SBR President’s Perspective: KASB seeks partnership with governorAndrea Hartzell
Recently, KASB published a special edition, “New Day for Kansas Education.” I encourage all school board members to pick up a copy or read it on the KASB website.
“New Day for Kansas Education,” tells the stories of wonderful things going on in more than 25 school districts that KASB staff visited last year. It also relates the challenges these school face that, I’m sure, will resonate with everyone.
Kansas is also experiencing a “new day” in politics with the departure of Gov. Sam Brownback, who became governor in 2011. He left for Washington, D.C., to be ambassador at large for international religious freedom. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer assumed the governor’s job and he is seeking the Republican nomination in November.
During his tenure as lieutenant governor, Colyer, a plastic surgeon who has volunteered his medical services in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, has focused mostly on health issues, such as the transition of Kansas’ Medicaid program into KanCare.
But for the past several months Colyer has visited schools to talk with students, teachers, Education Commissioner Randy Watson and members of the Kansas State Board of Education. He has also reached out to KASB, which enjoys a special “in” with Colyer. KASB Associate Executive Director for Advocacy Mark Tallman and Colyer were classmates at Thomas More Prep High School in Hays and were high school debate partners.
Brownback’s tenure as governor was marked by fighting over K-12 funding. Whether Colyer will follow Brownback’s tendencies on public school education or will try to distinguish himself and lead in this area remains to be seen.
November is right around the corner and there are many candidates vying to be our next governor. It is important that we press candidates on their vision of public school education in Kansas and most importantly how schools will be funded.
Last year, a bi-partisan group of legislators restored some sanity to the state’s fiscal problems by overturning Brownback’s veto of tax changes. The state is still under court direction to adequately fund schools, which will require leadership from the Governor and Legislature.
A sound public school system, funded adequately and fairly, will form the foundation to support a thriving economy and individual achievement. We seek a partner in the governor’s office and hope that every day will be a “new day” of success for our Kansas schools.