Archive for Monday, December 17, 2012

KNEA blasts governor’s task force report

December 17, 2012


Officials with the Kansas National Education Association are sharply criticizing a governor’s task force recommendation that calls for revising or narrowing state laws that govern collective bargaining rights of teachers.

“It angers me,” said Mark Desetti, a lobbyist for KNEA, the state’s largest teachers union. “We have worked very hard to build collaborative relationships. Collective bargaining around this state works. Our teachers don’t go out there and demand exorbitant salaries, and they don’t have a right to strike. They go out there, and they work with their school districts.”

Last week, Gov. Sam Brownback’s School Efficiency Task Force held its final meeting to decide on a set of recommendations aimed at improving schools’ efficiency so that more of their budgets would be directed toward classroom instruction. According to the draft report, one of those recommendations is for the state to, “review/narrow the Professional Negotiations Act to prevent it from hindering operational flexibility/resource assignment.”

“The current topics (and) categories that are subject to negotiation limit the basic ability for a district superintendent to efficiently manage district resources,” the draft report stated.

Democrats and education groups were critical of the governor’s task force from the outset, noting among other things that it was made up mainly of accountants and included no one with professional experience in education.

Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said he was disappointed in the draft report.

“I don’t agree with the premise that we’re going to make schools more efficient by compensating teachers less,” Davis said. “I have never heard a whole lot of complaining about the collective bargaining process. I think that most school administrators and school board members go through that process wishing that they could do more to help compensate teachers. But unfortunately, when we’re not able to adequately fund education, we get put in a situation where teachers are pitted against other needs of a school district.”

Last year, the Ohio Legislature passed a law that greatly limited collective bargaining rights of teachers, but voters in Ohio later repealed that law in a ballot referendum. Also last year, Wisconsin passed a law stripping teachers and many other public employees of collective bargaining rights. That resulted in unsuccessful efforts to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker from office.

Desetti said he thinks the task force recommendation may represent the first step toward a similar effort to limit collective bargaining for teachers in Kansas.

“This certainly moves in that direction,” he said. “Now, it doesn’t say to strip (teachers) entirely of bargaining rights. It says revise or narrow the Professional Negotiations Act to prevent it from hindering operational flexibility and resource assignment. You know, ‘resource assignment,’ like what you pay teachers.”

Ken Willard, a member of the Kansas State Board of Education who chaired the task force, declined to comment on the report last week, saying it would be premature to comment before it is finalized and delivered to the governor.

The Kansas Association of School Boards reported in its email newsletter after the meeting that some task force members had said superintendents had told them that collective bargaining agreements limit management flexibility.

But Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll said that hasn’t been the case locally.

“We have a good relationship with our teachers association, so I can’t really say that’s been a problem for us,” Doll said.


LJ Whirled 5 years, 6 months ago

Lobbyist for the teacher's union ... there's a neutral player.

Again ... how does he feel about accountability?

adastraperapathy 5 years, 6 months ago

You could say "there's a neutral player" about anyone involved--the anonymous Superintendents who want the ability to pay administration more; the Governor, who wants more money for his tax cuts for the wealthy; the task force, who was appointed to please the Governor and his political interests, rather than balance the needs of all people invested in our state education system.

What eliminating collective bargaining does is clear from the statistics: workers in states with so-called "right to work" laws get paid less and have fewer benefits.

Is there a benefit to them? Other than the "flexibility" they generate to restructure business models away from adequately compensating employees?

In any case, the far right position of eliminating collective bargaining altogether is completely one-sided.

