“States have had measures of teacher education programs’ outcomes for years. But they haven’t acted on them. They have administered licensure exams for decades, for example. But they have set passing rates way too low and have rarely taken any action against schools whose graduates have the lowest scores.”
Those attending legislative meetings this year in Frankfort may wonder if this legislative session’s motto is: “In God We Trust.”
Signs with that declaration now hang in meeting rooms throughout the capitol. However, Senate President Robert Stivers is quick to note they are paid for with private donations not taxpayer dollars.
I’m considering raising funds for signs that contain what should be the motto for the 2015 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, as stated by then-candidate Ronald Reagan in his Oct. 28, 1980 campaign debate with President Jimmy Carter.
After Carter finished droning on about the perceived virtues of “national health insurance” while accusing Reagan of “campaigning around the nation against Medicare,” the Gipper – who understood that brevity is the soul of wit and the stuff of winning political campaigns – simply looked at him with that trademark smile, quipping: “There you go again.”
While issues are different, history is repeating itself in Kentucky.
“There” proponents of government-imposed smoking bans go once again – using credibility-challenged polls to gin up the perception that, as Louisville’s WFPL reporter Rae Hodge claims, “there is a growing popularity among Kentuckians” and that the “prospects are looking better than ever” for a statewide ban imposed by Frankfort.
However, If the polling would have suggested a strong opposition to smoking bans, would reporters be as equally giddy in reporting, say, that “prospects look better than ever that the private-property rights of businesses, liberties of individuals and sovereignty of communities will be protected, after all?”
Hodge’s story contained 552 words favoring bans – including quotes from four different smoking-ban proponents – and only 40 words reporting on the opposition without a single quote.
Is that reporting you can trust?
“Republicans have traditionally chafed at the notion of a state mandate on private businesses,” she wrote in a token nod to opponents.
Oh, the horror of it all – that there might actually be Republicans who “chafe” at the thought that mighty Frankfort would prohibit them from allowing legal activities on properties they purchase, invest in and privately own.
I wonder: If the polling numbers were different, would the story have read: “Democrats have traditionally chafed at the notion of protecting rights of communities to pass – and then overturn – smoking bans as several local governments have done?”
Another “there you go again” moment comes from polling that fails to differentiate between smoking bans on public and private properties.
In a column about this time a year ago, I addressed the importance of understanding what the poll question is – a relevant issue since smoking-ban proponents release these polls on an annual basis.
I noted that most respondents to a poll about speeding, for example, would answer “yes” to: “Do you believe it’s legal to drive 55 mph?” Most would disagree, though, if you asked: “Do you believe it’s legal to drive 55 mph near a school or in a work zone?”
Most Kentuckians agree on banning smoking in publicly owned places. But proponents know that most don’t favor a government-imposed ban on privately owned property. So their irresponsible strategy, which makes their conclusions shaky at best, is to deny poll-takers the option of choosing that answer.
In that 1980 debate, Carter accused Reagan of “campaigning against Medicare” when, in fact, Reagan has simply favored a different policy that still provided coverage for seniors, but with a better approach.
Proponents of government-dictated smoking bans claim that opponents of such policies don’t care about the health and well-being of their fellow Kentuckians – an assertion that’s nearly as misleading as their polling.
Rather, it’s just that opponents of more and bigger state government believe there’s a better path that allows individuals and local communities to address the smoking-ban issue.
It would be good to go “there” again.
“Yet the most astounding statement I have read is the claim that Common Core standards are ‘internationally benchmarked.’ They are not. The Common Core fails any comparison with the standards of high-achieving countries, just as they fail compared to the old California standards. They are lower in the total scope of learned material, in the depth and rigor of the treatment of mathematical subjects, and in the delayed and often inconsistent and incoherent introductions of mathematical concepts and skills.”
MARINA RATNER, professor emerita of mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley. She was awarded the international Ostrowski Prize in 1993 and received the John J. Carty award from the National Academy of Sciences, of which she is a member, in 1994.
- Notify the superintendent of the local school board in writing within 10 days of the beginning of the school year of their intent to homeschool their child(ren) each year they homeschool; the letter must include the name, ages and residence of each child in attendance of the homeschool.
- Establish a bona fide school for the children to attend. When informing the district superintendent of your desire to homeschool, create a school name. This will be used for future records and diplomas.
