Here is a remarkable exchange from a recent conference on Conference on Virtual & Blended Learning.
Kentucky’s still part of a vanishing breed
Meanwhile, here in Kentucky some union-backing House legislators vainly continue to try to make the traditional public school system work for disadvantaged kids with essentially nothing more than traditional ideas. After nearly 25 years of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA), that has to be one of the slowest learning curves ever.
The lesson isn’t hard to understand. When you compare Kentucky’s results from the early 1990s to the present from the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress, proficiency rate achievement gaps in both math and reading are larger now than they were when KERA was just getting underway. Here’s an eighth grade example you’ve seen before.
Never-the-less, some Kentuckians continue to ignore this 25-year long lesson with unpromising ideas that just try to fix the traditional public school system from within using tweaks not much different from what’s already been tried. Such approaches now have failed disadvantaged students in Kentucky for a quarter of a century.
It’s sad that some Kentuckians would serve adult interests first by forcing the state keep banging its head against the same old obstacles instead of finally realizing that it is past time to try other things. Those other things include real school choice options that are proving particularly helpful to the very same under-privileged kids that KERA left behind.
Want to fix the gaps? Give charter schools a try and allow under-performing kids more flexibility to go to another school that might better meet the student’s needs.
How about trying some innovative tax credit options, especially those that allow business and industry to help poor kids so even parents of modest means can better position their children for improved learning?
C’mon Kentucky! Alabama just figured this out and is now the 43rd state to enact charter school legislation. The Bluegrass State and especially its children are getting left behind.
“We, as economic developers, are asked to do a job, yet we are significantly hampered by Kentucky’s non right-to-work status. We have significant competition already from other Midwestern and Southern states to attract international and domestic manufacturing opportunities. … Estimates from site-selection experts indicate that anywhere from one-third to half of all manufacturing projects do not consider Kentucky because of our right-to-work status.” –Daniel E. Tobergate, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED president and CEO
News Release from Protect My Check: Over 500,000 Kentuckians now protected: Ky’s 4th Largest County Passes Local Right to Work
For Immediate Release March 17, 2015
March 17, 2015 (Boone, KY) Today after an hour of public discussion, Boone County, Kentucky, the 4th largest county in the Commonwealth, passed a Local Right to Work Ordinance in a unanimous vote. Business leaders and community leaders voiced strong support for the measure, which they said would allow the community to grow jobs and expand opportunity for the whole community.
Boone County becomes the largest county in the state to pass the ordinance, and the first in Northern Kentucky. As the only county in the state with an international gateway, (CVG) which is a hub for Delta, Boone County is in unique position to take advantage of the right to work designation in seeking new business.
Boone County Judge Executive Gary Moore summarized the Fiscal Court’s support for the ordinance, “our Economic Development team markets our greater Cincinnati area internationally and as the first county in our region to pass right to work, we think it’s going to be a big advantage.” Judge Moore said. He added, “despite the reservations of some of those here tonight, it will bring opportunities both to union workers and the greater community.”
“Watching the growing number of states and counties adopting Right to Work, Boone County needs this in our toolbox”, said Trey Grayson, President and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Jim McGraw of KMK Consulting, a site selection consultant who works frequently with Northern Kentucky counties told the Court that “on any kind of level playing field, right to work is going to make the difference.”
Dan Tobergte, President/CEO of Tri-Ed, Jim Waters, President of the Bluegrass Institute of Public Policy,and Brent Yessin, an attorney with Protect My Check explained the economic benefits of the ordinance before the vote, which was opposed by several union officers and business agents.
Brent Yessin, an attorney for Protect My Check, confirmed that his non-profit would pay legal fees of any county passing the ordinance before the end of the month. Yessinstressed the bi-partisan nature of the votes to support right to work in Kentucky, noting that after 16 counties have voted in either first or second readings, 96% of Republicans and 94% of Democrats have supported right to work. “Once you get outside of Washington or Frankfort, it starts being about what’s best for my neighbors, and what do you hear in the check out line, not what do my big donors expect.”
With the vote, more than 500,000 Kentuckians are now protected by Right to Work. Eleven Kentucky counties now join 25 states, most recently Wisconsin, in passing right to work ordinances to protect employees.
Protect My Check, Inc. is a non-profit group that supports local legislators, workers and employers who seek to expand employee rights and create jobs by passing local right to work protections in the 25 states lacking statewide protections.
It’s only been 90 days since Warren County passed the first county right-to-work policy in the country and commonwealth. Yet just the possibility of relocating or expanding their operations in a right-to-work county has resulted in contacts from 30 prospective companies representing more than 3,600 net new jobs and $324 million in new investment.
By comparison, between 2004 and 2014, Warren County announced $376 million in capital investment and more than 1,760 net new jobs provided by new companies attracted to the southcentral Kentucky county. This was considered among the best in the state – but it’s possible the county could match such growth in a matter of months if even only half of the companies that have expressed interest in the county since the right-to-work ordinance passed just 90 days ago.
Another comparison: The entire commonwealth of Kentucky announced 32 new manufacturing-related projects that would create 2,213 jobs for all of calendar year 2014.
Imagine the growth that will occur as local leaders put the economic interests of their constituents and communities ahead of the special interests who want to force all workers to join unions and pay dues. Most of the dollars being paid in dues leave communities and Kentucky altogether and are used for political causes that many dues payers don’t support.
With right-to-work’s success in Boone County, more than a half-million Kentuckians now are covered by right-to-work protections.
Click here for updated list of Kentucky counties that have passed right-to-work ordinances.
Boone County on Monday became the 11th county in Kentucky to pass a local right-to-work law based on KRS 67.0073, which the General Assembly passed in 1978 in order to clarify county’s legislative authority. (See the updated list of counties that have passed right-to-work ordinances here.)
With a unanimous vote, Boone County – which is the commonwealth’s fourth-largest county – becomes the most-populated county to pass a right-to-work ordinance, which allows individuals to choose not to join a union and pay dues without being penalized or losing their jobs.
Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters took to the Greater Cincinnati airwaves Tuesday morning on 55KRC’s The Brian Thomas Show to explain the benefits of right-to-work policies and to discuss the competitive advantage that local right-to-work policies would give northern Kentucky counties when competing for economic-development projects with non-right-to-work Ohio communities.
Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore stated at the meeting that being the only right-to-work county in the Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) for Greater Cincinnati “will be a huge advantage.”
Attorney Brent Yessin told magistrates that his organization, Protect My Check, would pay legal fees of any county passing a local right-to-work ordinance before the end of the month.
Yessin stressed the bipartisan nature of the votes on the ordinances, noting that 96 percent of Republicans and 94 percent of Democrats have voted in favor of right-to-work ordinances.
“Once you get outside of Washington or Frankfort, it starts being about what’s best for my neighbors, and what do you hear in the checkout line – not what do my big donors expect,” he said.
Meanwhile, right-to-work is gaining traction around the nation.
In Wisconsin, supporters did not allow a right-to-work bill to linger in the legislature once it began to move. Wisconsin’s Senate passed right-to-work legislation on Feb. 25; the state Assembly passed it on March 6; and Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law three days later – making his the 25th right-to-work state in America.