State school board candidate Bob Meissner to chat

October 24, 2008

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Bob Meissner, Republican candidate for the state school board district that includes much of Lawrence and Douglas County, will discuss his plans if elected to the school board. He defeated Republican Alan Detrich of Lawrence in the August primary.


Good afternoon. This is Dennis Anderson, managing editor of the Lawrence Journal-World. I will be moderating today's online chat with state school board candidate Bob Meissner. Welcome.

Bob Meissner:

Thank you for the invitation, pleasure to be here.


We have several questions from readers, so let's get started. Here is the first question.


So much of the time, the only ideas I hear from education professionals on what can be done to improve our education system, is more money. And yet, test scores and other indicators suggest that additional funding has little to no influence on student performance.

Besides additional funding, what other ideas would you bring to the board for improving student performance in the state?

Bob Meissner:

Thanks for the question.
You are correct, it seems like the only solution from some is more money. While I believe that adequate funding is critical to meet the needs of teachers and other programs that will directly impact the success of students, I do feel that the citizens of Kansas desire accountability when it comes to education funding. Concentrating on programs that directly impact student achievement as well as providing encouragement for teachers in the classroom would be the best use of our tax dollars.
Improving student performance doesn't stop at the classroom. We must, as a Board, encourage more parental involvement in our kids learning and development.


Dr. Meissner, I appreciate your willingness to run and serve our state on the state school board district. Can you tell us a bit more about what you have been doing for the last twenty years (besides your vocation) that qualifies you for this position and what would be two things that you would like to accomplish on the school board?

Thanks and God bless you.

Bob Meissner:

I served 12 years on the Shawnee Heights Board of Education and have been actively involved as a volunteer with Donated Dental Services and Kansas Mission of Mercy as well as yearly dental outreaches to Central America since 1986.
I am also a product of Kansas public schools graduating from Highland Park High School in 1969 and Kansas State University in 1973.
A dentist for 31 years, I have had the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life, listen to their concerns, struggles, and desires they feel about our education system.
I have two daughters and a son-in-law who are teachers in Kansas and speak to them daily about what life is like inside the classroom.
I would like to bring a divisive board together and focus on meeting the needs of teachers and students.


What ideas do you have to address the teacher shortage? Would you support incentives to teach in at risk areas?

Bob Meissner:

Great question.
First we must address the concern of teachers leaving the profession for whatever reason. Here are some ideas that my kids have shared with me as to how to encourage teachers to stay in the profession:
Realistic requirements for license renewal including the licensing of individuals who are considering a career change to education. Offering guidance to local districts in creative ways to encourage our Kansas teachers such as: meaningful in-service programs, tuition reduction, expanded student loan deferments, perks for teachers by businesses and others, low interest loan rates on homes and cars. These ideas along with improving teacher pay and allowing them the freedom to "teach."
Finally, as mentioned above, encouraging young people to consider education as a career.


EDITOR - If you can think of a better way to state this question, please do!

Is it possible to focus on education (in cooperation with the legislative bodies for funding needs) in a from a beginning to end fashion so that the most improvements are made starting in the earliest years of educational needs? For example, spending your focus and energy on early childhood education first and then improving year by year so that we can get one group of kids who are educated in the best possible system, thus developing a baseline to improve from. When No Child Left Behind was put into place, there were punitive measures put into place without consideration to the fact that not everyone started at the same place. It seems to me that by focusing on early childhood education, we could do better.

Bob Meissner:

I agree that early childhood education is critical. I believe that by identifying the truly "at-risk" students and concentrating our efforts on that group, we can not only increase achievement in general, but also spend our tax dollars as efficiently as possibly.
My desire is to engage, equip and encourage parents to be involved as much as possible in their children's education.
By modeling this kind of parental involvement, we would hopefully be helping future generations help their own children down the line.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is noble legislation that most educators would agree has been positive in some ways. Many would also agree that NCLB needs to be re-evaluated and adjusted. The State Baord of Education and the Kansas Department of Education should work with the federal government to create the possibility for more realistic and attainable outcomes without increasing the stress and workload of Kansas teachers.


Louisiana recently passed an "Academic Freedom" bill which gives legal protection to classroom teachers who teach intelligent design, creationism, and other ideas as science. Would you support such a bill if proposed in the Kansas Legislature? As a follow up, would you support amending our state science standards to conform with such legislation?

Bob Meissner:

I am not in favor of changing the current science standards. I support the teaching of evolution in our science classrooms. I do not support the teaching of Biblical Creationism in our classrooms.
The debate as to the scientific credibility of other theories should take place in the science community rather than on the State Board of Education.
There has been some talk that I have a "hidden agenda." If that were true, I am sure it would have surfaced during my 12 years on the Shawnee Heights Board of Education. I welcome careful scrutiny regarding my record while at Shawnee Heights.
The only agenda I have is to provide the best possible education for our students while meeting the needs of our dedicated teachers and staff.
Any attempt to misconstrue my position is categorically false.


I have heard his opponent has said Bob Meissner has an agenda. But what is Ms. Campbell's agenda, since she has been heavily supported by Governor's Bluestem Fund Pac?

Bob Meissner:

I am more concerned with my agenda to serve the teachers and students of Kansas than I am with my opponent's agenda and political posturing.
The people of Kansas deserve an open and honest discussion on educational issues, not the typical political games that are all too commonplace during the last few weeks of an election.


Mr. Meissner, now would be a good time for you to discuss any issues you wish to talk about.

Bob Meissner:

I would like to thank the Lawrence Journal World for the opportunity to answer some great questions today.

I believe I am the best qualified candidate for this position. My personal experience in education at the undergraduate as well as the graduate level make me keenly aware of what is required of students if they decide to go to college.

Also, my experience as a business owner and employer gives me the ability to know what is required of students who chose to enter the workplace after graduation.

Finally, the fact that I have 3 teachers in my immediate family allow me the opportunity to know what actually is happening in our Kansas classrooms.

I would genuinuely appreciate the opportunity to represent District 4 on the State Board of Education and ask your vote now during early and advance voting or on November 4th.

Please visit my website: for more information and ways to contact me.


Thanks to everyone who submitted questions and thanks to Bob for joining us in this chat. If you'd like to submit a question in any of our upcoming chats - or read transcripts of past chats, including with Bob's opponent Carolyn Campbell - you can do so at Thanks again everyone.


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