Candidates for state school board seat show differences in style and policy at forum in Prairie Village

Chris Cindric and Steve Roberts appeared at the forum Saturday morning. Photo by Eric Blom
Chris Cindric and Steve Roberts appeared at the forum Saturday morning. Photo by Eric Blom

Incumbent State Board of Education member Steve Roberts painted himself as a change agent saying he had more than once been the lone dissenting vote on issues before the board that passed 9-1.

In his closing, Roberts told a forum at Colonial Church Saturday morning: “You have to be prickly without being a prick. I am good at that.” He said his opponent, Democrat Chris Cindric, would not be a change agent like him. “I am a fly in the ointment,” he said.

Cindric said she had spent 38 years “in the trenches” in education, where she was a school psychologist. She now works as a targeted case manager for people with developmental disabilities.

Roberts told the group he is a licensed teacher in Kansas, but has been driving a school bus in the Shawnee Mission district lately.

Cindric proposed several steps to help retain teachers, including restoring due process, providing mentoring programs for young teachers, keeping classrooms small, paying teachers what they are worth and working early with universities on training.

Roberts said going to a teachers college is not required to be a great teacher. He said good people are pushed away all of the time because they do not have the required teaching education. Cindric pointed that out as a difference between them, saying people can be great at their jobs, but not have the skills to teach.

Cindric supported Common Core standards, saying some revisions might be possible, but that the standards make sure students are competitive across the country and the world. She emphasized getting more involvement from stakeholders.