Kansas and regional news

Kansas and regional news

Corkins to ask for $150M for state’s schools

Commissioner’s plan falls short of studies’ recommendations

February 9, 2006

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Though a recent study urged lawmakers to pump at least $400 million into Kansas schools, State Education Commissioner Bob Corkins said Wednesday he'll ask for only $150 million.

Whether the lesser amount will satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court remains to be seen.

Corkins said he hoped it would.

"There is no criteria by which to judge success in meeting the court's expectations," he said, addressing a noon University Forum meeting at Ecumenical Christian Ministries, 1204 Oread Ave. "That's part of the problem."

He added, "The amount we've recommended this year would be consistent with the multiyear approach suggested by the governor and others."

Alan Rupe, an attorney representing the school districts that sued the state, disagreed.

The $150 million, he said, "falls way, way short of what will satisfy the plaintiffs in the case and, more importantly, the court."

Dave Raffel, with Kansas Families United for Public Education, left, addresses a question to Bob Corkins, state board of education commissioner. At right is Kathy Cook, executive director of Kansas Families United for Public Education. Corkins spoke Wednesday at the University Forum at Ecumenical Christian Ministries, 1204 Oread Ave.

Dave Raffel, with Kansas Families United for Public Education, left, addresses a question to Bob Corkins, state board of education commissioner. At right is Kathy Cook, executive director of Kansas Families United for Public Education. Corkins spoke Wednesday at the University Forum at Ecumenical Christian Ministries, 1204 Oread Ave.

The lawsuit, he said, is driven by a pair of recent studies that found Kansas schools were underfunded by between $499 million and $568 million.

"Those are the goal posts we're dealing with," Rupe said. "What Mr. Corkins is proposing is a ball that won't stay on the tee."

But Corkins asked the 50 people at the University Forum - a mix of university retirees and students - to look at positives within the $150 million rather than dwell on the inadequacies.

Almost half the additional funding, if spent as he proposes, would be used to underwrite all-day kindergarten, he said. School districts would receive an additional $98 per pupil.

The $150 million proposal, he said, was developed and approved by the Kansas State Board of Education.

Responding to questions from the audience, Corkins:

¢ Defended his qualifications, noting his law degree required as much time and study as a doctoral degree in education. Corkins had neither taught nor held an administrative position in a school before being named commissioner.

Since taking office in October, Corkins said he's not felt like he was in over his head.

¢ Defended the debate over whether to require students to "opt in" to taking sex education classes, rather than allowing them to "opt out."

"I think (opting in) will increase parental involvement - and the more parental involvement you have, the better," he said.

Whether the change would affect student behavior, he said, "is an open question."

¢ Warned that recent changes in the state's science standards have been misunderstood.

"There is nothing in the standards that promotes the teaching of creationism, intelligent design or any other alternative theory," Corkins said. "What the standards do is ask the science teachers to point out to students the criticisms of evolution whenever science is not backed as fact."

Evolution, he said, is clearly "the most well-researched and prevailing theory we have, but you don't teach it as fact when it isn't - you try to stimulate critical thinking skills on the part of the students."

Austin Turney, a former Lawrence school board member, bristled at Corkins' defense of the science standards.

"(Kansas University) Chancellor (Robert) Hemenway has said the theory of evolution is the underpinning of all the biological sciences," he said. "What (Corkins is) saying: 'raise doubts and move on.' I'm not sure that's useful at all."

Before taking questions, Corkins spent several minutes praising the state's move toward "growth modeling," a teaching approach that analyzes each student's success rather than lumping them in groups.

Turney didn't buy that, either.

"The premise that underlies 'growth modeling' is a reduction of class sizes," he said. "I don't see the money coming in to do that."

Neither did Corkins' remarks impress Kathy Cook, executive director for Kansas Families United for Public Education.

"It's was the same old run-around," she said. "Outside of all-day kindergarten, we didn't hear concrete ideas for improving student achievement."

Comments

FastEddie 9 years, 2 months ago

Corkins spent several minutes praising the state's move toward "growth modeling," a teaching approach that analyzes each student's success rather than lumping them in groups.

This sounds awesome! But how do high school teachers do this when they see 120 students every day? Would elementary teachers do this for each student in each subject? Some students may show more growth in one subject than another. Twenty elementary students times 6 different subjects would be 120 individual maps.
It sounds like all teachers will have to have 120 individualized lesson plans every day to meet everyone's needs.
This may sound like a lot, but I guess the extra $150 million that schools will be receiving ought to make up for it. I am sure that any good lawyer (no need to know how schools work or what teachers already have to do every day) can see that this is the best plan ever. It will make Kansas #1--at something.

Jamesaust 9 years, 2 months ago

"There is no criteria by which to judge success in meeting the court's expectations," says Bob, hoping that a sum one-quarter of that established by the Legislature's self-selected research studies showed might be acceptable.

Bob, perhaps, the Supreme Court hasn't set exact criteria in recognition that they are not particularly any more skilled to do so than the Legislature, the Governor, or the BOE, and they hope they can just get the Three to do their respective jobs themselves.

Bob, I believe that when push comes to shove the Supreme Court will reluctantly do your job for you. How unfortunate for all involved. Luckily, given your inapt qualifications, the average member of the Supreme Court is at least not less qualfied than you are to perform this task.

Bob, if you refuse to do your job, please sign your $100k+ paycheck back over to the Treasury and go home.

FastEddie 9 years, 2 months ago

¢ Defended his qualifications, noting his law degree required as much time and study as a doctoral degree in education. Corkins had neither taught nor held an administrative position in a school before being named commissioner.

I know someone with a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction. It required as much time and study as a medical degree. I am sure that he would love to do brain surgery on Corky--after all, they are both advanced degrees.

usaschools 9 years, 2 months ago

The 4th study in a row to recommend a total financial need of at least $400 million and Corkins can't read the writing on the wall. Gosh, I'm sure glad to know he spent as much time earning his law degree as it would take to get a doctorate. I spent as much time earning my degree as it would take to earn a law degree! By Corkins' logic, that means I am qualified to be a lawyer! YeeHaw! I guess I don't need that law degree after all! Maybe I should be attorney general! It will be a sweet day when a new board is elected and Corkins is looking for a new job.

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