On Monday March 30, 2009, Walt Chappell, who was recently elected to the Kansas State Board of Education and whose district overlaps some of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, spoke before that district’s board. The hostile reaction by board members, which you may view on video that I captured, is remarkable for the insight it gives us into the board and its members. Wichitans should have no confidence in the governing ability of this board, whether they have children in Wichita schools or not.
Chappell has a lot of experience and understanding of education issues in Kansas. His hostile reception by the board members is all the more surprising given his role as a member of the Kansas State Board of Education.
“Offensive” and “unprofessional” were common reactions. “Dripping with inappropriate indignation” was one I thought was particularly perceptive.
Especially with regard to Dietz, people said it was though she was scolding a child instead of speaking to a member of the Kansas State Board of Education.
Certainly these three board members were dismissive of Chappell and his input. This is characteristic of this board and the entire district. They’re willing to accept citizen input when citizens agree with them. Otherwise, watch out.
When an elected official — especially one with some ability to shape policy that the Wichita board must follow — is treated this way, what treatment should regular citizens expect if they appear before this board in opposition?
I’ve had a dose of this myself a few times before this board. Last year Arnold tried to bargain for my support of the bond issue by proposing to give me the information I as a citizen had requested. As reported in the Wichita Eagle:
“So if you had the correct information,” board member Betty Arnold asked Weeks, “then would you support the bond issue?”
“If I had correct information, then I could make a decision,” Weeks answered.
Evidently it’s outside the ability of Arnold — and the other board members, for that matter — to understand that anyone could be against the bond issue for any reason.
Unfortunately, Arnold has no opponent in tomorrow’s election. Dietz and Rogers do. For the behavior shown here — and for many other reasons (click on Wichita school board members should not be re-elected) — Wichitans should vote against these members.