School funding bill draws controversy from teachers advocates

(AP File Photo/John Hanna)

A controversial education funding bill is now waiting on the Governor’s signature. This weekend, the House and Senate both approved a bill that would give more funding to poor school districts, but would eliminate teachers’ tenure.

Tenure, or due process, is not job protection, but job security for teachers, which has teachers and teachers advocates nervous about the future.

“As a former teacher 13 years in the classroom, I spent those 13 years fighting for my students,” said Mark Desetti, a former teacher, and the Director of Government Relations for KNEA.

Just one day after teachers learned their job security could no longer be offered starting July 1, 2014, if the Governor signs the bill, they started to worry.

“Many Kansas students spend more time with dedicated teachers in classrooms and schools than any other adult in their life,” said Mark Farr, KNEA Vice President.

For USD 501 in Topeka, Tenure is offered to teachers after their fourth contract. Each contract is for one year. Supporters of the bill say getting rid of tenure will not apply to just any teacher.

“That’s a win for students. When you talk about the removal of tenure for teachers, we would think that’s a win because it allows principals now to have that hiring decision and to make the decision to get the best possible teachers in the classrooms,” said Jennifer Rezac, Kansas Communications Director for Americans for Prosperity.

But opponents say it will not give teachers the chance to do what they do best.

“There are a whole lot of people out there who’s belief that they have the right to advocate for children, advocate for what’s good for public schools, that belief will be chilled by this bill,” said David Schauner, KNEA General Legal Counsel.

“I am a mom and I have two kids who are in public schools right now, and they’re in good schools. To me it is, are you being an effective teacher, you’re doing your job. Great. then you should be teaching,” said Rezac.

Kansas National Education Association says they are asking Governor Brownback to veto this bill.

It is not known when the Governor will make a decision on this bill. In response to the bill passing, Governor Brownback said in a statement, “The bill ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently, putting money in the classrooms to help teachers teach and students learn.”

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