Kansas State Board of Education Questionnaire (Responses)

The Early Literacy Roundtable released on Oct. 8, 2018, results of a questionnaire in which candidates for the Kansas State Board of Education responded to questions about early education. All ten current board members and any candidates for state board received the questionnaire.

Respondents to the questionnaire include:

  • Jean Clifford, candidate for election from District 5

  • Ruth Goff, candidate for election from District 3

  • James Hannon, candidate for election from District 7

  • Jim Porter, current board member and candidate for reelection from District 9

  • Michael Powell, candidate for election from District 1

  • Janet Waugh, current board member and candidate for reelection from District 1

Below are their responses.


Priority 1: School Readiness


Do you support providing early childhood education, defined by the Kansas State Board of Education as including the continuum of birth to age eight, for all Kansas children?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I believe this is very important and support programs and policies that promote early childhood education.”

  • James A Hannon said, “I will continue to learn more about early childhood education and will continue to be a strong advocate for it.”

  • Ruth E Goff said, “continue to promote the importance of early childhood education.”

  • Jim Porter said, “recognition of the importance of early childhood from school leaders. Cooperation with all agencies that have jurisdiction over early childhood programs to develop both financial and technical assistance resources.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “I will continue my support. Early childhood education is very important for each child.”


Will you support funding for universal preschool?

5 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford, who replied Yes, said, “I believe funding preschool education programs is important to helping make those programs available to students in our communities.”

  • Ruth E Goff, who replied Yes, said, she would “research the topic of universal preschool.”

  • James A Hannon, who replied Yes, said, “I will support funding for universal preschool but would expect that the needs of students will be addressed on an individual basis as appropriate.”

  • Jim Porter, who replied Yes, said, “commitment of each community and cooperation with other agencies to provide financial and human resource support”

  • Michael Powell, who replied No, said, “resources should be applied where children need it the most and they get what they need. KPP already provides eligibility for 3 year old to K eligible. Parents are still our most important teachers, particularly at these ages. I do support programs that target parents as teachers and build early parent-teacher partnerships during these ages.”

  • Janet Waugh, who replied Yes, said, “I have supported funding for early childhood education for years. I will continue to support this by sharing the importance of this program with the legislature and encouraging them to provide the funding needed to offer this extremely important program.”


Will you support funding for programs such as the Kansas Preschool Program and 4-year-old at-risk children so that school districts and community preschools can provide early childhood programming?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes. Of the 6, 5 said they would support it for all children, not just at-risk youth.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I believe in supporting such initiatives to make preschool programs available in our communities.”

  • Ruth E Goff said, she would “review existing programs of Early Childhood in various areas.”

  • James A Hannon said, “I believe in quality school and community partnerships that are provided equitably, address the individual needs of students and are appropriately aligned with state and school standards. Delivery and outcomes should be monitored by the schools. I am and would continue to be an advocate for these programs.”

  • Jim Porter, who supports funding the programs, but only for at-risk youth, not for all children, said, “recognition of the importance of early childhood education and the long range impact it has on student development. Additional financial and human resources.”

  • Michael Powell said, “asked and answered. Kansas is second in the nation for failing to graduate children out of poverty. Early targeted programs for at-risk kids are critical to enable them to have a fighting chance and to be at or near grade level learning. I would have difficulty supporting any program expansion that would put these critical student outcomes at risk.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “I have supported approving these early childhood programs and will continue my support.”


Do you support policies and funding to promote partnerships between schools and community-based organizations to provide equitable high-quality early childhood programs?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I believe in supporting initiatives that promote partnerships between schools and communities.”

  • Ruth E Goff said, she would “continue to review and build relationships with schools and community programs.”

  • James A Hannon said, “I would support these partnerships so long as they are provided equitably, address the individual needs of students, and are appropriately aligned with state and school standards. Delivery and outcomes should be monitored by the schools.”

  • Jim Porter said, “breaking down of jurisdictional and privacy barriers to cooperation.”

  • Michael Powell said, “while it appears to be improving, our libraries are an underused and necessary part of the solution. Maybe we need to relook how they interact with communities that are challenged. Pack horse librarians should be an inspiration to us all.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “I will continue my support for these partnerships which are extremely important to early childhood programs.”


