It’s Alchemy! Boldra amendment turns bad bill into good bill!

Feb 25, 2015 by

House guts HB 2326! Moves educators’ PNA bill!

The House of Representatives today had HB 2326 on the debate calendar. This is the collective bargaining bill adopted by the House Commerce Committee that would have ended collective bargaining as we know it and replaced it with negotiations conducted with teachers in groups or as individuals. The bill would have created chaos in the HR departments of school districts. It was opposed by KASB, KNEA, USA/KS, and KSSA.

When the bill came up for debate today, Rep. Sue Boldra (R-Hays) moved an amendment that gutted the contents of HB 2326 and replaced it with the contents of HB 2257, the bill that contains the consensus agreement by the education groups on changes to the Professional Negotiations Act.

After a long debate on the Boldra amendment, it was adopted on a vote of 67 to 52. This means that HB 2326 – a bill we opposed – is now a bill we support!

The debate revealed strong bipartisan support for educators as both Republicans and Democrats came to the well to support the consensus agreement. Speaking up for the education community in addition to Boldra were Ed Trimmer (D-Winfield), Diana Dierks (R-Salina), Annie Tietze (D-Topeka), John Doll (R-Garden City), Valdenia Winn (D-Kansas City), Chuck Smith (R-Pittsburg), Louis Ruiz (D-Kansas City), and Melissa Rooker (R-Fairway).

The bill has one more hurdle to pass. It will face a final action vote tomorrow. We imagine that those who don’t want the consensus bill to pass will be twisting arms tonight in the hope of changing the outcome tomorrow.


TAKE ACTION!

It is critically important that tonight, supporters of public schools and public school educators contact their Representatives, thank them for adopting the Boldra amendment and urging them to vote YES on HB 2326 as amended on final action.

Click here to send a message NOW!

 


Senate passes bill that would censor teaching materials

The full Senate this afternoon passed SB 56, a bill that removes the “affirmative defense” for K-12 teachers in Kansas, on final action. The vote was 26 – 14.

This bill would permit teachers to be hauled before a grand jury if a parent complains that materials used in class are inappropriate. The teacher could not use as a defense that the material was part of the adopted curriculum and had educational merit. If this bill becomes law, schools and teachers would very likely self-censor their lessons and materials, blocking from use anything that some individual parent might find offensive. Art history teachers, for example, will think twice about displaying the Statue of David or other works of art that display nudity.

It’s not that the teacher would necessarily be convicted of a crime but simply that schools would have to deal with expensive legal procedures every time a parent had an objection to some material used in class.

KNEA opposed the bill. Voting NO were Senators Bowers (R-Concordia), Faust-Goudeau (D-Wichita), Francisco (D-Lawrence), Haley (D-Kansas City), Hawk (D-Manhattan), Hensley (D-Topeka), Holland (D-Baldwin City), Longbine (R-Emporia), McGinn (R-Sedgwick), O’Donnell (R-Wichita), Pettey (D-Kansas City), Schmidt (R-Topeka), and Wolf (R-Prairie Village).

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PNA (again), In-state Tuition, and Teacher Self-Censorship

Feb 24, 2015 by

More movement on PNA today

The Senate Education Committee worked the PNA bills that had hearings in the Committee. SB 136 is the bill crafted by the education community (KASB, KNEA, USA-KS, KSSA) while SB 176 is the bill that essentially ends collective bargaining.

Discussion started with a motion to pass SB 136. Sen. Fitzgerald amended the bill by making it a virtual match for Dave Trabert’s bill, HB 2034. A motion to pass the amended bill out of committee failed. Senator Caryn Tyson was asking for clarification on what the bill and amendments now did. She argued that she did not believe teachers should be taken out of the negotiations process.

The Committee recessed to allow members to more closely examine the bill. On a motion by Sen. Tyson, the committee voted to reconsider their action killing the bill. Sen. Hensley pointed out that as amended, the bill would create more conflict between boards and teachers as each side could block the other by refusing to agree to negotiate a topic.

