Archive for Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sebelius’ ed board remarks attacked

Governor says majority, like Phelps, brings bad publicity to Kansas

October 12, 2006


— A proposal from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to strip the state school board of its power over education policy is an attempted "power grab," the Republican challenging her re-election said Wednesday.

Sebelius, a Democrat seeking a second term this year, said she would make the 10-member elected board advisory and have the governor appoint a secretary to oversee the Department of Education.

Sebelius criticized the board's 6-4 conservative Republican majority. She even suggested to a newspaper's editorial board Tuesday that the board is like the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. and his followers' anti-gay picketing in the bad publicity it brings Kansas.

Barnett said while he would support changing the board so that it has an odd number of members - to avoid gridlock - he wouldn't take away its power or abolish it in favor of an appointed board or secretary.

"It's a power grab," Barnett said. "It takes one more part of government away from people who vote."

Sebelius has promised to propose a constitutional amendment on the Board of Education. Under the state constitution, the board's 10 members set education policy and appoint a commissioner to run the Education Department.

Sebelius noted Wednesday that aid to public schools consumes more than half the state's general revenues.

"It makes no sense not to have some closer ties with the Legislature, with policymakers and with the governor's office when we put together a budget," Sebelius told reporters.

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Kansas voters approved the current setup as a constitutional amendment in 1966, replacing an elected superintendent of public instruction. Proposed amendments to strip the board of its power or allow for its elimination failed in 1974, 1986 and 1990.

Sebelius' position became an issue during a Wednesday debate sponsored by Kansas City-area chambers of commerce.

Barnett chided Sebelius for the Phelps comparison, saying it was disrespectful.

"I do not support taking away the right to vote from Kansans," Barnett said.

Some of Sebelius' criticism focused on the board's approval last year of science standards seen as anti-evolution. Sebelius said she wasn't comparing school board members to Phelps or his followers.

"What I did do is say, 'Often when I travel around the country, unfortunately, that's what people know about Kansas, and that is not necessarily a great economic development tool,"' Sebelius said.

Sebelius, like other critics, argue that the board's new science standards damaged the state's reputation and might cause scientists to avoid relocating to Kansas.

Barnett stopped short of endorsing the conservative-led board's science standards but said they allowed for open classroom discussions about evolution.

"The science standards allowed for the opportunity for people, for children across the state, to ask, 'How did we get here?'" he said after the debate. "I essentially support the idea that children should be presented facts, different sides of the issue, and then they can use critical thinking skills and make up their own minds."

Last year, the board rewrote evolution-friendly standards used to develop tests that determine how well students are learning science. The standards say some evolutionary theory is controversial or has been challenged by scientific advances - which doesn't represent mainstream scientific opinion.

While the new standards contained a disclaimer saying they weren't promoting intelligent design, the text incorporated language from intelligent design promoters. Intelligent design says some features of the universe are so well-ordered and complex that an intelligent cause is the best explanation for it. Many scientists view it as little more than creationism dressed up in scientific-sounding language.

The standards are likely to be rewritten next year, because moderate Republicans won Aug. 1 primaries for two seats held by conservatives.

Sebelius said there are other issues, such as the board's appointment last year of Bob Corkins as education commissioner. Corkins had run two conservative think tanks and had not served as a school administrator or superintendent.

"We have a school board, frankly, in spite of the service of some wonderful people, which is not accountable," Sebelius said.

Barnett replied: "You do have accountability. It's at the ballot box."


lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

isn't Phelps voting for Sebelius? they are both democrats, after all.

why isn't the governor and her pony tail wearing hubby ever photographed together? why does she hide him?

KS 11 years, 8 months ago

Phelps is indeed an embarassment, but to compare the State Board of Education to them? It's a power grab. Leave education in the local hands and away from the bureaucrats and unions. I think the Governor has this election thing locked up and if I were her, the less I say, the better. Sticking foot into mouth!

oldgoof 11 years, 8 months ago

"It's a power grab," Barnett said. . Ha! It has been discussed for years. Test: name your elected member of the State School Board.

