American Federation of Teachers

AFGE / Flickr--CC

For the past seven years, Randi Weingarten has led the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers' unions in the United States. 

In an interview with KCUR, she discussed what may be behind the persistent teacher shortages in Kansas, the politically tinged process to rewrite Missouri's learning standards and a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court that could forever alter how unions like hers do business. 

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

On a recent Friday afternoon, once students had left for the weekend, the fifth-grade team at the Kauffman School in Kansas City stayed behind and practiced walking down the hallway. 

They were working on how to lead students from class to class during passing periods. While six or so teachers played the role of (relatively compliant) students, one teacher would lead them down the hall giving instructions. 

Wikimedia Commons - CC

A Kansas House committee has advanced a bill that would overhaul the state's civil service system.

The bill would change some types of positions so they would not be covered by civil service protections. It would also give new state employee hires an "unclassified" status, meaning they would not have civil service protection.

An attorney for the American Federation of Teachers last week said the change could lead to hiring and firing employees based on their politics.