The results of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) economic experiment haven’t been pretty, but the effects on the state’s public school system have been especially ugly. As Republican state officials scramble to close a budget shortfall caused by tax cuts Kansas couldn’t afford, education has been underfunded to a ridiculous degree.
Some schools even wrapped up the academic year early, lacking the funds necessary to keep the doors open.
Valerie Strauss reported this week in the Washington Post that some Kansas educators have a bold, new plan to deal with the problem: they’re leaving.
Teachers can’t hotfoot it out of Kansas fast enough, creating a substantial shortage expected only to get much worse. […]According to new data released by the Kansas Department of Education, at least 3,720 teachers left their jobs either by going to other states to teach, retiring or leaving the profession altogether, the Associated Press reported. That, the AP said, was substantially higher than in previous years. KCUR reported in this story by Sam Zeff that Kansas is becoming such a hard place for teachers that many are crossing into Missouri to find jobs.
It’s not like the state left these teachers with a lot of options. But Kansas does have a plan to deal with the problem.
Increasing teacher pay? No. Strengthening teachers’ collective-bargaining rights? No. Rather, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Kansas will instead “lift teacher licensure requirements for six school districts, including two of the state’s largest.”
Oh. Qualified teachers are leaving, confronted with untenable conditions, so Kansas is responding to the shortage by welcoming less qualified teachers.
The Capital-Journal added that the policy is “based on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council.”
That’s the far-right group better known as ALEC.
Kansas will be dealing with the consequences of the Brownback era for quite a while.