Koch brothers help Kansas lawmakers strip teachers of tenure

(wwp.greenwichmeantime.com) (wwp.greenwichmeantime.com)

The Kansas legislature just passed legislation that strips teachers of tenure and the right to due process, a move pushed by conservative lawmakers who were forced by a state Supreme Court ruling to provide more funding to poor school districts and wanted to get something out of the deal. After stripping teachers of their tenure, legislators had a brief discussion about jewelry.

Yes, you read that right: jewelry. According to a witness, immediately after the vote, someone in the chamber told fellow lawmakers that there was a jeweler in the house and rings were on sale. Remove tenure and buy a ring. Makes all kinds of sense, doesn’t it?

The legislation was in part a result of a state Supreme Court ruling in March that said state public school funding was unconstitutional because many schools were not adequately and equitably funded.  Some legislators considered defying the court but in the end, lawmakers approved more money for poor school districts, expanded school “choice efforts” and, while they were at it, stripped teachers of their tenure. According to this Associated Press story, Kansas teachers who have been on the job for at least three years have certain rights when they are being fired. They must be told in writing why the action was taken and they have the right to request a review of the decision. Under the new law, those rights go away.

Pushing the effort to end teacher tenure, the AP reported, was a group called Americans for Prosperity, backed by the extreme conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, who have funded other anti-union measures around the country. Not so incidentally, Americans for Prosperity has been far outspending the top Democratic super PACs in nearly all of the Senate races the Republican Party is targeting this year, according to this story by my Post colleague Aaron Blake.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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Valerie Strauss · April 8, 2014