A KU program that helps youths prepare for college has become an issue in the 3rd District congressional race between Jan Meyers and Judy Hancock.
Two congressional candidates are playing political football with a $1.2 million Kansas University program that prepares Lawrence and Kansas City, Kan., youths for college.
Democrat Judy Hancock, who is trying to unseat Rep. Jan Meyers, R-Kan., flagged Mrs. Meyers when she allegedly "dropped the ball" during the effort to renew federal funding for KU's Educational Talent Search program.
"It's clear Congresswoman Meyers isn't getting the job done for Kansas," said Hancock, a Prairie Village lawyer who raised the issue while campaigning.
In an interview Monday, Mrs. Meyers said Hancock was guilty of a personal foul by distorting reality for political gain. Hancock's version of events "just wasn't right," Mrs. Meyers said.
Educational Talent Search is a college-preparatory program targeted at low-income students or potential first-generation college students.
In six years, 7,000 people in Mrs. Meyers' 3rd District have participated. The district includes much of Douglas County, including Lawrence.
The program's grant was increased this year to assist sixth-graders at New York, East Heights and Kennedy schools in Lawrence.
"What we do is provide academic enrichment activities to students and also expose them to nonacademic activities that enhance their social skills," said Ngondi Kamatuka, director of the program.
Hancock said KU officials submitted a grant renewal proposal to the U.S. Department of Education in December 1993. In April, she said, KU was led to believe the program would be denied federal funding.
Hancock said Mrs. Meyers' office didn't respond to a letter from KU seeking her help in April. Jerry Bailey, KU associate dean of education, however, today said that no letter existed.
The grant was approved only after intervention by Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., Hancock charged. On this point, Bailey agreed with Hancock. Kassebaum's staff arranged a meeting between KU officials and the U.S. assistant secretary of education to discuss the grant.
"KU and the students serviced by this grant were fortunate to have Senator Kassebaum's assistance," Hancock said. "It's time Kansans had someone in the House working for them too."
Mrs. Meyers said she received no letter from KU requesting assistance on the grant. A member of her staff offered to help KU officials in April, but no further contact occurred.
She said KU officials worked with Kassebaum, who handled the matter well. Mrs. Meyers said she supported Educational Talent Search.
"To identify people early, to work with very poor students and students whose parents did not have the advantage of a college education ... that is a good program," she said.