State Board of Education race pits incumbent against newcomer
Willie Dove said he continues to campaign as much as he can with the general election just a few days away.
“Voters are looking to make a change for the positive,” Dove said. “They see their children not being able to further their educations because they lack so much in the early years.”
Dove, a Bonner Springs Republican, is running for the District 1 seat on the State Board of Education against incumbent Janet Waugh, a Kansas City, Kan., Democrat who has been on the state board since 1999.
A Republican Party committee actually selected Dove to run after the party’s original candidate, Leavenworth’s Dawn Weston, resigned because of a conflict of interest. Weston works for the Department of Defense and federal employees are not allowed to run for office because of federal law.
A U.S. Army veteran who has worked in the insurance industry for 26 years, Dove said he’s always had an interest in youths. He’s been a volunteer as a Youth Friend.
He said he wants to make sure youths are better prepared as they prepare for careers.
“Everyone’s not going to go to college, but those who would like to go to college are not really prepared to go,” Dove said. “And that’s what we would like to make sure happens.”
Before serving on the state board, Waugh served for 15 years on the Turner School Board in Kansas City, Kan., and is retired from a family business that operated for more than 30 years in Wyandotte County.
Waugh said school funding is a concern and that the Legislature needed to “fund the law,” referring to fully funding education based on a three-year finance plan the Legislature passed in 2006.
She also said she was working on recommendations for No Child Left Behind and is proud that Kansas is in the top 10 in several education categories but wants the state to keep climbing to the top.
“Are we where we need to be? Absolutely not,” Waugh said. “But we’re showing great improvement.”
Dove said he disagreed with Waugh in the area of funding, noting everyone needs more money, but that there needed to be more accountability in spending.
He said he’s heard from voters that they’re disgruntled about progress not being made as far as test scores, such as the ACT and SAT.
Kansas was above the ACT national average for the sixth straight year in 2010.
Asked about his thoughts on President Obama’s push for year-round schooling and higher pay for teachers, Dove said that’s one area in which he agrees with the President.
“There’s nothing wrong with our students going to school year round,” Dove said. “We’ve got to catch up somewhere. Right now, we’re on the bottom. We’ve got to catch up somewhere.”
Waugh said she is a proponent of year-round schooling, noting the summer break is substantial. But she said she also favored local control.
“What may work well for Basehor-Linwood may not work for Hays, Kansas. Or for Dodge City,” Waugh said. “What works well for them may not work for Leavenworth.”
As for higher pay for teachers, Kansas educators rank 38th nationally, a ranking Waugh would like to see improved.
On the issue of teaching creationism, Waugh said she did not favor it, while Dove said evolution and creationism should be taught.
“One without the other, that’s when we have the problem,” he said.
District 1 for the state board covers all of Leavenworth and Jefferson counties, as well as most of Wyandotte County and a portion of Douglas County.