The historic economic damage done by Governor Laura Kelly’s authoritarian Covid chokehold executed on Kansas in the spring of 2020 had an unintended yet demonstrated side effect – the awakening of conservative political candidacies like Luke Aichele for the 9th District Kansas Board of Education seat.
Aichele’s is really two stories – but either of them is enough to justify voting for him in the Republican primary for state school board this coming August 2.
A quick review of the statewide newsfeeds from Kansas after Kelly torpedoed the state’s entrepreneurs and business communities yields Aichele’s name in abundance, after he refused to close his barbershop in McPherson and had an arrest warrant issued when he operated in violation of Kelly’s order. His justification was simple and one the rest of the country would eventually see illustrated in other ìopenî states – Covid wasn’t life-threatening to most people and the economic, social, emotional and labor market damage was worse overall and longer term than the virus itself.
In one sense Aichele was lucky – other businesses never reopened; Kelly’s shutdown forced other workers to leave the workforce and for reasons still not completely understood, they never came back to their jobs. His barbershop was more than just the livelihood for himself, his wife and two kids – it was a livelihood for two other barbers as well. Most people don’t know this, but business owners have to pay unemployment taxes on their employees even though the owner him/herself can never draw the benefit. If you own the place and some overbearing, ignorant of science and data governor locks you down, you’re just out of luck.
This illustration of incompetent overreach wasn’t the only driver that put Aichele in the 9th District School Board Race. Along with millions of families across the country who witnessed school curriculum being piped into their homes when their kids were forced to attend class online, the prevalence of Social Emotional Learning above academics – from elements of Critical Race Theory to “pronoun policing” of school districts and staff to ensure they coddled the student’s proclaimed sexual identity – glared from his kids’ home computer monitors.
Covid home learning started a revolution among parents as their eyes were open to the indoctrination their kids endure every school day, and Kansas is only one state where parents plan to take education back. The teaching of straight up white guilt, racial preference, gender fluidity, revisionist history leftist attitudes deadline with guns, climate and social welfare have no place on the conservative plains of Kansas.
Liberal versus conservative votes on numerous performance policy measures among Kansas Board of Education members have typically ended 9-1 since 2015 (Kansas adopted the Social Emotional Growth mantra in 2012), and performance in Kansas schools has markedly declined over that period. In 2020, only 172 of the state’s 1,275 public schools improved at least one letter “grade,” based on their students’ academic assessments; 275 schools declined. Some 92 percent of Kansas High School students were not on track for college or career and will require remedial training.
Last year’s state assessments show private school students fair far better than those in massively funded public schools placing a priority on SEG. The 2021 assessments show 38 percent of low-income public school students below grade level in reading (22.5 percent among private school students) and 41.6 percent below grade in math (25.4 percent for private). As an aggregate, 44.2 percent of private students tested as college/career ready, compared to 28.7 percent of public school kids.
The Kansas board looks at the same numbers we do, yet it affects no change to benefit the students of Kansas’ schools. It’s abundantly clear if Kansas wants effective change in education, it has to start at the state board.
Luke Aichele has dealt with bureaucracy and won, and we’ll vote for him for Kansas Board of Education District 9 on August 2. ###
– Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kan.