Last week we sent five questions to candidates for Kansas State Board of Education District 2 which covers a large part of Johnson County. The set of questions came from those submitted by readers.
Here are the responses from incumbent Republican Steve Roberts and Democrat challenger Chris Cindric to our fifth and final question. Today’s question is:
In what ways can the state school board of education help to retain and recruit highly qualified teachers and educational leaders?
Kansas has a number of options to consider (in no particular order:) 1) Asking for educator input is vital to this process. 2) The state needs to reconsider/change the “double-dipping” working after retirement KPERS rule to allow educators to return to work without a penalty. 3) Reinstate due process for teachers. 4) Offer financial incentives to experienced teachers to mentor those new to the profession. 5) Offer financial incentives to teachers going to rural areas. 6) Allow teachers to job share so that parents with children at home have another option besides full-time employment. 7) Allow teachers input on professional development activities and more opportunities to attend them. 8) Offer income tax or loan relief incentives. 9) Pay educators salaries that are commensurate with the level of education as we do in other professions. 10) Continue to work with colleges and universities to attract and recruit students to the education profession.
Let teachers teach. That is the essence of reform. And stop the emphasis on standardized testing.
Stop lying. It is wrong to “bear false witness.” It is wrong to lie. It just is. Our politics is in the gutter with two liars atop the tickets for our major political parties, and another local liar (the Sidie campaign) spewing putrescent lies just to win an election.
A second President Clinton will bury hardscrabble schools even further, because Democrats want to determine the end results for everything ahead of time, before events transpire; they want our lives planned for us. The central planning office cannot operate schools effectively, especially those in disadvantaged areas. Our state board of education should emphasize more autonomy for teachers and less middle management.
Let teachers teach.
It takes gumption to stand against special interests in education who say, “Educators are the only people who can teach anything; we are experts in all things and we know what is better for you for all aspects of your life.” It’s a lie. Things just don’t work that way. We advocate better schools with fewer rules.
The state board has finally accepted that it is wise to hire a welder to teach a welding class. Weaker and less experienced instructors, with the union mentality of seniority for work assignments, tend to go to neighborhoods with fewer resources and more disciplinary overload. Teaching is not union work, and some Johnson County public superintendents agree with that.
Disadvantaged families often fail to benefit from our better teachers. There is much to do to help our more meager families reach for the stars through difficulty. Our board needs simple, declarative principles to make schools work better, not a labyrinth of verbose rulemaking. Thicker laws tend to bury the poor, too.
Eliminate standardized testing at the state level, not merely “reduce its footprint” as we have done thus far.
Every citizen needs to read well and understand the language of numbers. Our board focus should never stray far from this. This focus should help us retain better teachers and instructional leaders.
I am grateful to be doing my life’s work on the state board. We have big problems to solve. I humbly ask that you return me to Topeka to work on these huge challenges. Let teachers teach.