I have not met Bob Corkins, but I have read some of his articles. I published several on the Voice For Liberty in Wichita. He is in favor of school choice, and that is one thing that the education establishment, education bureaucrats, and teachers unions are very much opposed to. Never mind that allowing school choice could be the quickest and easiest thing we can do to improve schools in Kansas. As Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby has noted regarding school choice in Milwaukee:
From 1998-1999 onwards, the schools that faced the most competition from the vouchers improved student achievement radically–by about 0.6 of a standard deviation each year. That is an enormous, almost unheard-of, improvement. Keep in mind the schools in question had had a long history of low achievement. Yet they were able to get their act together quickly. The most threatened schools improved the most, not only compared to other schools in Milwaukee but also compared to other schools in the state of Wisconsin that served poor, urban students. … Milwaukee shows what public school administrators can tell you: Schools can improve if they are under serious competition.
I would like to hope that the appointment of Mr. Corkins will lead to thoughtful debate in Kansas about education instead of more self-serving pronouncements from the education establishment and teachers unions. But the shrill criticism does not give me hope.
From Karl Peterjohn, Kansas Taxpayers Network:
Bob Corkins is an excellent choice as the next commissioner for education in Kansas. He is one of the top experts on school finance in this state with excellent legislative contacts and he has his own children in public schools. A dirty little secret is that some of the government school officials children are attending or have attended private schools.
The government school establishment, the left wing Kansas press, the left wing elected officials have all responded with outrage to his appointment. The vile, hateful, and wildly inaccurate statements from tax ‘n spend legislators like Sen. John Vratil, Sen. Tony Hensley, Sen. Jean Schodorf, state school board member Bill Wagnon, and editorials in newspapers like the Wichita Eagle, the Lawrence Journal World, and the rest of the left-wing press in this state demonstrate their commitment to the state school monopoly.
The political Left in Kansas endorses big, bureaucratic government that provides a state monopoly and perpetual demands for tax dollars for the public schools. This education is often strong on indoctrination and weak on learning to read, write, and computing numbers without a calculator. Sadly, state monopoly performs poorly for many Kansas children and then their families must struggle to either fund an alternative education at home or in a non public school. Bob Corkins will be working with the majority of the Kansas state board of education to improve education in Kansas. His appointment is a breath of fresh air for Kansas education.
The following was written by Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler:
Elitist Arrogance in Kansas
This week a dear friend and colleague of mine, Mr. Bob Corkins, was selected as the new Education Commissioner of Kansas. He brings to the position a wealth of experience: a background running a small business, strong experience promoting a positive business climate in Kansas, a reputation as a leading education budget expert, his first-hand knowledge of the Legislative process for nearly a decade, his legal expertise per education lawsuits, and national exposure as a top-rate policy analyst.
For one who is to serve as CEO of a department of 200 employees –respond to the wishes of an elected 10-member State Board of Education — watch over 300 school districts — and account for more than $4.5 billion of taxpayer dollars — Bob would seem to be a perfect match.
But for the elitists in Kansas today — he is not qualified.
The excuses were many — he is not a superintendent or a classroom teacher. Heck, he’s not even a curriculum specialist or a master teacher. And he’s never even been the assistant secretary to the vice-principal of finance for the instruction of the English-as-a-second-Language students. And, by goodness, the guy doesn’t even have a Ph.D. in Education — or even a Master’s.
The education insiders have gone ballistic. One superintendent claims that Corkins doesn’t care about the children, because he doesn’t support a massive tax and spending increase (which, of course, would increase the superintendent’s personal pocketbook). You might tell Bob’s Boy Scout Troop that he doesn’t care about kids.
One Board of Education member — the husband of Governor Sebelius’ Secretary of the Department of Revenue — fell into a fit of babbling and make a nonsensical comparison of the appointment to the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina. And then he threw out some disparaging personal attack on the integrity and intelligence of Corkins.
The assault by the elected elitists continued next with attacks by Senator John Vratil, the all-powerful vice-chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Vratil compared Corkins’ appointment to making Saddam Hussein president of the United States. (That is a quote!) Bob Corkins a terrorist?!?
Of course, don’t you know, Mr. Vratil is obviously more qualified in education than Bob — for he has law degree from KU — hmm — the same school as Corkins. But don’t forget, as a trial lawyer Vratil has not only sued the state of Kansas (and lost) for more education spending — he also receives considerable income serving as counsel to various school districts. But rest assured, neither the Kansas Bar Association, nor the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications has found any conflict of interest between Senator Vratil serving as counsel to certain school districts and his votes for more taxpayer dollars to these districts.
Based on the elitist disgorging, it is abundantly clear that Bob Corkins is the perfect man for this job. We need an Education Commissioner who can work with the State Board of Education, the Legislature, the 300 elected school Boards, and the taxpayers of Kansas to develop a 21st Century Vision for education in Kansas. Instead of simply focusing on spending more money doing more of the same, it is time our government education system focused on real improvement, cost efficiency, and responsiveness to the needs of parents and students.
I call upon Senator John Vratil to do the right thing — apologize for your outrageous remarks. How do over-the-top insults, name-calling and personal attacks do anything to help the children of Kansas?