Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters will be hitting the airwaves Monday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (eastern) for another “Bluegrass Monday” segment on the Mandy Connell Show on Louisville’s 84WHAS.
WFPL reports that last week the Kentucky Board of Education voted to allow Jefferson County Public Schools to largely substitute their own, self-initiated audit for a standardized, state-conducted audit required under the rules of the federal School Improvement Grant/Persistently Low-Achieving Schools process.
What is actually proposed is for a state audit team to create a “crosswalk” report that uses the findings from the Jefferson County report instead of on-site visits whenever possible.
That might be problematic. While Jefferson County’s own curriculum audit was extensive and appears to have great value, the format used and the metrics reported are not the same as those used in the standardized state audit program. It may not be easy to create a derivative report in the format used by the state’s own audit process.
As a result, determining the real trends over time as Jefferson County attempts to improve its poorly performing school system may become obscured. That is a potentially serious problem that could undermine the ability of both policymakers and the public to determine if real progress is actually being made since the last audit was conducted in 2010.
We’ve always been a big fan of the AdvanceKentucky program to increase the offering of Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Kentucky’s public school system. This program is showing outstanding results, as the highlights below, taken from a briefing to the Kentucky Board of Education show:
• After three years in AdvanceKY, Cohort 1 (12 schools) realized a three-year increase of 199% in AP math, science and English qualifying scores (includes 775% increase in minority and 500% increase in low income).
• After two years in AdvanceKY, Cohort 2 (16 schools) realized a two-year increase of 110% in AP math, science and English qualifying scores (includes 275% increase in minority and 343% increase in low income).
• After one year in AdvanceKY, Cohort 3 (16 schools) realized a one-year increase of 144% in AP math, science and English qualifying scores (includes 600% increase in minority and 173% increase in low income).
The map below shows where schools in the first three cohorts are located. It also identifies schools in Cohort 4, which started using the program this year.
As the Lenten season draws to a close, the Kentucky legislature has managed to find one more way to sit on the sidelines while the rest of the country passes by before Easter Sunday.
Yesterday, the Louisiana House of Representatives passed Gov. Bobby Jindal’s school voucher expansion by a vote of 60-42. This comes just one day after the Louisiana Senate passed the motion 24-15. The voucher program – modeled after the innovative free market ideas of Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman – will fund students forced to attend one of New Orlean’s failing public schools to be educated at a private school instead. These sorts of schools are regulated by the invisible hand of the marketplace, and that’s why they work for students.
Louisiana’s school voucher program will be second in scope only to neighboring Indiana – and the Bayou State will be one of only 18 states to enact private school choice legislation. Suffice to say, Kentucky is not one of those 18 other states. In fact, Kentucky is one of only a handful of states in the nation to have zero functional school choice legislation of any kind. In Kentucky, if the school to which an underprivileged kid is assigned is at the bottom of the barrel, the chances of getting out are slim to none unless Mom and Dad want to sell the house.
Meanwhile, underprivileged kids in Louisiana have what those in Kentucky don’t – a fair chance for a high-quality education.
With the 100th birthday of Milton Friedman rapidly approaching on July 31st, Kentucky parents should keep in mind one of his most brilliant humanitarian ideas – the school voucher program. Like in Louisiana, the voucher program could open up possibilities for thousands of underprivileged kids in the Bluegrass State.
But for now, Kentucky continues to sit on the sidelines and watch as Louisiana zooms on by.
This is my recent letter to the editor at the Lexington Herald-Leader:
The March 30 editorial “Bills to fight meth, pill abuse weakened” implies that the Consumer Healthcare Products Association was not satisfied with a compromise that would limit the amount of medications with pseudoephedrine a person can purchase (rather than require a prescription for purchase) even though it would “keep their smurfing customers solidly employed”.
The term “smurf” refers to purchasers who purchase pseudoephedrine products for use by those who manufacture methamphetamine.
The implication that drug companies cater to and protect those who would use their products in an illegal and unintended manner is intellectually dishonest.
Does the Herald-Leader carry this thought process over to other industries? For example, if crowbars are the most common item used to break into homes, should the crowbar industry be forced to require identification when their product is purchased? Should Kentuckians only be allowed to purchase a certain number of crowbars per month?
If the crowbar industry pushed back against attempts to regulate its product, would they be working to keep their robber customers solidly employed? I very much doubt it.
According to health experts, the risk of cardiovascular death has dropped by 80% in the past 60 years.
And what is to thank for such incredible advances in health care? As the diagram below shows, what’s to thank are the techniques perfected in open heart surgery, the development of medications such as beta-blockers, and the innovations in biomedical engineering that have led to life-saving devices such as implantable defibrillators.
In short, what’s to thank is the entrepreneurial discovery process of a free marketplace, a process defined by voluntary transactions and the educated assessment of risk and reward in an always uncertain world.
What should be given no thanks is the alarming growth in the nanny state over the past half century. Such political maneuvering has merely shifted economic resources from one political interest to another. As shown below, social welfare programs and Obamacare are not the root of the incredible progress in health care over the past 60 years – the unimpeded market is.