In Kansas, as across the nation, the teachers union is an important political force. Using a powerful message that no one can oppose — the welfare of schoolchildren — teachers unions press their real agenda.
In Kansas, the agenda of the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA, the teachers union) includes these items:
- Increasing taxes to support more spending on schools.
- Opposing any form of school choice, including charter schools.
- Opposing the Kansas legislature’s ability to set school spending levels, as the Kansas Supreme Court has shown it is willing to spend more than the legislature will.
- Increasing teacher salaries.
- Opposing any form of merit pay, incentive pay, or differential pay.
- Opposing any weakening of teacher tenure.
Most of these items might be what you expect from a labor union that depends on government spending to pay its members’ salaries. But that doesn’t mean these items advance the cause of schoolchildren in Kansas.
Consider differential teacher pay and charter schools, for example. These are being promoted by President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, but the existing public education bureaucracy and teachers unions are firmly opposed to these reforms.
So we really need to wonder if the message of the teachers union — “it’s all about the kids” — represents the union’s true mission and agenda.
Here’s some evidence to help you decide. Candidates for the Kansas Legislature, if they want to be considered for an endorsement by the KNEA, complete a lengthy questionnaire. This document is really more a manifesto telling candidates what they must believe and do to get the union’s endorsement and a contribution. It appears at the end of this article.
In the past, I’ve analyzed a few of these questions. Here are links to these articles:
- Kansas National Education Association candidate questions
- More Kansas National Education Association candidate questions
- Still more Kansas National Education Association candidate questions
(This is a Scribd document. Click on the rectangle at the right of the document’s title bar to get a full-screen view.)