What to expect now that the Supreme Court has approved the Legislature’s response in Gannon

Our expectation – and we are confident it is yours as well – is that the time has now come for significant investments in Kansas teachers.

In 2008, with the great recession, the legislature reversed course on the promises made in the Montoy decision. That action followed by the hostile anti-government, anti-public education agenda of the Brownback administration resulted in what has come to be called “the lost decade.” It was a decade built on under-funding and funding reductions to our public schools. It resulted in wage stagnation and wage losses for Kansas teachers.

As we enter this next school year, we find Kansas teachers salaries have dropped to 41st in the nation and now lag behind those of all our surrounding states including Oklahoma who just shot past us from the 49th place standing. Teachers in Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, and Oklahoma all make more than Kansas teachers on average.

What we have now with the passage of Senate Bill 16 and the Court ruling is the opportunity to provide significant salary increases to every teacher in Kansas; to begin to make up for the lost decade.

We at KNEA have been saying this for some time but now we finally have others joining us in calling for putting funding increases into the retention of our teaching force. A video distributed by KASB of a panel representing United School Administrators, the State Board of Education, the Kansas Association of School Boards, and the State Department of Education shows a united call for dramatically increasing teacher salaries.

Others have joined in this call. Newspaper editorial boards from across the state are saying now is the time to reward our teachers. There have been op-eds saying the same thing. There is even a column from a conservative teacher quality think tank that says recent teacher activism from states like West Virginia and Oklahoma was justified and that the only way to ensure the excellence in our public education system is to invest in teachers.

We call upon every school board in this state to take this opportunity seriously. It’s time to maximize investments in our teachers. Negotiations are on-going and it’s time to stop stonewalling and start working with the teachers associations to make this happen.