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Schmidt's campaign veered to denounce the governor's record of public education in Kansas.

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TOPEKA — Republican gubernatorial nominee Derek Schmidt on Monday called out Democratic governors as advocates for public education, amid evidence of declining student achievement and mounting mental health challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rejected the position of Laura Kelly.

Schmidt, the state’s attorney general, also blamed Kelly for the lack of teachers in the state’s classrooms.

Kelly’s response to the March 2020 national health crisis was to make Kansas the first state to close school buildings and transition to online learning.

“Wherever I go, parents in Kansas express immense sadness, frustration, worry, and sometimes anger at the ongoing harm to their children from Governor Kelly’s school lockdowns and orders. I’m making a statement,” Schmidt said.

Kelly’s re-election campaign was endorsed by one of her predecessors, Republican Governor Sam Brownback, as her administration restored financial stability to Kansas’ K-12 schools after years of underfunding. I am emphasizing that The state’s public education system has been fully funded for four years, she said, according to the Kansas Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Kansas Constitution’s educational obligations.

“I ran for governor in 2018 because I know that getting our schools properly funded is the first step in ensuring our children get the world-class education they deserve. Because I was there,” Kelly said. “The next generation is our future workforce pipeline, and our schools are key to meeting the needs of our growing economy.”

Kelly said Monday it was approved by the Education First Shawnee Mission, a parent advocacy group associated with Johnson County’s Shawnee Mission School District.

Additionally, since taking office, the governor said he has worked to transform 26 community mental health centers into accredited clinics with the capacity to treat mental health and substance abuse crises through integrated physical and behavioral care. She expanded the state’s ability to provide mental health care to people in Kansas closer to home by bringing new youth facilities online. She also expanded her mental health intervention program from her nine districts to her 67 districts, where she invested $33 million to serve nearly 5,000 students from 1,708 students annually. did.

In contrast, Schmidt said Kelly should not be called the state’s “education governor.”

“She made a promise to be an advocate for students, especially to improve mental health outcomes. He has done more damage to children than any governor,” Schmidt said.

Other states are allowing students to continue in-person education during the pandemic, Schmidt said.In Kansas, COVID-19 has been linked to 8,935 deaths and more than 835,000 infections. doing.

He said the Kansas Department of Education reported a 1.5 percentage point drop in student math proficiency from 2019 to 2021, and a 6.1 percentage point increase in the percentage of students with the lowest math scores. increase. Reading proficiency decreased by 0.7 points in the highest stratum and increased by 0.9 points in the lowest stratum.

The state’s ranking on the school’s mental health scorecard has risen from 8th in 2015 to 33rd nationally, Schmidt said.

Meanwhile, the State Department of Education reported in July that 4% of teaching positions statewide were vacant. This equates to a shortage of 1,400 educators.