Cast your vote like it is the most important one. Because it just might be.

Oct 5, 2018 by

The race for Kansas Governor to determine if we free-fall back into the Brownback policies that brought ruin upon our schools and our state (and made him the least popular Governor in America) OR if we move forward with common sense policies that support our constitution, our schools, and our students- has been and continues to be a dead heat.  This week, the Kobach campaign is pulling out all the stops to energize their extreme-right base to vote as President Donald Trump will be taking time away from federal investigators to host a campaign rally in Topeka.

Speaking of the Trump / MAGA / Kobach rally, we’ve been asked what’s the best way to counter the anti-public education, anti-worker, anti-civility message President Trump will likely bring with him on Saturday.  The answer is astonishingly simple.  Vote.

The purpose of a rally like the one we’ll be hearing about on Saturday is three-fold.

First, it is an effort to energize the conservative base of voters to get out and vote for two highly toxic candidates.  Kobach’s polling has consistently shown that his overall UNFAVORABILITY is higher than his favorability.  Not surprising given that he’s promised to double-down on Brownback’s ruinous policies.  On the federal ticket, President Trump is also expected to endorse Watkins over Paul Davis as a last-ditch effort to convince voters that Watkins didn’t deserve the attacks leaders in his own party levied against him during the primary season- calling him a charlatan and a phony.  The problem is, it turns out he is exactly what they claimed, a phony.  Instead of the “high-adventure hero” he has claimed to be, Watkins’ highest adventure might be leaving one of his residences in Alaska to take a trip to Kansas- you know the state he wants to represent but allegedly doesn’t reside in.

Second, Trump’s rally is an effort to dominate the media cycle for his endorsed candidates.  He wants to draw attention away from the real issues and real solutions the opponents of Kobach and Watkins are addressing with potential voters.  The simple fact is, this event will dominate the media cycle.  Efforts to piggy-back that cycle with counter-activities would come at a great expense while pulling focus towards the circus rather than the real issues at stake during this election season.  CLICK HERE to view alternatives to the Trump rally.

Third, speaking of pulling focus, the energy spent on counter-activities might energize some voters who may have been waiting for a reason to get involved.  While that’s certainly not a bad thing, spending time, energy and money trying to out-shout Trump zealots, is probably futile.  Take a look at the most recent polling data in the image above. The most important data in the poll is that 15% of likely Kansas voters are undecided.  Instead of spending time trying to convince those Trump zealots that they’re wrong, we encourage you to work Saturday (and every day until election day), to convince those undecided voters that there is only one candidate for Governor who supports public education, ALL students, and our constitution.  That candidate is Laura Kelly.

One final thought.  We’re hearing from members and non-members that they’re worried about voter-turnout during the mid-terms because they know that candidates like Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach get elected in Kansas when voter turnout is low.  Their worry is justifiable, and that’s why Kris Kobach has worked so hard to disenfranchise voters and to make registering to vote and the act of voting difficult and frightening for people of color and people whose priorities are living day to day.  But, it doesn’t have to be.  You can register to vote right now.  You can apply for an advance ballot to vote by mail from home right now.  You can encourage and assist 5, 10, or 50 others to vote right now.  The only real question and the only real reason for worry is, will you?

KPAC Withdraws Recommendation in HD 15

There has been wide reporting in the news media that Chris Haulmark, a candidate for Kansas House of Representatives District 15, has been accused of abusive relationships with women over a number of years and as late as 2017.

Haulmark has denied many of the specific allegations but admits that he has had a history of troubled relationships with women exacerbated by anger issues. Haulmark has sought intensive therapy in dealing with these issues.

KNEA leaders and members of the Kansas NEA PAC have determined that there is doubt as to whether or not Mr. Haulmark has the temperament to serve in such an important position. To that end, the Kansas NEA PAC has decided to withdraw its recommendation of Mr. Haulmark for election to the Kansas House.

