KNEA email a window into teachers union

An email from an official of Kansas National Education Association (KNEA) asks union members to switch their voter registration party in order to vote in Republican party primaries.

The fear of the teachers union is that control of the Kansas Senate may fall into hands of conservative members instead of the coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans that forms the working majority in that chamber. If that happens, it would not be good for union members’ “professional interests,” says the email.

The email, printed in its entirety below, is from Tony White, Director of UniServ Southeast. UniServs are regional offices that provide services to teachers union members.

In the email, White tells union members that state revenues will be reduced by 40 to 50 percent as a result of the recent Kansas tax reform legislation. This is a great exaggeration. Projections by Kansas Legislative Research indicate a decline of revenue of about 12 percent from 2013 to 2014. After that year revenue rises each year, and by 2018 revenue is projected to rise to nearly the level of 2012.

White also writes that due process — tenure, in other words — and bargaining for salaries may be lost. While both of these reforms would be good for Kansas schoolchildren and taxpayers, they don’t seem likely very soon in Kansas.

Surprisingly, the email never mentions what the Kansas school establishment and the teachers union fears most: accountability through market-based competition. This could happen through charter schools, vouchers, or tax credit scholarships. It is this accountability that teachers unions fear most. So far Governor Sam Brownback has not forcefully advocated for these reforms that would greatly help Kansas children.

The tone of the email, overall, is that it is teachers that are important. Never once are schoolchildren mentioned. This email is another example of how the Kansas school spending establishment, of which KNEA is a prime member and political force, exists for the benefit of adults, not children and parents.

Subject: KNEA Email
Tony.White@KNEA.ORG 6/16/2012 6:13 PM
Although this might seem like a rather personal request, I’d like you to register to vote, and more specifically, to register to vote as a Republican.

That way you can vote for a supporter of public schools in the August 7 primary in either Senate 13 (Marshall v LaTurner) or new Senate 15 (Umbarger v King). The winner of those primaries will undoubtedly be the winner in November, and if you’re not a registered Republican, you don’t get to help make that decision.

Here’s the email I sent to our members, and the links to change one’s registration.

AND TELL ANYONE ELSE YOU KNOW THAT CAN HELP OUT. It’s no time for being shy. We’ll regret losing this next election for a long, long time.

Subject: Registration and Voting

I am sending this information (and a few opinions, too) to you as a KNEA member in SEK.

I realize about every election we tell you how important this one is. Those elections sure did seem important at the time. But this summer in the Republican primary Senate races and then this fall in some of the House races, the stakes simply could not be higher for teachers and for schools.

And right out of the gate, when I talk elections and politics, I means our Kansas races for Kansas House and especially the Kansas Senate.

With the electoral college system and our current Congresswoman, there’s no point spending any time or energy on the national level. It’s a lost cause. But when it comes to teachers and schools, it matters more what happens in Topeka anyway, and we can affect those!

If we don’t retain the moderate majority in the State Senate, we will be in a world of hurt. The tax cuts signed this spring by Governor Brownback – if unchecked — will reduce state revenue by 40-50%, and the deep cuts to schools and every other state service or function — will inevitably follow. Teacher protections like due process and the right to bargain salaries will probably be lost. Our current public school system will be unrecognizable.

That’s if we lose this election. So, let’s win it.

How can you help?

Vote in the Republican primary on Tuesday August 7. Vote for our moderate Republican incumbent friends, for 4-term Senator Dwayne Umbarger and for Senator Bob Marshall. They have supported us, and it’s time to step up and help them.

1. If you’re already a registered Republican, you’re ready to go. Make sure you vote.

2. If you’re registered to vote, but not registered as a Republican, you need to switch. Otherwise, you can’t vote in the primary, and frankly, these two critical races will be settled in the primary in
August. The primary winner will cruise in November.

3. If you’re now a Democrat, you need to switch to a Republican. I know, I know, but otherwise you can’t vote in the election that counts, and that’s the Republican primary. I did it today, just like we have over the years to vote for Jana Shaver or Val DeFever for State Board. You can switch right back after the election, and we promise not to tease you about it.

How does one register in the first place? Or change registration to a Republican? It’s the same form, and you can even do it online. Here’s the online link: https://www.kdor.org/voterregistration/Default.aspx

You use your driver’s license. I just tried the link and it worked fine. It’s submitted to the Clerk in Crawford County and they’ll mail me a confirmation. I’m a Republican!

But if the site gives you trouble, there is also the old-fashioned paper form: http://www.kssos.org/forms/elections/voterregistration.pdf

One prints it, fills it out and takes it in to the county clerk or mails it in. The addresses for all 105 counties are right there on the back of the form.

Registration has to be done by July 17 – or you’re locked out of the primary. So get your paperwork right so you can vote to protect our profession and our schools.

And print off extra copies of the form for spouses, adult kids, neighbors, friends, or kindred spirits. If they will vote to support public schools, we want them and need them on August 7. It’s the same form all across Kansas – it just goes to the appropriate clerk of the county where the person lives. Or use the online link.

And if you want to get involved in either the Umbarger or Marshall campaign, from planting yard signs to letters to the editor to walking with the candidates – just let me know. They both are clearly better for our professional interests than their primary opponent.


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