ASBESTOS 11 years, 8 months ago

You guys just keep it up, soon y'all wil be hearin' from them "rainbow tout".

WilburM 11 years, 8 months ago

What's fascinating here is that for once the Governor has taken a straightforward, understandable position on an important issue that most Kansans generally understand. This is a good thing. We're not talking generally about education or prosperity or leadership; we're focusing on a real problem in Kansas Government and policy-making. As for a "power grab" a GOP legislature would never write an amendment that would turn over the Board to the Governor during Sebelius's term, so the Governor is suggesting this as a nonpartisan reform.

Probably won't happen, but it should, and Barnett demonstrates once again that his initial response is partisan, and not in the best interest of Kansans and Kansas.

ksknowall 11 years, 8 months ago

Sebelius is half-right - we do need to neuter the state board, however creating a secretary level position is just needless bureaucracy.

It scares me to see so many people who believe a centralized education system is best for our kids. (Don't believe it is bad see the no child gets ahead act, otherwise known as NCLB)

If the state school board was disbanded and the "power" given back to the local school boards Education in Kansas would prosper and in a very few years would become the envy of the nation.

Diversity is the key, not conformity and when we let the local people decide how and what our kids are taught all win.

ControlFreak 11 years, 8 months ago


It made NATIONAL HEADLINES when the KBOE decided that macroevolution is not supported by scientific evidence. It made NATIONAL HEADLINES again when they decided to incorporated Intelligence Design (i.e. Creationism) into the science standards.

Those articles were not flattering to the State of Kansas at all.

BTW, science and religion are NOT mutually exclusive. Many people can believe in evolution and God.

Only people who are insecure about their beliefs see an issue. Maybe you should consider that.

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 8 months ago

Didn't the Pope endorse the theory of evolution a few years ago? I know he only speaks for the Catholics, but it isn't like he was a "godless, secular, progressive, far-left liberal". Of course, comparing anyone to Phelps is inappropriate unless they are equally insane. I realize that the evil Sebelius* didn't actually compare the BOE to Phelps--she compared the bad publicity created by both.

*use of term "evil Sebelius" is no endorsement of Mr. Barnett and Ms.Wagle-the-Dog or a far-less-than-ideal-BOE.

Kodiac 11 years, 8 months ago


Imagine that. You said "the rest of the country really aren't aware of you're (your) malignant presence in the state." Do you understand what you are saying. In other words, the rest of the country IS aware of the malignant presence of the far-right conservatives.

As for your hypothetical example, I suggest you review the history of the evolution/creation controversy with the KBOE. In other words, why wouldn't the liberals be doing that now? Think about it, thinker, everytime the KBOE tried to change the science standards toward creationism they got voted out immediately.

Frank Smith 11 years, 8 months ago

Barnett knows that the State Board of Education is not a truly "accountable" body because most races have been decided by a huge outpouring of low-turnout primary election money from the ultra-right wing Kansas Republican Assembly. Only a revolt of voters incensed by the highly questionable Miami junket expenditures, more likely fraud than extreme extravagance, by Connie Morris, led western Kansas Republicans to reject her efforts at reelection. The KRA and the Discovery Institute threw considerable funding and energy into trying to preserve that seat. Consequently, due to the diversion of funding to Morris, the underfunded candidacy of Idaho carpetbagger and brother-in-law of KRA head Kris Van Meteren was rightfully rejected by southeast voters.

Since spring, Barnett has thrown in with this cabal, the anti-evolutionists, the "Born Again" ideologues, the Kansas version of the "Flat Earth Society." He knows that voters inundated with mailers and radio ads can easily be fooled, as they were by Van Meteren's mom four years ago, despite her not making a single campaign appearance.

Shame on Barnett!