Do you support the mandated Kindergarten Readiness Framework tool put in place by the Kansas State Board of Education?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I believe in establishing policies and practices that support kindergarten readiness such as the Kindergarten Readiness Framework.”

  • James A Hannon said, “research has clearly shown the positive impact of well managed programs that ensure school readiness. I am an advocate of the Kindergarten Readiness Framework.”

  • Jim Porter said, “if you are talking about the Ages and Stages assessment I support it. It is a cooperative assessment involving families to see where each child is. It is necessary to know where each child is if we are going to design programs that meet the needs of each individual student. The action needs is training for those interpreting the individualized data and for those developing strategies to meet the needs of each student.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “I will continue my support. This is an important tool for teachers and provides them with information they can use to better serve the needs of each child.”


Should Kansas schools be required to employ a universal screener, like DIBELS, as a standard practice to identify children at risk for dyslexia?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I believe a screener should be utilized to determine if students may be at risk for dyslexia.”

  • James A Hannon said, “I would support the use of some credible universal screener such as DIBELS.”

  • Jim Porter said, “some children come to school already reading well above expected levels. Others pick up reading quickly while others struggle. We need to develop strategies to identify those struggling early but may not need to screen those who obviously are already reading or picking up the skills without difficulty.”

  • Michael Powell said, “dyslexia being over represented as a reading disorder, and early detection being critical to potentially treating this reading disability, we should require the use of whatever evidenced based tools are at our disposal.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “I am anxiously waiting for the report & recommendation from the committee that is working on this issue. It is my understanding we should have these soon. At that time we can take action.”


Priority 2: School Outcomes and Accountability


6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I believe in supporting KESA policies to ensure our schools continually seek to improve to meet students needs and promote their success.”

  • James A Hannon said, “I do support KESA at this point. As with any program, new or old, it deserves continuous monitoring to assure that it produces the desired outcomes without being overly burdensome to local districts. Its key advantage is that it requires the district to align themselves to the same desired outcomes, P-K to 12. Barring any unforeseen issues, I will continue to support KESA. I find it no more complex than QPA and its focus is much more relevant.”

  • Jim Porter said, “KESA is a work in progress and it may need to be modified as we get further into the process. I certainly support the general philosophy. OVT members and chairs need to be well trained and completely objective when performing their duties.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “I will continue my support. We should continue phasing in our districts until each one is participating.”


Do you support the continuation of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project and specifically each of its five categories: 1) School readiness, 2) Social emotional learning, 3) Individual plans of study, 4) High school graduation and 5) Post-secondary success rate?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I support programs and policies that advance these goals.”

  • James A Hannon said, “I will continue to support each of the five Kansans Can categories, especially school readiness and social and emotional learning. I support individual plans of study but I question implementation and management. I do not want the actual process to get in the way of the desired outcomes. Schools have always used graduation rates as a measure of success. I think that is reasonable as long as we ensure that graduates have achieved the essential outcomes required, not just the minimum number of days in attendance. As far as secondary success rate, the measurement is quite reasonable as long as we recognize the limitation of opportunities. It will be difficult to measure student success on the basis of "certificates" earned if there are only limited certificate programs. Many really do not qualify students to enter a job in Kansas at a living wage. I will support the five areas to be assessed with reservations.”

  • Jim Porter said, “the entire redesign process was developed after numerous community meetings where citizens identified what a successful graduate looks like. We must continue to support and provide resources to fully each of the outcomes.”

  • Michael Powell said, “I support Kansans Can as long overdue, but do have concerns that we have not clearly established baselines and interim metrics that will allow us assess and adjust the program as we reengineer our children's system of education. We cannot wait twelve years to see if a good idea has failed to help improve our students' opportunities and outcomes. A baseline is essential to measurement in any system.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “this is a great program and I am very supportive.”


6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I believe this can be an effective method to ensure all students needs are being met.”

  • James A Hannon said, “all students have different needs and may require different strategies. I will support a Multi-Tier System of Supports.”

  • Jim Porter said, “as each student is different, processes need to be in place to meet the individual needs. One size instruction certainly does not fit all.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “I have supported this since it's inception. It is a great opportunity to serve every student.”


