Under the cover of darkness, with restricted debate and blatant arm twisting by the Koch brothers. Senator Tom Arpke's (R-Salina) amendment to Eliminate Due Process Rights for Teachers narrowly passed both chambers of the Kansas Legislature. #KSLeg #WarOnTeachers
Due Process rights are a major factor in recruiting great Teachers to Kansas. Kansas ranks 42nd in average Teacher salary and with the lose of basic Due Process Rights, Kansas becomes even less attractive for great Teachers. Kansas Education already lacks diversity in its staff and the loss of Due Process Rights will only exacerbate that professional gap.
Clearly, tenure is a factor in a teacher’s decision to remain teaching. The "pre-Arpke" Education system had a 3 year probationary period, (which could be extended to 5 years). It created an environment where new teachers were evaluated and given room to either improve or leave the teaching profession. Once it was determined the Teacher was appropriate for the field then they were granted Due Process Rights if termination was sought. This essentially meant that the Teacher was provided written notice as to why they were terminated and given an opportunity to appeal the decision at a hearing. It that had worked well for over 50 years! The elimination of Due Process essentially creates a never ending probationary period.
Kansas Educators deserve to be able to exercise academic freedom with their students without fear of political retribution!
The Following is a recent statement by the former State Representative Roger Robertson who served as Chair of Kansas House Education Committee during the period of time when Due Process was introduced and passed into law:
"In the 1977 session of the Ks legislature, I researched hundreds of instances in which school boards and/or superintendents arbitrarily and without cause terminated experienced and dedicated teachers in Kansas public schools. Usually the real reason was never publicly revealed because it was the because the teacher had given their kid an honest grade or because the board needed to save money by replacing experienced teachers with rookies or because someone complained about the appearance, political stance or other personal quality about the teacher. I authored the bill as Chair of House Education Committee and I asked the entire committee to sponsor. Working closely with Representatives on both sides of the aisle we were able to shepherd the bill through both House and Senate.
Folks present will never forget the tragic, heartbreaking, ridiculous stories personally given by teachers to the unfair, undemocratic and scandalous ways they had been treated. It is so sad that this job protection is now apparently about to be eliminated by those who have been duped.
TEACHERS IN KANSAS WILL AGAIN HAVE TO STAND UP FOR PROTECTION FROM THIS COALITION AND FIGHT BACK TO RETAIN THIS DUE PROCESS PROTECTION! No school board member or administrator worth their salt should have to be fondled with this type of arbitrary dictatorial and unchecked power and authority. WAKE UP KANSAS AND PROTECT THOSE WHO ARE TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN FROM UNBRIDLED VENDETTA-BASED ARBITRARY TEACHING CONTRACT DECISIONS!" - Former Rep. Roger Robertson (Former Chair of Kansas House Education Committee )
April 20th 2014
Thousands of Kansans call for Gov. Brownback to keep Teachers “Due Process”
The Moderate Party of Kansas has teamed up with the “Stronger Kansas Stronger Education” movement to call on Gov. Sam Brownback to veto the legislation that eliminates due process rights from elementary and secondary teachers across Kansas. In just over a week, “Stronger Kansas Stronger Education” has collected nearly 3,000 signatures and counting from Kansans asking Gov. Brownback to veto this reckless policy amendment.
At 6:30 pm, a social media blast has been coordinated that will reach over 50,000 Kansans highlighting the dissent and frustration all of us are feeling.
Aaron Estabrook, Moderate Party founder said, “The legislation was pushed through in the late hours of the night without adequate debate and absolutely no testimony from Teachers, School Boards, Parents, or Students. This policy change should have never been allowed to be attached to a bill that was to deal only with funding public education. It is a violation of the basic rules of the legislature and a break from the democratic process.”
Efforts to dismantle teacher due process protections are predicated on the false belief that teachers are granted lifetime employment protection. The truth is that in their first three years of practice, teachers may be dismissed without even being given reasons. After a school district has determined that the teacher is effective in his/her practice, that teacher is granted the right to be given legitimate rationale for termination and the right to a fair hearing to ensure that rationale is legitimate.
“The brazen attempt to strip Kansas public educators of this simple and basic right is detrimental to the foundation of public education both in recruitment and retention. Most importantly it eliminates a professional learning environment that fosters growth and change,” Estabrook said.
It is loud and clear that Kansans want a bill that appropriately funds education without policy amendments that deeply harm public education.
