Democratic Kansas House member from Wichita stepping down



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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic state lawmaker who was a school principal for 25 years said she is resigning from the Kansas Statehouse because she can no longer tolerate the anti-education rhetoric in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

Rep. Carolyn Bridges, of Wichita, announced Tuesday that she will step down from her 83rd District on Sunday because her district needs to be represented by someone who won't take arguments over education as personally as she does, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1O3xyTv ).

"All of us in public education are just beat up daily by the people who don't believe in public education . it's been brutal the past three years and it will just be intolerable this year," said Bridges, who was elected to the House in 2012.

She is a member of the House Education Committee and said she was often discouraged by the negative remarks other committee members used when talking about teachers.

The committee's chairman, Rep. Ron Highland, R-Wamego, said he was sorry to hear how Bridges felt because he had worked hard to have both sides heard at committee hearings.

"We all have to develop a thick skin or an open mind, one of the two, and listen to all the information and not just one side and consider everything else we don't agree with as intolerable," Highland said. "You know, I hear things that I don't like, too, but that's just part of it."

While Bridges served on the committee, it had hearings on bills that would weaken teachers' collective bargaining power, eliminate the Common Core curriculum and bar relatives of teachers from serving on local school boards. The bills all failed, but Bridges said the discussions took an emotional toll.

The Legislature also passed a bill in 2014 that eliminated a state requirement that school districts hold administrative hearings before a teacher can be fired.

Bridges, who turns 70 next year, said she won't run again in 2016.

A precinct committee of Sedgwick County Democrats will select a replacement to serve through 2016.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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The Associated Press

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