BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett
Public education administrators knocking down huge salaries at the expense of taxpayers, teachers and students are downright apoplectic at the thought of Chris McDaniel as United States Senator. The Cochran campaign has recruited Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Commissioner Hank Bounds and new State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright to scare teachers into voting for Cochran over the issue of education funding.
One might think the discussion over education in the Senate race had been renewed by some new proposal or statement by the candidates. But of all people that might find a way to raise education funding as an issue in the U.S. Senate runoff, it was lobbyist and former Governor Haley Barbour who actually did. The hypocrisy of his involvement in a discussion of public education funding isn’t lost on folks.
This new found concern isn’t about education, it’s about dividing and conquering the voters.
The brain trust for the Cochran camp took one look at where they lost, particularly Desoto and Jackson counties, and began trying to develop ways to scare voters there. Add the new tactic of “expanding the electorate”, a euphemism for appealing to liberal Democrats, and you can see where the education scare tactics came into play.
Interesting that Cochran’s people couldn’t find a teacher to do their dirty work. I don’t know. What I do know is recruiting the two top paid government establishment education people in the state to do the dirty work for the Cochran Campaign probably wasn’t the best idea.
Bounds receives $341,250 per year in salary and a $25,000 annual housing allowance. (Does the $341K not buy a sufficient house?) Wright is paid $300,000 per year.
That’s $666,250 of taxpayers money paid out from education funds for just the two of them. That’s enough money to pay the annual salaries of ten college professors in Mississippi, or enough money to pay the starting salary of twenty K-12 teachers.
That figure doesn’t include the huge salaries of many of the other local district Superintendents across the state, many of whom are paid more than any of our statewide office holders, including the governor.
Wonder what they’re worried about all of the sudden?
Could it be these highly paid administrators think that Cochran will suddenly help with the education reforms needed to pull Mississippi student’s achievement off the bottom? Student achievement in Mississippi has been on the bottom Cochran’s entire career.
There is a reason people like Hank Bounds and Carey Wright fear the loss of federal regulation and federal control. When the state has more control over it’s own education they lose the ability to control the federal-state government power structure that has made them wealthy.
Education and healthcare are the two sectors of the economy that have seen the highest rate of inflation over the past decade. What do education and healthcare have in common? The answer is: government. The public sector basically runs these two sectors of the economy. As economist Stephen Moore writes, it’s no secret why these industries are such failures at curtailing costs.
Tuition at colleges continues to skyrocket. Just yesterday, it was reported that the state Community College Board had approved higher tuitions at most of Misissippi’s community colleges beginning this Fall.
Across the country, tuition has nearly tripled in the past 20 years. The same is true of public K-12 schools. Per student spending has roughly doubled in the past 15 years. Yet test scores have been flat, and in some cases have drifted down.
A systematic reduction in federal regulation that reduces the need for more money paid to administrative services will put more and more money in the classrooms at the community level. The way to get there is through cutting administrative spending at the federal level and to wean states off of these regulations through block grant funding that allow communities, teachers and parents to address their unique needs.
What is needed in the Delta isn’t what is needed in Jackson County. Likewise, problems that need to be addressed in Wyoming aren’t the same problems that need to be addressed in Mississippi. Empowering parents and teachers is the only way to improve student achievement and prepare the next generations to have a positive impact on society and the economy.
But, don’t expect people like Hank Bounds, Carey Wright or any other person paid by the education bureaucracy to tell you that. The only way they get to keep their exorbitant salaries is to give lip service to parental involvement, while doing everything they can through regulation to shut parents out and overburden teachers with paperwork.
One size does not fit all. Cochran’s camp and his friends on the government dole just want you to think it does.
Chris McDaniel has worked to put parents and teachers at the forefront of education by giving them choices at the local and state level. He has introduced legislation that allows students a way out of low performing districts. He has fought to reduce overburdensome regulation and administrative glut. He has fought against the latest federal scheme in Common Core.
Chris is the only candidate in the U.S. Senate race that has a record of putting the interests of teachers, parents and students first. Block grant funding that reduces dependence on the federal government and puts the resources directly in the hands of the people who are dealing with problems is the way to continue that effort.
About Keith: Keith Plunkett is Policy Director for McDaniel for U.S. Senate. He has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett