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Yoder hears complaints of negative tone in Washington toward teachers, public schools

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, right, R-Overland Park, talks with Kansas State Board of Education Member John Bacon, R-Olathe, following a state board meeting Tuesday.

— Some members of the Kansas State Board of Education told U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder on Tuesday that they believe President Donald Trump's administration has been sending negative messages about public education in general, and about teachers in particular, saying that kind of tone is contributing to a growing teacher shortage in Kansas.

"The narrative coming from Secretary DeVos and from our president has not been positive about public schools," board member Jim McNiece said. "I don’t know if they are doing that deliberately because, I guess, they don’t understand us, or they haven’t experienced us, or if it’s an agenda that’s going another way. I’d like to take a more positive position and think they just don’t know us very well, because neither had been involved in public education."

McNiece was referring to Trump's education secretary Betsy DeVos, who has been an outspoken proponent of "school choice" programs, such as charter schools or publicly funded vouchers that help pay the cost of attending private and parochial schools.

In February, shortly after she was confirmed as education secretary, DeVos toured a public school in Washington, D.C., and, after initially praising its teachers, also criticized them for not being assertive enough.

"But I can tell the attitude is more of a ‘receive mode.’ They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child," DeVos said, according to a Huffington Post report. "You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”

"That narrative that’s coming out of the bully pulpit," McNiece said, "is one of 'How much more choice can I create for kids to leave public schools, and how bad are the teachers and how bad are things going for schools,' when actually in Kansas, and frankly across the nation, we’re all trying to do better."

McNiece said the criticism of teachers and public schools is contributing to a growing teacher shortage in Kansas that could soon reach crisis proportions.

Earlier in the day, education commissioner Randy Watson told the board that in two years, the state could be facing its biggest teacher shortage ever, based on the number of college and university students currently enrolled in teacher training programs.

Yoder, an Overland Park Republican who represents Kansas' 3rd District, faces a potentially tough re-election bid in 2018. He has been a close ally of Trump in Congress, even though Democrat Hillary Clinton got more votes from the 3rd District in the 2016 presidential race.

Also in 2016, voters in Johnson County ousted a number of conservative Republicans in the Kansas Legislature who were seen as less than friendly toward public schools, replacing them with Democrats and moderate Republicans who pushed through a major increase in school funding this year, albeit an increase that the Kansas Supreme Court recently said was still not enough to be constitutionally adequate.

So on a day when the U.S. House was in recess, Yoder came to the state board to talk about federal education funding, and to listen to concerns from the Kansas education community.

McNiece wasn't the only board member to complain about the tone coming out of Washington.

Board member Sally Cauble, a Republican from Liberal, said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, which Trump has said he plans to phase out, is vital to her part of the state.

"The racism that's raising its ugly head because of the misinformation that is put out, it is very difficult to live in our part of the world," she said.

In addition, Watson said he thinks there is a pervasive, cultural animosity toward teachers which, combined with low pay, is deterring many young people from going into the profession.

"Honestly, right or wrong, there's a lot of discussion about what's wrong with education, and teachers, I think, generally feel like they've been put to blame for that," he said, comparing the way teachers are treated today with the way some soldiers were treated when they came home from the Vietnam War.

"I think we're going to have to talk seriously about the value of teaching in this country," Watson said. "Because if teachers thought everyone here valued them, and salaries were, I'm going to say, a little bit higher, I think that would go a long way."

Yoder said afterward that he understood the board's concerns about the tone in Washington.

"That resonates with me," he said during an interview afterward. "I think we all have to be advocates for our children, from the president all the way down to our local school boards. It's a joint effort."

Comments

Richard Heckler

Yoder is no friend to teachers or public education. He is among those looking to defund public education.

Of course he is not sharing that with the lions share of voters. He wants to get re-elected.

Why vote Yoder ever again!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Steve Jacob

Yoder will be tough to beat, even in a year the republicans should lose a couple of dozen seats. I think the DMC will spend it's money more on Paul Davis in the other district.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Bob Summers

What has the union done for the children? The union gets the most money in the world to educate them. What have they done with that money? They can't get the students to break the worldwide top twenty in math, reading and science with the money. What do they do with the money?

Who knows.

They can blame others for their failures though. They are real good at that.

1 month, 1 week ago

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David Reber

"The union" gets a grand total of zero public dollars, Bob. "The union" is a private organization, funded entirely by its members, out of their own pockets. If you don't like it, perhaps you'd prefer to live someplace where freedom of assembly wasn't a thing.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

Again, Bob. All those countries that score above us in these assessments that you hold so dear, have strong teachers unions. They get good pay and benefits for their teachers, which attracts the best and brightest to become teachers.

