February 24, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Trouble Retaining Teachers? Not Exactly

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Democratic state Reps. Jerry Stodgill, Prairie Village, and Steven Crum, Haysville, introduced a bill to restore mandatory so-called due process, or tenure, for K-12 teachers. Legislators made it easier for school districts to fire teachers in 2014 by allowing them to decide how best to handle due process on a district-by-district basis, but Stodgill’s bill would make it mandatory statewide.

Stodgill told the Shawnee Mission Post that Kansas school districts are having trouble “attracting and retaining top quality teachers in Kansas.” That’s misleading. More teachers are entering Kansas than leaving. According to the Topeka Capitol-Journal, the number of teachers moving to Kansas was double the number of educators leaving the state in three of the last four years.

If Stodgill and Crum want to make it more difficult for school districts to remove poorly-performing teachers, they should be honest about their reasoning rather than offering misleading and inaccurate information.

Meanwhile, the Shawnee Mission Post links to a discredited story at KCUR from last summer to back up Stodgill’s claims. The story, written by Sam Zeff, was panned by Kansas Policy Institute, and a Kansas City Star report, which indicated the data Zeff used was faulty.

While there is evidence to suggest a mild teacher shortage–districts in Wichita and Kansas City, Kan., have reported challenges filling jobs and superintendents have reported fewer applicants applying over all–more than 99 percent of all teaching jobs in the state are filled.

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