Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wake up, Kansas

4/11/2014

Hearing the news of the Kansas state Senate this week passing a bill to eliminate due process protections for our public school teachers was disheartening for me as a former legislator.

During the 1977 session of the Legislature, I researched hundreds of instances in which superintendents and/or school boards arbitrarily and without cause terminated experienced and dedicated teachers in Kansas public schools. Usually, the real reason for this action was never publicly revealed because the teacher had given a school board member’s or superintendent’s child an honest grade or because the board needed to save money by replacing experienced teachers with cheaper rookies or because some stooge complained about the appearance, political stance or other personal quality about the teacher. In many cases, no advanced notice was given, no chance to be represented at a hearing was given, and no chance to respond or even be heard, was afforded the teacher — incredible!

Hearing the news of the Kansas state Senate this week passing a bill to eliminate due process protections for our public school teachers was disheartening for me as a former legislator.

During the 1977 session of the Legislature, I researched hundreds of instances in which superintendents and/or school boards arbitrarily and without cause terminated experienced and dedicated teachers in Kansas public schools. Usually, the real reason for this action was never publicly revealed because the teacher had given a school board member’s or superintendent’s child an honest grade or because the board needed to save money by replacing experienced teachers with cheaper rookies or because some stooge complained about the appearance, political stance or other personal quality about the teacher. In many cases, no advanced notice was given, no chance to be represented at a hearing was given, and no chance to respond or even be heard, was afforded the teacher — incredible!

I asked the entire committee to sponsor the bill I authored as chair of the House Education Committee. Working closely with representatives on both sides of the aisle, we were able to shepherd the bill through both the House and Senate. Folks present at the packed hearings were stunned at the tragic, humiliating ridiculous stories personally given by teachers to the unfair, undemocratic and scandalous ways they had been treated. In not a single instance was the termination ever denied or justified by the person or board who had made the decision.

It’s so sad that this job protection and due process promised by our 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution now is apparently about to be eliminated by those duped by the Kansas Association of School Boards, superintendents and principals.

Teachers and parents in Kansas will again have to stand up for protection from this coalition, and fight back to retain this constitutional due process protection.

No school board member or superintendent worth their salt should be empowered with this type of arbitrary, dictatorial and unchecked authority.

Wake up, Kansas, and protect those who are teaching your children from this unbridled power grab! Contact your local legislators, and let Gov. Sam Brownback know of your support for basic due process protection for our teachers. Send signed petitions to your legislators and demand a copy of their roll call votes on this issue.

P.S. My former House district seat in Hutchinson is now occupied  by a lawyer who represents the Kansas Association of School Boards — how ironic!

 

— Roger Robertson,

retired pastor,

former Kansas state representative, D-Hutchinson (1972-1977),

Lenexa

comments powered by Disqus