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Under the Dome - March 25, 2013

Voucher bill fails on House floor!

House Sub for SB 22 - the only voucher bill to come out of a committee - was voted down on a motion to advance the bill to final action. The roll call vote was 56 to 63.

If this vote holds (there can always be a motion to reconsider) then the three attempts to move public money to private schools will all have failed to advance.

The first bill to fail was HB 2263, a special education voucher bill, which died in the House Education Committee. Next came a radical expansion of charter schools in HB 2320 and SB 196. These twin bills died in the House and Senate Education Committees. The bill that died on the House floor today started out as HB 2400, a corporate tax deduction bill that let corporations create vouchers for low income or special education students to attend private schools. The corporation would get a 70% tax credit for every dollar they contributed to these vouchers. The House put the bill into SB 22 before moving it out of committee to the full House.

If this vote holds, then the movement to privatize public education will have been halted for this legislative session.

We hope this vote will stand. To that end, continue to reach out to your Representatives. Thank them all for voting against Sub for SB 22 and urge them to vote NO on any motion to reconsider or advance the bill.

Here are the points that need to be made:

  • Most of the time the legislature is demanding more and more accountability from our public schools. But this bill sends some children - at-risk children and special needs children - to schools that meet no accountability standards whatsoever.
  • This bill does involve state money. The tax credit means that 70% of each child's scholarship or voucher comes from the state in the form of lost tax revenue. As much as $10 million will be lost to the state each and every year this program is in place. This is money that could be used to restore cuts that have been made to our public schools.
  • These tax dollars would be spent sending children to schools that don't hire licensed teachers. The legislature insists that my barber or the local tattoo artist hold a license but would subject our children to teachers who have no training. That is just plain wrong.
  • These tax dollars would be spent sending children to schools that refuse to participate in the state assessment system and are not required to monitor or report student performance or progress at all. There will be no way to determine if this program is working for children.
  • At a time when you are demanding more and more accountability from our schools and teachers, why would you spend our tax dollars on schools that refuse to be accountable for student performance? This bill is just plain wrong.

Click here for a House Roster with office phone numbers and email addresses.

Click here to use the KNEA "contact your legislators" web portal.

Senate advances bill giving all insurance salesman access to school mailboxes, emails

The Senate today advanced to final action a bill that requires any school district that grants access to mailboxes, emails and employee events by one organization to also grant such access to any organization that sells insurance or professional development.

School districts currently have control over such access but often restrict the number of salesman that have access while giving access to the local bargaining agent to keep employees apprised of activities. Under this new bill, if the bargaining agent had a table at a required employee function, then any insurance seller or professional development provider who asked for the same opportunity.

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