“There shouldn’t be a Republican or Democratic designation attached to educational opportunities here in the commonwealth of Kentucky. For the sake of our children, we must all embrace the idea that regardless of background, beliefs, wealth or race, Kentucky children should have access to an education that meets their needs.” —Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron quoted in the Bowling Green Daily News’ recent editorial, Tax credits give low-income kids better options
Isn’t it an interesting phenomenon how leftwing political degenerates care little about spending until the proposed program offers a piece that doesn’t fit their philosophical puzzle?
Take the huffing and puffing by opponents of encouraging individuals and businesses to donate to a modest program that would turn those dollars into scholarships for Kentucky parents who want to provide their children with a private education but are unable to afford tuition payments without assistance.
Suddenly, these antagonists are concerned about the program’s cost, which would be a modest $25 million as contributors would receive a credit against their state tax liability.
Leftist political advocacy groups like the misleadingly named Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, which incessantly lobbies for swelling the size and scope of government – and for the accompanying tax hikes required to fund its bloated proposals – are sending up smoke signals about how school-choice programs will decimate public education funding.
The group blathered in a blog post during last year’s legislative debate over scholarship tax credits about how only kids already in private schools would be the primary beneficiaries and, as a result, “we’ll have substantially less, rather than more, revenue available for our public schools.”
Nowhere, no how and in no way does the group ever offer even the smallest dose of honest analysis by acknowledging that the proverbial education sky hasn’t fallen in the 18 states already offering 23 such scholarship tax credit programs.
Well-known researcher Dr. Martin Lueken with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and EdChoice analyzed 10 of those tax credit programs in seven of the states representing 90% of all such scholarships in the nation and found they produce huge long-term savings for schools and education systems.
Lueken reports that states after a couple of years of revenue loss see millions – even hundreds of millions – worth of long-term savings since the cost of educating children in private schools tends to be lower than what public schools spend.
When a child leaves a public school to enroll in private or parochial school, Lueken concludes it saves the public school he left a significant amount of funding.
Not only does the school the student leaves no longer have the cost of educating him, but it continues receiving the property tax dollars his parents must still fork over even though they’re not utilizing the public education system.
A mother of three in Louisville explained she can send her young children to a private Catholic elementary school for a total of $14,000.
At the same time, the Jefferson County Public Schools spent in excess of $2,000 more per individual student than it costs her to educate all three of her children at a private parochial school.
A donor who contributes, say, $14,000 to the proposed scholarship program receives a 95% tax credit, meaning the state “loses” $13,300.
But does it really lose?
Schools no longer have to cough up the $48,132 cost of educating all three of her children, plus this mother must continue to pay property taxes to the schools even though her children don’t utilize those dollars.
Bring up scholarship tax credits around legislators in Frankfort and you’re likely to hear some murmuring about how there must be money in the budget to fund the program before they’ll support it.
Yet why didn’t we have a similar line-in-the-sand type of commitment before politicians allowed the approval of $421 million worth of taxpayer-backed goodies for film producers two years ago — spending that even the economically disjointed Kentucky Center for Economic Policy couldn’t support?
It’s disheartening to watch politicians support handing out millions in corporate pork to already-fattened Hollywood moguls while the neediest parents in Kentucky starve for crumbs of educational freedom and the school choice it provides.
Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at email@example.com and @bipps on Twitter.
On Tuesday, the dubiously reorganized Kentucky Board of Education got an update on recent assessment results. This included a very brief and incomplete discussion of the state’s 2019 performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It was an inadequate briefing, but the dubiously reorganized board members never questioned it. Let’s fix that.
First, our regular readers know that simply looking at overall average scores on the NAEP isn’t a good way to compare state to state results. One major reason why is that racial demographics vary widely across the states today, which makes simplistic comparisons only of overall average scores an exercise in apples to oranges.
Consider this: In the 2019 NAEP Grade 4 Reading assessment, Kentucky’s public school enrollment was listed as 75% white. In notable contrast, the national public school enrollment is now only 46% white, and some states have much lower white proportions, including Texas at only 27%, New Mexico at only 23%, California at only 21% white and Hawaii at just 13% white. Overall, only seven states have white enrollment percentages higher than Kentucky’s.
What this means is that when only the “all students” scores are compared between the states, the analysis winds up comparing a lot of white students in Kentucky to a lot of children of color in other states. That just won’t work because large racial achievement gaps are found in virtually every state. Even though Kentucky’s whites score low, as we will shortly see, they still outscore virtually all the minority students, so comparing all student scores across the states loads the deck in Kentucky’s favor.
