Friday, December 01, 2006


Corkins Greatest Contribution

When the editorial board of the Topeka Capitol Journal says Bob Corkins "deserves credit for his graceful exit" it's hard to disagree with them. That last act may well prove to be Corkins' greatest contribution to education in the state.

But when the Capitol Journal says they have serious questions about the "surge of money now swamping public education" and suggests "that the new board not discard the Abrams-Corkins approach totally, but that it extract the good, and perhaps provide taxpayers with an improved investment on return in the end," we think they go badly wrong.

Districts that are struggling to educate an influx of immigrants attracted to low-paying jobs in Kansas' meatpacking industry will be surprised to learn they've been swamped with money. Other districts, even in affluent communities, have had to make painful cuts in education in recent years, and parents have had to shoulder more and more of the burden of a free public education to make up the difference between what the legislature would approve and what education really costs.

The cavalier use of taxpayer money for questionable travel -- by Connie Morris and John Bacon -- shows that right wing board members see themselves not so much as stewards of the public's money, but as recipients of a personal slush fund.

More important, the Abrams-Corkins approach was not really designed to provide taxpayers with an improved investment. It was ideologically designed to privatize public education in Kansas by taking control of the approval process for charter schools from local school boards. The radical right also wanted, but could not get, approval to use vouchers as a method of defunding public schools and handing taxpayer money over to dubious private sector providers.

It's the same sort of improved return on investment that we got when publicly owned utilities were privatized and turned over to Enron. When duties normally performed by the military were turned over to Halliburton through no-bid contracts in Iraq. And when many of the same war profiteers who made money "rebuilding" Iraq were set loose on our own Gulf Coast to rebuild after Katrina.

The Abrams-Corkins plan was the beginnings of a little K Street connection in Kansas. A source of public money for private business that would pay off in political contributions to ultra-right politicians. Ultimately, it was a plan to keep the right in power in Kansas forever.

And, if the voters had not stepped in, this plan would have had the same disastrous results for education in Kansas as it had for the utility rate-payers in California and the victims of Katrina many of whom are still living in trailers more than a year after the storm flooded New Orleans.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?