Kansas teachers who are angered over Gov. Sam Brownback's repeal of tenure hope they can convince the general public that they have a stake in this fight, too.
Kim Schneweis, a middle school teacher in Hays, said the public should be concerned because taking away tenure for teachers will reduce the quality of teaching.
"A teacher who is doing his or her job well doesn't always make everyone happy," Schneweis said. "You don't want them spending more time worrying about protecting themselves than doing what is best for the students."
It remains to be seen what impact this issue will have, if any, in the November election.
Brownback is seeking re-election against likely Democratic opponent Paul Davis of Lawrence, the House minority leader. Davis voted against the school finance legislation that included the repeal of tenure provision.
If elected governor, Davis' campaign said he will work with the Legislature "to reverse this unpopular and unnecessary policy change."
Brownback has framed the issue of tenure as one of local control. With repeal of the state law, now local school districts can decide whether offering tenure to teachers is right for them, he has said.
In comments since he signed the school bill into law, Brownback has focused on the funding portion of the bill, which is meant to address a Kansas Supreme Court order to increase funding to poor districts.
When asked if the tenure issue will affect Brownback's election chances, his campaign manager Mark Dugan said, "Paul Davis voted against millions of dollars for schools and for property tax relief. He's going to have to explain that to voters."
Davis had voted for an earlier bi-partisan version of the school bill that included the funding for school districts and property tax relief, but none of the controversial policy changes.
Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at Kansas University, said Brownback's repeal of tenure "is not a huge game-changer." Loomis said that it will be an issue during the campaign and probably helps Davis because it has energized some teachers to work for his election.
"Had this been a clean bill that simply gave money to the schools, it would have taken the education issue away from Paul Davis," said Loomis.
Teachers say some large school districts will probably continue to offer tenure, which would hurt smaller districts' ability to attract teachers. There are nearly 35,000 public school teachers in Kansas.