KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is taking on the topic of race and justice, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and protests around the world, and some local education leaders believe it's a move in the right direction.
This week, Kelly announced a new commission that will study racial equity and justice across the state. In a statement released online, Kelly said, in part, "As Governor, I am committed to ensuring this latest tragedy does not fade into the next news cycle. Communities of color do not have the luxury of time for leaders to address these issues."
Shannon Portillo, assistant vice chancellor of Academic Affairs at the University of Kansas Edwards Campus, said the commission is a "good step forward for the future of Kansas."
Anthony Lewis, Lawrence School District superintendent and a member of the commission, said the first task will be "policing in law enforcement throughout the state" and some practices in individual cities.
"Ultimately, we will focus on more systemic issues, systemic racism and disrupting those systems of inequity," Lewis said.
Some items, according to Lewis, need to be addressed today, while others will be more long-term.
"There are some things that we need to put in place that will be in place for individuals that will come long after us," Lewis said.
He also said he believes the committee could give a voice to those who want to be heard.
"This is a long term commitment until 2022" Lewis said. "I am just looking forward to just getting to the work of putting systems in place, dismantling systemic racism."
For the next several months, the committee will hold listening sessions across the state to hear about changes Kansans want to law enforcement.
Then the committee will submit recommendations to the governor in December.
Commission members want Kansans to know they are working to make a difference.
"People who have had engagements with the justice system later in life -- We want to hear from people who have had experiences and what we can learn from them as far as our report as we need," Portillo said.
Topeka Public Schools Superintendent Tiffany Anderson will co-chair the commission alongside Portillo.