had an amendment based on the Committee’s bill would have to have the amendments redone to meet the new (old) bill.

Speaker Pro-Tem Peggy Mast (R-Emporia) finally made a motion to send the bill back to committee. Chairman Highland (R-Wamego) expressed his extreme frustration at the move, saying that they have been talking about this for two years.

Rep. Ed Trimmer (D-Winfield) shared the mysterious procedure that was used this year to get this bill to this point including the “history of education presentation” and the fact that the committee bill was based on a conceptual amendment that no one saw finally until yesterday.

The Mast motion to send the bill back to committee failed on a vote of 19 to 103 meaning the House now had the bill as introduced to debate – the student data privacy bill.

There was then a motion to reconsider the vote to adopt the committee report which passed. Grosserode came to the well to suggest that if the House did not adopt the report, the anti-common core zealots would tie up the floor with amendments. The House adopted the committee report.

The first amendment to the committee report came from Rep. McPherson, requiring any standards to be based on Rose standards. The amendment passed.

Next came a massive amendment by Rep. Houser that removed the Grosserode Committee amendment, taking the bill back to the worst form and then changing all kinds of standards in an attempt to protect AP, IB and other programs. Part of his amendment even replaced some standards with Massachusetts standards!

Houser’s amendment failed and the debate went on…and on…and on. One amendment adopted was by Rep. Hedke. It allowed the common core to continue to be used for AP and IB programs but ban it for all other programs. Essentially they permit using common core for high achieving students, others have no common core.

The debate finally came to an end and the bill was subjected to a roll call vote. It failed on a vote of 44 to 78; a solid defeat.

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LATE BREAKING NEWS- URGENT ACTION NEEDED!

Mar 23, 2016 by

HIGHEST PRIORITY ALERT! TAKE ACTION NOW! CLICK HERE

Full Senate to Debate Anti-Teacher Bill Tomorrow (Wednesday)

 

The Senate has decided to debate and vote on SB 469 tomorrow. It is the second bill on their debate calendar.

 

This bill by anti-teacher zealots Jeff Melcher and Julia Lynn has been crafted specifically to end teacher representation in Kansas. It is intended to ensure that no teachers in Kansas will have representation in collective bargaining.

 

The bill requires every teachers’ association to stand for re-election every three years even if no other organization submits a challenge to representation rights. Even if unopposed, the ballot must include “no representative” as an option. It then holds the organization to a requirement to get 50% + 1 of all eligible voters. Not 50% of votes cast but 50% of eligible voters even if some teachers chose not to vote.

 

If held to the same election standard, not one of the members of the committee that crafted this bill would be in the Senate today – even the two that were unopposed.

 

Senator Melcher asserts that it is a pity that teachers don’t get an annual vote because new teachers must wait until an election to weigh in on representation. However, he has no concern about new voters who have to wait until he stands for re-election to vote for the candidate they want.

 

In the hearing, Julia Lynn announced the bill would be passed before opponents were even allowed to testify. It was clear that the committee was not interested in the thoughts of the education community.

 

Opposing the bill in committee were KNEA, the Kansas Association of School Boards, the Kansas School Superintendents Association, United School Administrators of Kansas, and other Kansas unions and individuals.

 

Support came only from the usual anti-education organizations; the Kansas Policy Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the anti-collective bargaining American Association of Educators (AAE is funded by right wing think tanks and foundations).

 

What would the Senate look like if they applied the same election standards in SB 469 to themselves?  Click Here or Below and share.

graphic thumb

Click the image to view a graphic showing what the effects of SB 469 would look like if applied to Senate Committee members.

 

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Senate to Consider Bill Ending Teacher Representation This Week

Mar 13, 2016 by

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TAKE ACTION NOW! END ATTACKS ON PUBLIC EDUCATION AND EDUCATION PROFESSIONALS

Last week, Senator Julia Lynn, demonstrating her anti-teacher zealotry, railroaded a bill through the Commerce Committee that, if enacted as it came out of committee, would essentially end the ability of teachers to have representation in collective bargaining.

Senate Bill 469 would require that a teachers association would have to be recertified as the representative every three years by gaining more than 50% or all persons eligible to vote in a representation election. The ballot would be required to have as candidates the current representative, any other organization that sought recognition, and an option of “no representation.”

Under the required vote standard, an organization that received even 100% of the votes cast, could lose the election if only 49% of those eligible to vote did so. If this standard were to be applied to Kansas Senate elections, no member of the current Senate Commerce Committee would have been elected – even the two who ran unopposed!

Another section of the bill says that if the Department of Labor was unable to get to a vote in a district, the local representative would automatically be decertified and could not stand for a new election for a period of 36 months, leaving teachers in that district without a contract or representative for a three full years! The Department of Labor does not employ enough staff to manage the nearly 300 elections called for in the bill.

This bill was opposed in the hearing by the Kansas Association of School Boards, United School Administrators of Kansas, the Kansas School Superintendents Association, and Kansas NEA. Those who stood for the bill were the Kansas Policy Institute’s Dave Trabert, the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity, and the Association of American Educators which is funded in large part by right wing foundations.

Lynn, after hearing from the anti-union proponents and before opponents were given a chance to speak, announced publicly that the bill would be passed out of committee and rushed to the full Senate. Lynn apparently does not like to be bothered by anyone whose thoughts conflict with hers.

True to her word, the bill was railroaded out of committee but not before Lynn had to deny a Democratic Senator an opportunity to offer an amendment and then cutting off KNEA General Counsel David Schauner in the middle of a response to a question from a committee member.

There are a number of things that disturb us about the handling of this bill.

One is the obvious lack of respect for dissenting opinions and willingness to ignore fundamental democratic principles demonstrated by Senator Lynn in her management of the committee and the issue.

The other is the bill itself whose sole purpose is to deny teachers – and only teachers – any voice in their working conditions, salaries, and benefits.

To weigh in on this bill with Senators before the debate in the full Senate, click here.

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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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