Monday, November 14, 2005
Kansas: The State of Play
“As I travel around, I want to make sure people understand, when they live in an area where one of these very critical elections will take place, that those elections are coming in 2006,” says Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of next year's State School Board election.
RSR thinks it's critical, too. Here's our guide to where that election stands now:
Next November, board members representing odd numbered districts in the state -- including four of the six social conservatives who pushed through the new antiscience standards -- will be up for election. Primary elections in August will be a key in this largely Republican state.
Janet Waugh, a moderate who has consistently supported strong science standards and voted against the appointment of the woefully unqualified Bob Corkins as Education Commissioner. Waugh served for more than 15 years on the Turner Board of Education in USD 202, including eight years as president. She also held state and regional offices for the PTA and the Kansas Association of School Boards. She was elected to serve as the State Board's Vice Chair in 2001 through 2002, and was elected Chairman of the Board for 2003-2004.
John Bacon, voted for revised standards that redefine science and embarrass the state. Voted to appoint Corkins as Education Commissioner. Says he hasn't decided yet whether or not to run for re-election.
Harry McDonald, moderate Republican, retired Blue Valley High School biology teacher, and president of Kansas Citizens for Science has announced he will run against Bacon in the 2006 primary. McDonald has been a leader in the fight to preserve real science standards in the state. "The evolution debate is just a symptom of what's wrong with the State Board of Education," says McDonald. "My campaign is going to revolve around larger issues."
Don Weiss, Democrat, says he believes "the children of Kansas deserve a Board of Education that will prepare them to successfully compete in a global economy rather than a Board that is interested only in advancing their own personal ideology. Not only is the quality of our children’s education at stake, but also the long-term economic growth of the State of Kansas if we continue down a path where the personal beliefs of a Board’s Radical Right attempt to suppress the search for knowledge and understanding."
Connie Morris, a leader of the right-wing fundamentalists on the board that pushed the revision of science standards. One of the three board members who oversaw the science hearings in Topeka last May that paved the way for pseudoscientific revisions that embarrass the state and hurt students. Voted to appoint Corkins. Describes evolution as an "age-old fairy tale." Submitted a $4,000 expense report for trip to Miami to attend a conference in April, where she stayed at a luxury resort hotel. Has since repaid $2,890 to the state.
Tim Cruz, Democrat and former Garden City Mayor. In 2003, Morris falsely accused Cruz of being an illegal immigrant. Cruz is a third-generation Garden Citian. "I'm going to focus on what's best for kids in the community, for teachers in the community and for schools in the community," says Cruz.
Sally Cauble, Republican from Liberal, Kan. Cauble is a former schoolteacher and past member of the Liberal Unified School District 480 school board. She supports the teaching of evolution in Kansas public schools. "I am a Christian and I believe that God created the universe," she said. "I have also taught science and I find that both can be compatible."
Ken Williard, voted for science standards that redefine science over the objections of scientists and educators. Voted to appoint Corkins.
Iris Van Meter, ran as a stealth candidate in 2002. Christian fundamentalist who voted to gut science standards and to approve appointment of Corkins as Education Commissioner.
Dr. Kent Runyan, Democrat and Pittsburg State University Professor of Education, has announced his intention to file for the 9th District Board of Education seat. “The time to stop wasting our precious resources on politically ideological battles is now,” says Runyan. “While Kansas teachers face the battles of their professional lives with looming No Child Left Behind testing requirements, our current board member has failed to respond, instead choosing to spend the last six months updating science standards that were perfectly fine from the beginning.”