Under the Dome - February 26, 2013
You might be wondering what happened to HB 2085, the bill to dismantle collective bargaining and the KSSA proposal to strip teachers of any voice in anything except salary, supplemental pay, sick leave and personal leave.
We were wondering as well until we got wind of a game afoot.
The House Commerce Committee met today and decided to discuss the collective bargaining proposals but not to work HB 2085. What could this mean?
What we learned is that a plan was hatched out by Chairman Kleeb working with a few superintendents and KASB - folks who wish to strip teachers of most if not all collective bargaining from teachers - to craft some ideas behind closed doors, and then drop the plan in as a "gut and go" amendment to another bill that apparently no one cared about.
Is this possible? Sure it is! You'll be able to see it soon in HB 2027, shooting out of committee just in time to get through the full House before turn-around on Friday.
This is the time to get back into action. Contact your House member and ask him/her to oppose changes to collective bargaining for teachers in HB 2085, in HB 2027, or any other bill or amendment in the House.
This action could take place any time over the next three days. It is important that you both email and call your House member! Leave a message both in the email inbox and on the office voicemail!
Do superintendents and school board members really have so little respect for teachers? Let's ask!
We don't believe that KASB and these superintendents are really representative of all school board members and superintendents.
Last night for example, the Lawrence USD 497 School Board voted unanimously to oppose changes to collective bargaining and to so notify the House Commerce Committee. Read about their action here. Unfortunately the Commerce Committee acted before it was possible to even hear from Lawrence.
What about your school board? Your superintendent? Do they really think so little of the teachers they work with that they would support a bill stripping teachers of a voice in their professional lives?
This is the time that they need to take a stand. Why not ask your board to stand up for respect for the teaching profession in Kansas. Ask them to pass a resolution supporting teachers and collective bargaining. Ask them to join you in contacting your House members and telling them there's nothing wrong with collective bargaining - it gives teachers a voice and improves the district.
We can put an end to the War on Teachers now being waged by some in KASB and a few superintendents!
Senate Ed Committee acts on several bills
Senate Bill 171, creating new accounting reporting requirements for school districts, was debated and amended before being passed out of committee. One amendment removes specific reporting of the costs of activities and extra-curricular activities. The bill passed on a 7 to 5 votes.
Senate Bill 176, the coalition of innovative districts (identical to HB 2319), was debated next. This bill would allow 10 districts to opt out of most state laws, rules and regulations. KNEA objected to a bill allowing districts to unilaterally opt out of collective bargaining, due process, and continuing contract laws.
Senator Wolf (R-Prairie Village) offered an amendment to add those three laws to the short list of laws that cannot be opted out of. Senator Wolf had spoken to the superintendents of the districts that appeared as proponents of the bill and they indicated that they were in strong support of her amendment. But the amendment went down to defeat on a 5 to 6 vote. Wolf was joined by Senators Vicki Schmidt, Dan Kerschen, Anthony Hensley, and Pat Pettey in voting for the amendment.
The bill then passed out of committee on a voice vote.
Senate Bill 169, the Governor's bill on mandatory retention of third graders, drew vigorous debate. An amendment offered by Senator Pettey would have stripped out the mandate and instead focused on remedial efforts for students. The amendment failed.
Further amendments were offered and debated. The bill ultimately failed on a vote of 6 to 5.
House debates bullying bill, revisits vouchers
The House Education Committee spent about two hours debating HB 2222, a bullying bill intended to expand bullying policies to specifically include staff members bullying students. KNEA testified on the bill suggesting that the proposed bill actually would narrow bullying policies. We felt that the issues raised by parents in the committee hearing were more about how districts might be drafting their policies and less about the law.
In the end, the Committee made a relatively minor amendment to the bill and passed it out of committee.
Before adjourning, Rep. Willie Dove (R-Bonner Springs) asked for a reconsideration of the vote the committee took on HB 2263, the special education voucher bill that failed in committee on a vote of 8 to 10. There was some discussion of how to determine whether Rep. Dove had voted on the prevailing side (a requirement for moving a reconsideration) since the vote was not a recorded vote. In the end the Committee accepted Dove's motion and voted 9 to 10 NOT to reconsider the bill.