Also all these countries have common standards, so if a family moves across the country to a new school, the children will not be behind or ahead, like in the US, because that school is teaching the same standards at the same grade level. These common standards also stress critical thinking skills in math, science and reading, which is what the assessments measure. They do not measure rote memorization; they measure problem solving.

Also, these countries listen to experts in education to make changes. In the US we listen to politicians, political pundits, and evangelical preachers.

But you oppose common standards and unions, and you have no respect for those who have studied pedagogy, so why are you complaining? You are getting what you want.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Clara Westphal

Schools in many foreign countries do not allow students who have low aptitudes or disabilities to attend their schools. They are more elitist than American schools who have to take every child.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

Sorry, Clara. You conservatives rejected that when we educators tried to explain that before; you don't get to say that now. And by the way, Finland does educate everyone. And they do educate all of their children the same when they are in elementary. But if the students aren't academically talented, they are given vocation education and apprenticeships as they get older. But at an earlier age they are taught critical thinking skills. And the US is not required to give the global test to students with learning disabilities, so that's not the problem either.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Beth Ann Bittlingmayer

I have been to Finland 4x. Recently while on a long ferry ride a teacher at a school for disabilities explained to us that Finland is very behind the US in terms of serving students with disabilities and that teachers such as he are interested in knowing more about the US mainstreaming model. He said these students are segregated into separate schools and they do not receive an appropriate education. In Finland one also does not see accommodations anywhere for persons with disabilities. In Germany, where I've lived and traveled and had a child in school, the same is true.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

Then maybe we shouldn't be comparing countries, should we? But Bobbie boy brings it up every time. And what exactly is wrong with having national standards? As a Spanish teacher our national organization ACTFL, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language have developed national standards and most states have adopted them. Of course, we do not have to give state assessments, so some second language teachers ignore them, but any good Spanish teacher pays attention and follows the standards.

Why would one state want to have lower math standards than another states. Why are people so against teaching critical thinking? Why not teach students about how numbers work, not just have them memorize the multiplication table. Some might say "It's not how I learned it.", but how many people can't do upper level math very well, because all they know how to do is add, subtract, multiply, and divide? How many people get turned off by math, because the way we used to teach it didn't make sense? Why do we keep doing the same thing over and over.

Years ago when I first learned a second language, we mostly learned grammar. I learned to read French and talk about the grammar, but I couldn't speak French or understand spoken French, or write it, unless it was a grammar worksheet. Now we don't teach it that way. We teach speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. We still also teach grammar, but they need to apply it in all of the communication skills. Would you want to go back to only teaching grammar? I happen to love grammar, and I wouldn't want to do that.

1 month ago

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Beth Ann Bittlingmayer

I am in total agreement with each of your points. I jhad ust wanted to validate Clara's point that cross country comparisons do neglect the fact that mainstreaming in US public schools is a factor in the disparities between scores. It's not the entire story but it is a significant part of it.

1 month ago

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Beth Ann Bittlingmayer

In Germany the standards are not nationwide. They are regional. It is well known that a HS degree from Bavaria is far superior to one from Berlin. It presents problems for students moving between regions. It is however true that teachers are well compensated and well respected.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Keith Molamphy

As usually bob is making facts up as he goes. The real fact is that 28 other countries pay their teachers more than the USA ( including Korea that leads in math ). Bob is always spouting against teachers which leads me to think never forgave his primary teachers that made him stay in at recess for not paying attention during class.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Bob Summers

So? Does more money mean the "teacher" is going to teach like a superstar? Does this mean "teachers" are holding back their superstar skills for more money?

Where is the money going in American education then? The money is there. Where is the union/beaurocrats spending it?

https://rossieronline.usc.edu/blog/u-...

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

So why do you pay your doctor so much. Are they better at healing, because they make more money?

1 month, 1 week ago

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Clara Westphal

DeVos is the worst possible Dept. of Education Secretary our country could possibly have. During her nomination hearing, she said she did not know what a Pell Grant is. She has been employed by the for- profit charter schools and that is her big push. She is not for public education which has served this country well for several decades. There are problems in our schools that money won't fix but charter schools is not the answer.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Richard Heckler

This is the entire Kansas WashingtonDC delegation platform:

Like it or not we old school republicans need to stop voting the republican ticket because ultra conservatives took over our party through unethical methods. Big reckless spending and monster lies. Time for all of us to break ranks with the GOP.

