When we become the ‘other guy’
By Rod Haxton, editor
Kansas teachers are upset that the state legislature (pending final action by Gov. Sam Brownback) has taken away their right to due process.
They can be fired from their jobs - regardless of how long they’ve been with a school district - with little more than a sticky note attached to their door that says, “You’re done.”
No explanation. No recourse.
This is what the Kansas Legislature - at least a majority of its members - feels should be done to improve education. More money for the classroom isn’t the answer. They have to be forced by the courts, like children kicking and screaming in the toy aisle of a WalMart, to provide adequate levels of funding for public schools.
Until they can take their revenge out on the courts, whiny legislators have decided to go after a much easier target - educators.
Am I bothered by the legislature’s decision to take due process protections away from teachers? Of course.
But do I feel sorry for Kansas teachers? No.
Because I would bet my house that at least 70 percent of teachers in Western Kansas voted for the Republicans representing their House and Senate district.
There are a small handful of common-sense, rational Republican legislators from Western Kansas. That includes Reps. Don Hineman (Dighton), John Doll (Garden City) and Russ Jennings (Lakin). After that, the pickings are darn slim.
The biggest share of state representatives and senators from the western one-third of the state get their marching orders from the Kansas Policy Institute or Americans for Prosperity (i.e., Koch brothers) and aren’t about to step out of line for fear of losing their financial support in the next election or . . . far, far worse, having those right-wing groups promote a candidate that’s even more fanatical than they are.
The KPI and AFP do a very effective job of dividing and conquering.
With the help of Gov. Brownback and his conservative wing of the legislature, they have prevented the expansion of Medicare so that about 182,000 more Kansans cannot afford to have access to health care. We don’t rush to their support because they’re all lazy and don’t want a job that provides health insurance.
When funding is reduced to poor families, or when their food stamp assistance is reduced, it’s because their mothers refuse to work at good jobs or we see them buying non-healthy food while standing behind them in line at the grocery store.
We go along with the legislature not funding public education as it should because it’s apparent that education is failing and not enough money gets into the classroom anyway.
Or so we are told.
We don’t object when the legislature passes a voter ID law in response to a non-existent problem which takes thousands of people off the voter rolls.
But that’s okay because they probably weren’t voting the right way.
The governor and the legislature eliminated state funding for the arts.
As if we care what a bunch of liberals think when it comes to the theater and music.
We keep chipping away at the rights of others. Families have less money for food. We put people at greater risk of health issues.
We say nothing because they probably deserve it.
And now that the right wing agenda has teachers upset we’re supposed to react. We’re supposed to stand shoulder to shoulder with them fight for their rights. Don’t be surprised if that support is a little slow in arriving. You can’t expect people to suddenly rush to your aid now that the crap has finally landed in your backyard.
Where were you while the lives of others were being affected by this legislature?
What we need to bear in mind is that this isn’t a teacher problem or an education problem. It’s a Kansas problem.
Gov. Brownback and his conservative cohorts have made no secret of their agenda. Their goals are to cut assistance to the poor, cut taxes for the wealthy, promote charter schools, punish the court system for issuing rulings (i.e., school funding) that they disagree with, and cut state spending to the bone.
When they prevent you from having access to Medicaid, don’t be shocked.
When they refuse to provide adequate funding for public education, don’t be surprised.
When they cut corporate taxes and force cities, counties and school districts to pick up the revenue slack, don’t be stunned.
And when they eliminate due process for teachers, don’t scream in anguish.
This is who these lawmakers are. They haven’t changed.
To think you can put your heads into the sand and pretend none of this will ever affect you is pure fantasy . . . or pure ignorance.
This is what you voted for.
And, it disheartens us to say, we can see it happening again and again.
Rod Haxton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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