The following are just a few of the statements attached by signors to the petition:
“I am a conservative individual, but I disagree with you (legislators) on this subject. Eliminating this process eliminates good teachers being able to advocate for students against bad administrators. Just pass a finance bill. No politics. Do what's right for our future, the kids.” Tammy Hutcheson - Garden City, KS
“I grew up in Wichita. Graduated from K-State. The Air Force took me away from Kansas and around the world, but I have always considered myself a Kansan - my mother's ancestors were pioneers of Kansas Territory and early Kansas. Education is our future. This mean spirited Bill is pure politics with regard to taking away due process for a segment of the teachers in Kansas. Hell, employees in other sectors of the economy have better protections. The idea of tenure and 'sitting on your laurels' is a myth. The Kansas that I knew and loved has been replaced by something I do not recognize. When will the self inflicted wounds come to an end?” J.D. Wilson, Major, USAF, Retired
“As a future teacher, this is very important to me.” Melissa Larson – Salina, KS
“I had a poor administrator once. He came into the girl's locker room and then denied it. For the rest of the year he and the assistant principal harassed me. My always perfect evaluations were horrible. My husband changed jobs or I would've been fired. That was 20 years ago and I've never had a poor evaluation since. He was fired from his next job in another district, given ten minutes to clean out his office. He stole test scores from my old school, yep he would've been the person in charge of determining whether I was fired or not. We need protection from such people. You can get on the wrong side of a student, parent, administrator, or board member and even if you were a great teacher you could be fired. Let teachers do their job.” Linda Hall – Neodesha, KS
“Our due process rights protect those teachers who are doing and have been doing an outstanding job from those who may have some type of personal vendetta against someone in the education field. As a teacher who has taught for 33 years, I even fear for my own final career years--why would anyone want to put their beginning or continuing career at risk by teaching in our state with no due process? And then, where are you going to get excellent, qualified, committed teachers to educate our future? You have shut the door on the future of our state--not just the future of education. Please pray to God for wisdom and reconsider.” Susan Galvan – Howard, KS
“Education should be funded without add-on amendments. This was sneaky politics led by people who have not been in classrooms nor do they care to represent the people who elected them.” Ann Headrick – Arkansas City, KS
“Don't punish those who sacrifice hours of their days and lives to help those who are the future of our country. Don't drive talent even further away from teaching. Don't drive professional, educated prospective employees from the state by harming the one thing still going for us: teachers who will sacrifice so much for the well-being of others.” Andrea Broomfield – Overland Park, KS
“I have been an educator for 20 years in Kansas and I am embarrassed about how our legislature and governor have dismissed the Supreme Court's order to fully fund school by stripping teacher's of their rights. Disgusting!” Dana Monson – Augusta, KS
“As someone who teaches government classes, and coaches competitive speech/debate, we cover countless topics that are difficult, taboo, controversial and unpopular. Covering a topic that can now anger a parent, administrator, board member can now get me fired. Those of you who say tenure protects bad teachers, you are wrong. Tenure and Due Process protect those of us who wish to push our students' intellectual horizons and become stronger and more passionate advocates in the future. If you value critical thinking, you must support Due Process Rights for teachers.” Dustin Rimmey – Lawrence KS
“Stripping of due process rights for teachers directly impacts, in a negative way, the academic freedom and ability of teachers to practice fully and fearlessly their vocation.” Fr. Jerry Rankin – Abilene, KS
“As a public educator that is 9 years away from retirement I could be viewed as being "too expensive" with my M.Ed +40 on my districts pay scale. Without due process I could simply be replaced as a way to save dollars. I am scared.” Natalie Johnson – Haysville, KS
“Working with high ability students I had to advocate too often to get appropriate services!! Without due process I wouldn't have been able to do this.” Julie Rhoads – Clearwater, KS
“I have been a teacher for 28 years, with an emphasis on behavior disorders. Why wouldn't you think I need my due process rights?” Jan Cooley – Dodge City, KS
“I'm a doctor in residency who, although training outside of Kansas, is thinking about moving back to practice in rural parts of the state. This is because I love Kansas. Being a doctor means that I have spent my life around those teaching me, and I have the utmost respect for the service and sacrifices that our educators make. I question if I want to move back to a state which prides itself on values. I am worried about getting bad teachers out, but I am even more worried about keeping good teachers in” Aakash Verma – Roanoke, VA