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Wichita school board video shows why members should not be re-elected

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.

I’ve talked to several citizens about the behavior of board members, especially Connie Dietz and Betty Arnold, and to a lesser extent Lynn Rogers.

“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.

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12 Comments

  1. Carla April 6, 2009

    To view this video and Dr. Chappell’s treatment at the hands of school board members, Arnold, Dietz and Rogers is disgraceful. Who do these people think they are?
    I was appalled that MS. Arnold and Dietz were so defensive and took Chappell’s suggestions as criticisms. I was also disappointed that board president Rogers moreorless cut Chappell off when Rogers could have thanked him for taking the time to come to the board and offer insightful suggestions.
    The lack of common courtesy shown to their constituencies happens time and time again. These board members lack professionalism and continue to think that they are smarter than anyone that would dare have a different opinion.

  2. Benjamin April 6, 2009

    WHOA! Dr. Chappell was very repectful and was well spoken as a concerned citizen. I can not believe how Ms. Arnold and Dietz talked to him like he was a little kid who just got in trouble. Yes, you are an elected official but just remember that you work for the people and not the other way around. I do not have children and if I did this would disturb me even more. if i do have kids they sure as hell will not even touch the ground of a Wichita public school as long as there is rude, bad tempered people like this on the board. Keep your paved driveways and bricks. I want to see bright kids and happy staff come out of the schools.

  3. Susan April 6, 2009

    Wooooooooooooow! Astounding! It is a shock to see a taxpayer treated with such hate!

    I don’t often agree with Walt on political issues but I have to say he is right on this! Parking lots over teachers? It makes no sense.

    Maybe they didn’t like to have the consequences of the Montoya case brought to their attention. After all, they wasted taxes to pay for it. Maybe the judicial branch shouldn’t try to legislate!

  4. Craig Gabel April 6, 2009

    arrogance comes before the fall

  5. Bob K. April 6, 2009

    The Wichita Eagle continues to support and endorse these types of individuals for local elected office. Our local newspaper bears responsibility for the election of these individuals and their arrogant behavior.

  6. James April 6, 2009

    Absolutely astounding. Thanks Bob for being there and getting this video.

  7. John Todd April 7, 2009

    The USD-259 School Board’s treatment of Dr. Walt Chappell was arrogant, reprehensible, unprofessional, uncalled for, and totally unacceptable behavior for elected officials. And to think, these same people are entrusted with the education of our children! Why do we allow this?

  8. Mike April 7, 2009

    Absolutely amazing, but not unexpected. Maybe Betty Arnold forgot her manners, but her ability to reason should have remained intact. She gets failing grades in both classes. And Connie Dietz looked like small child that had just been caught in a lie. I think that Dr Walt Chappell struck a nerve linked to spending that some circles would consider less than ethical. The power to spend seems to make some elected officials drunk when it comes to common sense finances. Now it makes me wonder just who is getting these contracts?

  9. Rothbard April 7, 2009

    Bob is to be commended for sitting through all these local guvmint meetings and bringing the details to the people. I would go crazy if I had to listen to these socialists that frequently.

    Bravo Bob.

  10. Charles Nida April 7, 2009

    I was also shocked to see the arrogance displayed by these school board officials to any one who would have as Betty Arnold put it, “the audacity” to criticize them. I thought this was a free country where we were supposed to be educating our kids to be able to reason critically and express dissent. I was disappointed by the lack of information I was able to find this election about the candidates positions on family values, science standards, etc. The Wichita Eagle survey did not ask questions that revealed the heart of the candidates, only questions that would allow a well-constructed, dance-around-the-issues answers.

  11. Mike April 8, 2009

    Chucky….maybe “they” think it is better that the public does not know all the details of dollars spent by the school board. I believe their philosophy incorporates one borrowed from the military and their yearly spending…if they don’t spend the money on something, next year their budget will be reduced by a considerable amount. And spending makes you think you have accomplished something. When rising unemployment from factories like HawkerBeechcraft, Leer, and Cessna are impacting revenues, I wonder whether those members of the board have any common sense anymore. Reminds me of a saying…”It ain’t Beech no more.”

  12. […] State Board of Education, recently experienced the overbearing arrogance of this board. My post Wichita school board video shows why members should not be re-elected holds the video that exposes these […]

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