In response to the passing of the education funding bill over the weekend, the Kansas National Education Association is making plans to file a lawsuit against the state.
Emporia representative Erica Huggard said she was at the capitol during the proceedings. She says the KNEA opposes the bill for three reasons: the corporate tax breaks for corporations donating to private school scholarships, removing licensure requirements for particular fields, and the removal of due process rights for teachers. Huggard says the right to due process -- that is, the right to a fair dismissal -- is very important for public education.
Huggard explains further that, in the bill, due process wasn't taken out of the state statute, but instead they changed the definition of a "teacher" to exclude those in K-12 institutions. Huggard said that, along with the possible violation of the Open Meetings Act, will be investigated.
She also says corporate tax breaks aren't necessary, as there is currently a surplus of scholarships for private schools, and that public schools will hurt while corporations benefit.
The third concern involves the removal of the requirement for individuals with college degrees in science, technology, math, finance and accounting to get public school teacher licenses. Huggard says that's concerning because there's more to teaching than just knowing a subject.
Currently there is an alternative pathway to teaching, which allows somebody with any of those degrees to get a job and go through the transition into teaching. Huggard said the removal of that licensing would leave students to suffer, and is unnecessary.
In regards to the lawsuit, Huggard said the plan is to sue so that the bill cannot retroactively apply to teachers. The bill will be dissected over the coming days, as it approaches Gov. Sam Brownback's desk.
The Kansas Supreme Court told lawmakers to come up with solutions by July 1, so if Gov. Brownback signs it the high court still has to rule on whether this bill will actually pass muster.