State Board of Education
- State Board of Education to create guidelines for restraining unruly students (02-15-07)
- Education board to revisit debate over evolution (02-11-07)
- New science standards up for vote next month (01-10-07)
- Wagnon says SBOE to act on evolution in February (01-10-07)
- State board to revisit science, sex education (01-09-07)
- As old board departs, new evolution stance takes shape (12-14-06)
- No rush on new science standards (11-22-06)
- Chat about the Kansas Board of Education with member Janet Waugh (11-21-06)
Kansas State Board of Education member Janet Waugh encouraged Douglas County Democrats to start looking for a replacement right away.
"It's crucial," she said. "We need to look now."
With moderate education Chairman Bill Wagnon, D-Topeka, whose district includes Lawrence, and Vice Chairwoman Carol Rupe, R-Wichita, likely giving up their seats in 2008, Waugh said she's worried about the possibility of moderates losing control of the state board again.
Waugh, from Kansas City, Kan., whose district includes part of eastern Douglas County and parts of Lawrence north of Sixth Street, and Wagnon are the only Democrats on the board. But four Republican board members share moderate views.
"We're only 6-4, and in two years this can turn," said Waugh, who was the featured speaker Saturday at the monthly meeting of the Douglas County Democrat Party. "We could get a wing-nut, as I like to call them."
The leadership makeup of the state board has bounced back and forth four times since 1999, each time causing sweeping changes.
This year, the board is in the process of reversing some of the decisions made by a conservative Republican majority in the last two years.
In April, the board plans to replace former education Commissioner Bob Corkins, a Lawrence resident, who resigned after 13 tumultuous months on the job just after moderates took control of the board in the November election.
"He saw the handwriting on the wall," Waugh said.
Corkins, who had no experience in education and had previously lobbied against increased funding for public schools, was hired by the state board's conservative Republican majority in 2005.
This month, the moderate-controlled board adopted new, evolution-friendly science standards for Kansas' public schools, changing ones that questioned the theory and generated international ridicule.
"It was just unreal ... the bad press Kansas got," Waugh said. "I think it's sad."
Next month, the board likely will reverse its first-in-the-nation decision that requires students to get their parents' permission before taking sex education and return to allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education classes, Waugh said.
She also said the issues her constituents charged her with when she was re-elected to her third term this year are already being taken care of. But she won't stop there, she said.
"I personally plan to go back to the minutes" and search for any additional conservative-controlled votes in the last two years that need to be revisited, she said.
"We've seen this school board go back and forth now two times," said Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, after the party meeting. "These are important issues for our state, and we need to keep paying attention."