Lawmaker’s misstatements on education caught on video

Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, tried to convince a DeSoto audience Saturday that Kansas has the fourth-lowest test scores in the country, a statement directly contradicted by reports of those test results.

A northeast Kansas legislator was recorded on camera over the weekend telling constituents that Kansas has the fourth worst educational system in the country, based on student test scores, while spending more than any other state on public schools – claims that are directly contradicted by official records.

In a video posted Saturday on YouTube, Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, is shown explaining why he believes that spending on public education is not synonymous with quality of education.

“If it was, Kansas would not be fourth in the nation from the bottom,” Dove said. “And we spend more money. The states that spend less dollars are at the top. And Kansas is pretty near the bottom.”

Asked by audience members to explain where he got that information, Dove said: “Kansas Department of Education stats tell us that, as far as the SAT scores, ACT scores.”

Dove made similar claims on the floor of the Kansas House of Representatives during the final days of the legislative session in a speech that drew loud heckling from other members.

According to results of the 2013 SAT exams, Kansas ranked 10th in the nation for average combined reading, math and writing scores. On last year’s ACT exam, Kansas ranked 20th for its average composite score.

Meanwhile, the most recent Census Bureau data show Kansas ranked 29th in the nation in 2011 for total spending on K-12 public education, at $9,498 per student, well below the national average of $10,560.

The states that ranked the highest on the SAT exam, Illinois and North Dakota, as well as the states ranking highest on the ACT exam, Massachusetts and Connecticut, all reported higher per-student spending than Kansas, according to the Census Bureau.

The video was recorded by Chris Reeves, an Overland Park resident who posted it to the political website The Daily Kos under the username tmservo433.

In a telephone interview, Reeves said the remarks were made Saturday at a public meeting in De Soto at which both Dove and State Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe, made remarks. He said Dove’s remarks came in response to a question about why the Legislature attached major policy changes in an appropriations bill that was meant to address funding inequities between rich and poor districts, and what problems in Kansas schools were lawmakers trying to address with those changes.

Dove was also the sponsor of a bill earlier in the session that would have repealed the Common Core standards in reading and math, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards that were recently adopted by the Kansas State Board of Education.

In an taped interview with the Journal-World, Dove admitted he had not actually read the standards, but merely objected to the way they were developed and adopted. In a subsequent interview with the Wichita Eagle, he denied having made such a statement.