We sincerely hope that Mr. Haulmark continues to seek help with these issues and can build healthy and respectful relationships in the future. Additionally, we hope that the victims of abuse receive support services to assist them in dealing with the trauma of abuse.

To read more about this issue and the allegations, we would refer you to this report in the Kansas City Star.

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MAGA Rally Saturday. What to do?

Oct 3, 2018 by

President Trump is coming to Topeka to hold one of his MAGA rallies in support of Kris Kobach for Governor and Steve Watkins for Congress in CD 2. We all know that Trump and Kobach have a unique friendship and Trump needs Watkins – an Alaskan renting a house a Kansas while his wife lives in their house in Massachusetts – to help keep the Congress in his hands. Polling shows both races to be very tight and Trump hopes to boost Kobach and Watkins over Laura Kelly and Paul Davis.

With Trump in Topeka and protests at his rallies becoming very popular, it might seem like a good idea to make a sign and show up in Topeka. But frankly, we don’t think it’s such a great idea. If you want to impact the political landscape in Kansas and in DC, you can show up to protest or you can take concrete action to see to it that Kobach does not become governor or that Watkins does not get sent to Washington. Or for that matter, just take direct action to keep the Kansas legislature moderate.  To help you with that effort, our KPAC (a group of educators who recommend candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to supporting public education and students) has published its recommendations and you can view them by clicking here.  Better yet, share the recommendations with friends, family, and neighbors as you encourage them to vote.

And so we offer you some alternative activities.

Educators for Laura Kelly

First, if you are in Wichita or Sedgwick County, you can join an “Educators for Laura Kelly” event. This event will be held on Saturday, October 6, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm at the United Teachers of Wichita office, 150 S. Ida Street in Wichita. Come to show Laura the love and find out more about how you can help her win. Click here for a link to their Facebook event. 

KDP Day of Action

Of course, we all can’t go to Wichita (or to Topeka for the circus). That’s why the Kansas Democratic Party is making Saturday, October 6, a Day of Action across the state. Already there are events in Garden City, Lawrence, Overland Park, Wichita, Pittsburg, Leavenworth, Topeka, Winfield, and Kansas City. These events are all opportunities to spend some time volunteering for Democratic candidates across the state. We expect more events and locations to be added. To find out information about a Day of Action event in your area, click here.

Contact your favorite candidate

Finally, your counter protest can be a call or email to your favorite candidate – Republican or Democrat – and ask what you can do to move that candidate to the win column. Candidates need phone bankers, door-to-door canvassers, parade walkers, and all kinds of other volunteers. Take the hours you planned to give to protesting a MAGA rally and donate those hours to your favorite candidate.

So to answer the initial question in this post, no, KNEA is not participating in any protests of the Trump MAGA rally for Kobach and Watkins. Instead, we plan to take actions to see to it that everyone on this list of KNEA/KPAC recommended candidates win in November.

 

Don’t forget, you can check your voter registration, register and apply for an early voting ballot at www.ksvotes.org.

KSVotes.org

KSVotes.org is the fastest, simplest way to register to vote in Kansas using just your touchscreen device.

 

 

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Kansas and the DACA Reversal

Sep 13, 2017 by

President Donald Trump with Kansas’ Kris Kobach

First, as a refresher course, what is DACA?

DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Child Arrivals” and is intended to benefit children who came to the United States as children in the company of their parents who are undocumented immigrants. These children are usually referred to as “Dreamers” because of legislation known as “The Dream Act” that would allow them to attend colleges without fear of deportation.

Those who qualify under DACA are allowed work and/or study in the United States without fear of deportation. To be considered the applicant must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The intent is to protect children who were brought to this country illegally by their parents. For many of these children, the United States is the only country they know. DACA does not protect their parents.

With the inability of Congress to agree on the Dream Act, DACA was enacted under an executive order by President Obama.

