LETTER: Public education

Ginger Riddle

To the editor:

As a teacher in Leavenworth and a voter in Lansing, I see both school board races as important to our kids’ futures. I want candidates who have invested their time and effort into our school communities, who make decisions based on facts and don’t jump on a political bandwagon, and who care about all our kids and are willing to listen to all community members. I see those traits in Susie Werth, Beth Stevenson and Roy Foster in Lansing, and in Doug Darling, Mike Carney and Brian Stephens in Leavenworth.

I have concerns about some of the other candidates, and here’s why.

Lessons in empathy are not critical race theory. Lessons in history that look at a conflict from both sides are not critical race theory. Lessons in social justice are not critical race theory. 

I find it deeply troubling that the candidates who are making a issue of critical race theory also conflate all of these important subjects with CRT.

There is no evidence critical race theory is being taught in K-12 classrooms in our community. The commissioner of education has stated that critical race theory is not a part of Kansas’ academic standards and has never been a part of Kansas’ academic standards. (And in case you want to jump in about a recent controversy in Lansing, I’ll remind you that a club activity is not the district curriculum, and that the parents specifically agreed to their students’ participation. And anti-racism is not critical race theory either).

These candidates’ assumption that only their election can prevent harm to our students is insulting. It’s insulting to teachers, to administrators and to the board members voters have elected, none of whom would allow students to be harmed. 

Unfortunately, these are the same candidates who subscribe to the thinking of the Koch-backed anti-public school organization that calls itself the Kansas Policy Institute. This group continuously spouts statistics without appropriate context. For example, their website claims Kansas’ ACT scores are going down, without mentioning that more and more students take it every year, and that our average is still pretty close to the nationwide average, even though in most states fewer than half the students take it (and all of those are higher achieving college-bound students) and most recently 82% of Kansas seniors took the test. If 82% of our students are doing as well as the top half of students in other states, that’s pretty darn good. This organization, and these candidates, are not good for public education.

If you have received a flyer sponsored by the 1776 PAC, please use it as a “Who not to vote for” list.

– Ginger Riddle/Lansing