After having worked in the Wichita School System and watching our governor Sam Brownback hack up education with budget cuts and other repressive moves, I could really appreciate this letter to F5(Wichita). More people need to speak out on the poor shape of education in this state and the constant attacks on teachers.
- សតិវ អតុ
By Joan Warren, Ed.D., Wichita
As a follow up to Bill Jenkins' article (F5, May 17, 2014), I was at the capitol in Topeka on April 6 when the Kansas Legislature passed House Bill 2506 (HB2506) and saw hundreds of teachers protesting the Bill wearing bright red t-shirts that read "Raise Your Hand" for student success. The vote passed 22 to 16 in the Senate and 63 to 57 in the House thereby ending due-process protection for K-12 teachers and more. Now teachers can be dismissed without an investigation. So if a teacher speaks up for a student and administrators don't agree with it, then they can be automatically let go. Teachers are highly trained professionals who are trusted to open our future leaders' minds to help students be productive citizens as well as informed decision makers. Our children are active learners asking questions and conducting experiments to save our Earth. Our children are developing social skills learning how to cooperate and collaborate with others. Teachers also provide a controlled environment, helping students through sequenced learning so they can move on to higher levels. I look at our educators as building blocks surrounded by learners — in other words they are professionals creating learning experiences. One other thing I might mention is that our schools rank 42nd in the nation on teacher pay. Yet our educators keep coming back to instruct our children year after year and motivate them to be problem solvers in math and science and productive in the work place. Governor Sam, as Bill Jenkins calls him, was absent during the HB2506 voting process. The Bill was rammed through both houses on a Sunday, mind you, without any input from the education committees. Heaven only knows how many people sent Governor Sam requests to veto HB2506 or at least go through proper procedures. But alas he signed it, and now a three-judge district court panel has upheld the Bill in June. I was proud to see our teachers protesting. I witnessed Representative Paul Davis, House Minority Leader, leading and strategizing with both Democrats and Republicans to save our public school teachers' rights on the House floor. Paul Davis is building a strong coalition from both parties and independents and running for governor. He has served as a legislator for 11 years and is an attorney in Lawrence by trade. If you want to hear part of Paul's speech to teachers after HB2506 passed go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShGbXWTgiSo. Representative Davis said, "Do not leave here tonight feeling discouraged, leave here tonight feeling renewed that you are going to continue this fight for the future of Kansas and the future of all those kids whose classrooms you're going back to tomorrow. It's about them."
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