“In essence, school choice is like a catalytic converter – accelerating the benefits of other elements of education reform. I don’t believe that school choice by itself is the answer to the challenges we face. But certainly, as part of a comprehensive strategy, it is very meaningful.” –Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at the recent National Conference of State Legislatures conference in Louisville
Education Week reports (subscription) about an analysis by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning of the 16 finalist states’ Race to the Top proposals.
Per the association, the winners were ready to use RTTT funds to offer more online opportunities.
There were also plans in the winning states to replace mandatory seat time with a competency-based progression system where kids could advance to the next level once they mastered skills. Such an approach allows fast learners to move ahead while slower learners still get the extra time they need to learn the material. On line learning can make such programs work much more effectively.
Here in Kentucky, we also have a virtual learning system, but as I point out in the Bluegrass Institute’s recently released paper, “Virtual schooling in Kentucky: Great promise with challenges,” it is under-utilized and poorly advertised. Perhaps the RTTT judges looked at that and decided Kentucky isn’t a leader in this area (which I suspect we are not).
Regardless of RTTT, I think that virtual schooling systems offer a lot of potential to improve education for many students in Kentucky. I also think these advanced educational systems can work much more efficiently than our current system.
Virtual schooling won’t be a suitable approach for all our kids, but it may reach many of today’s students far better than traditional classrooms – especially those dropping out – if we do a decent job of letting students know they have the option and then run the program intelligently.
Lexington’s $12 million budget hole has resulted in the elimination of several police and firefighter positions. Still, parks and recreation bureaucrats resist privatizing the city’s golf courses, which would save more than $1 million annually.
Click here to listen to the 90-second audio commentary.
Associated General Contractors of Kentucky filed suit Sept. 1 in Franklin Circuit Court to stop the Carter County School District from awarding bids under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Tri-State Building and Construction Trades Council for construction of Tygart Creek Elementary School.
– Reduces competition by imposing union rules on contractors who work on the project
– Requires workers to be union members and pay dues
– Requires contractors to hire workers from local union halls
– Forces contractors to follow union work rules
– Mandates that contractors pay union wages and benefits
The following excerpt gives an example of how competition is controlled by the PLA:
Tygart Elementary School
Prebid Meeting Minutes August 17, 2010
1. Introduction of Project Team Attendees list is attached to the Prebid Meeting Minutes
2. Project Overview and Description
3. Discussion of PLA (Project Labor Agreement)
Review wage rate requirements per the terms of the PLA. All bidders a [sic] advised to review and compare the published prevailing wage rates issued by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and also to review the prevailing wage rates applicable to the PLA included with addendum #1. All contractors are advised that the higher of the two wage rates shall take precedent for any and all crafts.
The PLA requires contractors to use the HIGHER of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s published prevailing wage rates or the applicable PLA rates. The contractors do not have the option of using their normal wage rates or practices.
This PLA for the Tygart school is another example of big government deciding how to spend our tax dollars with no regard for free and open entrepreneurial competition, best practices or cost.
You wouldn’t know Kentucky is strapped for money to take care of its schools when it comes to giving unions what they couldn’t win in open competition.
This is a very important lawsuit. More to follow.