- Record and maintain scholarship reports of each student’s progress in all subjects taught at the same intervals as the local public schools. The best way to do this: keep a portfolio that contains samples of the best work done by each child in several areas of study and maintain the portfolio year after year.
- Keep a record of courses taken and grades received.
- Keep accurate attendance records of pupil attendance. The minimum number of school days 185 days or equivalent to 177 six-hour days.
- Be open to inspection by directors of pupil personnel, who are allowed to confirm that compulsory attendance requirements are met. The inspection may be conducted in a neutral site rather than the home.
- Offer all instruction in the English language; subjects should include reading, writing, spelling, grammar, history, science, math and civics. Parents also have the right to offer other subjects, including religious teaching.
What the National Home Education Research Institute says:
“The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.”
“The research base on adults who were home educated is growing; thus far it indicates that they … vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.”
By adulthood, home-educated students “internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a high rate.”
Click here for more information on homeschooling trends and academic performance as well as the social, emotional and psychological development and real-world success of home-educated adults.
Celebrating National School Choice Week – The ESA Frontier: Boldly going where education reform has (hardly) gone before
The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s first and only free-market think tank, joins with hundreds of groups nationwide to celebrate the fifth annual National School Choice Week (Jan. 25-31). Since its beginning more than 11 years ago, the Bluegrass Institute has been the leading voice to give Kentucky parents effective alternatives to ensure that each child receives a quality education. As part of National School Choice Week, the Bluegrass Institute will publish a series of blogs offering information on different types of school choice. This series will be one of 6,000 events nationwide taking place as part of this year’s National School Choice Week.
“Charter and voucher programs were the rotary telephones of our movement – an awesome technology that did one amazing thing. We are heading in the direction of iPhone choice programs – they still do that one thing well, but they also do a lot of other things.” –Matthew Ladner, Foundation for Excellence in Education
- Just like ‘health savings accounts’ (HSAs) empower individuals to take responsibility for their own health care, so ‘education savings accounts’ (ESAs) empower parents with the resources to provide the best education – including needed services – for their children.
- Just like HSAs are designed to provide access to quality health care for individuals who otherwise would be unable to afford it, so ESAs provide access to a quality education for students who ^ would hopelessly be stuck in failing schools.
- Just like HSAs allow individuals to tailor a health-care program to fit their unique needs – instead of paying for services they neither want nor need – so ESAs empower parents to access at least some of their tax dollars meant to educate children. Parents may use these dollars for: private-school tuition and fees; textbooks; certified tutors; services for special-needs children, including therapists; universities and community colleges; online programs; online programs; individual public-school courses controlled by parents.
- Just like HSA recipients receive a debit card loaded with funds allowing them to negotiate prices and pay for medical expenses, so ESA families receive debit cards loaded with funds allowing them to pay for approved expenses needed to pay for their children’s educational services.
- Just like HSAs allow unused monies to be saved by recipients for future health-care expenses, so unused ESA monies can be used by parents for future education expenses, including paying for college and providing therapy and tutoring for special-needs children. This creates an effective incentive to vigorously negotiate for services, thus lowering costs – both for health care and education! “Parents have an incentive to seek maximum value for each dollar spent because these account based programs allow for saving for future higher education expenses.” –Matthew Ladner, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Currently, only Arizona and Florida offer ESA programs:
* Florida limits ESA access to families of special-needs children
* Arizona makes the nation’s most expansive ESA policy available to serve: special-needs children; foster-care children; children zoned to attend a failing school; families of active duty military personnel; children who lost a parent in active duty.
Click here for ESA model legislation.
Former BIPPS staff member Caleb Brown, now at the CATO Institute, passed along his recent video on how scholarship tax credits are working in New Hampshire. Under this program, also known as tuition tax credits, business and industry can contribute to a non-profit scholarship granting organization. That organization then provides scholarships to parents who want a private school alternative to the traditional public school system. The scholarships can be tailored so more needy students get a higher level of support.
Unlike the school voucher program, no tuition tax credit money ever enters the public coffers, which avoids a lot of red tape and really streamlines the program.
As you watch this video about New Hampshire, consider that this exciting program that can work here in Kentucky, too. Also, if you have not already done so, check out our other National School Choice Week blog on scholarship tax credits from our own Jim Waters. Jim provides more, Kentucky-specific ideas about this real opportunity to increase school choice options for Kentucky’s students and parents.