Priority 3: Supporting Children and Families


Do you support afterschool and summer school for high-poverty school districts?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I would support initiatives such as these that help to meet needs of students in high poverty districts.”

  • James A Hannon said, “I support both of the above opportunities when there is sufficient support and willingness to participate. These programs should truly enrich learning opportunities for students and should be very strong on social-emotional development. They ought to rely on interdisciplinary project based learning. Simply because one is poor does not mean that he/she is not intelligent. It may mean that they have not had many of the opportunities other students have had. Afterschool and summer programs can help fill the opportunity gap.”

  • Jim Porter said, he would “advocate for appropriate funding for these programs. Actually I support afterschool and summer programs for all school districts but many schools had to cease providing these programs due to lack of funding.”

  • Michael Powell said, “both of these programs provide targeted opportunities to expand Social-Emotional learning programs.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “as a representative of many high poverty students, I am very aware of the challenges they face. These programs would serve these students well; however, this is another area that will require more funding. I would support encouraging the legislature to provide additional funding to serve these students.”


Do you support systematic alignment of in-school instruction and curriculum with the following PK-3 out-of-school programs: Afterschool, Summer Programs and Family Engagement and Support Programs?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes.


Do you support the revised Kansas Social-Emotional and Character Development Standards (SECD) as recently adopted by the Kansas State Board of Education?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I believe in supporting such efforts to address social-emotional and character development needs of students.”

  • James A Hannon said, “I am an advocate for social-emotional development. I do wish that schools would do some kind of ACE screening when a student first enters school and perhaps at other appropriate times.”

  • Jim Porter said, “social emotional and character issues are barriers to student success. Mental health is critical to success. Business leaders have reported that they want employees who give back to their communities. Giving back and helping others is a necessary component of character development.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “I will continue my support. This is an extremely important part of our Vision and should be imbedded throughout the curriculum. We also need more counselors, school psychs & social workers in our schools. All of these cost money and I support encouraging the legislature to provide the funding.”


Do you support systematic alignment of in-school instruction and curriculum with afterschool programs that build career and college readiness?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I believe in promoting alignment of instruction and curriculum with such programs to help students become college and career ready.”

  • Ruth E Goff said, she would “listen to and review concerns as well as seek input from educators and community.”

  • James A Hannon said, “I am an advocate. It is hard for me to understand why an after-school program would not be aligned with at least some of the desired outcomes of the in-school instruction. I see this particularly with social-emotional outcomes and even civic engagement.”

  • Jim Porter said, “first of all I don't like the term career and college readiness. For years we have valued college above other options for students. Research indicates that 71% of the jobs in Kansas will require something about a high school diploma but half of those jobs require something other than a bachelors degree. I support the concept but prefer that it be called post secondary attainment.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “we need to encourage local districts to work closely with their afterschool programs so they are aligned.”


Do you believe family engagement, defined as a shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to reaching out to engage families in meaningful ways and in which families are committed to actively supporting their children's learning and development, is important to the success of children in our public schools in Kansas?

6 out of 6 respondents said yes.

When asked what action they would take on the issue…

  • Jean Clifford said, “I believe schools, families and community organizations all need to work together to ensure our students success.”

  • James A Hannon said, “this is rather optimistic goal but one that is worthy of effort. I support efforts to try appropriate ways to get parents actively involved in their student's education. Some parents are involved, some would be more involved with new efforts by the school, and some parents will not become involved. We should continually strive to do the best we can and celebrate what successes we can achieve.”

  • Jim Porter said, this is “not just important but critical. We have to develop ways to make schools not only more welcoming but also more accessible to parents and agencies.”

  • Janet Waugh said, “as a former PTA member who was active for many years serving in local, county & state positions, I am well aware of the value of family engagement. It takes all of us working together to insure each student's success. I have always supported family engagement and will continue to do so.”


Please share information about any other early literacy issue that has not been mentioned here.

  • Jean Clifford said, “I strongly believe in early childhood education and understand how critical it is to students success in school. I support the KS SBOE policies and programs that have been developed to help ensure student literacy and success in school.”

  • James A Hannon said, “a literate student must learn "how to learn" and that process should be essential to instruction at all levels.”


Thank you to all who participated. For more information on how to get involved with the Early Literacy Roundtable, please email info@earlyliteracyroundtable.org