Chat about the Kansas Board of Education with member Janet Waugh
Janet Waugh, a Kansas City Democrat, is part of the new moderate majority that will take control of the Kansas Board of Education following elections earlier this month. She’ll take questions about evolution, Bob Corkins’ future and other education issues.
Good afternoon. This is Dennis Anderson, managing editor of the Lawrence Journal-World. I will be moderating today’s online chat with Kansas Board of Education member Janet Waugh of Kansas City, Kan. Welcome Janet.
Thanks for inviting me.
It looks like Education Commissioner Bob Corkins has been the current Board’s man, fulfilling their goals (the majority that is) for education. Is it possible that he could be kept on if he continues to pursue the newly configured Board’s goals? And will the ne Board be looking into repealing some of the language in the current science standards?
I believe some of the issues that will be up for discussion in January include the Commissioner, science standards, and sex education.
We have several questions pending from readers related to Mr. Corkins’ future as the education commissioner, many assuming that he will lose his job when the new board takes their seats in January. What can you tell us about the executive session meeting the board has scheduled for Wednesday afternoon?
I have the same information the press has received – that it will be an executive session to discuss non-elected personnel.
One more question and then I will turn it back to the readers. Do you think Mr. Corkins should continue to serve under the new board?
Bob Corkins, a man with little educational or managerial experience, and Deputy Commissioner Englebrick, terminated from his previous job in Kansas City, gave out dozens of $1,995 “grants” apparently based on the thinnest of applicant qualifications. A great many recipients were not even Kansans. Awards lacked timeline, service or product requirements. One, for instance, was given to a degreeless, uncredentialed Missouri charter school substitute teacher. What is the position of the board on these giveaways?
At the last few meetings the board has discussed these grants and concerns were expressed regarding what services were rendered. At the last meeting I asked for a full report on each recipient, who did they work with, how much time did they spend, were applications submitted to local boards for charters, etc. Hopefully we will have a full report at our next meeting.
Will there be any announcements before January about timetable, process, etc. for the science standards?
I doubt if the current majority would agree to discuss changing the standards; therefore, we will have to wait until January for the discussion to begin.
Beyond Corkins, what would you name as the top two or three issues or items you think this “new Board” will be talking about in 2007?
Science standards and sex education would rank on the top. I believe we should also address all day kindergarten. I plan to ask for a review of the minutes so we can address issues that received a 6-4 vote in the past two years. After that we need to concentrate our efforts on making sure all students are educated at high levels.
What is your position on TeenScreen and Universal Mental Health screening in the school setting?
I am not familiar with these programs. Therefore, I am unable to comment on them.
Can the candidates for the education commissioner job be required to at least have a degree in education and administration, with preferably experience as a superintendent, so political hirings can be prevented in the future?
In my opinion that will be a top priority.
Good afternoon, Ms. Waugh, and thanks for interacting with us.
What guidelines will the board follow in hiring a replacement for Bob Corkins? Do you think you’ll resurrect the previous guidelines – the ones recommended by the consultants, not the ones used by the board majority – or draft a new set?
I would support reviewing the previous guidelines and make any changes we think would be needed.
How can the state board justify allowing Connie Morris to take a taxpayer-funded trip to Washington DC during the Christmas holidays when her term in office expires just a few days after she gets back?
David / Lawrence
I agree with you and made a motion that this travel be denied. It failed. She is within the board policy; however, I think the policy needs to be reviewed. Hopefully a change in the policy will avoid actions like this in the future.
The International Baccalaureate Certificate program allowed for earning of 30 advanced placement units at most colleges and universities. This could allow parents to save tens of thousands of dollars in tuition at accepting colleges. Connie Morris went to a conference that had on its agenda ending the program nationwide, despite its success with both public, religious and private secular institutions. Do you think she and the current majority will push to end the program?
This has not been discussed at any of our meetings. Because we have only one meeting left before the moderates take control, I would doubt that it will be on our agenda.
What are you most proud of in your time as a state school board member?
I am proud of the fact that Kansas still ranks in the top ten in the nation in almost every category – ACT, SAT, NAEP, graduation rates, etc. I am especially proud of the districts who are making great progress with their students while facing extremely difficult challenges. My goal is to make Kansas No. 1 in the nation.
I want to thank you for joining us this afternoon. I hope you will come back again to talk with our readers.
Thank you so much for having me. Hopefully next year will be a new day for education in Kansas and we can continue our efforts to become even better and insure all of our students are educated at high levels.