Cato’s Michael F. Cannon provides the reasons why:
Story sheds light on Kentucky’s learning disabled policies
It’s an interesting story.
Per the Courier-Journal’s article, “Achiever | Manual junior doesn’t need extra time to score 36 on ACT,” Jefferson County Public Schools student Kenny Jackson has been labeled as ADHD and could have qualified to get extra time to take the ACT college entrance test.
Kenny said no to the extra time.
Kenny got a top 36-point score on the ACT, anyway.
It makes you wonder.
Does Kenny really have attention deficit problems, or is he just so far ahead of his teachers that they bore him?
Might what is supposed to be Kenny’s problem instead be evidence of teaching that does not meet the student’s needs?
Adding interesting evidence about what may really be TD, a ‘Teacher Deficit’ problem, the news article says Kenny started taking an ACT prep course but stopped paying attention after he had to correct the teacher’s multiple errors with math problems.
Is it the student’s fault when the teacher doesn’t know the subject? Should the student get blamed for not paying attention to such a teacher?
As I said, this sounds more like a ‘teacher deficit’ rather than a student problem.
Kenny’s story also has larger implications.
At present, some misguided people are trying to prevent Kentucky from tightening up on a serious abuse of a special accommodation on the state’s reading tests. Currently, the so-called state reading assessments actually are being read to about half of the entire number of kids labeled as learning disabled in Kentucky. That abuse undoubtedly inflates test scores, which makes teachers look good. However, this practice also hides what may really be a refusal/failure of educators to teach thousands of Kentucky kids who actually could learn to read – IF they got proper instruction. As things stand, kids get labeled and remain illiterate – teachers get a free ride and may not even know how to really teach reading – and test scores hide it all.
You have to wonder how many of those poorly served kids wind up in jail as adults…because they cannot get jobs…because they can’t read.
Just like Kenny Jackson, a lot of other learning disabled kids in Kentucky could be far more capable than we realize. However, our education system created a system that allows schools to sidestep their responsibility to educate these students. As Kenny Jackson just showed us, that sort of special education policy, which underestimates the potential of learning disabled students and interferes with their proper education, needs to change.
Kentucky Energy Equation – 2006 report hints at the EPA’s current onslaught against Kentucky’s energy sector
The Bluegrass Institute’s very own creative director, Nick Oberg, recently uncovered a number of vintage academic reports from the dusty backrooms and storage areas at the Bluegrass Institute.
One report, aptly titled “Environmental regulation of surface mining and land development in Kentucky: The role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” was jointly released by the Bluegrass Institute and the Reason Foundation in 2006, and hints at the onslaught the EPA would deliver to Kentucky coal some five years later.
The study shows the impact that the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have on Kentucky’s energy sector from playing fast and loose with the Clear Water Act in an effort to block mining permits and expand federal regulatory scope.
The report calls for three goals that have yet to be realized even today:
- Mandate that federal agencies do not regulate beyond the clear interpretations of the Clean Water Act.
- Encourage market trades of isolated wetlands for preservation and mitigation by implementing programs similar to air-pollution credit markets.
- Set specific permit deadlines.
Since the report was released in 2006, the current administration has used the EPA to unilaterally enact idealistic goals of extreme environmentalism, no matter the economic impact to local communities or entire regions of the country.
Let’s hope the energy tide turns from the past six years and the upcoming public hearings in Frankfort and Pikeville on June 5th and 7th respectively will chase the EPA out of the commonwealth.
A recent article by Surfky.net spotlights Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, for receiving a the Bluegrass Institute Liberty Award for Free-Market Capitalism.
From the article:
“I appreciate the Bluegrass Institute for giving me this award in recognition for our work on this issue during the session,” Yonts said. “It was great to see liberty-minded Kentuckians, including law-enforcement personnel, to work together to protect the freedom of all law-abiding consumers.’
I have a problem with people who somehow think certain sectors of the economy can magically be shielded from the realities of economics. The facts are that sooner or later, when real resources are not available, every area of society suffers.
A case in point of the magical thinking viewpoint about economics came out today in the News-Enterprise newspaper.
That paper opines:
“It’s time to start creating new solutions to protect schools, even go so far as to make them recession proof.”
I’m sorry, but real life does not work that way. You cannot cancel the facts of life about economics. And, you cannot create magic protection for an especially large enterprise like our public school system that absorbs an amazingly large part of every tax dollar we send to Frankfort (somewhere around 40%).
Actually, overly extreme attempts to somehow protect schools from recessions could create inducements that produce and sustain inefficiency in schools. That just adds more stress in a recession.
We might also create some very severe negative attitudes about schools in the minds of those involved in other areas of our economy (such a public safety and health, to name just two of many) that are not receiving such special treatment.