President Trump has rescinded Obama’s executive order with a delay of six months ostensibly to give Congress time to work out a statutory solution to this issue. Should Congress fail to act, all current DACA beneficiaries would be subject to deportation – and making matters more frightening for them, the federal government holds a lot of identifying data on these young men and women due to the data collected in the application process.

Where is the Kansas Congressional Delegation on DACA?

While Governor Brownback was a supporter of the Dream Act while serving as a United States Senator, the same cannot be said of the current Kansas Congressional Delegation.

Our members of Congress can be quoted from their own press statements.

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS CD 2), who is not running for re-election, said, “In the coming weeks, I look forward to working with my colleagues to create a permanent solution through the legislative process with input from Kansans in the 2nd District.” Unfortunately, Jenkins was vague on what a solution might be.

Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS CD 3) parroted the remarks of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he said DACA “has served as a magnet, bringing tens of thousands of new immigrants, exacerbating our illegal immigration challenges, and creating a humanitarian crisis at the border.” Nothing could be further from the truth. No one enters the United States illegally because they might get their children enrolled in the DACA program.

Congressman Ron Estes (R-KS CD 4) praised Trump’s action and said “This decision gives Congress time to fix our broken immigration system. Congress can do this by securing our borders, reviewing our immigration process, and not providing amnesty to those who disregard our nation’s laws.” DACA beneficiaries, contrary to Congressman Estes’ assertion, were brought to this country by their parents and must prove in the DACA application process that they have not broken any of our nation’s laws.

Only Congressman Roger Marshall (R-KS CD 1) indicated in his press release that it was important to protect these young people. Marshall said, “Our resources, especially as they pertain to deportation, must remain focused on getting rid of bad people who present a danger to the American citizen – not a young person who is here simply due to circumstance. To date, 787,000 young people have legally registered with the U.S. government and have shown their willingness to follow our laws. We cannot allow that information to now be used against them in reverse order.”

Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) issued a brief statement in support of the Trump’s decision and calling on Congress to act. We cannot find any statement on the issue from Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS).

As one would expect, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor), applauded the decision and called on Congress not to act and instead move to deport all of the Dreamers. He said on “Fox and Friends” that he supported repealing DACA, and that he opposes replacing it with a congressionally enacted plan.”It’s a tough job market and those in Congress who are saying, ‘Mr. President, don’t get rid of this DACA amnesty,’ should remember, our young U.S. citizens are having a really tough time,” Kobach said. “Why would you want to give an amnesty to 1.7 million young illegal aliens to compete against them?” The evidence shows that DACA recipients are not taking jobs from citizens and actually contribute enormously to the economy of the nation.

For more information on this issue, we would suggest you read the following articles:

CNN has provided a comprehensive Q&A on DACA: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/04/politics/daca-dreamers-immigration-program/index.html

The Washington Post addresses five myths about DACA: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-daca/2017/09/07/e444675a-930c-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html?utm_term=.f417090e4571

Newsweek provides 15 points on DACA statistics: http://www.newsweek.com/dreamers-daca-statistics-trump-deadline-657201

The National Education Association statement on DACA: http://neatoday.org/2017/09/05/daca-nea-response/?_ga=2.147709247.967952866.1504886469-21933477.1504886469

The National PTA statement on DACA: https://www.pta.org/newsevents/newsdetail.cfm?ItemNumber=5363

The National School Boards Association statement on DACA: https://www.nsba.org/newsroom/nsba-statement-trump-administration%E2%80%99s-decision-rescind-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals

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4 Reasons to Oppose Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education

Jan 13, 2017 by

 

by Brian Washington

Take Action ›

Tell Your Senators: Vote NO on Betsy DeVos for Ed Secretary (Remember to use private contact information and email addresses NOT school district, state or government issued email) Tell your KS Senator to VOTE NO on Betsy Devos

Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, will get a hearing before senators this week (Wednesday, January 17th).

