Several current and former Kansas Teacher of the Year (KTOY) Honorees gathered in the statehouse in Topeka on Tuesday afternoon to shine a light on school funding and harmful policy coming out of the Kansas Legislature again this year. They along with a  much larger group of their KTOY peers have signed and distributed a letter to lawmakers expressing concerns over public funds being siphoned away from public schools and gifted to for-profit and private schools via voucher schemes.

Each KTOY member who spoke to the press on Tuesday did so standing in front of a backdrop of a  mural depicting the historic efforts that led to the desegregation of public schools following a ruling in 1954 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the seminal Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas case. Decades later, we are still fighting for fairness and equality in public schools as Kansas and the nation grapple with a growing shortage of educators, particularly educators of color.

The KTOY cadre gathered before the press on Tuesday shared stories of success as they delivered a plea to lawmakers to end attacks on the profession. Throughout this year’s legislative session educators have been routinely attacked and treated with disdain as they delivered testimony (particularly before the House K-12 Budget Committee charied by Kristey Williams R-Augusta). Tuesday’s message was clear; Kansas students deserve better than to have neighborhood public schools attacked in a partisan effort to erode confidence in our schools.  Regardless of the misinformation, our schools and students are demonstrating success despite the headwinds coming out of a global pandemic, and attempts by partisan politicans to vilify educators. The KTOY team outlined three key points:

    1. We are in opposition to any legislation that diverts public dollars to private entities without the same accountability as public schools.
    2. We ask for our Kansas legislators to pass a clean school funding bill as required by the Gannon ruling.
    3. We recognize there is still time to fully fund special education and meet the needs of ourlearners with specialized education needs as mandated in our Kansas Constitution.

Unexpectedly, the KTOY members in attendance were joined by Governor Kelly during the Q&A portion of the press conference. Governor Kelly affirmed her committment to full funding of public education and again pledged her support to Kansas educators thanking all Kansas educators.  Governor Kelly recognized the KTOY members for their advocacy but also stated that she knows there are educators throughout Kansas who demonstrate dedication and committment to Kansas students.

More coverage here:

Kansas teachers ask lawmakers to fully fund special education, support public schools


Contact your Representative and Senator tonight and urge them to vote ‘NO’ on any override attempt.

Please take a moment to look over the key bills below that Governor Kelly has vetoed.  Some of these bills are likely to see an attempt to override tomorrow, while some have already been overriden and  others have seen their veto sustained.  

Classroom censorship: HB 2236 allows parents to object to curriculum without adversely affecting their student’s academic record. It also requires teachers to provide individualized assignments for these students to fulfill requirements of the course. House: 76-46; Senate 23-17; NO ACTION YET

Legalized discrimination: SB 180 creates a legal definition of man and woman based on reproductive capabilities. It discriminates against those who are transgender, intersex, or even those who are infertile from accessing single sex spaces such as domestic violence shelters, restrooms, and more. House: 83-41; Senate: 28-12; VETO OVERRIDDEN IN THE SENATE; GOES TO HOUSE NEXT

Food assistance barriers: HB 2094 creates barriers to older able bodied Kansans to receive food assistance. House: 80-42; Senate: 26-12; VETO OVERRIDDEN IN THE HOUSE; GOES TO SENATE NEXT

Overnight accommodations: S Sub for HB 2138 requires school districts to adopt policies pertaining to overnight trips for students and to segregate them on the basis of their gender assigned at birth. House: 84-39; Senate: 28-10; VETO OVERRIDDEN IN THE HOUSE; GOES TO SENATE NEXT

NRA curriculum mandate: HB 2304 directs schools that choose to provide gun safety training to utilize the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program. House: 78-43; Senate: 31-8; VETO SUSTAINED – BILL IS DEAD

Gender-affirming care ban: SB 26 restricts parents’ rights to direct their child’s healthcare by creating a ban on gender affirming care and creates a civil penalty for medical professionals who provide such care. House: 70-52; Senate: 23-12; VETO SUSTAINED – BILL IS DEAD

Flat tax: SB 169 establishes a flat tax system and contains approximately 20 tax policies. (KNEA opposed numerous policies contained within this bundle.) House: 85-38; Senate: 24-13; VETO SUSTAINED – BILL IS DEAD