Do we need new, cost-saving solutions for our schools? You bet we do, especially solutions that get us more recession fighting “Bang for the Education Buck.” Some answers may include charter schools (which generally operate more cheaply than traditional schools) and really creative use of digital learning.
But, will workable solutions include a magic wand that somehow insulates schools from the economic realities that impact all our lives? No way! Not going to happen.
The 2004 publication “Planning for Kentucky’s Future” is now available on FreedomKentucky.org here. This publication asks:
- What the role of Kentucky’s government should be?
- What the vision for the state should be ?
- What are the essential services government must provide?
- How do we know our government is doing a good job?
- How much should government cost?
A new study reports that a specific set of sweeping new federal regulations could destroy nearly 3,000 industry jobs and result in nearly $14 millions in total capital costs to Kentucky alone.
In their new report, entitled “Economy Derailed,” the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) attempts to put precise numbers on how the Environmental Protection Agency could affect various energy sectors on a state by state basis.
The EPA’s new Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) regulations would put emission limitations on commercial boilers and process heaters. These limits have not proven to be economically viable anywhere in the nation – especially in Appalachian coal country.
According to the report, Kentucky would be ninth worst hit by the EPA and result in a total loss of 12,521 jobs. See here for the full report.
Over at Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday’s blog, he just posted these comments about nationwide performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):
“All groups of children – white and non-white – have increased NAEP performance by as much as 20 to 30 points over the past 30 years. However, the overall NAEP has moved only a couple of points.”
As the commissioner’s comments point out, there is a seeming contradiction where NAEP has seen big score increases for all student racial groups while the overall average score changes have been small. The effect even has a name: “Simpson’s Paradox.”
Although the commissioner makes this sound like a recent revelation. That’s not the case.
In fact, the problem of seemingly slow overall progress in other states on the NAEP is well-known.
This problem has been well-known for years.
And, the problem has held national average and other states’ NAEP scores back much more elsewhere than in Kentucky.
Furthermore, some in Kentucky have taken advantage of the Simpson’s Paradox in NAEP to create inflated claims about Kentucky’s educational performance.
Sadly, the truth is that as soon as you disaggregate NAEP data by race, claims of great progress in Kentucky’s schools start to look a lot less credible. Consider this map based on the 2011 NAEP Grade 8 Mathematics Assessment. Clearly, in eighth grade math, our white kids have been seriously left behind. Once you consider that whites make up 84 percent of our current school enrollment, this becomes an especially disturbing situation.
It’s no secret. I don’t much care for US News and World Report’s dubious ranking scheme for high schools around the nation. However, that publication did stumble onto a really good Kentucky school when it named the Gatton Academy of Math and Science the number one high school in the nation.
While Gatton’s exact true ranking among other schools in the nation may be open to question, there is no doubt that Gatton offers a great opportunity for students who win the stiff academic competition for entry.
As a competitive school, Gatton is similar to magnet schools in other areas of the state and nation, though this Kentucky school also shares a number of common characteristics with charter schools, as well.
Most importantly, Gatton is a school of choice – a rare bird indeed in Kentucky’s highly school-choice-hostile public school system.
Whether Gatton is really number one, or number 20, does not matter. It is a great school, and Kentucky should have a lot more like it.
That leads to my first important question: why doesn’t Kentucky have a lot more “Gattons” located on every university campus in the state? How come the only “Gatton” is at WKU? Why not at Northern Kentucky University, UK, or U of L?
Another key question: with digital learning now making its way into schools across the commonwealth, why can’t we allow students in schools throughout the state to “attend” classes from Gatton electronically? Why are Gatton classes only presented to a limited number of Kentucky’s students?
That leads to my final questions: what is it going to take to wake this state up about public school educators who stand in the way of more choice options for our students? Why do our legislators continue to cater to the convenience – and job protectionist attitudes – of adults in our schools? Why isn’t our top priority to serve the students with school choices that best fit their needs, whether that is for a top-notch advanced program like Gatton’s, or a truly effective special education program that best fits a special child’s needs?
The New York Times is reporting on a potential school test cheating problem in New York City’s schools.
It seems that teachers in at least two NYC elementary schools may have engaged in improper practices with students during state testing. The whistle got blown by teachers in the intermediate school where these students later were transferred. When those intermediate school teachers got blamed for notable drops in student proficiency rates, they started pointing fingers at their elementary school counterparts for improper activity that inflated the students’ scores.
It seems that the intermediate school teachers were not going to quietly take the fall for this because those intermediate teachers want to hold on to their jobs.
So, who says accountability is a bad deal?
Not for students.
Not for the public, either.
Maybe so, for cheaters.