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Appointment casts shadow on ed race

Published on -7/5/2014, 2:14 PM

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HUTCHINSON (MCT)— Kansas State Board of Education Vice Chairman Sally Cauble said she was caught off-guard by Gov. Sam Brownback's announcement Tuesday he was naming her re-election challenger, Meg Wilson, to an education commission.
"I found it surprising," said Cauble, of Dodge City.
All three -- Cauble, Wilson and Brownback -- are Republicans. Brownback's appointment of Hoisington High School Principal Wilson to the new K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission carries the "possibility," Cauble said, that  voters will see it as Brownback's endorsement of Wilson in the Aug. 5 GOP primary.
The winner of the Cauble-Wilson primary most likely will capture the seat in November because no Democrat is running.
In the news release announcing the appointment, Brownback said, "Meg will be a valuable addition to the commission. She brings a wealth of experience to the position, and I am grateful to her for sharing her time and talents with the people of Kansas through her service."
When The News asked if Brownback was endorsing Wilson in her race, Brownback's campaign manager, Mark Dugan, replied in an email that the governor has not endorsed Wilson in the Board of Education contest and "is confident" Wilson will do "a great job" on the commission.
"I do not expect to have an official endorsement from Governor Brownback, even though I may in the future have endorsements from other Republican leaders," Wilson responded to The News in an email.
Cauble is part of the moderate majority on the State Board of Education. She is running for a third four-year term in District 5, which covers western Kansas. Reno County is in the State Board of Education's District 7, where Hutchinson Republican Ken Willard is running for re-election unopposed.
Wilson has ties to the conservative wing of the Republican Party. She won the endorsement of Kansans for Life's  political action arm and has declared her opposition to the Common Core Standards, adopted by the State Board of Education.
"I am against Common Core, as I believe we must have local control of our school system. A one-size-fits-all approach to education is not the best policy for our children or for Kansas. We must make sure Kansas is competitive with other states, and the way to do that is to set our own education standards," Wilson recently wrote on Facebook.
Cauble supports Common Core, and said there's a "lot of fear" and "misinformation" about the standards. Some critics erroneously view Common Core as the federal government reaching into the classroom, in her opinion.
The Kansas Legislature passed a bill this year creating the K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission. The commission must deliver its report on student performance measures and spending efficiencies to the Legislature before the new session begins in January 2015.
Brownback was authorized to make three appointments to the commission. He previously appointed Concordia superintendent Bev Mortimer and Shawnee Mission superintendent Jim Hinson.
(c)2014 The Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kan.)
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