teachers

Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

Wichita Public Schools welcomed hundreds of new teachers to the district at a new staff orientation Thursday morning.

The new teachers were greeted at Wichita Northwest High School with cheerleaders, a photo booth and a marching band.

“I am very excited to be starting the school year,” said Mike Flaigle, who will teach sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade math at Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet.

The number of vacant teaching positions in the district has been cut in half, from more than 100 last year to 54 this year.

Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

Teachers and staff who died on school grounds across the country over the past year, including those killed in school shootings, were added to the National Memorial for Fallen Educators in Emporia on Thursday.

The memorial was created in 2013 in reaction to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary. The Memorial for Fallen Educators was designated a national memorial in May.

Kansas teachers have lost their second attempt to get tenure back for thousands of educators through the courts — but say they will continue their battle at the Legislature.

“So this is a disappointment,” teachers union spokesman Marcus Baltzell said of the decision handed down by the Kansas Supreme Court Friday. “But it's just one step."

Friday’s decision from the state’s highest court was unanimous.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service/File photo

Members of the Kansas House have voted to reinstate some job protections for teachers. The bill would promise teachers an impartial hearing before they can be fired.

Lawmakers eliminated the due process protections — sometimes referred to as teacher tenure — in 2014. Republican Rep. Mary Martha Good said reversing that decision will help recruit teachers and keep them in Kansas.

“This process has worked effectively for many years," she said. "Our teachers need to feel supported and protected.”

Josh Harbour / Garden City Telegram

Children who come from low-income families, have disabilities, aren’t white or don’t speak English at home appear to be disproportionately paying the price of Kansas’ teacher shortage, according to an analysis by the Kansas News Service.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

The top education official in Kansas on Tuesday proposed allowing more schools to hire educators who don’t qualify for teaching licenses under the state’s current system — and signaled he would support changes to state regulations if needed.

cybrariann77, Flickr Creative Commons

Kansas continues to face a teacher shortage, with schools reporting 440 vacancies this school year.

Those empty jobs worry educators because they force schools into workarounds, such as larger class sizes or long-term substitutes. They can also reduce class offerings and lessen support for special-education students.

Janet Waugh represents Kansas City, Kansas on the State Board of Education. She calls the situation heart breaking.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

Kansas teachers scored a big victory today in the Statehouse.

The vote on an amendment that reinstates due process for teachers facing firing was both unexpected and contentious.

Up until 2014, all teachers in Kansas with three years experience had the right to a hearing before being dismissed.

That right was stripped as lawmakers hurried to wrap up their session three years ago.

Democratic Rep. Jerry Stogsdill from Prairie Village lead the charge for the amendment.

J. Stephen Conn / flickr Creative Commons

The state’s largest teachers union will ask a court this week to overturn a legislative change that made it easier to fire teachers. As Stephen Koranda reports, the Kansas National Education Association already lost in a lower court and is now taking its case to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Kansas used to have a due process provision when a teacher was going to be fired. If the teacher had been working more than three years, they had a right to an impartial hearing before being terminated.

The Kansas Board of Education is creating a group to study the teacher shortage that's affecting parts of Kansas. As Stephen Koranda reports, the group will recommend ways to make the job more attractive and keep teachers from leaving the career.

The new committee will look at issues like why fewer people are becoming teachers in Kansas and what they can do to reverse that trend.

“This ship will not be turned around in a day, but we have to start the process of turning the ship,” says Board of Education Chairman Jim McNiece.

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