Kansas State Board of Education candidates on the issues: Skills, experiences for uncertain future

Kansas Board of Education candidates weigh in on how to prepare kids for an uncertain future. Above, a young maker practices STEM skills by making tiny catapults at a 2018 MakerSpace reception. 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 #4:

The world that Kansas public school students will graduate into in the coming decades is likely to be very different than the world today. What skills and experiences should Kansas K-12 education be providing students to prepare them for an uncertain future?

Melanie Haas (Democrat)

Curriculum that continues to focus heavily on STEM will provide a foundation for children as they navigate the jobs of the future, many of which don’t even exist right now. As someone who has built a career in technology and also as a software engineer, I hope to bring my technological expertise to the board. It is my hope that this expertise can advise the board in creating policies that make sure our children are prepared to thrive in the job market of the 21st-century. The one thing that we can be sure of in the coming decades is that technology will continue to innovate and create change at an increasing rate. Our goal should be to adequately prepare our children for a job market and society that will continue to rapidly evolve through their lifetimes. I also have to note that there are many industries where expertise is shrinking as their aging workforce retires. Skilled labor opportunities will be plentiful for students who choose to obtain the required certifications and training. These are essential jobs that we need to preserve as many of them exist in the realm of utilities and infrastructure services. The jobs of the future won’t all require a traditional college education so being innovative in our approach to career pathing will be a benefit to students who want to follow a non-traditional path and still have excellent job prospects.

Benjamin Hodge (Republican)

Did not respond.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to the final item on our questionnaire:

Johnson County has seen the number of economically disadvantaged students enrolled in public schools significantly increase over the past 20 years. What can the state do to support districts that are seeing their demographics shift in such a way?