The current child poverty rate in Kansas approaches 20% and is growing at a rate nearly double the national average. In 2010, about 40% of Kansas’ K-12 students – nearly 200,000 kids – qualified for Federal free/reduced lunch programs.

My students grow up in the same town I did, but in very different worlds. Many have never been to the KU Natural History Museum, and some don’t even know it exists. I know their parents love them and want what’s best for them. But it’s hard to take your kids to a museum if you must work two or three jobs just to feed them.

Public schools are just that – public. By law, public schools must teach every student who walks through the door. Public school students are representative of the communities the schools serve.

Now, those unconstitutional fees parents pay to their local school, they’ve decreased, or better yet, have been eliminated. Oh, wait, no they haven’t. Superintendent Stevenson has stopped purchasing high end entertainment for herself and her best friends. Oh, wait, no she hasn’t. Student achievement has become a serious conversation. Oh, wait, no it hasn’t. Enrollment is increasing. Oh wait, no it isn’t, but costs certainly are increasing. The district has had a meaningful evaluation for efficiency in spending. Nope, that hasn’t happened either.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. With this system, the opportunity to succeed can be whisked away from a child before she even sets foot in a school.

You are a good example. You drove to work a few days ago. Did you learn anything? Probably not. You did not try to accomplish anything novel. And, nothing novel happened. But an unexpected highway closure either leads you to turn around and go home or (more likely) do something new. Then, small or large, something will be learned. Maybe you will learn those functions on your GPS that you never needed before. Or, maybe you will ask a very good looking businessman for directions and find that all nice looking business men are not necessarily nice. New experiences are very good at emerging a new want. Wants lead to trying. And, trying leads to learning.

But the newspaper got the story only partially right. It was under Ms. Baker’s rein, together with the leadership of Board Chairman Tom Nida, which resulted in D.C.’s charter school movement being an example for the rest of the country to follow regarding education reform.

Regardless, the way forward for the GOP is clear. First, we need to challenge Democrats on their turf. The 43rd was as sure of a win for the Democrats as any. Yet, our campaign forced Senate Dems to make the 43rd a “firewall” district and spend M. The Democrats can’t spend M in every senate district. We need to remove the ability for them to consolidate their efforts in whatever district they choose. If we start a “fire” in every district, no matter the odds of winning, no district can become a “firewall” district. If this party had placed a quality candidate in every district, Bill Brady would be governor.


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