House Education Committee Effectively Endorses Lower Standards for Private Schools

Do you support sending more tax dollars to private schools?  We asked Kansans that question last week and overwhelmingly you responded NO!  The House Education Committee today advanced an amended HB 2457 on an 11-6 vote. This bill expands existing tax credits for corporations and individuals to sponsor students to attend private schools, even unaccredited private schools.   Representatives Winn, Lusk, Trimmer, Ousley, Bruchman, and Boldra were the super six who stood strong in opposition of the bill.  We encourage you to contact these members of the committee (see full list below) and commend them for opposing expansion of tax credits for what amounts to private school vouchers.

Representative Sue Boldra offered an amendment essentially neutering the bill in an effort highlight the fact that unaccredited schools with unlicensed teachers could benefit from these tax credits.  Sadly, Chairman Highland’s committee voted to advance the bill, effectively endorsing lower standards for private schools serving Kansas students. Representative Boldra’s amendment failed.

Next this bill moves on to the House of Representatives where Speaker of the House Ray Merrick will decide when and if it moves on to the floor for a vote.

House Education Committee Members:

 Senate Education Committee Considers Online Privacy

Continuing from a previous hearing on SB 342, the Senate Education Committee again heard from conferees on the merits of the bill.  One parent who identified herself as being from Blue Valley School District, offered testimony in opposition to the bill.  The parent gave a lengthy piece of verbal testimony focusing on the inherent risk of allowing technology companies to buy and sell student data.  Furthermore, she opined that schools were over-reliant upon technology with teachers frequently receiving free products from vendors hoping to secure contracts.  She asserted that schools offer no requirement that parents “opt-in” their children to technology-based or online services.

During questioning Senator Petty suggested that increased use of technology in schools was- in fact- a response to the reality of technology use in everyday life.  Further, Senators Petty and Schmidt pointed to feedback from educators and parents who both welcome and expect their students to engage in technology based learning activities.

Neutral testimony was provided by KASB.  KASB representatives asked for the addition of an amendment intended to ensure that school districts could not be interpreted as “operators” under the bill.  Thus, the bill’s definition of “operators” would only include the third-party vendors providing schools with technology services.  The hearing was adjourned with no further action.

Under Attack- Due Process for Community and Technical College Educators

Tomorrow, the House Education Committee will conduct a hearing on HB 2531.  This bill eliminates all existing statutes which provide due process rights for community and technical college educators.   KNEA stands firm with these professionals in opposition to this bill.  We expect several faculty from institutions throughout Kansas to stand and speak in opposition.  Educators know that due process rights protect their ability to advocate for their students regardless of level.

We’ve come to understand that some administrators within the state community college system will support this bill. The president of one institution suggested that faculty should simply trust existing contract language designed to offer them protection similar to due process.  Furthermore, he suggested that his institution has no intention of acting on new powers to terminate employees under this bill.  One faculty member raised the question, “If you don’t need the power to fire at will, then why support the bill?”  As was the case in 2013 when due process rights were stripped from K-12 educators, that question goes unanswered.