Archive for Saturday, April 5, 2014

Senate agrees to more money for schools; insists on vouchers, eliminating tenure

April 5, 2014

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— Republicans in the Kansas Senate have agreed to drop a provision from their school finance bill that would have defunded implementation of the Common Core standards for reading and math.

But they are insisting on language that would repeal laws regarding teacher tenure, and provisions that would indirectly provide public funding for certain students to attend private or parochial schools, as well as home schools.

That was the Senate's initial offer this morning in a conference committee that is trying to hammer out an agreement on a bill in response to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that said the state needs to eliminate funding disparities between rich and poor school districts.

The Senate's offer would accept the House position on the additional money. That calls for roughly $129 million in new funding for so-called "equalization" aid to schools as well as raising the limit on how much additional money local districts can raise on their own through property taxes.

Under the House plan, the Lawrence school district would get an additional $1.1 million from the state for its general fund next year, and could raise another million dollars or so through its local option budget.

But GOP senators say they are adamant about their policy provisions to repeal the teacher tenure law for K-12 teachers, which gives any teacher who has been with a district for three or more years the right to administrative due process hearings before they can be fired or have their contract non-renewed for the following year.

But Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, who leads the Senate negotiating team, said individual school districts could still offer tenure, if they choose, as an employee benefit negotiated with teachers unions.

The indirect voucher programs include a 70-percent tax credit for corporations that donate money for scholarships that would pay for private or parochial school tuition for students who meet certain income guidelines, as well as property tax credits for families who either home school their children or send them to private schools.

Masterson also conceded that there is no chance that Democrats will agree to such a package, and so he initiated a procedural move that will allow the conference committee to send a bill back to the full chambers without the signatures of the two minority party negotiators.

For more legislative and education coverage, follow Scott Rothschild and Peter Hancock on Twitter, @LJWrothschild and @LJWpqhancock.


Paul R Getto 4 years, 2 months ago

Much of this s$it is illegal. More work for lawyers. Send in the clowns.

Bob Forer 4 years, 2 months ago

Elimnating tenure will result in many competent and decidated teachers either leaving the profession or relocating to another state. The obvious result: the quality of education will be diminished.

A voucher system will invariably result in a decrease of funding for public schools, further eroding the quality.

When are these idiots going to realize that public education is an investment, and not a cost.

James Howlette 4 years, 2 months ago

That's the problem. Education is an investment. Private schools and privately run charters are things that can make some edupreneurs some big money. In Michigan, for example, 65% of the charters are run by for-profit companies.

Sam Crow 4 years, 2 months ago

How will stopping tenure result in teachers changing professions or leaving the state?

Students opting for private schools also decreases the expenses of public schools.

Cant liberals state their opinion without name calling?

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 2 months ago

You are remove any job security from their jobs, pretty much putting them on a year to year contract where they can be removed for any reason the state/district/principle wants. Say you have a different view on how best to teach math, oh well go work elsewhere. The state is quickly becoming a laughing stock to the country, not only is it quickly becoming one of the worst pay wise but now this. Things do not look to be improving at all.

Cheryl Nelsen 4 years, 2 months ago

If I were a new teacher deciding on where to teach, you think I'd choose Kansas where I know an administrator can fire me without there being due process in place? I'd be crazy to do that. Teachers, as well as other professionals, need to be able to do their jobs without fearing they will lose them if they don't do whatever an administrator might require. Teach, coach, sponsor a club, do hall duty, etc., etc.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Crow. How would you protect a teacher who has given a zero to a plagiarized essay, when that student is a member of the school board? Teachers can be fired now if they are incompetent, if the principal documents their incompetence. A principal cannot give a good evaluation to a bad teacher, then say they want to fire that teacher.

Pamela Baughman 4 years, 2 months ago

Sam, tenure is the guarantee teachers have against being fired on a whim -- like, did a school board member's son fail a class? Why would any sensible person who makes such a small salary anyway want to be subjected to that possibility? Students opting for private schools actually doesn't decrease expenses by much -- public schools are required to educate all children, including those at risk, those identified as requiring special services. Private schools do not have those requirements. Educating all children is incredibly expensive, but a very sound investment because those "special" kids will need less public expenditure as adults.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Pennsylvania Charter schools are money making low performance schools. The bottom line is the focus.

For more than twenty years, I have listened to the voucher movement’s seductive rhetoric of “choice” and “parent power.” If I didn’t know better, I might proclaim, “Sign me up today!”

Milwaukee, however, has more than two decades of reality-based vouchers. The lesson from this heartland city?

Vouchers are a vehicle to funnel tax dollars into private schools. Using the false promise of “choice,” they are an unabashed abandonment of public education and of our hopes for a vibrant democracy.

Phillip Chappuie 4 years, 2 months ago

No money for vouchers. The legislature is setting yet another court challenge that will cost us all way too much money. If my tax dollars have to go for home school kids or private schools...bite me. This is blatantly unconstitutional.

Sam Crow 4 years, 2 months ago

You are wrong. It is not unconstitutional. Many states allow vouchers. Just because you disagree does not make it so.

Dick Sengpiehl 4 years, 2 months ago

Senate wrong in adding vouchers and eliminating tenure. Very wrong. Should have a CLEAN bill

John Graham 4 years, 2 months ago

Seniority (which typically means higher pay) should not be used as a reason to dismiss a teacher in order to save money. But seniority should also not be used by a teacher as a reason to "go through the motions" and expect to keep their job. There needs to be an evaluation based method of teacher assessment that keeps those that are effective whether they are new or long serving as well as getting rid of those ineffective teachers whether they are long serving or new. I have had many great long serving teachers during my education, but I have also had a few long serving teachers that were simply "mailing it in" while waiting for their retirement in the next couple of years. Tenure is great to protect those still doing their job but it should not protect those that are not.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

STOP the Sam ALEC Brownback stonewalling team!!! They are wasting our money and their time.

Extremely non productive and inefficient = typical reckless ALEC philosophy!!!!

"school administrators already have the necessary authority to get rid of teachers who are not doing a good job."

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Fundamentalist right wing private schools backed with vouchers which are back with tax dollars = tax dollar money hole with zero paper trail.

Parents will have zero input or influence cuz these schools will be private industry.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 years, 2 months ago

If you surveyed Kansas parents, I would guarantee you that the majority of them are happy with our public schools. On the east coast I understand that it's different, but the US is not a one size fits all. How many for profit schools are going to open in Western Kansas? Or for that matter anywhere, but the greater Kansas City area, Lawrence, Topeka and Wichita?

One of the few reasons private schools seem successful is they do not have to accept any and all students. ADHD? No way. Been in trouble with law. Sorry, you can't come to this school. If they are to receive public money, it means they need to follow all the rules and regulations that state supported schools must follow. They even have to take that juvenile delinquent and try to teach him/her. They also have to accept the money that is brought to them in the voucher, and can't charge anymore. I mean if the public schools can teach a student with that much money, surely the private school can. Then I will agree with vouchers.

Pamela Baughman 4 years, 2 months ago

What a sad day for education in Kansas! Tenure is so critical to hiring and retaining good teachers -- and incompetent teachers, those just going through the motions, can and ARE fired. Evaluation can work when administrators make it work. It takes so much to keep really good teachers -- good salaries, tenure, the support of the administration and parents -- Kansas will continue to lose good teaching staff and new staff will likely not come on board because Kansas has shown a lack of respect and support. I am so afraid that Kansas will get what it is paying for, especially in the districts where teaching is one of the toughest jobs.

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