Friday, June 09, 2006


Corkins' Big Plans

Controversial Kansas Education Commissioner Bob Corkins announced two new appointments and a reorganization of the department the other day. He was immediately criticised by moderates on the board who say it's unheard of for a commissioner to announce appointments before they've been considered by the board. Questions were also raised about the need for the new division of "Innovations" Corkins wants to create as part of his reorganization plan.

An editorial in today's Lawrence Journal-World asks, "Does the education department really need a new School Innovation Division? Corkins said the division would look for successful school programs and determine whether similar programs could be used in other schools. It seems that every division of the education department already would be doing that job in their particular area — in a way that would be more efficient and constructive than channeling such efforts through a separate division. There also are concerns about what other department functions might have to be cut back to provide funding for the new division.

It's no surprise that Corkins went ahead without the board's formal approval. Before being appointed commissioner, he ran a one-man office. It is somewhat unexpected that the former anti-tax lobbyist is now proposing another layer of bureaucracy at the Department of Education.

The board's right-wing majority is likely to approve Corkins' appointments and reorganization no matter what the moderate minority says. Voters might want to ask if the majority -- which opposed increased funding for Kansas public schools, says it favors a streamlined bureaucracy, and asks school to cut costs to the bone -- plans to follow its own advice.


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