As Kansas teachers union rallies, schools stagnate under its rules


Today in Topeka about one thousand supporters of higher taxes for more Kansas public school spending rallied at the Kansas Capitol. Their march on the statehouse started at the headquarters of the Kansas National Education Association (or KNEA, the teachers union), and KNEA president Blake West spoke at the rally. It’s quite ironic that the teachers union would be so involved in a rally for the improvement of Kansas schools, for as the following letter from the March 12 Wall Street Journal tells us, the teachers union has been a primary factor in the destruction of public education, in this case, the Topeka public schools.

Early on in my 42-year career teaching in public schools, my principals actually took reading groups, helped with math, were present in classrooms, halls, lunch rooms and on playgrounds. They came into one’s classroom unannounced and stayed sometimes for half a day, and they were taking notes. Their background was in teaching and they knew what they were looking for. By the time I retired, the union had required an administrator to give three to four days advance notice, right down to which period he’d be observing. Yearly evaluations became nothing more than a check sheet, and everyone got about the same score.

Our nation has some of the finest teachers in the world, and a goodly number of the worst. Unless and until teachers are evaluated based on what they accomplish, nothing will change.

Cherrie Wiese
Topeka, Kan.


10 responses to “As Kansas teachers union rallies, schools stagnate under its rules”

  1. […] the point of absurdity, as it has been one of the major impediments to improving public schools. A recent letter in the Wall Street Journal described how the teachers union and its rules has harmed Topeka […]

  2. Anonymous

    It’s astonishing to me that the teacher’s union is trusted with anything involving kids. People like Blake West and their lobbyist Mark Desetti have no shame. The union will run the public schools into the ground just for the benefit of teachers.

  3. concerned

    Ms. Wiese

    One comment, “You Lie!”

    Evaluations of teachers in the state of Kansas are covered by statute as to how often and what date annually. A teacher’s union doesn’t get to negotiate away from a duly legislated law. What is highly more likely is that you have an ax to grind with the teacher’s union and getting you name on something critical of them makes you look important (you think).

    You screed is nothing but imflammatory rhetoric that is right at home on Bob Week’s BS website.

  4. Helen

    Concerned: If Mr. Weeks’ website is “BS” why on earth are you reading it?

  5. kimpot54

    Dear Concerned,
    No, YOU lie! In USD 259, teacher evaluations were negotiated out of the contract. My daughter is a teacher in 259 and is never evaluated in the classroom. (Perhaps it is done for non-tenured teachers but not those with tenure.) My daughter says the only time she was evaluated in the classroom was the 2 years she taught in Rose Hill. (And this is not secret information, folks. Anyone who teaches in 259 can tell you whether or not they are evaluated in their classroom.)

  6. Mike


    My mother and father both taught in Illinois. Dad for 36 years, Mom for roughly the same number of years. Mom joined the NEA as a life member in order to vote at contract negotiations, and Dad joined as a yearly member, also in order to be able to vote. They both joined in the least expensive way possible. Why? “because we don’t our money going to a communist organization.” This decision was made at least 40 years ago, my Dad is 91.

    Kim, my Dad said that the superintendent would occasionally show up and set in class when he was in the area.


  7. concerned

    Sorry Kimmie, you LIE.

    Go read the Wichita Teacher’s Union contract. It is on line at their website. There is NO MENTION of an evaluation system being negotiated out of that legal document.

    Think about it, how can a union negotiate away a state Law?

    You need to get realistic.

    Besides, if a teacher is NOT being evaluated per state law, how is that the fault of the teacher? It seems that it is more the ADMINISTRATION who is not doing their job.

  8. kimpot54

    Blaidd_Drwg69 aka Concerned,
    Blaming the teacher? Who was blaming the teacher? I certainly wasn’t. Administration not doing their jobs? NO!!!! That’s not possible. Administrators are nothing short of angelic, and probably the most important people in the school system. :-)

  9. KipSchroeder


    “Evaluations of teachers in the state of Kansas are covered by statute as to how often and what date annually. A teacher’s union doesn’t get to negotiate away from a duly legislated law.”

    If what you write is true then how do you think it became a law? Do you think that we the parents would propose or support such an initiative? Very doubtful!

    The real question I’d ask of you is whether you agree that limited and perfunctory teacher evaluations are good for our children? I ask because it’s all about the children…right?

  10. KipSchroeder

    For a little more insight into the bureaucratic hurdles that many excellent teachers face in their careers I’d recommend the following books written by nationally acclaimed instructors:

    A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling – John Taylor Gatto (Received both the New York state and New York City teacher of the year awards on multiple occasions)

    There Are No Shortcuts – Rafe Esquith (1992 National Outstanding Teacher of the Year)

    Teacher Man – Frank McCourt (1997 Pulitzer Prize winner)

    If other readers have similar recommendations I’d love to learn more about the day to day struggles our teachers confront.

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