The Journal World sent both candidates for governor a group of questions about schools. QJim Barnett, asked for two or three things he’d want to change in the schools, couldn’t think of any educational issues:
“Students today spend more time at school than ever before. At the same time, childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate. I will lead the fight to develop a unified approach to provide healthier foods in our schools. We must also look a possible ways to restructure the school day to increase physical activity to deal with childhood obesity among young Kansans.”
Governor Sebelius’s answer is longer, but she emphasizing increasing performance by working with local districts to increase accountability, and pushed for expanded pre‑k and all-day kindergarten. Both come out against NCLB in its current form. But the first question is the best. The Journal-World asks “Will you promise to protect the level of education funding provided for in the three-year school funding plan approved this year by the Legislature and approved by the Kansas Supreme Court? Please answer yes or no, and explain why.”
Sebelius says yes, and explains why. Barnett never quite says yes, and doesn’t say why he would or wouldn’t.
This is exactly how Sebelius won last time. Her opponent wasn’t saying he would cut funding, just wasn’t saying how he’d balance between raising taxes and cutting school funding. People took the hint, and independent groups promoted “candidates who will fund our public schools.” Everyone knew that meant Sebelius, though it helped in state legislative races as well.