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 8 months ago

It always seemed strange to me that in a country where everyone is supposed to be equal, states would decide that this was a place to assert their autonomy. This makes Americans unequal. Fifty seperate standards?! It doesn't seem to make sense when you think about how mobile our society is.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 8 months ago

Governor Sebelius is correct on more than one front. On one nationwide chat board our state board of ed and its' decisions have come up frequently as does our narrow minded legislature. Kansas is no secret with the push to challenge evolution and teach creationism which is not science. This may prove to keep new economic growth from Kansas as the world watches what's going on in Kansas. The move to keep sex education out of the public schools is rather astounding to some elsewhere in the world as well.

This state board has NOT been a practical or prudent manager of funds. The hiring of no experience Corkins at the high end of the salary range is but one example. Allowing Corkins to hire people to teach him his job is one more example. Connie Morris is the master abuser of state funds with board approval.

Why does the state need a Board of education? Why not leave it to individual districts?

Lokk how this board doled out money to questionable charter school applications. One in the state of Georgia.

Neither Barnett nor Susan Wagle are huge supporters of public schools and would love to use a school board as means to alter our school system is my speculation.

Remember Susan Wagle hitting the Bill O Reilly circuit.

Phelps also comes up plenty on this natiowide chatboard as he travels the USA. Kansas makes headlines for too many of the wrong reasons.

prioress 11 years, 8 months ago

Kansans passed a very powerful education amendment in the '60's and created the present structure. I am opposed to changing it. There is accountability to the voters and the money is well-managed by local boards of education. The amount the Education Department actually controls (staff and programs run from Topeka) is quite small relative to the total education budget. Leave well enough alone!

juliopac 11 years, 8 months ago

Just recently moved from KS to West Virginia. People here, when they hear that I moved from KS, automatically refer to Phelps. That family has burned a place into the psyche of most West Virginians, after they're grand-standing at the Sago miners' funerals. What an embarrassment to Kansas.

And of course, KS will never shed the creationism skin. It says a lot that even in today's political climate (with whacko conservatives running the show), KS is viewed by the rest of the country as incredibly backward.

jonas 11 years, 8 months ago

Mmmmmm. . . . tasty worms!!!. . . . .SNAP!

Right_Thinker: Ee'eeer. . . what?!?!?!?

Here let me deconstruct your post for you.

"Okay, so if something that will never actually happen in today's current political context that thus can't be properly analyzed were to happen, I'm going to make a prediction based on that false reality that of course also can't be tested for accuracy because it will also never happen. However, I'm going to behave as if I just made a crushing blow, and celebrate my superiority with a couple of simple insults, for extra kicks."

I, sir, am amazed at your ability to put such a complex structure into such approachable words.

DaREEKKU 11 years, 8 months ago

Why do people who know nothing about education weild power over education? Why isn't the board made up of TEACHERS and PROFESSORS? Screw the school board, it has brought us HORRiBLE publicity; take their power away untill actual education people are on there.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 8 months ago

Who in their right minds can argue that Sebelius was wrong when she stated that Phelps and the KBOE are international embarrassments to Kansas and have had negative economic impact? Maybe those who never leave the state and never read a newspaper?

Those accusing her of a "power grab" by suggesting that the KBOE should directed by a government-appointed secretary are simply knee-jerk. Such restructuring of government happens all of the time. Actually, the system that Kansas has now is an anachronism that most states have done away with. Plus, she has very good reasons (stated above) in the interests of the children of Kansas for making this suggestion.

Quotes from Barnett like "I do not support taking away the right to vote from Kansans," are pure demagoguery and are one reason why Barnett will lose in a landslide.

Barnett also said: "You do have accountability. It's at the ballot box.".

Indeed, Jim, Indeed. Maybe you should remind your corrupt, sexual predator-protecting GOP teammates.

ControlFreak 11 years, 8 months ago


As I said before, there is no conflict between faith and science except that created by fanatical religious people.


