Kansas Gubernatorial Election Heats Up Education Politics As Schools Reopen
Political rival Derek Schmidt isn’t giving up on the issue, as Gov. Laura Kelly has declared herself an “education governor.” He fights back by attacking Kelly’s record.
“Wherever I go, Kansas parents are expressing immense sadness, frustration, worry, and sometimes anger at the still-lingering harm to their children from Governor Kelly’s school closures and orders.” said Schmitt.
“She made a promise to be an advocate for students, especially to improve mental health outcomes. He has done more damage to our children than any governor.”
The Republican gubernatorial nominee Schmidt made a fiery statement this week as students returned to school. Meanwhile, the Kerry campaign announced its endorsement of the Shawnee Mission School advocacy group, and the Kansas Democrats hosted a “back to school, not brownback” roundtable with educators and politicians in Johnson County. ing.
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“After defending Brownback’s education cuts in court, the question for Derek Schmidt on education is simple: Who was better for students, Governor Brownback or Governor Kerry?” asked Fitzgerald.
“Brownback never closed schools,” said House Speaker Ron Rickman, R–Olathe. “Laura closed our school and then was pretty pushy when she tried to keep it closed.”
Education is one of the top three issues in statewide general elections, along with jobs and taxes, according to Bob Beattie, a professor of political science at Washburn University.
He said it was wise for Schmidt to get involved in the matter and defend Kelly, despite “a bit of a legacy in Kelly’s favor.”
“From an educational standpoint, I think there’s some real baggage from the Brownback era that’s making it harder for him to win the issue,” Beatty said. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to turn the defensive, just confusing the issue can help.”
Schmidt’s statement mostly bashed Kelly over the COVID-19 shutdown and the failure to make masks mandatory at schools. Kelly was the first governor to close schools in March 2020.
“At the time, we knew we didn’t have to do it this way,” Schmidt said. “Many other states have kept students safely in classrooms without lockdowns or centralization.
“Instead, Gov. Kelly ignored desperate pleas from parents and students, ignored experts who told us that in-person learning was safe, and launched her all-purpose state for grade two. We tried to push for a total lockdown.Some of our children are still paying the price.”
more:Only 4.4% of the youngest children in Kansas were vaccinated against COVID. It’s tragic.”
Ben Jones, a member of the State Board of Education, says educators are not health professionals.
“Kansas didn’t do many things that were different from any other state, regardless of other states’ trends,” he said. “For the first six months, we all did the same thing.No one was unique.We were one of the first states to come back. We followed the protocol the house asked us to follow and kept everyone safe.”
Test scores, mental health, lack of teachers
Schmidt also noted declining academic performance and mental health among students and a wave of teacher turnover.
As The Capital-Journal previously reported, the state’s test scores, while appearing to be less severe than some others, have suffered during the pandemic.
Schmidt’s campaign points to Khan Academy research that student behavior and mental health issues are the biggest barriers to addressing unfinished learning.
“Because of the closures, because of mask mandates, we’re seeing test scores drop, especially emotional capacity,” Rickman said. “What’s happening to our kids’ mental health? It is sad to see
Schmidt cited research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linking the pandemic and school closures to worsening mental health among young people, including increased suicidal thoughts.
more:Kansas assessment scores show post-pandemic drop in academic performance
The teacher shortage is nothing new, but it’s becoming more pronounced as labor shortages pervade the Kansas economy.But education is in such dire straits that Topeka will pay her US$501 Incentives for retention and adoption Up to $8000.
“Calling Laura Kelly an ‘education governor’ is like calling Joe Biden a ‘president without inflation.’ Facts don’t match the rhetoric,” Schmidt said. “Kansas can do better and our kids need us.”
Schmidt’s statement did not contain a stronger policy statement, other than a promise to fund schools constitutionally and keep students in classrooms. Announcing school safety and mental health plans.
“He would look at the system as a whole, not just what unions want,” Rickman said. You’ll see it from the bottom up.”
Laura Kelly focuses on fundraising
Kelly centers her education message on school funding. She maintains that the school is well funded, despite failed attempts to increase funding for special education this spring.
“I ran for governor in 2018 because I believe that proper funding for schools is the first step in ensuring that our children receive the world-class education they deserve. “The next generation is our future workforce pipeline, and our schools are key to meeting the needs of our growing economy.”
