The state legislature is infuriating
Whoa, Nellie. Who are those yahoos and who sent them to Topeka to run our state? The Kansas Legislature is, in many of its actions, certifiably bat-crap crazy. Do these folks represent the people of the state or are they sleepers, seeming reasonable enough to win in a district with no Democratic candidate, until they get to the capital?
This is a legislature which was ordered by the Kansas Supreme Court to up their game in funding the state's schools in order to carry out their Constitutional mandate to adequately support education. They all claim to be supporters of education, though they draw the line at frills like pianos, art classes, etc.
While the funding they offer may be more than last year (and I am not sure that it really will turn out that way), it does not keep up with the rising cost of doing the schools' business. Most districts are looking at drastic mid-year cuts and deeper cuts next year.
The only labor union left with enough clout to oppose the Brownshirts' plans is that of the teachers. The KNEA and affiliated organizations can turn out lots of boots on the ground during any election campaign. So, it seems, they must be broken.
Last session, the legislature voted to end tenure rights for teachers. This is a big step toward making it possible to fire any teacher for any reason. The hitch was that tenure rights could be part of a negotiated agreement and therefore survive the legislature's assault.
So now comes a bill which ignores a compromise hammered out by teachers, administrators and school boards and proposes that only wages and working hours could be negotiated as part of the collective bargaining process.
You know deep down in your heart that they would really like to follow their hero Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, and push through a bill that would eliminate collective bargaining altogether. Wisconsin did eliminate collective bargaining rights for all public employees except for the police and fire unions. Those two organizations, in addition to being almost bulletproof in the post 9-11 world, had supported the governor in his campaign.
To add insult to injury, the Kansas lawmakers (after a one-year attempt to bring up their contributions to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement fund) went back to their old practice of treating the teachers' pension fund like their own personal piggy bank and slush fund. It was too much temptation not to take money from the already underfunded system to help meet the state's budget deficit.
In addition ... no, I just can't do it. I can tell my blood pressure is rising and I need to take a deep breath.
I think I'll light a fire in the fireplace. Maybe grab a mellowing agent such as a lovely beverage laced with alcohol. Try to coax Angela Bassett up into my lap. Breathe deeply. Pet the dog. Try to think about pleasant things.
There is something about a fire on a cold night that speaks to the soul. Much of it is the warmth as it radiates into the room and makes everything toasty. Some of it is the flicker of the fire both as I look at it and as it reflects off surfaces in the room. Ahhh. Life is good.
A strong libation adds to the warmth of the situation. A decent Tennessee whiskey on the rocks with just a splash of something carbonated. Mmmmmmm. Warm tummy to go with the warm feet. I can feel relaxation washing over me. Maybe a little music to add to the mood.
Then, unbidden, the legislature comes back to mind. Did you see where they want to prohibit employees of state higher education institutions from mentioning that affiliation when writing opinion pieces for the mass media or on social networks? Sure, business execs, medical practitioners and others may attach their credentials to their op-ed pieces, but that's private sector.
No, I can't get into that. Gotta relax. Chill. Mellow out. Get the blood pressure down. So I'll sign off. This is William H. Jenkins, BA, MSE and adjunct instructor at Butler Community College.