Sunday, March 05, 2006

Challenger for BOE Radical

Hutchinson News editorial

Ken Willard, one of the Radical Six on the Kansas Board of Education, will face a primary challenger this election cycle.

Donna Viola filed last week as a Republican candidate.

That will pit Viola, president of the McPherson USD 418 Board of Education, against Willard, former president of the Nickerson-South Hutchinson USD 309 Board of Education, in the District 7 race.

Ken Willard, R-Hutchinson, has played an integral role in advancing the state board ís increasingly radical agenda for education in Kansas since being elected in 2002.

He lobbied the Legislature to undermine local authority and establish statewide standards for a suitable education. He supported efforts to relax rules for charter schools in Kansas. He expressed interest in school vouchers. He voted for science standards adopted after contrived hearings before a three-member subcommittee of the board. He voted to overrule local boards with a statewide policy allowing parents to determine whether their children would enroll in sex education classes. He voted to hire someone without any experience in education or public administration as Kansas education commissioner.

Moreover, in meetings with local boards and in conversations with constituents, Willard defends those controversial actions with evasive answers and disingenuous claims.
Four of the five BOE incumbents up for re-election in 2006 are part of the radical majority. In the 2002 general election, one was elected with no opponent and two faced only write-in opponents.

This year there are already declared Demoratic candidates in two of those districts with moderate GOP alternatives in one of those and one other. Here's what I understand to the the BOE election situation as of now.

District 1 Janet Waugh D incumbent moderate unopposed

District 3 John Bacon R incumbent radical opposed by
Harry McDonald moderate Republican
Don Weiss moderate Democrat

District 5 Connie Morris R incumbent radical opposed by
Sally Cauble moderate Republican
Tim Cruz moderate Democrat

District 7 Ken Willard R incumbent radical opposed by
Donna Viola Republican moderate

District 9 Iris Van Meter R incumbent radical opposed by
Dr. Kent Runyan moderate Democrat

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