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.”
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.