Your right and wrong at the same time. While Intelligent Design DOES acknowledge the existence of evolution, the mechanism is different than current scientific standards.

Current scientific standards follow natural selection as suggested by Darwin (who by the way did not develop or discover evolution - just a mechanism).

The problem with Intelligent Design is that no one can TEST the mechanism. After all, who is arrogant enough to test the mind of God, right?

Once someone says evolution happens the way it does because God wants it too, it takes the possibility of scientific discovery out of the process. No more science. No more discovery.

It's fine to believe that God wants evolution to happen the way it does, but there still needs to be a SEPARATE, TESTABLE, theory in order for science to progress.

Thus, Intelligent Design has no business being part of a scientific standard, because no one can test it.

ksmoderate 11 years, 8 months ago

Since when is it a bad thing to be progressive?

ControlFreak 11 years, 8 months ago


That is what extremists do. The far-right and the far-left represent a small minority.

Unfortunately, they are loud and obnoxious and don't know when to stop talking.

You keep saying 80% of Americans are Christian. So what? That does not mean that 80% of Americans think that natural selection is not the mechanism for evolution.

You are far to the right and in the minority, just like far-left. You do not represent the majority, ever.

Again, I say, religion and science ARE NOT mutually exclusive. If you don't know what that means, open a text book.

imastinker 11 years, 8 months ago

Because teachers and Professors are wacko's. We need real people in government who can still make intelligent decisions. This means people who have not lived their life in a nice little world of academia without fear of a recession or pay cut, or even being fired. We need people who have values and can still think for themselves. This is in all forms of government.

By the way - the Pope's view of evolution is completely in agreement with intelligent design AND EVOLUTION and CREATION!!!! Do you people not understand what intelligent design is? It means that evolution happened, but it was God's method of creation. This doesn't conflict with anybody's religion or science. It's just a belief, no more. It's the liberal newspapers that misconstrued the story, embarrasing us.

mrhanky 11 years, 8 months ago

Cartman: "Alright, that does it. Screw you guys I'm going home. Talking poo is where I draw the line. "

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Hanky you can just take your potty mouth away from here, M'KAY? :)

Jamesaust 11 years, 8 months ago

I'm pleased to see some interest in a variation of my original proposal (to reform the BOE). Of course, my proposal was simply to accept that the BOE races were too obscure and needlessly watered down the executive function of the State and so we needed to replace the elected positions with appointed ones (and hold the elected Governor responsible for his/her appointments).

The problem with the Sebelius proposal is that it does the exact opposite: continue to elect people for positions that can't possibly attract an informed choice from the average voter but then to make these positions virtually powerless.

Oh well. At least someone recognizes that not all the problems with the BOE are substantive - some are structural.

Katara 11 years, 8 months ago

Now I was thinking a whole different area with the trout thing. Trout pout - the overstuffed lip look that celebrities and others get when they've gone overboard (or just had a bad surgeon) on the cosmetic enhancements.

Although I didn't think Sebelius looked like she had that done.

@ Moira

Ignore Pilgrim. He's just carping at you because he does not have any valid arguments.

LOL. I just kill me!

BigDog 11 years, 8 months ago

Will the education folks still support this type of structure if a Republican wins the governorship? How about if it is one of those far-right, Christian types win the office?

How would having a Secretary of Education make it any less political? The person would serve at the pleasure of the governor and change just like the board does now. The only difference being the Secretary would not account directly to the people and face re-election like the board does.

Currently is has shown that the voters did not like the direction of the Board of Education and kicked those individuals to the curb.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Sebelius should have made this move a year ago before the State Board grew more moderate. But I support her anyway, and the idea that people who actually have a background in education run the BOE.

prioress 11 years, 8 months ago

"so my question is, if a new board is convened in January... I mean, some level-headed, logical folks, for a change... will they have the power to oust Corkins on basis of ineptitude?"

