Saturday, June 24, 2006

Jana Shaver stumps in Iola

The Iola Register reports on Shaver's visit with the local Rotarians:

"I'm not a politician," Shaver told Rotarians. "I'm a practical person with lifetime experiences in education."

Shaver, a member of the Independence Community College Board of Trustees and president of the state trustees organization, recounted that she was born in Neodesha, grew up in Fredonia and won degrees in education at Pittsburg State.

Education has been her calling in Independence for well over two decades.

"I have a good perspective of southeast Kansas," she said. "As an educator, I'm concerned about what the Board of Education has done and all the negative publicity it has brought nationwide."

She noted science standards the BOE put together were dismissed by experts in the field. Also having drawn criticism are an edict that requires parents of students to opt-in for sex education, vouchers that would benefit private schools and hurt public ones and charter schools that could disrupt districts.

"We haven't been dealing with quality teaching and learning," Shaver said, rather spending too much time on peripheral issues. "I want good education for all kids in the state. That's where I'd focus."

Shaver said, as a board member, she would encourage consideration of teacher shortages, particularly in technical fields, counseling and special education.

"We need to encourage our students to go into education and then stay and teach in Kansas," she said, noting that 40 percent of teachers left the profession within six years.

"Well-qualified teachers improve students' performances," Shaver said.

She proposed more training and mentoring programs to improve teaching quality.

"The 9th District has 20 counties," she said. "I've been in them several times during the campaign and I've found our smaller towns are losing population," a trend she thinks could be reversed by giving students better work training and skills. "Education has a critical role in retaining young people and attracting business.

"It's time for a new direction," she said, alluding to moderate Republican efforts to change the majority of the BOE. "My opponent (Patzer) has said that he thinks the board has done good things that should be continued.

"I think we need to do more good things for kids," she said. "I don't have all the answers, but I'm willing to ask the questions that will get the answers. We need to look at the big picture, what we can do for kids."
I'd love to see this race come down to Shaver vs. Runyan. Both seem like truly great candidates, and that election would be a great chance to really debate some of the serious issues plaguing the rural schools of southeast Kansas. You can register to vote in the Republican primary as late as two weeks before the primary (which is August 1). To vote in a Republican primary, your voter registration must list you as a Republican. To vote in a Democratic primary (as voters in Janet Waugh's district might choose to do), voters with no official affiliation may choose to affiliate at the voting place on primary day. They can also change their registration up to 2 weeks before the primary.