Kobach’s plan to decrease school administration not a solution to education budget crisis

Meredith Comas, Online Editor-in-Chief

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As we get closer to the general elections this November, the race for the next governor of Kansas has reached its most vulnerable and intense point in any campaign: pleasing the public eye.

Of course, this means debates, county visits and as much good publicity as possible for the candidates: democratic nominee Sen. Laura Kelly, republican nominee Kris Kobach and independent Greg Orman.

By far the most public and, at times unrestrained, debate in Kansas politics is the Kansas State fair debate.

At this year’s debate, taking place on Sept. 8, one of the biggest issues besides overall taxes, as well as the state budget and spending, was education, which has been a disaster since Brownback’s infamous tax-cuts back in 2012.

On this matter, Kobach falsely claimed as an example that a Wichita school had 12 administrators. During the debate, Kobach said “Why does a school district, or a high school, need 12 assistant principals? We have got to stop spending so much money on administration and spend it instead in the classroom — on the teacher salaries and on the computers and books.”

His statement about the number of administrators is false, according to the Wichita school district. Kobach combined Wichita North and East high schools, rather than taking into account that the schools are separate.

It is the agreement of The Mentor editorial board that, first, the Kobach campaign needs to find reliable facts before making official statements. Not just that, but they, as well as the state, need to stop holding all schools to the same standards and account for budgetary and administrative need based on the varying factors in differing Kansas schools.

It is important to note, Kobach’s statement is not a new sentiment for him. His name is known all over Kansas for this exact anti-school administration attitude as well as for his strong support of anti-immigration, tax reform and Trump politics.

According to his website, 53 cents of every tax dollar that is sent to schools actually goes into classrooms, the rest being “swallowed up” by administration and “other programs.” Kobach, a Harvard, Yale and Oxford graduate who has never taught in public education, even provides a data bank link to a government report on school spending in Kansas from 2005 to 2017.

Interestingly enough, the graph provided via this report shows that the biggest spender of tax dollars — taking up 52.92 percent of education spending — is not administration, it’s “instruction.” However, it gives no definition of what instruction actually is.

In fact, in the last 12 years, the average difference between student and staff spending and administrative spending is only $147. However, between student and staff spending and “instruction,” the average difference is $5588. That’s no small number.

Then, add in the unknown spending, simply referred to as “other current spending,” which averaged $928. Add the two unknown spending areas’ — instruction and other spending — averages together, and the difference between them and average teacher/student spending is $5535.

So why is Kobach claiming administration is the problem when, in reality, the biggest offender of tax dollar waste is in mystery spendings? How can we blame administration for “swallowing” taxpayer money when the reality is, we, let alone Kobach, don’t even know where over half of education spending is going?

In the end, we all must realize that without administration, our schools wouldn’t run. Look at Manhattan High — a 6A high school with two campuses and individual grade levels made up of over 400 students each. Imagine Principal Greg Hoyt dealing with every student issue, as well as running two campuses and a full staff. Without an administrator for each grade level, it would be chaos. But for a 4A high school, this system might work.

Every school, in and outside of Kansas, requires a different set of needs, and thus a different number of staff and administration to meet these needs. Budget and administration should be decided based on need, rather than being decided by putting every high school on the same level and holding them to the same standard. Politicians and potential future leaders of our state should seek truth and honesty in their facts, not bias based on personal agenda.



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