Jim Waters, vice president of policy and communications for the Bluegrass Institute, will be speaking on charter schools at today’s Senate Education Committee meeting.
Meeting will be at 11 a.m. (EST) in Room 149 at the Annex.
It’s no secret to Bluegrass Institute readers: we are upset with the way this state’s educators hid the fact that thousands of kids were being quietly pushed out the school door forever while those same educators consistently misled the public about the true crisis in high school graduation rates. We’ve been upset for a long time.
Now, the Kentucky School Boards Association reports on pages 8 and 9 of the January, 2011 edition of the “Kentucky School Advocate” that school districts are bracing for the fallout when more accurate graduation rate reporting finally hits the commonwealth in 2014.
Well, I am having a hard time sympathizing with Kentucky educators on this one.
Kentucky educators, you all went “wink, wink” year after year while you fed the citizens of this state inflated graduation rate figures that clearly were illusory.
The nonsense continued even after more accurate formulas to calculate and report this information were researched and made available by the National Center for Education Statistics way back in 2006.
The nonsense even continued after the Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts looked at the state’s dropout and graduation rate reporting in 2006 and said there was serious inflation in the graduation rates and a significant understatement of the real dropout rates.
Still, Kentucky’s educators just went “wink, wink.”
The latest graduation rate data release in 2010 finds the Kentucky Department of Education still using the very same, inaccurate reporting procedures that the Auditor identified four years earlier.
Furthermore, the department is only starting to get honest now because the feds finally forced them to do so.
In fact, due to the chronic lack of urgency on this issue, Kentucky will be either the last, or the second to last, state to finally provide its citizens with accurate graduation rate data.
So, don’t look for sympathy from me on this one. Our educators stood by and misled us for years, showing no sense of urgency to make improvements until the feds got nasty.
Even now, educators are fussing because the graduation rate formula chosen by the feds won’t count kids who take more than four years of high school to graduate as a success story.
While I certainly want our schools to hang in there for kids who need extra time, I think the feds believe it’s about time the taxpayer gets a little break in this. It costs a lot of extra money when kids have to be retained in schools for an extra year, or two. And, evidence we are starting to see from charter schools – such as this one in Chicago that took in a freshman class where only four percent were reading at grade level and four years later sent ALL of them, as graduates, to four-year colleges – shows that fussing about the federal requirements may be just that, mostly fussing.
Kentucky educators, you owe the commonwealth, and the thousands of kids you simply forgot, a huge apology. It’s time to stop whining and start winning for kids, instead.
Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute vice president of policy and communications, will be on WBFI’s BBC morning show today from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (CST).
The program can be heard by 350,000 listeners throughout central Kentucky. Listen at 91.5 FM (McDaniels/Leitchfield), 97.1 FM (Ft. Knox, Radcliff) and 100.9 FM (Hartford/Beaver Dam).
Click here to listen online.
With the legislative session now in session, you may want to see if there are prefiled bills in specific areas of interest to you. Fortunately, the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission has such a feature, though it is somewhat cryptically named the “BR Index – Headings.”
Here is a snapshot of a portion of what you will find under the topic “Education, Elementary and Secondary.”
Good Job, LRC!
Now, if we can get something similar for the bills filed during the session, life will be really good.
While most in the nation are concerned about rising unemployment and out of control debt, the current administration in Washington is working on…search engine optimization?
That’s right. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is apparently using taxpayer money for paid search engine results at Google. Is HHS working to market legislation that most Americans did not want? Legislation should be a reflection of the will of the people, not a product that has to be sold to constituents.
At a time when Americans are tightening their belts, it seems distasteful and a waste to spend taxpayer money on search engine optimization for a bill that was shrouded in secrecy and did not accurately reflect the will of American citizens.
Find more information about health care reform in Kentucky here.
Tomorrow, January 4th, Kentucky legislators head to Frankfort to begin the 2011 General Assembly. With a shorter 30 day session this year, Kentucky lawmakers are not wasting any time. Legislators have already pre-filed over 100 bills.
In December, Senate President David Williams announced the Republican policy agenda for the upcoming session, including charter schools, tax code reform, transparency and accountability, pension reform, state sovereignty, and medicaid fraud.
Governor Steven Beshear has indicated his priorities will be more narrow, focusing on balancing the medicaid budget against shortfall and raising the dropout age from 16 to 18. He will announce his full agenda in his State of the Commonwealth address.
With the 2011 gubernatorial race already brewing, this year’s General Assembly is sure to be interesting.
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