Shouldn’t pensions be based on time worked?
You and I know this. Apparently, though, our state government does not.
Kentucky Retirement Systems allows some state employees to purchase what is called“air time.” This practice allows workers to purchase credit for time not actually workedso that the “years of service” portion of the pension calculation formula can be padded.
This works out well for the state worker because they are able to begin drawing benefits sooner than they normally would. The loser in this deal is the taxpayer who must assume all financial risk in delivering retirement income for years not actually worked by the state employee.
With Kentucky’s public pension system $34 billion in debt, does it seem like a wise practice to allow state workers to be compensated for time they didn’t work?
Contact your legislator today and tell them that you want the issue of “air time” addressed immediately.
Learn more about Kentucky’s pension system here.
Sandra Stotsky knows a lot about Common Core. Years ago she was the Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education who headed that state’s adoption of what many consider to be the very best state education standards ever developed.
More recently, Stotsky served on the Common Core Validation Committee.
Simply put, Stotsky knows real education standards, and she knows Common Core. If you want to learn why she was a “very frustrated member” of the Common Core Validation Committee, take five minutes to listen to this.
And, the very first article wasted no time grabbing my attention.
For starters, the article has some notable technical errors about when CCSS and the related tests started in Kentucky (More on that later).
However, the really big deal involves other, more substantial revelations. The newspaper reports:
“The biggest change: Students will learn to think critically, beginning as early as kindergarten….
In some classrooms, you’ll see children at the kindergarten level solving problems….”
Hold on a minute! Only in SOME classrooms? Not all?
This sounds like they are going to start tracking kids in their very first year of school. Good Grief!
Now, all of you who can remember back to the early days of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA), listen to this promise in the Enquirer about the CCSS:
“The focus has been shifted to having students think about how they got their answer and be able to explain their process through the use of numbers, words and pictures….”
There is absolutely nothing new here for Kentucky! We heard virtually the same “stuff” from the opening days of KERA 23 years ago.
Even more serious, Kentucky’s long-term experience with such Progressive Education approaches has not worked well. As of the 2012 testing of our 11th grade students with the ACT college entrance test, well under half of those students were on track for the minimal college math and reading proficiency levels expected in Kentucky’s postsecondary education system. That’s the best Kentucky’s public school students could do after 22 years of KERA.
Worse still, this fall our 10th graders took the ACT’s PLAN test. According to that test, which is closely aligned to the ACT and uses ACT’s somewhat tougher college readiness standards, only 25.7 percent of our students were ready for the rigors of college math. Fewer still, just 21.1 percent would be able to handle a college science course. To be sure, Kentucky has shown some progress on tests like the ACT, but the pace has been very, very slow.
One thing is for certain, the Progressivist approach being pushed by the CCSS does waste time. Look at this next quote from the Enquirer:
“Gorman said later that though the class handled only a few math questions that day, they learned a lot about sticking with a vexing problem.”
There you have it…not much math…lots of aimless discussion.
Oh, yes, this pressing problem that students took a whole math class period to discuss:
“Gorman gave them a word problem that included measurements of a toy snake, the kind that jumps out of boxes, and a question: would that snake fit best in a box or in a can of equal width and height?”
By the way, at the end of the day the Enquirer says the teacher would not tell her students the right answer to the problem. I wonder if the teacher even knows that there is one (assuming we are talking about the amount of material required to make the two containers, a classic algebra problem not clearly stated in the teacher’s question).
What a great way to leave students wondering and frustrated.
What a great way to mostly waste a day in eighth grade algebra!
And, how sad the teachers apparently don’t see that!
As Gina McCarthy begins her term as top bureaucrat at the Environmental Protection Agency, Kentuckians are hoping for an attitude check from the EPA – one more open to the tremendous benefits of Kentucky coal and the commonwealth’s energy sector.Toward that end, Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, recently met with one of the EPA’s numerous regional administrators who presides over Kentucky and the southeast U.S., Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming.
Though Rep. Combs reports that the Keyes Fleming “was very open and I thought very receptive to a lot of the things we were suggesting,” forecasts for the EPA’s stance on Kentucky’s energy sector have yet to change.
And that’s precisely why Combs organized the meeting: “My intent was obviously (to address) the immediate situation of ‘Could you lighten up?’ — because it has really taken a toll on the economy and the job market.”
That may be the understatement of the year thus far, seeing as how Kentucky Power recently announced a plan that could spell the end of coal-generated electricity in the Big Sandy region of the commonwealth. In large part due to forecasts for the effects of the EPA’s newest draconian regulations, Kentucky Power announced not only the closure of its older Unit 1 generator and the nearly 300 megawatts of power production, it also announced plans to shutter its newer Unit 2 generator – which produces a whopping 750 megawatts of power.
Though no final plans have been announced for making up that kind of power in the region, what is set in stone is the loss of the 500 coal-related jobs which Kentucky Power was responsible for. Add that to the more than 4,000 coal-related Kentucky jobs lost last year, or 22 percent of the mining workforce, and eastern Kentucky may about to enter panic mode.
The following is an op-ed I submitted for publication in the Lexington Herald-Leader. It was printed on Monday April 15, 2012. You can view the letter on the paper’s website here.
If Kentucky’s public pension system was a private-sector business, it would have been forced to close its doors many years ago.
Unfortunately, the pension system doesn’t exist in the private sector. Rather, it exists in the realm of government where inefficiencies and mismanagement can be papered over with a guaranteed flow of taxpayer dollars.
While the system continues to enroll more and more new state workers, it struggles to keep pace with the obligations it has already made. In effect, it has become akin to a Ponzi scheme: plush with cheap promises of future retirement benefits and the constant need to pay off past promises with dwindling taxpayer funds.
Simply put, this trend is not sustainable.
How did we get here, and who is responsible? Poor decision making by the General Assembly is largely to blame.