Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Kansas Education Follies Roadshow -- Hays Edition

Kansas State Education Commissioner Bob Corkins and State Board of Education member Connie Morris were in Hays, located in western Kansas, last night to sell their plan for "school choice" -- better known as vouchers and charter schools.

Red State Rabble corespondent CSA was on the scene, along with about 60 other Hays residents, many carrying protest signs, and provides this report:

According to a Kansas State Department of Education rep, as of late Monday morning the Morris-Corkins Western Kansas Song & Dance Tour was being well received in communities across District 5. [RSR readers may want to compare the KSDE rep's assessment with a report that at least some of the meetings were not warm and fuzzy at all, RSR]

Hays, the last stop in the show, changed that perception pretty quickly.

Corkins and Morris arrived right at 8:00 pm at the Fort Hays State University Memorial Union. They were greeted by folks holding a wide variety of less-than-welcoming signs:

· (No) Morris 2006
· (No) Vouchers
· (No) Supernatural Science
· The Religious Right is Wrong
· KBOE: Kansas Board of Evangelism
· KSDE: Kansas Still Doesn’t Evolve
· We didn’t Elect You, Corkins!
· Teach Science, Not Intelligent Design
· What’s Wrong With Kansas? – Morris & Corkins
· Teach Science in School, Religion in the Home

This 30-minute session was billed as a meet and greet by the Kansas State Department of Education, and as an introduction of Education Commissioner Bob Corkins to western Kansas. When Morris bragged that the new science standards, just adopted, were designed to encourage kids to think critically about evolution, she was greeted with hisses from the audience.

Corkins, whose bio would have classified him as at-risk said he’s a product of public schools and talked approvingly of his chemistry teacher who told him that quantum mechanics is “just a theory,” to which someone in the audience responded, “so is gravity.”

“Who paid for this trip to promote your agenda?” asked one questioner from the audience. “You’re a new employee, with a job to learn and you’ve spent a lot of money on a PR firm and consultants to help you learn it. Why are you here?”

“Communities we’ve visited have told us ‘thanks for being here,’” responded Corkins, “Would you rather we’d not make these trips?”

Morris and Corkins never answered the question of who’s paying for the trip.

“If tax money is going to private schools in the form of vouchers, will those schools be held accountable to the same standards as public schools?” asked another resident.

“No,” replied Corkins, “we want these schools to have the freedom to develop their own innovative curriculum. These vouchers are only designed for at-risk and special education students.”

More to come shortly.


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