Kansas Senator: Superintendents Campaigning Against Me

(Photo: The Capital Journal)

(Photo: The Capital Journal)

In Kansas, Sen. Forrest Knox (R-Altoona) has declared there is a “coordinated effort” among school superintendents statewide to discharge lawmakers who are currently holding office.

Knox sent an email to his supporters last week claiming that “those who are spenders of tax dollars are very organized in their efforts to take Kansas government back” during this election year. He added that yard signs for his opponents were in the front yards of people who “are paid by our tax dollars.”

The folks who are “paid by tax dollars,” according to Knox, are the state’s teachers, school district employees, and other people who are somehow connected with schools, reports Bryan Lowry of The Wichita Eagle.

“We certainly need the services of public employees, but do you want them to be in charge of appropriating their own paychecks?” Knox said in the e-mail, which was obtained by The Eagle.

People need to pay attention to this trend, said Sen. Knox, who is facing a challenge in the primaries from Bruce Givens, a long-time educator and assistant director of the Butler County Special Education Cooperative, which supplies nine Butler County school districts with special education services.

Givens noted that he was not aware of educators who were campaigning against Knox, but added that perhaps the senator should be concerned because he had not supported public education in any way.

Kansas School Superintendents Association President Cory Gibson said that his organization does not endorse candidates in legislative races. Superintendents are allowed to put up yard signs or canvas neighborhoods supporting candidates, but most, according to Gibson, know they will have to work with whomever wins the race and therefore abstain from campaigning.

The Democratic candidate Carl Shay, Jr. and Republican candidate Givens have received endorsements ahead of the primary from the Kansas National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the state. Game On for Kansas Schools, a parent advocacy group focused on increasing education funding, is supporting these candidates as well.

Knox also claimed that some superintendents in the 26 school districts in his legislative district are intimidating educators into supporting his opponents, reports the Associated Press. Knox has received the endorsement of the Kansas Chamber PAC.

“He obviously doesn’t want public employees to have a voice in their government. And oddly enough he also gets paid by the people and he wants his voice heard, so I think that’s kind of a double standard on his part,” Shay said.

Meanwhile, Knox is the principal proponent of a new law that will allow all public employees, except school employees, to carry concealed weapons on the job without receiving gun safety training. Until now, public workers in most cases were allowed to carry guns in public office settings, but the law will enable them to have weapons out in the community when conducting official business, according to Lowry in a June 30 article for The Wichita Eagle.

Knox does not have an answer to whether property owners have the right to decide whether they want guns on their premises when public employees come on their property, but he did say that civil servants should be trusted.

The law will also stop school districts from banning airgun shooting clubs on campus based solely on the fact that airguns are used for the activity. Last year, a Derby, Kansas school district eliminated a shooting club over safety issues.