Responding to the extremist group Americans for Prosperity, funded by the Koch brothers, the Kansas state legislature enacted legislation that strips teachers of due process and expands “school choice” (aka privatization of public schools and their funding). In the future, teachers may be fired without a hearing.
The legislature used the pretext of a court ruling to equalize funding to enact proposals that align with the far-right ALEC organization.
Destroying due process is called “reform.” Teachers may be unjustly accused and fired without a hearing. They may be fired because they taught both sides of a controversial issue or expressed a controversial view. They may be fired because the principal doesn’t like the way they look or doesn’t like their race or religion. No reason is needed because there will be no hearing.
Without any right to a fair hearing, you can be sure that the word “evolution” will never be heard in many districts, nor any reference to global warming. Nor will many classics of American literature be taught. Books like “Huckleberry Finn,” “Invisible Man,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” are risky and controversial. Now is exactly when the children of Kansas and the U.S. should be reading “1984” and “Brave New World.”
“The bill is potentially a big victory for conservative Republicans because it gives them some educational reforms they have sought while putting more money into schools.
The reforms would:
• Foster school choice by allowing corporations to make tax-deductible contributions to scholarship funds so children with special needs or who come from low-income households could attend private school.
• Make it easier to fire teachers by eliminating their due-process rights.
• Relax teacher licensing when hiring instructors with professional experience in areas including math, science, finance and technical education.
“As the final bill was negotiated, lawmakers jettisoned an idea to block funding for Common Core academic standards.
“They also shed a plan that would have provided property tax relief for parents who home-school their children or send them to private schools. Lawmakers questioned whether the property tax break was constitutional and whether they knew its real cost.
“Urged on by conservative special interests such as Americans for Prosperity, Republican leaders pressed hard to eliminate due process rights for teachers.
“They say the proposal is intended to ensure that school administrators are free from regulations that would keep them from firing substandard teachers.
“If you talk to administrators, they want this,” said Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican. “They want really good teachers to thrive. They don’t want to be in a position to protect those teachers who are under-performing.”
“State law had required administrators to document conduct and provide a hearing for teachers they want to fire after three years on the job.
“The bill means terminated teachers would no longer be able to request a hearing.”