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Claudette Johns' Response to "Hutchinson News" article

The News
300 W. Second Avenue
Hutchinson, KS  67504

Re:  Letter to the Editor Response to KNEA not ‘pro-student’

Dear Letter to the Editor:
A recent letter to the editor asserted that the Kansas National Education Association does not “represent the needs of our children.”  The idea that KNEA members — teachers, secretaries, bus drivers, and administrators - do not have the best interests of the children they serve every day is not just untrue, it is offensive.

The author erroneously states that administrators do not have the ability to replace underperforming teachers. They do and they use it. Teachers are subject to a rigorous, statutorily required evaluation system. They are observed, evaluated, and retained or removed based on those evaluations.

She touts “merit pay” as a panacea for improving schools. KNEA believes alternative pay structures can be implemented when an appropriate base salary is in place, defined and objective criteria for the awarding of “merit pay” exist, and these criteria enhance learning for all students. The failure of merit pay systems nationwide has been implementation that limits opportunities for teachers to earn such pay due to insufficient funding.

While KNEA does not outright oppose all merit pay plans, we understand the problems with such plans. Basing pay on narrow student learning criteria such as state exams ignores the collaborative nature of educating children. Does the music teacher contribute to higher math achievement? Research tells us yes, but narrow merit pay plans do not recognize the contributions of music teachers.

If your child gets an “A,” does the teacher deserve a raise?  Is the teacher of high-performing advanced placement students more meritorious than the teacher of struggling students with learning disabilities?  If you want improve student learning, pay all teachers well and then provide them with time to collaborate and plan, professional development to learn new ways of reaching students, and the resources to fill our classrooms with the tools and materials to enrich their lessons.

These are the things for which KNEA advocates. These are the things we believe our recommended candidates support.

If you agree, please consider voting for candidates recommended by KNEA. In Hutchinson: Mark Treaster for Senate, Jan Pauls, Steve Becker, and Carol Moore for the House.  In Newton: Carolyn McGinn for Senate and  Glenda Reynolds for the House.  


Claudette Johns
KNEA Executive Director

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