Let’s take a closer look at this surprising pick—a lobbyist and political donor with no education experience. DeVos has never served as a teacher, a school administrator, or a school board member.

DeVos’ track record of using millions of her own money to support for-profit charters and private-school voucher programs that divert taxpayer dollars away from public schools signals to parents and educators that they need to be on guard.

DeVos has been described as a “four-star general in the privatization movement.” Below are four reasons why.

1. DeVos has spent millions to promote school vouchers

DeVos and her husband, a member of the family that made its fortune selling Amway products, contributed millions of dollars to voucher campaigns across the country. In 2000, in their home state of Michigan, they spent $5 million on an unsuccessful bid to remove the state’s constitutional ban on vouchers. Sixty-eight percent of voters rejected the DeVos’ voucher scheme.

2. DeVos designed Detroit’s failed charter-school system

DeVos has been described as “one of the architects of Detroit’s charter school system”—a system that even pro-charter forces describe as “one of the biggest school reform disasters in the country.” Charter schools are privately managed, taxpayer-funded schools exempted from some rules applicable to all other taxpayer-funded schools.

The unchecked growth of Detroit’s charters has outpaced the student population and is failing the city’s kids, who are among the poorest in the nation. According to a recent report, 8 in 10 charters had academic achievement below the state average in both reading and math.

The city’s glut of charters has also created a situation where the competition to recruit students—and the public dollars that follow them—is extremely intense. Charter companies have resorted to offering cash bonuses, laptops, and iPads to families to get students to enroll. Educators say the competition and the limited amount of resources available have created an environment where very few students can thrive.

3. DeVos supported legislation allowing failing charters to expand

In 2011, the DeVos family successfully lobbied to lift Detroit’s cap on charter schools and managed to kill off a provision that would have prevented failing charters from expanding. After the cap was lifted, several charter companies opened up new schools even though they already operated schools deemed to be failing.

4. DeVos opposes oversight for charters

In 2016, the Great Lakes Education Project, which is founded and funded by the DeVos family, was described as being instrumental in getting state politicians to kill a plan to create a citywide commission in Detroit to regulate the opening and closing of charter schools. City leaders said the commission would have provided oversight, set standards on how to open charters and close the bad ones.

TAKE ACTION: 

Contact your U.S. Senators and tell them to reject the DeVos nomination. Tell lawmakers that educators believe all students have the right to a public education that helps them reach their full potential, and their opportunity to succeed should not depend on winning a charter-school lottery, getting into a private school, or living in the right zip code. Our kids deserve the best America has to offer—including an education secretary who understands that all students deserve a quality public education.

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The Art of Denial – Governor Brownback Delivers State of the State

Jan 11, 2017 by

Article Highlights- Click the Arrow to the Right

  • Governor gives State of the State address and promises that KS is “leading the planet” by many measures of success.
  • Governor promises to hold to his failed tax reform policies.
  • Governor’s education policies outline a litany “reforms” that have failed elsewhere promising they will work in KS: merit pay, uncertified teachers, and more tax credits and vouchers for unaccountable private and for-profit schools.
  • Article includes links to full text of Governor’s address along with response by Senator Anthony Hensley.
  • Governor’s budget as outlined by Budget Director Shawn Sullivan includes more of the same, robbing from highway funds, sell-off of Children’s Initiative Fund, and sin taxes.
Brownback State of the State

Brownback State of the State- McClatchy

 

Where to begin…

Governor Sam Brownback gave his annual State-of-the-State address last night and what a work of art that was.

He started off by reminding all of us of how great things are in Kansas now that his 2012 tax plan has taken full effect. He says we have created thousands of jobs, quality of life is better than ever, and, well, the sun is shining in Kansas. It’s the mantra he and his staff and allies have been chanting repeatedly as revenue estimates continue to collapse and every state service is decimated by budget cuts or highway robbery.