Yes, but I'd keep him, at least for awhile. He says he "works for the board." Let them send him over to the legislature to argue against charters and vouchers, and to make sure they cough up the $400,000,000 they promised the schools last year. If they want to replace him, January is not a good time to do so. Give him a chance to adapt to the new board. +++++++++++ "Even more importantly (and I may have asked this before), does Corkins have some grotesquely large "golden parachute," worked into his contract by the theocratic socialists that hired him?" ============= I doubt it; he is an employee at-will and serves at the pleasure of the board. My prediction, particularly if Wempe beats Willard and the vote is 8-2 for the "moderates," he will develop an urge to spend more time with his family. His wife makes enough money to support him, so it won't hurt and he'll have enough to eat and cable TV.
++++ Incidentally, Willard and Morris missed the meeting this week in Southeast Kansas. Guess her commitment to "serve right up to the end" is a bit hollow.

Godot 11 years, 8 months ago

Kansas is the laughing stock of the country over the BOE science standards because of the Sebeliusians. They saw this as their way to bring attention to the good and righteous liberals in Kansas, and bring Sebelius to national light. They puposefully made false statements about the science standards and mischaracterized the issue, putting Kansas' reputation in the tank, for their own political gain.

Too bad, too sad, dear Governor, that people laugh at you for being from Kansas. Looks like your plan worked a little too well.

ksmoderate 11 years, 8 months ago

I'm reminded of a phrase from Jon Stewart, something to this effect: "Darn Satan for putting bones in the ground to confuse us!"

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Godot do you actually believe what you just said?

prioress 11 years, 8 months ago

Evolution is not good science, and therefore proponents must discount and refuse to hear any evidence or scientific arguments against it, especially in public school classrooms, where impressionable children might see through the charade.

I generally avoid this debate, but this is bogus. Science has "proved" over and over that there are common origins; this is not the same as saying "one species turns into another." There are no "scientific" arguments against evolution, as there is no other NATURAL explanation for what we have observed and learned. The SBOE's greatest "sin" was changing the definition of science in the standards to include the supernatural. Believe me, if science someday discovers a skygod sitting on a throne pulling the universe's strings, they will publish it and discuss the implications. The same cannot be said for the ID crowd. My latest joke when confronted with something I cannot understand: "There must be a supernatural explanation for this." You can have that one for free, parkey. It's the ID theology in a nutshell.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

As I was shopping for betta fish with my roommate, I'm surprised I didn't think of you, Pilgrim. I saw pearlscape goldfish or something like that. Have you ever seen one before? Perfectly round. I didn't think they were real at first, but come to think of it, they remind me of you.

Bloated, mouths opening and closing constantly with nothing substantial coming out, and working as hard as they can to stay in one place and not move on.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

It's spelled asinine. Unless you were trying to be cute, Pilgrim (but I doubt it).

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Keep in mind it was a joke, before you go all Rambo on me.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Pilgrim, what a lame analogy. What are you, 60?

xenophonschild 11 years, 8 months ago


Religion is the refuge of the weak and stupid. Evolution is a random process in which haphazard genetic changes interact with random environmental conditions to produce an organism somehow fitter than its fellows.

You and your fellow cowards are going to have to find somewhere else to cower and tremble in your fear of death and uncertainty, for the work began by Epicurus, Lucretius, Lucian, Machiavelli, Hume, and Voltaire is being finished by Einstein, Hubble, Hawking and Greene.

Jesus is dead. Mohammed is dead. Abraham is dead. Your sky-god religions are lies - perhaps the best thing is for you all to kill each other in the coming religious bloodbath, and we'll simply pick up the pieces.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Pilgrim if you're not aware of how much site councils, booster clubs, etc. make a difference, you must not have a child in the public schools.

Trout? Elaborate.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

You can't read what's not there, holygrailale.

WHOA I'd better lay off the coffee! HAchachachachacha!

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