Advance ballot grace period: SB 209 eliminates the 3-day grace period for returning advance ballots. House: 76-48; Senate: 23-14; VETO SUSTAINED – BILL IS DEAD

Veto Mania

Governor Kelly’s pen has been hot as of late vetoing several bills that the Kansas Legislature sent her way before leaving for their spring break. The Kansas Legislature, a body that’s majority isn’t used to hearing the word no, is back today and exercising its Constitutional prerogative to override her actions. History suggested that some of the more zealous figures would also be blessing us with a healthy dose of self-righteous indignation and theater as they grapple with trying to secure the votes to override the governor’s veto efforts. As these motions roll on, we have not been short on the theatrical.

KNEA is focused on the legislature as we work to support sustaining her vetoes on several bills. What will this take? The answer: ‘NO’ votes on motions to override.

The typical process goes as follows:

Chamber Chair: “The Governor’s objections on bill #??? Having been read now is the time for motions to reconsider. Is there a motion to reconsider?”

Should there be a desire for an override, the typical motion sounds like this:

Maker of the Motion: “Notwithstanding the governor’s veto (or objection) I move that bill # ??? be passed.”

Baseball legend Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier over 75 years ago this month in Major League Baseball. What does that have to do with sustaining vetoes in the Kansas Legislature? The answer is twofold, involving courage and the number 42.

When Robinson COURAGEOUSLY walked onto the diamond for the first time, he donned the number 42. This also happens to be the number of ‘NO’ votes needed to sustain a gubernatorial veto in the Kansas House.

Democrats have 40 members, and one might believe that all 40 would vote to sustain almost all of a Democratic Governor’s vetoes. Unfortunately, the Democrats have one member (who ironically shares a last name with the baseball great mentioned above) who has constantly failed to do the right thing.

Here’s where courage comes in. With the numbers being as they are, sustaining the vetoes on bad legislation in the Kansas House of Representatives takes at least 3 Republicans to have the COURAGE to stand with their colleagues and vote ‘NO’ on the motion to override. We know that there are a number of Republicans who know what they should do. The question is will they have the courage to do it?

For a veto override to be successful the motion must pass both the House and the Senate. On the Senate side, 14 ‘NO’ votes are necessary to sustain the veto so the dynamic on the Senate side is very similar in the regard that 3 Republicans must stand up and have the courage to stand with the Democrats in stopping bad legislation.

Stay Tuned.   

Flat Tax Veto and Override Attempt

One such bill that was vetoed and needed to be sustained is SB 169, A.K.A. the Flat Tax Bill.

Read Governor Kelly’s veto message on SB 169 Here:

KNEA consistently testified against a family of flat tax bills this session both based on fairness and feasibility.

The fairness argument didn’t seem to get much traction. Flat taxes are often considered unfair because they are regressive in nature and place a higher burden on wage earners who fall in the lower end of Kansas earners. It is sad that this argument, one that has been a staple in the American worker for years, is no longer one that resonates.

But the feasibility argument has more weight given the dire financial situation Kansans vividly remember caused by the previous administration’s tax policy and strategy.

This tax cut goes too far and has the potential to cause some major financial and budget challenges in the fiscal years to come. Public education is the largest line item in the state budget. Any tax policy that blows a hole in the budget could greatly impact education funding.

The motion to override SB 169 failed in the Senate today. Therefore, it will not go to the House and is likely dead for the year.

From our friends at Kansas Action For Children:

At the last minute, Kansas lawmakers are once again threatening to undermine current vaccine and public health policy.
They will vote as early as TOMORROW on HB 2285, which will basically eliminate any effective response to future infectious disease outbreaks in Kansas.
Another part of this bill is completely unnecessary and opens a door that could jeopardize Kansas’ current process for setting vaccine requirements for child care and school entry. The current process works. Furthermore, KDHE has repeatedly indicated they have no intention of requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for kids. Keep the status quo in place.
We need every Kansan to tell their lawmakers they should vote NO on HB 2285 and any other related proposals.
CLICK HERE to contact your reps on this important bill.