How would this look for Kentucky?
A new poll released by the American Federation for Children and conducted by Mason-Dixon shows folks in Texas really like school choice options. Here are the questions and results from the poll:
QUESTION: Education Savings Accounts, also known as E-S-A-s, allow parents to use state education tax dollars to customize their child’s learning and development. Approved ESA expenses include technical training, K-12 school tuition, or even special needs therapies from an array of providers including public and private schools or tutors. Do you support or oppose an Education Savings Account program in Texas?
QUESTION: A tax credit scholarship program would give families access to private schools by allowing companies or individuals to receive a tax credit for donations to non-profit organizations which award scholarships to eligible students. Do you support or oppose a tax credit scholarship program in Texas?
QUESTION: Do you support or oppose a federal tax credit proposal in Congress where individuals and businesses could donate to non-profit scholarship granting organizations in the states that would provide scholarships for and technical schools of their choice?
So, how might this poll look if given in Kentucky? A clue comes from a poll that only covered scholarship tax credits released in November 2018 by EdChoice Kentucky. That poll showed:
“…that more than 70 percent of voters believe Kentucky’s education system needs significant changes, with 65 percent of voters in support of bringing educational choice programs to Kentucky. In addition, data shows that Scholarship Tax Credits, a form of education choice under consideration in Kentucky, are supported by 62 percent of voters and are favorable across diverse political, regional, and demographic groups.”
Those percentages regarding the scholarship tax credits question are similar to the ones from Texas for the essentially similar tax credit scholarship program.
So, why, when there is so much support for school choice, is Kentucky one of the worst states for actual choice programs? That’s a question you should ask your legislators.
Another testimony about problems with reading instruction from an unusual source – The National Council on Teacher Quality
Over the years, we’ve done more than a few blogs about the incredible resistance within the K to 12 education community regarding effective ways to teach reading. Sadly, the fallout from the “Reading Wars” of the 1990s are still very much with us today.
Far too many teachers and college Ed school types still cling to ineffective fad ideas about reading instruction that were called “Whole Language Reading” in the 1990s, which later morphed into what today is called “Balanced Literacy.”
Still, compelling scientific research based around functional MRI investigations shows that when children are beginning to learn to read, they need to be taught first with a phonics-rich approach. If there is early emphasis on “Sight Words” or a push to recognize the word as some sort of hieroglyphic instead of a phonological representation of the spoken word, there is great risk that the students will wind up using the wrong areas of their brains when they read.
But, resistance to the science remains strong in K to 12 education. As Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, recently opined:
“Unfortunately, many teacher educators who teach reading courses to future teachers are leading this resistance, even though there isn’t much evidence that they are even aware of the scientific evidence (or how to apply it).”
“It is particularly frustrating that the interest of adults continues to be the priority, overriding what’s in the best interests of kids, particularly students of color and students from low-income families. Two-thirds of the kids who struggle to read don’t have any physiological problem such as dyslexia. They just have had insufficient exposure to language and reading instruction—a gap any well trained teacher could ameliorate.”
Here in Kentucky we saw an effort in 2019 to improve reading instruction. House Bill 272 from the 2019 Regular Legislative Session was an attempt to do the same thing Arkansas is doing now, requiring Ed schools to start teaching reading instruction the way science shows works best. The bill initially had a generally focused section that would have pushed better reading programs into both our schools and college teacher preparation programs. Unfortunately, the bill got watered down to only focus on Ed school improvement and then totally died in committee.
I hope Kentucky’s legislators pay attention to the growing number of people who now know the science behind the push to teach reading properly and revisit HB-272 in 2020. With well under half of Kentucky’s white students testing proficient in Grade 4 reading in the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress and only 16% of the state’s black students reaching proficiency in the same assessment, it is clear that many Kentucky teachers need to learn about the science, and how to teach reading, too.
Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis explains his concerns about the Jefferson County Public School System
Commissioner Lewis explained why he recommended state takeover of the Jefferson County Public School District shortly after he took over at the Kentucky Department of Education during the 2019 Village Learning & Development Center’s 6th Annual Education Freedom Day Conference.
Click here to access a video of his comments.
Dr. Lewis is clearly concerned about too many children lacking the education opportunities they need to succeed and a focus that seems more about protecting the system rather than making improvements for kids.
News12 The Bronx reports “Entire class at Bronx charter school aces algebra Regents.”
That message is amplified in a New York Post article on July 1, 2019 about this stunning achievement titled “Entire Bronx Success Academy class aces statewide math exam.”
There are a couple of messages in this.
The New York State Regents Exams are that state’s equivalents to Kentucky’s KPREP tests. The school involved here is the Regents at Success Academy Bronx 2 Middle School, and the test was for Algebra I, a course usually not offered in Kentucky until high school.
First observation: This charter school has its Regents results back before July. Kentucky probably doesn’t get to see its KPREP results for about two more months or more. So, teachers in New York now have time over the summer to adopt their curriculum based on the test results before the next school year gets going. In Kentucky, with some schools starting up again early in August, the ability to calmly adjust curriculum before the next school year gets going just isn’t an option.
Second observation: News12 says Algebra I is normally a Grade 9 test in New York, which makes the results for this group of middle school charter students even more remarkable. The fact that the school happens to be located in the “poorest congressional district in the United States” per News12 adds to the impact.
By the way, the New York Post adds:
So, it appears that all eighth-grade students in the Bronx 2 Success Academy took the test. This doesn’t seem to be just a selected group of the school’s students.
In contrast, the Post also says:
This is what a well-run charter school can do.
Kentucky could use schools like the Bronx 2 Success Academy. It’s sad that vested interests keep us from getting them and it’s time for the legislature to step up to the plate and fund these alternative public schools.