Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pratt Tribune profiles Donna Viola

Viola to challenge for school board, going against Ken Willard:
Her concerns start with the Board's hiring of Bob Corkins as commissioner of education last October, its 6-4 division on many issues and discussion of charter schools and voucher plans.

Viola characterized Corkins as an "anti-public education lobbyist" prior to being hired as the top education administrator in Kansas, and objects to school choice initiatives he has proposed. The state board has suspended, at least temporarily, consideration of a voucher plan that would allow parents to send their children to private schools and, in effect, take the state dollars with them from public schools. Viola would not favor such a plan and does not believe there is a "public outcry" for its implementation. …

If the state's education system is outdated and as Willard contends, "maxed out," having reached its capacity and not much different than it was 50-75 years ago, "why are our kids doing as well as they are?" she questioned.

If elected, Viola will work to secure state funding for all-day kindergarten. McPherson was one of the first in the state to provide all-day classes, she said, and while many schools do the same, each child is counted as half for the purpose of state aid per pupil. Viola would also want the State Board to look at early childhood education for all students. With federal No Child Left Behind legislation, children are expected to know so much when they start school, Viola said, and some are already behind.

Funding programs for the youngest students should be looked at as a major investment in education and not a burden for the taxpayer, she said.

Viola graduated from Wichita Business College and owns a swimming pool service company. She is married, has one daughter and two grandchildren. She has been on the Board of Education for McPherson USD 418 for nine years and is currently its president. She describes herself as a cheerleader for education and a person who has no hesitation in asking questions when she does not know the answer.
I wish her luck. I met Willard at the Kangaroo Kourt last spring, and found him unpleasant.