A new vote was taken on moving the amended bill forward. This time the bill passed on a 6-5 vote with Hensley, Pettey, Schmidt, Kerschen, and Baumgardner voting NO.

There appears to remain some confusion among the Committee members about what actually passed and what its impact might be. We would suggest that the issue remains somewhat fluid and there may be attempts to further amend the bill.

As it sits now, the Committee essentially voted in favor of Dave Trabert’s so-called “minority report” bill. Adoption of this amended bill represents one more time that legislators – who called upon the education community to craft changes to the PNA – chose to ignore the entire education community in favor of a proposal from anti-education lobbyist Dave Trabert.


Repealing in-state tuition provisions

The House Education Committee held a hearing today on HB 2139, a bill sponsored by Rep. Rubin to repeal provisions in law allowing the children of undocumented workers to benefit from in-state tuition rates and Kansas post-secondary education institutions.

Rubin and Secretary of State Kris Kobach testified in favor of the bill saying that it is contrary to federal law and rewards illegal behavior. Several other proponents complained of unfair treatment for kids from other states or the Obama administrations immigration policy.

Opponents of the bill included the Kansas Board of Regents, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), KNEA, KASB, religious leaders and a number of students now attending colleges and using the in-state tuition rates.

The Kansas policy on in-state tuition for these students requires that they have lived in Kansas for at least three years, graduated from a Kansas high school and sign an affidavit indicating they will seek legal status as soon as they are eligible to do so. It has been in effective for 11 years and over 600 students now take advantage of the policy. There have been many attempts to repeal the law over the years but none have succeeded.

In testimony before the Committee, KNEA said, “We urge you to continue to reward these high achieving, hard-working students for a job well done. It’s not about how their parents came here; it’s about what those kids did once they got here.”

No action was taken on the bill today.


Senate advances bill that would censor teaching materials

The full Senate this afternoon advanced SB 56, a bill that removes the “affirmative defense” for K-12 teachers in Kansas.

This bill would permit teachers to be hauled before a grand jury if a parent complains that materials used in class are inappropriate. The teacher could not use as a defense that the material was part of the adopted curriculum and had educational merit. If this bill becomes law, schools and teachers would very likely self-censor their lessons and materials, blocking from use anything that some individual parent might find offensive. Art history teachers, for example, will think twice about displaying the Statue of David or other works of art that display nudity.

It’s not that the teacher would necessarily be convicted of a crime but simply that schools would have to deal with expensive legal procedures every time a parent had an objection to some material used in class.

The bill will be subject to a second vote on the Senate floor tomorrow. If passed, it will go the House for consideration.

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Rose Standards & PNA

Feb 3, 2015 by

Rose standards discussion in House Ed Committee

The House Education Committee held an informative meeting with incoming Commissioner of Education Randy Watson and Brad Neuenswander on the Rose Standards (often called the Rose Capacities). Much of the discussion centered on assessments in general and what might be ways in which one can determine that the schools are successful in instilling the Rose Standards in students. This discussion was held preliminary to a hearing tomorrow on a bill from the Efficiency Commission that would create a commission to determine how to measure the Rose Standards.

PNA bill introduced in Senate Ed Committee

A bill modifying the professional negotiations act in accordance to changes agreed upon by KNEA, KASB, USA/KS, and KSSA has been introduced in the Senate Education Committee at the request of the four organizations. Senators seemed genuinely pleased that the organizations had crafted a set of recommended changes that would make collective bargaining more efficient, more effective, and more focused.

Meanwhile in the House Education Committee, there is a hearing scheduled on HB 2034 on Wednesday. This is the bill from the Efficiency Commission’s minority report. The Commission as a whole opted to make no recommendations on collective bargaining pending the outcome of the talks among the four organizations. A minority of Commission members (Dave Trabert, Mike O’Neal, Sam Williams, and Dennis DePew) decided to press the issue in their report because they lacked confidence in the organizations. During the upcoming hearing, KNEA, KASB, USA/KS, and KSSA will testify in opposition to HB 2034 and ask the committee to instead consider introducing the same bill that is now in the Senate committee. Pensions on working after retirement

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