Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Kansas Board of Education Hurts Job Growth

RSR reader Geof Newman sends along the following report:

Do business boards of directors consider the crazy actions of Kansas Board of Education when considering moving jobs and plants to the state?

“It's naive to think that they don’t discuss it when considering relocations,” Don Weiss told a monthly gathering of Johnson County Democrats last Saturday, in Olathe.

Weiss is the only Democrat challenging John Bacon, an anti-Evolution Republican whose district on the 10-member board includes the east-central Kansas counties of Anderson, Franklin, Linn, Johnson, and Miami. The biggest cities in the district are Olathe and Overland Park.

Weiss said that the state of Illinois recently sent recruiting letters to bio-life scientists at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, located in Kansas City, Mo. Many of the employees live in suburban Johnson County, and have children enrolled in public schools in Kansas.

He also said that Stowers has invested $6 million in a facility in Boston, because they are afraid of the increasingly restrictive political environment in Kansas and Missouri for stem cell research.

Bacon is one of the six anti-Evolution conservatives on the Board, who voted this year to embrace Intelligent Design by including non-scientific arguments against Evolution in the state’s science standards. Even worse, the majority voted to redefine “science” itself, directing the state’s teachers to teach that not all occurrences have "natural" explanations, according to the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

“I feel nostalgic for when people made fun of Kansas for the Wizard of Oz,” said Weiss. The Fordham Institute just gave Kansas an ‘F Minus’ for the Science Standards, he said. “Common sense tells us that if we want our kids to be able to compete in a global economy, an F Minus won’t help them.

"Weiss said that Bacon has been at the center of the Board’s agenda for “radical majority policies” since 1998. “He’s not against public education,” Weiss said. “He is just against good public education.”

New Science Standards were one of the three things that Weiss said he wanted. The other two were: to elect a new (moderate) chairman of the Board of Education, replacing young-earth creationist Steve Abrams, and to fire Bob Corkins, the education lobbyist the majority named as the state’s Education Commissioner.

When appointed in October, the Lawrence "Journal-World" described Corkins as “a conservative activist with no educational background who lobbied against school funding, to be education commissioner at a salary of $140,000 plus benefits.”

Weiss was introduced by Aunesty Janssen, a candidate for Kansas House (district 14, Olathe), who said: “Don Weiss knows that the Three R’s do not mean Radical Religious Right.”

Weiss, a dean at Keller Graduate School of Management in Kansas City, has been the only candidate to file in the Democratic primary in the heavily-Republican district. Bacon, an attorney, has two challengers in the Republican primary, one of whom, science teacher Harry McDonald III, former president of Kansas Citizens for Science, is considered like Weiss to be a moderate.

Five of the 10 board members are up for election this year, four of whom are anti-Evolution conservatives.


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