Bob Corkins at 6 Months

The Wichita Eagle offers a review of Bob Corkins’ tenure as state school superintendent.

“I came into this position expecting a huge challenge, and it has been exactly that. It’s been six months of pretty intense work,” he said.

With opinions on education splinted on questions of finance, curriculum, and governance, how could be otherwise for Corkins? Or anyone, for that matter?

But of course Corkins bears one additional burden: he has asked if some schooling might better be delivered through vouchers and charter schools. That, in the view of the Kansas Alliance for Education (quoted in the article) and others, makes him an enemy of education.

Says a KAE spokesman, of Corkins: “He came in with a pre-existing bias against public education, and some of his activities since then have demonstrated that he still holds those opinions.”

Without passing judgment on Corkins’ actions in office, let us say this: “public education” as we know it — tying money for students to one particular school district, and brooking no competition — does not always serve the public. Likewise, expanding the opportunities for students to learn from a variety of providers will end up as a boon to the goal of educating the public.

Another case of erroneous thinking is offered by SBOE member Bill Wangon, who says:

“He is driving all professional staff out of the (Education) Department, and he embarked on a fool’s errand to expand charter schools and exempt them from accountability.”

If charter schools aren’t up to the job, they are closed. That is accountability. What happens to other public schools if they aren’t up to the job? They get more money.

How is that an accountability system?

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