03 August 2015

Modern American Business Stupidity Writ Kansas Size

Rather unsurprisingly, after a campaign of wage cuts, benefit cuts, and demonization, teachers are fleeing the sinking ship that is Kansas:
Teachers can’t hotfoot it out of Kansas fast enough, creating a substantial shortage expected only to get much worse. Why?

Well, there’s the low pay. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average teaching salary in 2012-2013 (the latest year for which data were available, in constant 2012-2013 dollars), was $47,464, lower than the pay in all but seven states (Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and West Virginia), though not by much in most of them.

Last year, job protections were cut by state lawmakers, who have also sought to reduce collective-bargaining rights for public employees.

Then there’s the severe underfunding for public education by the administration of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, so much of a problem that some school districts closed early this past school year because they didn’t have the cash to keep operating. This story by Huffington Post, quoted Tim Hallacy, superintendent of Silver Lake Schools, as saying:
“I find it increasingly difficult to convince young people that education is a profession worth considering, and I have some veterans who think about leaving. In the next three years I think we’ll have maybe the worst teacher shortage in the country — I think most of that is self-inflicted.”


And there’s more. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal,  the Kansas Board of Education decided in July to allow six school systems — including two of the largest in the state — to hire unlicensed teachers to ease the shortage. (Let the irony sink in for a minute.)  Specifically, the newspaper reported:
The measure will waive the state’s licensure regulations for a group of districts called the Coalition of Innovative Districts, a program that the Legislature established in 2013 based on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council.


Peter Greene, a teacher who writes the Curmudgucation blog, described it this way:
Kansas has taken a bold new step in making their schools Even Worse…. Kansas has entered the Chase Teachers Out of The State derby, joining states like North Carolina and Arizona in the attempt to make teaching unappealing as a career and untenable as a way for grown-ups to support a family. Kansas favors the two-pronged technique. With one prong, you strip teachers of job protections and bargaining rights, so that you can fire them at any time for any reason and pay them as little as you like. With the other prong, you strip funding from schools, so that teachers have to accomplish more and more on a budget of $1.95 (and if they can’t get it done, see prong number one). The result is predictable. Kansas is solidly settled onto the list of Places Teachers Work As Their Very Last Choice. It’s working out great for Missouri; their school districts have teacher recruitment billboards up in Kansas. But in Kansas, there’s a teacher shortage.
Obviously, Sam Brownback is, for lack of a better term, bat sh%$ insane, and he is determined to turn the state of Kansas into Mogadishu, and even by the standards of Republicans, this is rather exceptional.

However, there is a bigger picture, because this reflects a crucial part of American business culture.

Specifically, it is an article of faith in American business these days that managing any sort of endeavor these days must necessarily involve making your employees as miserable as possible.

It's destroying the country, not just Kansas.

H/t Atrios.


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