Local school boards

One of the great ironies of politics is that the most local offices, the ones that ought to be most responsive to constituent needs, are often the least-known. Presidential elections are hotly debated, even in a state like Kansas where the outcome is fore-ordained. But a local or state school board election can be decided by a few hundred votes, yet draws substantially less interest. That apathy towards local races has made them prime targets for extremists and ideologues, as Mike Hendricks points out in the Star. He discusses slates of candidates from Wichita to Topeka and Kansas City, all running on surprisingly similar platforms. These conservatives defend themselves, saying “If it?s a conspiracy, somebody better tell me, because I haven?t heard about it,” and others claim that “despite the fact that he and ? conservative candidates support the teaching of intelligent design in the classroom, they?re not making an issue of it, either.”

Of course not, which is why they think they’ll get elected. Run on taxes, govern on the culture war. We had that on the state Board of Education a few times already.

Had the conservatives held the state Board last November, they would have used the bogus science standards as cover for local efforts to interfere with science education. But there’s nothing the state Board could do to block those local efforts either way. The state standards might have made a legal challenge more complicated, diffusing blame widely, but it’s better for the children if they don’t have to endure a year of bad teaching while a trial proceeds, and if the school district doesn’t have to spend money on legal fees and damages.

This is true in Kansas, and it’s true wherever you live, dear reader. For Kansans, here are the candidates endorsed by Kansas Families United for Public Education:

Pam Robinson, Blue Valley – Position 1
Lori Hisle, Blue Valley – Position 3
Clint Robinson, Blue Valley – Position 7
Don Clark, De Soto – At Large
Rick Walker, De Soto – Position 1
Jim Thomas, De Soto – Position 2
Sandy Thierer, De Soto – Position 3
Rich Minder, Lawrence – At Large
Scott Morgan, Lawrence – At Large
Harlan Parker, Olathe – At Large
Dean Vakas, Olathe – At Large
Linda Wilhelm, Olathe – Position 1
Deb Daniels, Olathe -Position 4
Susan Metsker, Shawnee Mission – Position 1
Patrick Woods, Topeka – District 3
Kevass Harding, Wichita – At Large
Betty Arnold, Wichita – Position 1
Barb Fuller, Wichita – Position 3

I especially want to highlight Patrick Woods, who is a really nice guy and definitely deserves the seat. We’ve discussed Clint Robinson before, and having met Rich Minder, I have no questions about that endorsement.

Be sure to vote on April 3, or whenever your local elections are, wherever you are.


  1. #1 Adrian Melott
    March 29, 2007

    Lawrence: Morgan has generally been good on teacher salaries, which is probably why he got that endorsement. But he is definitely allied with the Chambercrats, and has consistently failed to support neighborhood schools. Pomes is a better choice.

  2. #2 Cheryl Shepherd-Adams
    March 30, 2007

    The local school boards determine the district curriculum, and a teacher is bound by contract to adhere to that local curriculum. Even if the state standards are good, a teacher who abides by them instead of shoddy local standards is violating contract and can be terminated immediately.

    Looks like this is where the next conflict will occur: get Duckett & Peterjohn types on the school boards to drive an IDcreo-friendly science curriculum, then fire teachers who won’t comply. If NCLB goes by the wayside the drive for accountability via state assessments could vanish or diminish, rendering state standards useless.

    My $0.02.

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