In town hall, Rep. Rooker echoes constituent concerns about attacks on educators

State Rep. Melissa Rooker speaking at her town hall Saturday morning in Mission.

What are seen as attacks on teachers unions in the Kansas Legislature received little support from northeast Johnson County residents or their state representative this weekend.

Considering the weather, a sizable group of 25th District constituents showed up Saturday morning for state Rep. Melissa Rooker’s town hall meeting at Sylvester Powell Community Center. More than 25 people turned out to talk about everything from the border war — the financial one — to education financing. Rooker told the group a whole spectrum of bills this year is about teachers unions and are designed to weaken unions.

Kansas is a “Right to Work” state. “I personally believe choice exists,” Rooker said.

Rooker contends that the state doesn’t need to protect teachers from pressure to join unions, since they already are not forced to join or contribute. She pointed out that bargaining unit membership is not universal. Several constituents agreed with Rooker’s view.

“I never heard of anyone forcing anyone to do anything,” a retired principal said.

“All the attacks on teachers are overwhelming,” another educator said.

Rooker also said she had concerns about the dangers to First Amendment rights contained in some of the bills. Shawnee Mission NEA president Nancy Fritz appealed to the school board recently to help ward off the attacks on teachers.

Constituents chimed in on a number of other issues:

  • On the border war: “I think it’s insane. Companies are laughing all the way to the bank.”
  • On the Johnson County role in the state: “We are going to have to come to terms with our rural brethren.”
  • On the legislative process: “I am blown away by the amount of legislation that seems unnecessary.”

Rooker also gave her support to fund-raising efforts for a new University of Kansas Medical Center facility and raised concerns about a special education scholarship bill that she believes could impair Shawnee Mission finances even further.

Mark Anderson was one of the constituents to speak at the town hall Saturday.