Members of the Kansas Association of School Boards visited Great Bend on Monday to talk to Dr. Roger Marshall, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, District 1. Great Bend USD 428 hosted the luncheon meeting at the District Education Center, and four school board members also attended.
Rob Gilligan, KASB governmental relations specialist, said the organization is reaching out to state and federal candidates.
“We just want to come and chat with Dr. Marshall and hear his thoughts on education at the federal level,” Gilligan said. He also wanted Marshall to know that, if elected, KASB and the National School Boards Association are there “as a resource and for knowledge.”
Other KASB representatives at the meeting were Gina McGowan, an Ellsworth school board member, and Gary Yost, an Otis-Bison school board member.
The candidate said he is an advocate of public education and believes, “Education is the long-term solution to lots of our problems.”
KASB representatives as well as Great Bend USD 428 Superintendent Brand Reed said the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was passed last December and replaces No Child Left Behind, is a vast improvement.
“It was the biggest cut in federal power in history,” Yost said. He warned Marshall to make sure the government doesn’t try to take away the power it returned to local schools by implementing ESSA.
“You have the purse strings, the power to make sure they don’t circumvent the law,” Yost said.
McGowan voiced concern of media reports that, “Trump is trying to kill public education, pushing for vouchers and private schools.”
“I’m not seeing that on his platform,” Marshall said. “I think Speaker (Paul) Ryan is going to be an advocate for education.”
Reed noted that Kansas ranks 10th in the nation for education, but is 29th in spending. “We now get less than we got eight years ago,” he said, adding the lack of funding is taking a toll.
“We are 10th, but we’ve slipped,” Yost agreed. “If (cuts) continue, it’s going to get worse.”
Gilligan said the next congressman needs “a broader perspective” that Marshall could bring with his administrative experience. Non-education issues affect education, such as rural access to broadband or safe highways, he said.
Whether the issue is improving education or fixing the Affordable Health Care Act, Marshall said it starts with a strong economy.
“The number one problem with our economy is over-regulation,” he said.