Not voting is the same as voting for ALEC and a very radical right wing government.

BIG DOLLAR ALEC DARK MONEY TRAIL IS EVERYWHERE.

The ALEC War ON America:

--- War against Medical Insurance and Single Payer

--- War on public education and Higher Education

--- War against women

--- War on Voters Rights

--- War on strict gun regulations

--- War On National Monuments/Parks

--- War On Environmental Cleanliness

--- War On Good Wages aka Right To Work Legislation

--- War On USA Jobs aka Free Trade Agreements and Leveraged Buyout Scams

--- War On Social Security Insurance

--- War On Medicaid

--- War On Medicare

--- War for Oil Control Worldwide

--- War on truth about global warming/climate change
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2010...

Union of Concerned Scientists
http://www.ucsusa.org

1 month, 1 week ago

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Richard Heckler

AS for Yoder and the other Kansas elected DC officials as well as too many in the Kansas state house:

Never forget that behind the scenes the school system is being attacked by this powerful back door political party. A stench that must be eradicated.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-...

The United States of ALEC.
http://billmoyers.com/segment/united-...

This film, featuring Bill Moyers, does a masterful job of explaining how the closed-door manipulations of the American Legislative Exchange Council and its corporate lobbyists affect public policy in every realm of our society -- including education.

Our nation spends about $500 billion in local, state and federal funds on public schools from kindergarten through high school. Most Americans view this as a wise investment in our nation's future.

Throughout the 20th century the U.S. was the clear leader in public education. We created the most vibrant economy the world has ever known.

The record speaks for itself -- public education is a great investment.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-...

1 month, 1 week ago

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Richard Heckler

The entire DC delegation is a sell out.

The False Promises of “School Choice”

Vouchers are a vehicle to funnel public school tax dollars into private schools. Using the false promise of choice vouchers are an unabashed abandonment of public education and of our hopes for a vibrant democracy.

http://www.commondreams.org/views/201...

1 month, 1 week ago

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Richard Heckler

Mainstreet Coalition FYI - a source of interest backing voter rights, public education, sensible taxation, women’s rights and moderate candidates.

=== See who we have endorsed
http://www.mainstreamcoalition.org/ma...

=== Get informed - http://www.mainstreamcoalition.org/ge...

=== MainPAC http://www.mainstreamcoalition.org/ma...

=== See how the extremists pick their candidates in our survey comparison
http://www.mainstreamcoalition.org/ca...

=== THIS IS ANOTHER SOURCE OF INTEREST :
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2...

1 month, 1 week ago

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Ray Mizumura

Most Republicans would destroy public education if they could and they are perilously close to doing so.

1 month ago

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Richard Heckler

How wide spread is Kobach’s voter suppression in Kansas and Missouri?

Democrats and moderate republicans are the targets.

VOTERS realize that conservatives are more corrupt than anyone thought possible.

Like it or not we old school republicans need to stop voting the republican ticket because ultra conservatives took over our party through unethical methods. Big reckless spending and monster lies. Time for all of us to break ranks with the GOP.

Voter ID projects are truly voter suppression according to Right Wing Watch.org
http://www.rightwingwatch.org/report/...

This household has been busy reviewing, updating and replacing various documents associated with voting rights. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

Have Democrat and moderate republican VOTERS been purged from the voting rolls

This can be fixed however it takes time in some cases up to 3 weeks. Check your status frequently.

Voters ORGANIZING A VOTING DAY PACKET might be a preventive measure which could include:
--- a birth certificate = THIS CAN BE AN EXPENSIVE ORDEAL . MAY NEED TO START WITH A COUNTY SEAT.
--- a drivers license or state ID card
--- proof of voter registration etc etc etc.
--- Military Discharge Papers
--- Passport
--- Keep this packet close to protect your right to vote
Do it today in case it is discovered one or more of the above cannot be found. None of these are difficult to replace. But will take time.

1 month ago

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Richard Heckler

Mainstreet Coalition FYI - a source of interest backing voter rights, public education, sensible taxation, women’s rights and moderate candidates.

=== See who we have endorsed http://www.mainstreamcoalition.org/ma...

=== Get informed - http://www.mainstreamcoalition.org/ge...

=== MainPAC http://www.mainstreamcoalition.org/ma...

=== See how the extremists pick their candidates in our survey comparison http://www.mainstreamcoalition.org/ca...

=== THIS IS ANOTHER SOURCE OF INTEREST : http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2...

1 month ago

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