Kansas State Board of Education candidates on the issues: Support amid district demographic shifts

Mill Creek

Kansas Board of Education District 2 candidates weigh in on shifting demographics. Above, students at Mill Creek Elementary. 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 the final item:

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?

Melanie Haas (Democrat)

Our Kansas public schools face a number of problems in regard to delivering equity and opportunity to all of our students. We must start by acknowledging the fact that the administration of Sam Brownback and his economic “experiment” has devastated our school districts across the state. His disastrous decisions have led to many difficult cutbacks for our teachers and schools – and our children’s future is paying the price.
The most impactful way for the state to support districts – rural, economically disadvantaged, or any other kind – would be to continue to increase funding for our public schools. Our Johnson County schools have been a differentiator for our community for generations — and now more than ever they are in peril. We must fund our schools and reject any attempts to systematically divert or reduce dollars into these institutions. Schools have unfortunately been tasked with providing far more services to children than just an opportunity to learn. They provide counseling for children who may not be having mental health needs addressed in the home. They provide food security for families struggling to make ends meet to put a meal on the table. They provide an opportunity to make friends and develop critical social skills through interactions with other kids. They provide crucial opportunities to run around and exercise as well as perform on the athletic field. Taken all together, our public schools serve to do so much more than just educate our children – our schools make up for the deficiencies that exist elsewhere in our society. The fact that we continue to degrade and undermine their ability to function shows just how little many politicians have done to prioritize the future for Kansas children.

Benjamin Hodge (Republican)

Did not respond.

Review the Kansas Board of Education District 2 candidate responses to four other issues raised by our readers: