Amid the bluster of Kris Kobach’s basic message about public education funding in Kansas — the courts have no business approving funding, we need a constitutional amendment, $500 million over five years is way too much — he makes solid points about accountability.
But during Friday’s Republican gubernatorial debate in Atchison, the secretary of state struck a tone-deaf chord.
“Look, when I grew up, I went to Washburn Rural High School in Topeka,” he said. “Back then it was a 5A school and it was a pretty shabby building, a gravel parking lot and my English classes were in a double-wide trailer out behind the building. We had tattered books.
“And somehow I managed to graduate and you know what? I got into Harvard and I did just fine. So apparently I didn’t need to have a supercomputer in every student’s hands. I didn’t need to have a big, shiny new building. You don’t need to be spending money just to spend money to say that that’s going to improve student performance.”
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Hard to say how many Kansans in the Class of 1984 accompanied Kobach to Harvard or any other Ivy League school. Safe to say not many.
Kobach didn’t need a supercomputer in his hands. Good for him. But why should today’s students not have every educational advantage available to them?
Take it from a fellow 1984 Kansas high school graduate who also had English classes in annexes with (sometimes) tattered books: We should give every Kansas child every single tool in the box to ensure they have the best chance at success.
Educational assets have come a long way since 1984. Computers, tablets and other smart devices aren’t a luxury. Students across Kansas deserve the best that taxpayers can give them.