Tune in Monday to Louisville’s 84WHAS for the newest edition of Bluegrass Mondays with host Mandy Connell and Bluegrass Institute President Jim Waters from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (eastern) Listen live online here.
And, when will they ever get on the same page?
If students’ lives were not being ruined by the controversy, some of the nonsense coming from Thursday’s Leadership West Louisville lunch forum about the educational genocide in that city’s schools would be hilarious.
During the meeting, while talking about what is needed to turn Louisville’s Persistently Low-Achieving Schools around, Jefferson County Superintendent Donna Hargens declared, “We know what works.”
In Friday’s coverage of the event, the Courier-Journal quotes Jefferson County Teachers Association president Brent McKim saying:
“We all want to find the silver bullet that works. But we haven’t quite found it yet. But we’re all committed to not stopping until we do.”
McKim’s comment to the Courier that “state law forbids a union contract from interfering with written reform plans at persistently low-achieving schools” also disagrees sharply with comments from Commissioner Terry Holliday that provided specific examples where the union contract was used to block needed reform activities.
No wonder there has been so little progress. The union remains on a totally different page from everyone else.
In fairness to the students, the Kentucky Department of Education may have to step in to run some of these schools. And, since union leader McKim has now stated the union contract cannot get in the way of that process, maybe something good will finally happen for kids in Kentucky’s biggest city.
The Bluegrass Institute is pleased to announce that Professors Eric Schansberg and Brian Strow, members of the Institute’s Board of Scholars, will be appearing on Kentucky Tonight this coming Monday, March 25th, live at 8 PM on KET.
Host Bill Goodman will interview the Bluegrass Scholars on the subject of the federal budget. To be discussed is how best to address the federal deficit, the much-hyped sequestration, and the pros and cons of proposed budgets from both the left and the right.
Previously, Dr. Schansberg appeared on Kentucky Tonight on a special edition of the program concerning the price of poverty in Kentucky. Schansberg discussed how educational choice – not funneling yet more taxpayer dollars into the welfare state – could be the solution to helping the poor out of their plight. Dr. Strow has also been on Kentucky Tonight multiple times, his most recent appearance being this past summer when he discussed how to stimulate job growth in Kentucky.
Others guests include Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, and Chris Phillips, economics professor at Somerset Community College
WHAT: Board of Scholars appearing on Kentucky Tonight to discuss the federal budget
WHO: Dr. Eric Schansberg, Professor of Economics at Indiana University Southeast, and Dr. Brian Strow, Professor of Economics at Western Kentucky University
WHEN: Monday, March 25th, 2013
Viewers with questions for Professors Schansberg or Strow can call in live at: 1-800-494-7605
According to a new report from the Heritage Foundation, there’s even more reason to oppose Gov. Beshear expanding Medicaid in Kentucky than simple free market economic principles. And over the next ten years, that reason is likely to burden taxpayers in the commonwealth with nearly $1 billion in expanded costs.
The Heritage report breaks down the costs and benefits of Medicaid expansion as recommended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, state by state. Their results show that the vast majority of the benefits will be enjoyed by only one state, which happens to possess the most bloated Medicaid program in the nation, New York. In fact, only ten of the fifty states will enjoy net benefits at all, and New York will swallow the majority of those: $33.8 billion of the $48 billion total benefits.
Unfortunately, Kentucky is projected to be one of the forty states to see significant increases in costs as a result of the proposed Medicaid expansion, costs totaling $846 million over the next ten years. The reason for this is that Kentucky – like most states its size – has a Medicaid program much more modest than states like New York or Massachusetts. As such, Kentucky won’t enjoy the cost-savings of having the feds pay for our so-called “optional population” of Medicaid beneficiaries – because there isn’t one.
According to the PPACA, starting in 2017 the feds will start to scale back the dollars they put toward Medicaid expansion in the states, meaning the bill will have to be picked up by Kentucky taxpayers. And also starting in 2017, the growth in the costs of Medicaid expansion will throttle into full gear. The only savings Kentucky will see is the modest sum related to hospital patients who don’t have the means to pay for their care. Kentucky will no longer be liable for many of these uninsured because they’ll be covered under Medicaid.
Despite the nearly $1 billion price tag and the Kentucky Senate’s failed efforts to force Gov. Beshear to seek legislative approval before expanding Medicaid, the good governor is still leaning toward burdening taxpayers in the commonwealth. Perhaps he’s banking on being voted out of office before the costs start to pile up for his voting base?
Due to the troubling rate of improvement in a large number of Persistently Low-Achieving Schools (PLAs) found in Jefferson County’s public schools, the entire school district has been under a microscope for some time.
Concerns really started to ratchet up after the Kentucky Board of Education was told on February 6, 2013 that the worst progress in PLAs improvement was found in Jefferson County.
Things exploded several days later on February 10, 2013 when Education Commissioner Terry Holliday used the term “Academic Genocide” to discuss what was going on in Kentucky’s largest school system.
Following those shocks, it’s understandable that Jefferson County District staffers are eager to grab at anything that shows hope for their schools. Unfortunately, desperately gabbing at straws can create more problems than solutions.
Thus, when the school district issued a press release earlier this week claiming the high school graduation rate rose by 1.6 points (as mentioned in this WAVE-3 TV video) between 2011 and 2012, I got curious.
It turns out that while Jefferson County’s high school “Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate” (AFGR) did increase for all students from 67.8 percent to 69.4 percent between 2011 and 2012, the rate in 2011 had previously declined from the 69.3 percent figure posted in 2010.
Overall, in the past two years, Jefferson County has hardly made any progress in its overall high school graduation rate, just a scant 0.1 point improvement – hardly anything to cheer about.
In the interest of giving you a more complete picture, this table shows the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) latest information about Jefferson County’s high school graduation rates for the Class of 2009 through the Class of 2012.
There is a cautionary tale in this data. While the 2012 rates are mostly higher than those back in 2009 (exception – Hispanics), there actually were declines in graduation rates in Jefferson County between 2010 and 2012 for males, Asians and Hispanics. Whites made no improvement what so ever between 2010 and 2012, as well. That implies Jefferson County mostly hit a progress plateau after 2010.
African-Americans overall did make a 1.1 point improvement between 2010 and 2012, but the very low rate in 2012 needs to be considered in light of the data for males and females. Unfortunately, we don’t get disaggregated data by sex by race from the KDE, but with the huge gap in male-female graduation rates overall, it is very likely that the black male AFGR in 2012 in Jefferson County was less than 60 percent, a threshold number that a research team at the Johns Hopkins University uses to identify “Dropout Factory” performance. It is also possible that black males did not share the progress of black females.
The bottom line is that Jefferson County continues to have major problems. The school district will do better if it spends less time trying to gloss over that fact and more time on some of the good ideas that Superintendent Donna Hargens is trying to implement despite dubious help from her local teachers’ union.
The Leadership West Louisville Institute hosted one of their Lunch Forum Panel discussions today on the “Academic Genocide” going on in Louisville’s Persistently Low-Achieving Schools (PLAs). Panelist Terry Holliday, the Kentucky Commissioner of Education, got hit with what-if questions and came right back with some here’s-how-it-is answers. This is by far the strongest commentary yet from Holliday about how the union contract with the Jefferson County Teachers Association has prevented needed changes in Louisville’s PLAs.