Under the Dome - February 14, 2013
WAR ON TEACHERS KICKS INTO HIGH GEAR
The Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) and the Kansas School Superintendents Association (KSSA) have decided to link arms with anti-union conservatives in an all out effort to destroy the Kansas NEA and permanently silence Kansas teachers.
Last night, the KSSA notified legislators of their intent to gut the professional negotiations act (see Teachers should be seen and not heard below) and this morning the KASB announced a change in their long standing opposition to hearing officers in teacher due process procedures (see KASB supports complete repeal of fair dismissal procedures below).
Are you angry yet? This issue needs to go beyond contacting your legislators. Do you think your superintendent and board support the de-professionalization of teaching? Does your school board think teachers should have no rights? Does your superintendent believe it is good policy to silence to voice of Kansas teachers? Maybe it's time to ask.
Kansas School Superintendents Association: Teachers should be seen and not heard
"We believe good leadership includes collaboration with employees over decisions and policies that will affect employees." KSSA 2/11/13 memo to Rep. Marvin Kleeb regarding collective bargaining for teachers
Over the years our parents, our teachers, our professors, even our friends have drilled two fundamental life lessons into us:
Practice what you preach.
If you're going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk.
Those lessons came immediately to mind when we read the quote above for the first time. You see, that quote is the last sentence in a memo from the Kansas School Superintendents Association to Rep. Marvin Kleeb laying out in detail what the KSSA wants in a "reform" of collective bargaining for teachers.
Everything in the memo leading up to that sentence is a list of those things on which the KSSA believes there should NOT be collaboration with employees. It is a ponderous list.
Apparently the only things that the members of KSSA believe they should have to collaborate with employees on are 1) salary, 2) pay for supplemental duties, 3) sick leave, and 4) personal leave. Everything else - and we do mean everything - is off the table.
Even the most conservative thinkers believe that collective bargaining includes "wages and benefits, hours, and working conditions." But not the school superintendents.
When it comes to "hours" they not only prohibit negotiation over "hours of work," they also specifically leave out "holidays," "leave of absence," "sabbatical," and "sick leave bank."
When it comes to "benefits," no benefits may be negotiated. "Early retirement benefits" and "insurance benefits" are non-negotiable in the KSSA memo.
And when it comes to wages, salary and supplemental pay (i.e. coaching) are negotiable, "pay for extended duties" and "other pay" are not.
In the memo, the school district would not be required to negotiate pay for extended duties, leaves of absence, sabbaticals, sick leave banks, payroll deductions, grievance procedures, association rights, the use of buildings for association meetings, the use of school mail and email systems, association leave, and the dissemination of negotiation information.
A number of items would not be negotiable at all. These include early retirement benefits, insurance benefits, holidays, the form of the contract, evaluation procedures, hours of work, clothing, reduction in force, and resignation/re-employment.
So let's circle back to where we started: "We believe good leadership includes collaboration with employees over decisions and policies that will affect employees." If there were any truth to that statement, would the prohibitions on everything except salary, pay for supplemental duties, sick leave, and personal leave indicate the KSSA plans to "practice what they preach?" We think not.
So we would suggest to the members of KSSA, if you can't walk the walk, don't talk the talk. And your memo represents a strong reluctance to walk.
The Governor's "Efficiency Task Force" and Collective Bargaining
You might recall that in the report of the Governor's Efficiency Task Force, there was a call for review of the professional negotiations act to see if anything should be changed to allow for better efficiency in school districts.
We sat through the meetings of the task force so we know what was discussed and indeed collective bargaining was discussed one day when two superintendents were allowed to testify.
Before we reveal what they said about collective bargaining, let's not forget that no teachers were permitted to present to the task force nor were teachers asked for their input except via an anonymous "tip line" on the internet. KNEA requested time on the agenda to get the voice of classroom teachers heard but Chairman Ken Willard denied our request.
So, what was said about collective bargaining?
The Superintendent from South Lyons did not mention collective bargaining in his remarks but a task force member asked him if there would need to be changes. His response was that he really did not see any problem; that relations with their union were very good. When pressed further, he said that bargaining evaluation procedures might be a problem in light of the move toward a new evaluation system state-wide.
The other superintendent was from Concordia. Again, collective bargaining was not an issue in her remarks but task force members put the question to her as they did to the other. This time they asked first about evaluation procedures. In her response, she told the task force that in fact the union had been very helpful on that issue. She had approached the union about this very issue. The union did not balk at the discussion. Instead, she told the task force, the union called Peg Dunlap at KNEA who suggested they work with the district to move forward by becoming a pilot district in the Kansas Educator Evaluation Protocol - the state's developing system. The union and the district collaboratively agreed to join the pilot - a decision they were all happy with. Union and management working together collaboratively through the collective bargaining process.
She was pressed further. They wanted to know if there was anything else about collective bargaining that harmed her ability to function efficiently. To this question, she responded by bringing up a provision in their collective bargaining agreement that would have cost the district about $30,000. Due to state budget cuts, the district decided they could be more efficient if they closed their middle school and moved those grades to other facilities. The contract had a provision that required the district to pay a bonus of $1000 to any teacher reassigned in such a way as to require moving their classroom. Closing the middle school and moving the 30 teachers would be too costly.
The superintendent went to the union with the issue. The union did not suggest that that was too bad for the superintendent. No, they agreed to reopen the contract on that issue and negotiated a win-win compromise under which the district would give those teachers one additional personal day as a kind of "compensatory time" for the time spent packing up, moving, and then setting up a new classroom in a different building. Again, the union and management working collaboratively to solve problems through the collective bargaining process.
Out of these comments, the task force apparently decided collective bargaining needed to be dismantled.
Based on what went on in the public meetings of the Governor's School Efficiency Task Force, there was no call or need to alter the collective bargaining law in any way. Yet the report says differently. So is this Ken Willard's personal vendetta against a union that never endorsed his candidacy for State Board of Education? Did this come from the Governor's office as a directive? Does this reveal the hand of the Koch brother's "think tank," the Kansas Policy Institute who are noted for their anti-union sentiments and were granted hours of time before the Task Force?
One can only surmise.
KASB supports the complete repeal of fair dismissal procedures in Kansas.
This was the lead article in a KASB Capitol Update published this morning:
Because of anticipated upcoming legislation, the KASB Board of Directors met in special session last night to provide clarification to staff on the intent of the association's position on teacher due process rights. The long-standing KASB position on teacher due process reads as follows: "KASB believes the final decision on any teacher termination or non-renewal should rest with the board of education."
While KASB is not actively seeking a change at this time, KASB's current position is interpreted to mean KASB would support any change in teacher due process rights that strengthens a board of education's control of teacher termination or non-renewal, up to and including elimination of due process rights.
The board emphasized a desire to continue to work in a positive way with all those interested in the improvement of Kansas education.
So there you have it! KASB seeks permission to fire any teacher at will for any reason. Did you dare to take a parent's side in an IEP meeting? You're fired! Did you stay home with your toddler rather than work the concession stand at the football game? You're fired! Did a parent complain about the book you assigned? You're fired! Did you refuse to change the grade you gave that Board member's child? You're fired!