- Fayette County Schools…didn’t make progress on ACT benchmarks?
- Do you care about education accountability in Kentucky? If you do, you should share this with your state representatives.
- “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” – Abraham Lincoln
In this fictional tale of a British Man O’War in 1805, the captain of an outgunned warship realizes he must drill his gun crews until they can fire two broadsides in the time his much more heavily armed French adversary can fire one if the odds are to be evened.
The alternative to the drill – is being killed.
Flash forward to modern times in the real world. When KERA began, education Progressives told Kentuckians that requiring students to practice skills like mathematical operations and learning phonics were “Drill and Kill” activities that destroyed students’ desire to learn. These educational gurus assured us that if we followed their fanciful dreams about education, all would be wonderful in Kentucky’s public schools.
The problem: those gurus were wrong. Unlike the hero in Master and Commander – who knows what he is about – the “Drill and Kill” crowd was long on unproved theory, but woefully short on reality.
Result for Kentucky’s students, especially in mathematics, have been stark.
In 2009 Kentucky’s ninth grade white students were bested in federal testing by whites in every state shown in green in this map. Only in one state in the entire country, West Virginia, did whites get scores that were statistically significantly lower. Since whites make up about 85 percent of Kentucky’s public school population, it is clear that the vast majority of our students perform behind their peers in other states.
With math now recognized as a key skill for the 21st Century’s economy, it is clear that, thanks to bad advice from education gurus, our kids didn’t drill enough. The resulting deficiencies could kill our kids’ chances for a highly productive working life.
You can read a lot more about the mistakes in KERA in the Bluegrass Institute’s report series, KERA @ 20.
Today’s Courier-Journal editorial should have been entitled: “Vote for ‘Caretaker Governor’s’ reelection.”
By supporting Gov. Steve Beshear’s attempt to borrow $167 million from next year’s budget to close Kentucky’s Medicaid spending gap, the newspaper is essentially defending a political move designed to spare the pain of tough decisions until after this fall’s election.
Fortunately, our founders established a system of checks and balances in Frankfort. Making budget decisions during the current non-budget legislative session would require a supermajority of lawmakers to agree.
We’re hoping they won’t.
Students who score at the ACT Benchmark Scores have a 75 percent chance of earning a “C” and a 50 percent chance of earning a “B” in their first related college courses, so this is a rather important statistic to watch.
With the announcement of the departure of Stu Silberman from the Fayette County superintendent’s position, I was asked to take a look at the school district’s ACT performance.
This shows what I found, which quite frankly was an unpleasant surprise.
The least damage was in English, where the percentage of students making the cut only dropped by 0.4 point. But, the drop was a full point for reading, and it was two points or more for the critical subjects of math and science.
Sort of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
The House Education Committee passed House Bill 225 that prohibits 16- and 17-year-old students from dropping out of school.
That’s okay, but here’s the rest of the story:
– No homework was done to estimate the bill’s cost.
– No homework was done to estimate the bill’s savings.
– No solid numbers were provided on how many 16- and 17-year-olds drop out each year.
There were great emotional arguments and pleas for innovation to address this problem through more new technical and alternative programs.
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said he can’t get a good count on dropouts until 2013! That must be spin for “we neither have a key performance indicator on dropouts nor do we want to know.”
I’ll bet any entrepreneur in the commonwealth could provide the leadership to get the numbers… now. Here’s how it would happen:
– Provide clear instructions.
– Direct each school district to use pencils, paper and the telephone to provide a number each week to the commissioner.
– Create a spreadsheet that will document weekly and cumulative statistics for each school, district and the state system.
– Act on the information.
High-performance organizations do such things when they want to win performance excellence awards.
It’s ironic that the leaders in the education committee meeting talked about raising expectations to keep 16- and 17-year-olds in school when their own personal expectations on understanding the cost, benefit and impact are so low. But words are easy…actions always speak louder.
They demonstrated great examples of “groupthink” and “it’s not my job” to get facts or measurements and offered a real negative lesson in leadership for all of our kids. They also set a new low for leading by example that said you don’t need facts to justify anything in Kentucky education- just emotions and empty words.
What a sorry example of leadership and not taking ownership.
Truly embarrassing! Our children deserve better.
British philosopher Francis Bacon once said: “Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.” Jim Waters has many questions for Kentucky’s leaders.
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