No wonder the results for workers are so dismal.

kugrad 5 years, 6 months ago

When the Koch Brothers' proxies are allowed to testify, a busload of non-educators give testimony, but not a single teacher is asked to provide input, not one, it is clear that this task force is just for appearances. The conclusions were predetermined. This is not governance, this makes a farce of representative democracy. If the Governor did not want input from KNEA, there are many, many ways in which he could have obtained input from teachers and other education professionals. Would you let plumbers determine banking regulations? Would you let carpenters determine medical guidelines for surgery? The real question is why ISN'T the Governor seeking input from education professionals? The answer is that he doesn't owe them anything. He is beholden to the interests that finance his election and he is too busy proving what a good dog he is to his owners in hope of their backing in a presidential run to actual govern the State of Kansas.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 6 months ago

Everyone should watch the video called "tax the rich" produced by the California Federation of Teachers. It is funny. It is narrated by Ed Asner. It pulls back the current behind what the greedy Koch brothers and their demon right minions in the Kansas GOP are up to. The video can be found at:

lhenry69 5 years, 6 months ago

Agreed...most school superintendents are no more than glorified accountants...They became thus because they could not make it as teachers...After 40 years in teaching... I've seen The State School Board over these years legislate and pass down some very harmful and idiotic mandates that have impeded the education of our young people and at the tax payers expense. "Stupid is as stupid does". Continuing under this present lack of moral leadership, the future of the educational system in Kansas looks rather dim. It politics as usual.

A recently retired school teacher!!!!!!!

Paul R Getto 5 years, 6 months ago

Sams cult trained him that jesus ( the muscular version) supports union-busting. Read up on Sam's mentor, Doug Coe.

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

Ok - so this is a right to work state, and teachers are also specifically legally forbidden from striking. That means that collective bargaining is essentially making requests, right? Why is this a big deal?

Orwell 5 years, 6 months ago

The Kansas economy will never grow until we have state laws that impoverish every worker, public sector and private. The last thing we need is a bunch of consumers with disposable income creating demand for goods and services. Just ask Sam and his legislative minions.

scary_manilow 5 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

deec 5 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

question4u 5 years, 6 months ago

Lowering teacher salaries should be a great way to attract bright young people to the profession. Just the other day I overheard two national merit scholars saying that they were going to switch their majors to education because of the attractive prospects for teachers in Kansas.

texburgh 5 years, 6 months ago

I must say that I am surprised and kind of alarmed that a post simply giving a link to a press statement on the shootings from the Sandy Hook teachers union apparently violates the usage agreement. Or perhaps it is the LJW policy never to allow a union to look sympathetic to the public?

Paul R Getto 5 years, 6 months ago

The Family’s main role in practical politics, as Sharlet demonstrates in considerable detail, has been to foster ties between the US and tyrants abroad. Christ’s men in government, it turns out, are not really interested in the complexities of theology. According to the Family’s calculus, to love Jesus is to love worldly power, for there is no authority but of God (Romans 13) and hence the powerful of the Earth are God’s anointed ones. Through the decades the Family has reached across the waters to join hands with some of the world’s most repressive regimes: Suharto in Indonesia, Park in South Korea, Medici in Brazil, Duvalier in Haiti, Selassie in Ethiopia, Siad Barre in Somalia. In the view of Doug Coe, the group’s current leader, the 20th century figures who best exemplified a New Testament approach to power were Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

Peter Hancock 5 years, 6 months ago

Interesting discussion, for the most part. One thing some people may not realize is that there are many, many things negotiated between school districts and teachers beyond just base salary levels. For example, if a school board knows it has X amount of money to add to the salary schedule, the board may feel it's a priority to recruit new teachers to replace those about to retire, while the teachers (who may have gone two or three years without any salary adjustment) might want that money focused on raises for veteran teachers. There's also the issue of how much additional money (if any) teachers should get for taking on extra duties - sponsoring clubs and after-school events; coaching; etc. Dress codes are another item that have been sticking points in contract negotiations, most recently in Wichita and Topeka.

The big issue that seems to be a major issue in many districts now is the issue of how teachers are evaluated. It's important for teachers - especially those in their first few years of teaching - because it determines whether they will receive tenure. Teachers want this to be a negotiated item so that everyone knows what the evaluation rules are and how they will be applied. Some school boards - Lawrence not being among them right now - feel they're coming under increasing mandates to improve student performance. And they may soon come under new, stricter accreditation standards from the state. Therefore, some feel this is an item they need more control over.

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