Monday, March 6, 2017

John Kuhn: Vouchers Serve Adults at Children's Expense - Living in Dialogue

John Kuhn: Vouchers Serve Adults at Children's Expense - Living in Dialogue:

John Kuhn: Vouchers Serve Adults at Children's Expense


By John Kuhn.
The following is a speech delivered on March 5, 2017, to the Association of Texas Professional Educators Legislative Action Weekend. 
I have three older sisters who are all teachers. When I became a teacher too in 1997, the first advice they gave me was, “You need go join ATPE.” And they never spent a year teaching without the legal protection and other benefits of ATPE. So I’m really happy to be able to be here and be a part.
Before I left this morning I told my wife I was nervous. I’m going to speak to this huge crowd of accomplished educators from all over the state. She gave me some advice. She said, “Don’t try to be funny or smart or charming. Just be yourself.”
So there are a number of vital issues facing professional educators in the 85th Legislature, and your engagement is going to be so important. They are wanting to prohibit organizations like ATPE from having your dues payroll deducted. Why would they want to do that? Political reasons only. The members of our legislature want to make it harder for teacher associations to unite teachers as a political bloc that might oppose their agenda. Whether this bill passes or not, you need to respond by recruiting every teacher you know to join an association and every retired teacher you know to join an association. Your freedom to associate and engage politically is under direct threat and this isn’t a one-time deal. You have to see this bill for what it is: they are telegraphing their intentions. They are like that gremlins on the wing of the plane in the old Twilight Zone movie, ripping the wires out of the engine. They want to silence teacher voice in the political arena until there’s no one left to defend the public education system from the privatization schemes that have gripped the nation.
The sense of urgency must increase, and increase quickly, if you and I are to save public schools in the state of Texas. And not just in Texas, but in this nation. The great American experiment of free public schools, open to all children and overseen by locally-elected citizens—this bold vision is being challenged by an army of wealthy and interested parties who are dead set on dismantling the public education system and trading it for a voucher system.
But before we get to vouchers, I want to note that there are other challenges facing us this session. The Texas Supreme Court called our school funding system Byzantine and called on the legislature to fix it. Just yesterday, two former state commissioners said at a Symposium that the state is badly underfunding education and that it is negatively impacting student learning. On testing, STAAR was a rolling disaster last year, we still give more tests than the federal law requires, and we still ship millions of tax dollars to ETS and John Kuhn: Vouchers Serve Adults at Children's Expense - Living in Dialogue:


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