Archive for Thursday, March 15, 2007

Letter: Berating schools hurts economic development

March 15, 2007

In my role as executive director for Kansas Families United for Public Education, I have attended school board meetings, candidate forums and various activities related to public schools across the state of Kansas.

While I have seen many differing opinions, I have never seen the lack of respect or integrity that Shawnee City Councilman Kevin Straub has displayed during his bid for a seat the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education.

He has degraded the administration and staff at our schools with his appearance on the Gabby Haze Radio Show, not once, but twice. And when you degrade our schools you degrade our students. He has come to school board meetings and disrupted them by shouting from the audience.

The first time I met Mr. Straub I tried to better explain how school districts work. I may not be an expert, but I have spent the last six years studying our school finance formula, reading the research and trends in education and know a great deal about the operations of our school districts. Mr. Straub wasn't interested in taking the information I provided and doing his own research, he simply demanded that I bet him $1 if I thought I was correct.

As a public school advocate, I'm frightened at the thought of him serving on the school board, but as a citizen of Shawnee I'm equally frightened of the damage he is doing and will continue to do if elected to the school board in relationship to the Shawnee Economic Council's good works in the arena of economic development.

There is great potential for the bioscience industry in Shawnee, but when a city council person is publicly berating a school district while the economic council is talking about its great achievements, that will send a mixed message to employers.

There are a number of cities in Johnson County competing for this business, and I can assure you that their city councils are promoting their wonderful school districts and the well-educated workforce that they produce. Shawnee should expect nothing less from its council members.

If Shawnee homeowners want to keep a lid on property taxes and expand the number of jobs in our city, the way to do it is to encourage businesses to locate here. Mr. Straub and his fictitious allegations against our schools and students is not the path to success.

Please consider the future of our city, county and schools when casting your ballot on April 3.

Kathy Cook


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