If you’re running for office in Kansas and want the support of the teachers union, here are questions you’ll need to answer their way.
Kansas National Education Association (KNEA), our state’s teachers union has a questionnaire for candidates running for elective office. It’s really not a series of questions; instead it is a list of things the union wants. Candidates seeking union backing are expected to comply.
Following are a sample of questions with some commentary. The full questionnaire may be viewed here.
Question: “Do you support requiring that bonuses and/or incentive pay including any form of ‘merit pay’ be a mandatorily negotiable topic under the PNA given such plans would have the impact of reducing the earning potential of other teachers?”
Teachers unions oppose merit pay because, they say, it may not be fair to some teachers. But opposing teacher merit pay based on fairness issues isn’t being fair to students. Instead, it’s cruel to students. If we retain the worst teachers and pay them the same as the best teachers, we aren’t being fair to students. But here we see the union’s interest is teachers, not students. 1
Question: “Do you support high standards for entry into the profession of teaching including comprehensive training and licensure upon recommendation of an accredited degree-granting institution of higher education? Will you oppose legislation that would grant access as teacher of record to the classroom by persons without a license granted by the State Board of Education?”
One of the main effects for occupational licensure is to reduce competition for people who already hold the license. This is also the main thrust of labor unions: fewer jobs, but with better pay and perks for those who have unionized jobs.
Question: “Do you support the stabilization, maintenance, and improvement of the KPERS defined benefit pension system for all educators including paying back with interest all monies diverted from KPERS?”
Defined-benefit pension plans like KPERS are incompatible with elected politicians, as they can’t resist delaying required funding until some future year, and a future generation of taxpayers. 2
Question: “Do you support state funding for student support services in public schools including counseling and nursing services, social workers, and physical and occupational therapists?”
Questions like this make it seem as though the state does not fund these functions.
Question: “Do you support a safe and secure working environment in which educators can teach and children can learn without fear, including allowing local units of government to enact reasonable restrictions on the carrying of firearms?”
There is not much evidence that local restrictions on firearms will do anything to increase school safety.
Question: “Do you approve of and support the actions of the 2017 legislature that repealed the ‘march to zero’ income tax plan?”
Question: “Do you approve of and support the actions of the 2017 legislature that repealed the LLC income tax loophole?”
Question: “Do you approve of and support the actions of the 2017 legislature that restored the third income tax bracket?”
Question: “Do you support the three-legged stool of income, sales, and property taxes as foundational to a balanced and fair tax system?”
Question: “Do you support the establishment of an additional income tax bracket for high-income earners?”
These five questions point to one of the most important priorities of teachers unions: More taxes and higher spending on schools.
Question: “Please explain your position on the use of public monies to support students in private schools. Include tax credits, vouchers, and scholarships.”
Any form of school choice is anathema to teachers unions. They want no competition. Plus, schools without labor unions reveal just how harmful the union is for children trapped in their schools.
Question: “Do you support a school finance formula that addresses the needs of all student populations including bilingual students, at-risk students, students in poverty, and students with special needs (special education)?”
This is another question that makes it seems as though there is no support for these needs. But the Kansas school finance formula provides extra funding for these.
Question: “Do you oppose all efforts to divert funding from public schools through voucher or ‘scholarship’ plans, tuition tax credits, and the expansion of unaccountable charter schools?”
Again, a question that exposes the union attitude towards school choice. By the way, charter schools are accountable in ways that public schools are not. For example, students can’t be forced to go to charter schools. Also: Until recently, Kansas schools rated themselves using standards that were among the weakest in the nation, but were telling Kansans that standards were high and schools were good. 3
Question: “Do you support efforts to adopt an inflation measure appropriate to public education on which to base annual increases in funding?”
For many years the school spending establishment has contended they face a “special” rate of inflation that is higher than other industries.
- Weeks, Bob. Merit pay fairness is not about teachers. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-kansas-schools/merit-pay-fairness-is-not-about-teachers/. ↩
- Weeks, Bob. This is why we must eliminate defined-benefit public pensions. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/kansas-government/we-must-eliminate-defined-benefit-public-pensions/ ↩
- Weeks, Bob. Kansas school standards remain high. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-kansas-schools/kansas-school-standards-remain-high/. ↩