That endorsement was from the Education First Shawnee Mission. Its chairman, Jennifer Boles, said Kelly was the reason “our education system got back on track.”
“Just a few years ago our public schools were chronically underfunded and our children were suffering the consequences,” Boles said. We are providing our children with the world-class education they deserve.”
A member of the state school board, Jones expressed disappointment that education was political.
“It turns into a partisan issue when people want to stop investing,” he said. “Whether education is viewed as an expense or an investment becomes a partisan issue. Anyone who works with money knows that you need to invest a little and save a little. An investment is a good thing and education is an investment in all of our communities.
“People want a quality system with qualified educators who do everything in their power to make every child successful. I want to have all the tools I need, people want a safe place, not just[school shooting]but also a safe place mentally and emotionally. I hope.”
The Shadow of Former Governor Sam Brownback
Democrats have tried to associate Schmidt with the shadow cast by former Republican governor Sam Brownback on Kansas politics.
Schmidt can’t completely distance himself from Brownback in the same way that Kelly can’t completely distance himself from Biden, said political science professor Beatty.
Kansas Republican Party Secretary General Shannon Perls said, “Laura Kelly has spent this entire campaign fighting someone who hasn’t voted in eight years.”She’s as messed up as Joe Biden. Or she’s trying to distract herself from her own terrible record, which includes damaging more education and taking more jobs than any governor in Kansas history.
Brownback is perhaps best known for his failed income tax experiment, which saw massive budget deficits and cuts in government spending, including the K-12 public school system. Lawsuits by several districts ended when the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state legislature was unconstitutionally underfunded for schools.
Schmidt has pledged to abide by the ruling.
“Kansas must never repeat this tragedy,” Schmidt said. “As Governor, I will ensure that schools are adequately funded as our Constitution requires, that children are kept in the classroom, and that parents are empowered to ensure that each student is given the appropriate education to meet their needs. I assure you that I will give you a good education.”
As Attorney General, Schmidt was responsible for defending the state’s funding levels in court, but the lawsuit was first filed before Schmidt and Brownback took up their respective positions.
In a statement via the Kansas Democratic Party, one of the roundtable speakers referred to Schmidt’s defense of the state.
“These allegations from the same man who wasted at least $1.4 million taxpayer dollars defending Brownback tax cuts to public education in court are ridiculous,” said former teacher and Shawnee Mission Board of Education said Laura Guy, a former member of
“Governor Kelly inherited the education system in turmoil, thanks to Sam Brownback and his right-hand man Derek Schmidt,” Guy said. “Since his inauguration, Governor Kerry has fully funded public education for four consecutive years and will continue to invest in public education in his second term.”
obscure social problems
With the start of the new school year, both camps seized the opportunity to pivot away from abortion policy. Kelly opposed the amendment to value both, but she was less active on the no-vote campaign trail, doing little in her effort to capitalize on the overwhelming turnout.
Schmidt, on the other hand, supported an amendment that dealt a decisive blow to anti-abortion policy.
Missing from Schmidt’s series of attacks is LGBT rights.Kelly veto on anti-trans athlete bill sparked past criticism from Schmidt Attack ads for the Republican Governors Association and other groups.
Similarly, important race theories, diversity, equity and inclusion are not mentioned. These issues helped propel conservatives to school board seats. Education policies were also cited as a key factor in the Republican Party’s victory in the Virginia gubernatorial election.
“The abortion vote showed that these cultural issues were not necessarily winners in general election turnout.
Last fall, the election campaign for the local school board featured a conservative victory. Earlier this month, two of his three conservative challengers ousted an incumbent Republican on the state board of education.
Despite being a Republican majority, the school board is moderate and sometimes leans to the Democratic Party. The board often draws the ire of conservative Congress, which tramples on board authority.
“My race has been a race of lies and exclusionary tactics by my own party,” Jones said. is probably the best word I can use.”
Jones is one of the Republican board members who was ousted in the primary. He finds it frustrating that a Republican who has been loyal for 20 years has been “banished by someone who has just appeared on the scene.”
“Education should not be a partisan issue,” he said. “What is best for all children across the state should be a question we can all agree on. What is best for all children, no matter where they live or who they are. is to do our best.”