November 28, 2022

The Conservatives appear to have won a number of seats on the Kansas State Board of Education Tuesday night, pushing the moderate board further to the right.

In District 3, which includes southern Johnson County and part of Miami County, incumbent Michelle Dombrosky won the race against newcomer Sheila Albers by just over 6,000 votes, according to unofficial results.

Dombrosky, who won her seat in 2019, pushed for local oversight and funding of schools and raised concerns about breaches of privacy laws by school officials and the government for students who need mental or physical health care.

“This is where a lot of our problems happen, at the federal level they come into our schools,” Dombrosky said at a September rally in Kansas City, Kansas. “And then our local schools, which we should return to, have to be funded locally and controlled locally.”

Albers, who has worked in a variety of public school roles over her 25-year career, has worked on a platform to expand early childhood education and addressed statewide teacher shortages and school safety in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, shooting.

School board elections – once low profile campaigning – are now the stage for heated debates over who should control the curriculum and how race is taught in schools. These questions were at the forefront of the five ballots for seats on the State Board of Education.

After her loss, Albers said she believed public education was in jeopardy.

“I chose this race specifically because I’m concerned about some of the extremists who are finding their way into our local and state school boards,” Albers said. “I feel like there’s an effort to disappoint our public schools and not support teachers as professionals in the classroom, which I think ultimately harms the kids.”

In northeastern Kansas, Republican Danny Zeck defeated Democrat Jeffrey Howards for the District 1 seat by more than 22,000 votes his campaign pageHoward said “extremists” are endangering public schools and want to “micromanage teachers.”

Meanwhile, Zeck doubled down on his concerns about parents’ role in education on his campaign page.

“It’s time to stop the Washington Liberal Standards from dictating values ​​that don’t fit Kansas Education. We need to hold parents responsible for raising their children,” Zeck said.

These concerns were echoed by the racial conservative candidates. Their campaign pages expressed support for “parent-centred” education, local control, and “opt-in” for social-emotional learning.

Conservatives are now pushing against social-emotional learning, linking it to critical race theory. However, the Kansas Department of Education lists social-emotional growth as one of its five priorities, which teach students “self-awareness, social awareness, problem-solving, and decision-making.”

Conservative candidates agreed to allowing licensed teachers to carry guns in school, according to an online poll filled out on iVoterGuide. The site is a division of American Family Association Action, whose parenting group has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The board then slipped to the right primaries in August, as two conservative candidates ousted their more centrist Republican incumbents. Republican Dennis Hershberger defeated incumbent Ben Jones in District 7, which includes central Kansas. In District 5 in western Kansas, Cathay Hopkins defeated incumbent Jean Clifford.

Hershberger, Hopkins, and moderate Republican CEO Jim Porter ran unopposed to secure seats on the board.

The map of the state education authority was redrawn earlier this year, dividing Wyandotte County into three counties and Johnson County from two counties into three. Republican lawmakers hoped that the re-election of the constituencies would allow more conservatives to win seats on a typically moderate board.

The 10-member board now consists of seven Republicans and three Democrats, which could change policy for the state’s public schools.

The State Board of Education sets departmental standards and graduation requirements for schools. Local school districts make decisions about specific curriculum, and the Kansas legislature and governor make decisions about school funding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *