July 24, 2024

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KS education establishment out of touch with parents, student needs

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The education establishment in Kansas appears to remain remarkably out of step with parents’ and students’ needs.

While polling in Kansas indicates parents overwhelmingly believe they should have a primary say in the education of their children, the state’s largest teacher’s union refuses to disavow a tweet from their national organization suggesting teachers know better.

The blue-check Twitter account @NEAToday on Nov. 12, 2022, sent out a tweet reading, “Educators love their students and know better than anyone what they need to learn and to thrive.”

The Sentinel asked the Kansas National Education Association if KNEA stood behind this statement and if it was the organization’s position that teachers know better than parents what their children need to “learn and thrive?”

KNEA Assistant Communications Director Angela Deines responded: “Only the individual sender is responsible for the content of the message, and the message does not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Kansas National Education Association or its affiliates.”

“Does not necessarily reflect,” however, does not mean “does not reflect,” and when pressed, Deines simply sent back the same message. When asked directly if KNEA disavowed that particular statement, KNEA refused to respond further.

Moreover, activism, not education, seems to be the priority for NEA.

Last year the top priority of the National Education Association — the nation’s largest teacher’s union — appeared to be implementing the ideas behind the controversial Critical Race Theory under the guise of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

NEA this year continues its focus on culturally divisive issues instead of academic improvement with an attempt to replace “mother” with “birthing parent” to avoid being “transphobic.”  NEA made the proposal at its annual convention this year, according to the Washington Examiner.

KASB invites speaker from the national organization that called parents “domestic terrorists”

Meanwhile, the Kansas Association of School Boards invited the president of the National School Boards Association, Frank Henderson, to speak at their annual meeting.

In late 2021, NSBA sent a letter to President Joe Biden — since scrubbed from its website — stating that “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat” and that “The National School Boards Association (NSBA) respectfully asks for federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation,” and asking for “assistance” from nearly every three-letter agency in the U.S. government from the FBI to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, to investigate “acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials… these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

After a national backlash, NSBA “apologized.”

More than 20 states either withdrew their membership entirely or actively distanced themselves from NSBA after the controversy, but not Kansas.

Kansas was one of several states expressing “concern” about the language in the letter but simply accepted NSBA’s apology without further action, stating the “apology and promise to do better going forward was appropriate and welcome.

It has since been revealed there was a level of coordination between NSBA and the Biden Administration.

The Sentinel at the time reached out to KASB Associate Executive Director Mark Tallman for comment and recently asked KASB again for comment, questioning the appropriateness of the speaker given the above.

Neither inquiry was returned.

Education bureaucracy opposes transparency

KNEA and KASB opposed a curriculum transparency bill that would have codified in state law a Parents Bill of Rights.  The bill would have required districts to publish annually a list of training materials and activities used for student instruction and teacher professional development at each school in the district on their website.

Democrat Governor Laura Kelly vetoed it.  Legislators in the Kansas House attempted but failed to override her veto.

Kelly stated the bill was pure politics in her veto statement.

“This bill … is about politics, not parents,” she said. “Over one hundred Kansas parents testified against this bill. It would create more division in our schools and would be costly. Money that should be spent in the classroom would end up being spent in the courtroom.”

While she cited the parents who testified against the bill, Kelly ignored the parents who testified in support of the Parents Bill of Rights.  Further, a statewide survey shows that 57% of parents are concerned about what their children are being taught, and a whopping 88% agreed that parents should have the primary say in their child’s education.

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