Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute vice president of policy and communications, will guest host NewsTalk 93 WKCT’S Mornings with Darrell and Al from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (CST) Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec. 6-8).
We promised that our “KERA @ 20” reports would be living documents with updates and expansion coming in the KERA Portal where you can access everything from one page.
One of those recent updates is titled “Teachers Didn’t Get a Fair Share of Kentucky’s Education Funding Increase,” and you can access it by clicking on this title in the “See Also” section at the bottom of the KERA Portal.
Here are some facts:
Between the 1989-90 and 2008-09 school terms, total expenditures in Kentucky’s school districts rose by 54.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, but the average Kentucky teacher’s salary only rose 12.6 percent in real dollars.
I know where some of it went. Non-teacher staffing in our schools rose by 59.4 percent between the Fall of 1989 and the Fall of 2007, while the number of Kentucky classroom teachers only increased by 21.8 percent (Sorry, I don’t have more current figures right now).
So, teachers in Kentucky didn’t fare that well under KERA. But, I suspect the unions did better. A notable proportion of the non-classroom teacher positions are in areas like curriculum specialists, assessment coordinators, and other skills that often are unionized positions. All of those extra union positions generate dues money for the union, but they don’t do a thing for raising the individual teacher’s salary.
Think about it, taxpayer. You put up 54.9 percent more in real dollars, but teachers only got a 12.6 percent raise. Do you really think that is the way to attract high-quality candidates into teaching careers? And, do you think the creation of a lot of featherbedding non-classroom jobs does a lot to improve education where it matters – in the classroom?
Thomas McAdam of the Louisville City Hall Examiner took the media to task for defending soon-to-be-ex Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman.
He called a Louisville Courier-Journal editorial claiming Berman’s main problem was a failure to communicate as “fatuous,” for which the synonyms “dull,” “dense” and “dim-witted” apply.
That’s the ticket. What we have here is failure to communicate. Same liberal excuse for Obama’s decline in popularity; the shellacking the Democrats received at the polls this month; and the rejection of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi socialistic healthcare and carbon tax agendas by the American public. Maybe if we’d just have explained ourselves to the ignorant lumpen proletariat in words of one syllable, they might have understood the wisdom of leftist government.
And Shelly Berman should have done a better job of explaining to Louisville’s unhappy and disgruntled parents that “…busing is a fact of life in 21st Century urban education;” despite the facts that: Busing is strongly opposed by the majority of students and their parents; It violates state law requiring neighborhood schools; It violates rulings by the U. S. Supreme Court; and it has failed to make any measurable improvement in the education of our children
Of course, it’s hard to explain something to people when you are out of town and out of contact.
McAdam also pointed out that Berman’s international travels – in which he was away from his post for 40 working days, or two full months out of 13 months – occurred while “only 33 of the system’s 133 schools met No Child Left Behind goals, a 13% drop from last year.”
Berman also missed every single graduation in the district. It should tell you something that the media and the Jefferson County teachers union continued to defend this incompetent educrat right up to the moment the JCPS School Board voted not to renew his contract.
In a way, Berman’s actual departure is sort of a non-event. Except for messing up the busing
situation and a politically correct but “parent-ally” unpopular student-assignment plan, he’s been gone — more or less — since he started.
New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie is providing the kind of education-reform leadership badly needed in Kentucky.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear talks, creates task forces to appear engaged on the issue and talks some more. But Gov. Christie acts by pursuing an aggressive agenda that includes “expanding school choice options for students and overhauling teacher tenure, compensation, and pensions.”
He is putting the interests of New Jersey’s kids ahead of the self-aggrandizing teachers unions and educrats in the schools of education who have yet to move from lah-lah land into the realm of reality.
I wonder when Kentucky’s governor and education officials charged with reforming the commonwealth’s education system might also be making that move.
Jefferson County Board of Education member Linda Duncan is one confused lady.
She writes in the Courier-Journal that she is upset because the state’s educators want kids to at least score “Proficient” in math and reading on the state’s assessments.
Ms. Duncan mistakenly thinks the level of performance considered “Proficient” as determined by Frankfort is somehow equivalent to the much higher, but necessary, level of performance defined by the National Center of Education Statistics and the National Assessment Governing Board for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Where did Ms. Duncan get such a completely wrong idea? Soon to be departing Jefferson County superintendent Sheldon Berman, perhaps?
In fact, the low level of student performance required to reach “Proficient” in Kentucky’s testing program is NOTHING like the requirements to be scored “Proficient” in the NAEP.
We discuss this extensively in our new reports on KERA @ 20, available here.
Here is Figure 8 from the full report. This shows how seriously inflated Kentucky’s fourth grade reading proficiency rate has become in comparison to reported rates based on higher standards for the NAEP. NAEP proficiency rates are shown by the dark blue bars, while the reading proficiencies reported by Kentucky’s KIRIS (to 1998) and CATS testing (actually from the CATS Kentucky Core Content Tests, or KCCT, from 1999 on) are shown by the pink bars.
Notice how the proficiency rates from Kentucky’s tests exploded over the years. Kentucky’s fourth grade reading proficiency rates now run over twice as high as those reported for the same students by the NAEP.
Clearly, the CATS KCCT for reading has become grossly inflated. And, the CATS KCCT proficiency standard is NOTHING like the NAEP’s.
Still, even though Kentucky set low standards for itself – nothing like NAEP’s – Ms. Duncan is whining.
Ms. Duncan, please read our reports and get better informed. The kids in Louisville are depending upon you to do a better job, but your letter shows you are not doing your homework.
Comments from the lead article in this Sunday’s Business Section of the Kentucky Enquirer are stunning.
“Even as the region’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, well-paying jobs across Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati have gone unfilled.
‘Employers are telling us that they can’t get the employees they need because the local work force doesn’t have the proper skills,’ says Steve Stevens, president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. ‘That’s a story we’ve been hearing for a while. We have to begin to move the needle on this.’”
“The talent gap, Stevens says, is the direct result of the failure of public schools across the region to prepare students for the jobs of the future.”
Changes the NKY Chamber would like:
• More business practices in the school system to enhance accountability and raise the performance bar
• Merit pay for teachers
• More superintendent control of principal hiring (which requires changes to the SBDM rules)
• Districts working more effectively together
• A better plan for innovative processes (the lack of which caused us the loss of Race to the Top money)
• More business-education collaboration
• Moving beyond acceptance of the status quo
The full, thought-provoking article should be mandatory reading for everyone in Kentucky. It certainly provides dramatic support for many of the comments made in the Bluegrass Institute’s recently released set of reports about what we have learned about KERA in the past 20 years (access here).
I don’t know if the N KY Chamber folks had a chance to read our reports before the Enquirer ran their article, but I know they’ve heard a lot of the information in the reports before, from me. I’m a NKY Chamber member and serve on its education committee.