To do state to state comparisons somewhat more accurately, you really need to break out the results separately for each race.
To see how that works out, just click the “Read more” link.
MEDIA ALERT: Federal court hearing scheduled on injunction filed by BIPPS, ousted education board members
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Contact: Dr. Gary Houchens (270) 799-9081 or Jim Waters (270) 320-4376
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – A hearing scheduled in U.S. District Court, 333 West Broadway St in Frankfort, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 10 a.m. will consider a request for an emergency injunction to reverse Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order firing legally appointed Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) members whose terms have not expired and illegally – and unconstitutionally – seating new members without legislative approval.
Several of the ousted KBE members partnered with the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank, to file a lawsuit in federal court challenging Beshear’s actions to fire sitting board members without cause or due process.
“Gov. Beshear made it clear during his campaign that he wanted to fire state education board members because he disagrees with their support for education reform in general and school choice in particular,” Bluegrass Institute president and CEO Jim Waters said. “They were ousted without cause, without due process and without opportunity to clear their good names which the governor drug through the political mud in his executive order.”
Attorney Steven J. Megerle, who represents the ousted KBE members, said he will ask U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove to reinstate his clients to the board pending full legal proceedings to take place at a later date.
“We look forward to vigorously challenging this governor’s arbitrary actions that he himself fought to prevent while he was Attorney General just a few months ago,” said Megerle, who also serves on the Bluegrass Institute Board of Directors. “We hope the General Assembly will remedy and prevent future unconstitutional actions.”
Lead plaintiff Dr. Gary Houchens warns that a failure to shield the board from partisan politics will undermine the fundamental intent of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) of 1990, which sought to reduce political influence in the commonwealth’s Department of Education.
“Gov. Beshear’s executive order violates the spirit of KERA, overtly-politicizes the KBE and constitutes a political power grab specifically intended to be outlawed under KERA,” said Houchens, a member of the Bluegrass Institute Board of Scholars.
For more information, please contact Dr. Gary Houchens at (270) 799-9081 or Jim Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org, 859.444.5630 ext. 102 (office) or 270.320.4376 (cell).
In fact, we might be able to learn something from the Magnolia State!
And, they are doing it at lower cost, too!
This is an updated blog from one I posted back on November 2, 2019. Three months later, thanks to the absence of interest and coverage by Kentucky’s mainstream media (outside of my appearance on Kentucky Tonight on December 16, 2019), I am finding that a notable number of Kentuckians, including those in education, have no clue that what I talk about below has happened. As a result, it seems like a good idea to repost with some updated information.
To begin, one of the big shockers to come out of the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results is the way the state of Mississippi caught up to, and arguably surpassed, the Bluegrass State for fourth grade reading and mathematics.
Even more interesting, there might be some good reasons why Mississippi pulled off this upset, including legislation that pushes good reading instruction. We should be paying attention.
If you want to learn more about this than the media seem interested in telling you, just click the “Read more” link.
Tennessee joins Mississippi, others, in really requiring scientifically established reading instruction
Meanwhile, Kentucky just floats along
The Volunteer state, apparently tired of showing up as lack luster in rankings such as this one I posted a few days back for the way its education schools instruct student teachers to teach reading, is moving forward.
Now, Education Week reporter Catherine Gewertz says:
This new legislation, the only bill being requested by the Tennessee Department of Education this year, will require that state’s ed schools to instruct student teachers how to teach reading according to the results of scientific research and will also require working teachers and principals to learn how to teach this critical skill properly, as well.
Meanwhile, here in Kentucky I am having a real problem getting the education support crowd to even admit there is a problem and that ideas outside Kentucky might help. My recent posting of a blog about teachers’ pay and how Mississippi has now surpassed Kentucky for both white and black student scores for reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress has mostly just generated howls of protest instead of any thoughtful appraisal. That included some blunt comments from an educator that didn’t want to learn anything about Mississippi and a comment from a Kentucky education reporter whose claimed focus is on Kentucky, only, even if Mississippi might have something worthwhile to offer.
Well, other states like Mississippi and Arkansas are already on board with finally getting teachers trained properly on how to teach reading. Meanwhile newspaper comments about Mississippi are being made in other states like Texas and even Alaska. Alabama is also now pushing scientific reading, too.
So, folks in more and more states are getting it. I guess education reporters and others in those states are not wearing state-only, not-invented-here blinders. Kentucky better start paying attention – soon!