In response to Kathleen Sebelius calling for a reorganization of the state Board of Education, and her comparison between the Board’s notoriety and that of fellow Kansan Fred Phelps, Ken Willard told the Capitol Journal:
“What is she doing about it? What kind of communicating are we doing across the country about the great things in Kansas?”
I asked him what he felt he had done to improve the image of the state, but he has not chosen to respond. I also asked his opponent, a former Chair of the Board of Regents as well as a teacher and a state legislator, what he thought of Sebelius’ idea and what Sebelius and the Board had done for Kansas’ image, and Jack Wempe replied:
This Governor has received a great deal of national attention and has certainly represented Kansas well on the national stage. The Board, on the other hand, has received primarily negative attention on that same national stage. New players, with new eyes and new abilities, will correct much of that negative image in a relatively short period of time. The Governor appears to be trying to open a dialogue on the current governance system. Her purpose, as always, is to promote and improve Kansas K‑12 education. How can one argue with that?
Indeed. And while the idea was soundly mocked by pretty much everyone, Sebelius did put a Kansas billboard in Times Square, which seems like a solid way of “communicating [what] we are doing across the country about the great things in Kansas.” But any mention of that, or indeed of anything positive about Kansas, inevitably must mention Phelps and the Board of Ed.