For some reason the Associated Press and the Kansas City Star thought it newsworthy that the National Education Association’s Kansas chapter has endorsed Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sen. Laura Kelly.
This is about a newsworthy a headline as “Kansas NRA backs Republican nominee for governor” or “Sybil Orman backs husband Greg for governor.” In short, it has news value only for those who use the news to advance their agenda.
As most citizens understand, the NEA functions like a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party. From 1989 through the 2014 election cycle, for instance, the NEA spent over $92 million on political campaign contributions, 97 percent of which went to Democrats. In the 2018 election cycle, 96.5 percent of the $6 million-plus NEA contribution went to Democrats.
The Democrats’ reliance on the KNEA in Kansas leave them in an awkward position when challenging Kris Kobach’s desired mandate that 75 percent of all education funding be spent in the classroom. The Kobach gambit exposes them to the Republican charge that the Democrats are not interested in the students or even in the teachers as much as they are in the support of the teachers union.
The KNEA “is not looking out for the interests of teachers,” Kobach spokeswoman Danedri Herbert told the AP. “Secretary Kobach’s proposal to spend 75 cents of every education dollar in the classroom would result in more money being spent on teacher salaries and less money being spent on redundant administrators.”
In the spirit of full disclosure, Ms. Herbert wrote for the Sentinel before the Kobach campaign came calling. Also, note to AP: the correct spelling is “Herbert,” not “Hebert.”
The NEA has often opposed measures that would benefit children and their parents, including voucher programs designed to give kids in chronically failing schools the opportunity to go elsewhere. They have also opposed merit pay for teachers and reforms to the tenure system.
These are issues that Kelly will hope to duck on the campaign trail. “I’m not new to the struggle educators and students have endured in recent years,” she said upon receiving the KNEA endorsement. “I have fought against policies that put the interests of a select few ahead of the promise of opportunity for every Kansas student.”
As the Democratic nominee, Sen. Kelly will stick to pious boilerplate. She is not about to say anything that would cause the KNEA to question its endorsement.