By Clay Center Dispatch, April 22
The Kansas Legislature’s right-wing has made it easier to fire teachers. Why isn’t exactly clear.
Bad teachers could be fired before with a little effort. They just weren’t. The legislation signed by Gov. Brownback invites and encourages abuse by administrators.
In all likelihood, the kinds of teachers who will be dismissed are older, higher paid teachers and the outstanding teachers who don’t also happen to be able to coach.
Teachers who rock no boats, irritate neither students nor parents nor administrators, and who keep their mouths shut and toe the line for the administration will have the best chances of surviving with their jobs intact.
Do all of that and try to teach in that position.
School administrators are all too often teachers who couldn’t make it in the classroom. They have little sympathy for, or patience with, creative teachers and tend to be as much a drag on education as an inspiration for it.
School administrators are also becoming infamous for not defending teachers when confronted by hot-headed parents accusing the school of picking on their little darlings — the kind of parents who will believe their own kid’s account of an incident before they’ll listen to a responsible adult professional, blood being thicker than common sense.
The percentage of irrational parents increases as years go by and teachers now must face the anger alone.
Teachers already have meager defense against students disrespecting them with foul language, insults or minor assaults such as being poked in the chest. They cannot legally respond verbally or physically to such insults and assaults. And by law, they cannot publicly complain about this state of affairs which keeps up the illusion of peace and order in the school. That is why the public never hears of the situation but it is in every school district.
And while it may be easier to fire poor teachers, the new law strips all teachers of the last shred of protection they had, exposing them to this hostile environment.
The net result will be an outmigration of good teachers and promising school of education graduates to states willing to pay and protect them better than Kansas.
Giving school administrators and teachers authority to defend themselves, and to punish serious misbehavior without fear of lawsuits or reprimand, is the way to clean up the nasty school environment in Kansas. That isn’t being done.
Taking away future job protections that have been in place since mid-century is exactly the wrong thing to do.