Kansas State Board of Education candidates on the issues: Curriculum standards and inclusivity

Lenexa third graders

Kansas State Board of Education District 2 candidates weigh in on curriculum standards and diversity. Above, third-grade students at Rosehill Elementary School in Lenexa shared their ideas with city leaders about how to make their community a better place to live. File photo.

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of November’s general election. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for Kansas State Board of Education District 2.

We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item #2:

Describe the proper role of the state board of education in setting curriculum standards for the state’s schools. Is there a need for the curriculum to be more reflective and inclusive of groups that have been marginalized in the past?

Melanie Haas (Democrat)

In Kansas, curriculum standards – which are signed off on by the State Board of Education – are updated at least every seven years. That’s a long cycle! Our standards for social studies and history were just updated last year, via a process involving a diverse panel of educators from various districts across the state. These approved standards are guidance. School districts are then independently responsible for writing their own curriculum to meet the recommended standards.
I fully support the role of public education as a vehicle for broadening a child’s cultural awareness and inclusion of diversity in our society. It is incumbent upon our public schools to provide a curriculum that highlights the richness and diversity of the human race. My hope is that if this is done properly, students will grow to embrace the many things that make us different from one another instead of using those same traits as an excuse for prejudice and discrimination.

Benjamin Hodge (Republican)

Did not respond.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item #3:

The state board of education has in the past debated whether it’s appropriate to teach the concept of intelligent design along with theory of evolution. What are your views on what should and should not be taught to Kansas students in this regard?