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Legislature picks fight with teachers, then blames teachers E-mail
Thursday, 19 June 2014 11:40

By Salina Journal, June 12


“Research has clearly proven that teacher effectiveness is one of the most important elements associated with student success, and we passed this reform measure with the welfare of Kansas students in mind. However, with the filing of this lawsuit, it is apparent that the KNEA is more concerned about its members than student achievement and outcomes.” — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle.

There are so many things wrong with Wagle’s statement that’s it difficult to know where to start. But first, some background.

In the late, waning hours of the 2014 Legislature, the Senate passed a school funding bill that stripped public school teachers of their automatic right to a due process hearing, or tenure. That provision was introduced by Sen. Tom Arpke, R-Salina.

There were no committee hearings or discussion. It was just rammed through.

Defenders of this “reform” say it was all about giving local school boards more control. Actually, it was about sticking it to the teachers’ union.

Now, let’s look at Wagle’s statement.

Everyone can agree that effective teachers help students succeed. But it doesn’t follow that removing tenure will cause teachers to be more effective. In fact, teachers argue that without the limited protection of tenure, they’ll be less likely to take creative chances and advocate for their students.

Wagle says the lawsuit proves that teachers are more concerned about their own jobs than their students. So, how do teachers prove they care about their students? By Wagle’s reasoning, by rolling over and playing dead after being needlessly provoked.

What removing teacher tenure — especially in the way it was done — and Wagle’s statement show is that the people who did this don’t understand unions or how to treat people. Rather than weakening the union, all they’ve done is to give teachers an issue to rally around and perhaps strengthen their resolve — exactly what Wagle and her ilk didn’t want.

Had this been done openly, teachers still wouldn’t have agreed, but at least they could have been treated like adults and professionals.

Don’t blame the teachers for standing up for themselves. Blame those who unnecessarily picked this fight.

Perhaps Wagle has some research on the effectiveness of treating people with respect.

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