This sunshine, he says, is why the legislature must not back off one bit on his tax plans. Not even on the patently unfair and irresponsible elimination of all income taxes on more than 330,000 businesses in Kansas. No, he told us, those tax breaks are creating jobs; jobs that only he apparently can see.

Next, he launched into his great joy at the election of Donald Trump and his delight at the strong possibility of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). It’s going away, he proclaimed, and so this is the wrong time to expand Medicaid. Yes, Governor Brownback continues to refuse to take millions of dollars offered by the federal government – dollars that Kansans are sending to the federal government in taxes – and provide a modicum of health care security for the working poor of our state.

He had plenty to say about education too.

Just as he proposed in 2012 that Kansas adopt Arthur Laffer’s discredited trickle down economic tax theory, he now has a set of discredited education “reforms” he wants the legislature to enact.

In this odd Brownback world, ideas that have been tried repeatedly elsewhere and found to be failures, are sure to work if implemented in Kansas. Trickle down economics for example. Now he wants to try school grading systems, merit pay, untrained teachers in rural schools, and more money to unaccountable private schools. The thing we really need people to understand is that Kansas schools have been great precisely because Kansas has REFUSED to adopt these failed “reforms.”

Well, Governor Brownback has had his chance. He has had six years to enact good policy. In that time he has gutted the state budget, decimated state services, robbed our highways of needed funds, and boosted our sales tax such that Kansans pay the second highest food sales tax in the nation. He eliminated a constitutional, effective school finance system for a block grant system that harmed every district budget. But now he says he wants to lead on education.

Too late, Governor Brownback. The people of Kansas have seen what his policies have accomplished and they want no more of them. That’s why they tossed so many of his allies out of the legislature in August and November. It’s time for Brownback to step aside and leave the work to the new legislature; the legislature that was elected specifically to reverse the damage Brownback has done.

Read the full text of Governor Brownback’s State of the State Address by CLICKING HERE.

Senator Anthony Hensley’s Response to Governor Brownback’s State of the State Address follows:

Budget Director Briefs Committees on Brownback’s Budget

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan appeared before several committees today to share the details of the Governor’s budget proposal.

In a nutshell: more of the same.

The proposal shifts money around, raises a tiny bit of new revenue, steals more out of the highway fund, and proposes selling off future tobacco settlement payments for some short term cash.

It also appears the Governor would like to make a 4th attempt to securitize the Children’s Initiative Fund.  Read Kansas Action for Children’s response to this latest attack on our youngest Kansans by CLICKING HERE.

He raises something less than $200 million in 2018 and 2019 by

  • Taxing passive income such as rents and royalties,
  • Freezing the bottom income tax bracket at 2.7% (scheduled to drop to 2.6%),
  • Increasing a business filing fee from $40 to $200,
  • Increasing the cigarette tax by $1.00,
  • Increasing the tobacco products tax from 10% to 20%, and
  • Increasing the liquor enforcement tax from 8% to 16%.

The most surprising part of his education budget proposals is to save money by consolidating all school districts into one state-wide health insurance plan. He says this was a recommendation from the Alvarez and Marsal Efficiency Study from last year. It was, but A&M was clear that this should not be done until there was a thorough examination of the implications for districts and employees.

There is a study being conducted, as we speak, by the Division of the Legislative Post Audit to do just that. That study is due in March. It seems the Governor is jumping the gun on this one!

None of these proposals are done deals. The presentation has not been met with particular enthusiasm in a legislature tired of budget gimmicks and focused on how to solve the long term mess brought about by the Governor’s tax policy.

We’ll keep you posted on how all of this proceeds. It will all take some time.

K-12 Budget Committee Hears from Dale Dennis

Guru Emeritus of School Finance, Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis briefed the K-12 Education Budget Committee on the reality of school funding in Kansas – past history and present experience.

True to his word in convening his committee, Chairman Larry Campbell (R-Olathe) is providing the best resources to educate his committee members on the challenge of school finance before launching into the design of our next system.

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