For more than three decades, the United Negro College Fund’s mantra has been:
“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
Isn’t this true for all of Kentucky’s children?
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A new report from McKinsey & Co. is going to generate discussion along with lots of fussing from the US teachers corps and those who train teachers.
An Education Week article summarizes some of the McKinsey findings:
• Singapore, Finland and South Korea draw 100 percent of their teachers from the top 1/3 of the college academic pool
• In the US, only 23 percent of our teachers come from the top 1/3 of college students, and in our high poverty schools, its only 14 percent
• Teacher retention is a problem in the US, where 14 percent leave every year overall and 20 percent leave each year in high poverty schools. Overseas, annual losses are only 3 percent in Singapore and 1 percent in South Korea.
Salaries are an issue. Overseas:
• Teachers get retention bonuses of $10,000 to $36,000 every three to five years in Singapore
• Teachers get merit pay bonuses and increases of 10 to 30 percent of base pay
Certainly, as this graph from the McKinsey report shows, a very large proportion of US teachers comes from the lowest third of the college talent pool. In the US, nearly one out of two teachers (47%) comes from the bottom 1/3 of the ACT/SAT scorers.
Per Ed Week, the McKinsey authors say, “More than half of teachers (in the US) are trained in schools with low admission standards; many accept virtually any high school graduate who applies.”
Education Week interviewed Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, who supported those McKinsey findings. Says Walsh, “It’s easier to get into ed. school in the U.S. than it is to qualify to play college football.” Ms. Walsh added that most college sports programs require a minimum grade point average and SAT score, while some teacher-preparation programs don’t set such entry standards.
Quite naturally, complaints about the report have already started, and you can find some of them in the Ed Week article. More will certainly come as the McKinsey report adds more evidence that merit pay is a part of the success story in high performing education programs in foreign countries.
You can access the main McKinsey report and a separate appendix from links here.
Planned 25 percent hike really antagonizes hearing attendees
Public Service Commission hearing rules make crowd even angrier
As reported by the Kentucky Enquirer an angry, frustrated group of Northern Kentucky citizens let the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) hear how they felt about a huge, 25 percent increase in water rates loud and clear.
Overall, the meeting wound up with the PSC looking both citizen hostile and rather inefficient all at the same time.
As this first video shows, PSC Chairman David Armstrong started the meeting by explaining that the Northern Kentucky Water District petitioned the PSC for the huge rate increase in large measure to cover new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unfunded mandates and to repair aging equipment that has been in the ground for as long as 100 years.
But, testimony from citizens didn’t even start before the commissioner got himself in trouble by outlining the commission’s awkward, citizen unfriendly rules that would be followed during the meeting.
By the time the first citizen actually got to the microphone, the air was electric with the tension of extreme aggravation. As this next video shows, that tension wasted no time in surfacing in comments from a chemical engineer and a civil engineer, both with water treatment experience. Both took liberal shots, not only at the rate hike, but also at the science undergirding the EPA’s new rules. They continued their attacks by criticizing the apparent cave in of Kentucky’s leaders who should have protected the state’s citizens by protesting the regulations in Washington.
As you can see in the second video, as it attempted to duck responsibility for the failure to protest the EPA’s rules, the PSC pointed fingers at both the Kentucky Attorney General and the Kentucky Water Commission, claiming those agencies have the responsibility to protect individual citizens and to deal with the EPA.
Even that duck didn’t work out too well for the PSC. Angry citizens wanted to know why the Kentucky Water Commission was not represented at the hearing.
The PSC’s response just poured more gas on the fire. The PSC said this was a rate hearing, not a water quality hearing, an excuse that immediately fell flat with attendees. Angry citizens immediately pointed out that water quality was a major justification for the rate increase and was highly relevant to the discussion about whether the increase was justified. Before citizens could intelligently comment on the rate hike, they needed access to that technical information.
Overall, as the Enquirer points out, citizens came away angry not only about the proposed rate hike, but they also left the meeting with a new-found healthy distain for the way the PSC conducts hearings.
Clearly, not only do responsible Kentucky agencies need to get some spine and start questioning EPA’s unfunded mandates, but the PSC better give some serious thought to the way it conducts business, as well.
Clearly, the people who attended the hearing don’t seem likely to forget these matters. They know they may soon see a 25 percent increase in their water bills if they do.
It’s troublesome when legislators “puff up” the performance of Kentucky’s public schools by quoting out of date statistics, trying to make the numbers sound like the most current information available.
A recent case in point – yesterday’s commentary in the Union County Advocate from State Representative John Arnold, Jr.
Arnold claims that, “We have made some major sstrides (sic) in key areas.”
Spelling problems not withstanding, Arnold claims one of those major stride areas is that “Our high school graduation rate is well above the national average.” Note the current tense of the verb.
This slide shows the latest available federally computed comparison data for Kentucky’s high school graduation rate and the best available national average for all states. The numbers come from a June 2010 publication from the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a group that has no reason to play favorites among states.
This latest available data from Washington shows Kentucky not only has a high school graduation rate BELOW the average across all states that reported data, but – maybe even worse – the high school graduation rate in Kentucky fell consistently after the 2005-06 year.
How did Representative Arnold go wrong?
Click the “Read more” link to find out.
Representative Arnold relied on a report – recently published, by the way – by the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission’s Office of Education Accountability (OEA). It’s titled, “Compendium of State Education Rankings 2009.”
The report’s title says 2009, but the table on Page 30 that Arnold relies on shows the federally reported graduation data in the report cuts off at 2006. That data is almost half a decade out of date. That’s a bit hard to understand. “Public School Graduates and Dropouts From the Common Core of Data: School Year 2006–07, First Look” dates from October 2009, well before the OEA report was presented to the legislature in March 2010 for final approval. It shows data to 2007, which provides the first indication that our graduation rate was in decline.
Relying on that out of date data hides a very inconvenient truth: the most recent federal data show there was a very undesirable trend of decay in high school graduation rates in Kentucky after 2006.
Furthermore, as this next graph shows, the years selected for comparison in the OEA report are awfully “conveniently selected.” Kentucky hit its lowest-ever graduation rates between 1999 and 2002.
The facts are that Kentucky’s most recent federally reported Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate of 74.4 in 2008 is well below the state’s peak rate of 79.2, which occurred way back in the 1993-94 school term, BEFORE KERA had much impact on our high schools (See Table 101 in the Digest of Education Statistics 2006, for example).
Bottom line: Kentucky’s recent high school graduation rate performance is not a major “stride,” correctly spelled or not. On this statistic, using a well-researched federal calculation, we remain behind where we were back in the early days of KERA.
But, some legislators don’t know that.
One last point, Representative Arnold admits in his Op-Ed that, “Only a third of last school year’s graduating high school seniors were considered college-ready.”
That being the case, it raises unfortunate questions:
• Did Kentucky’s schools socially promote more students all the way to a high school diploma between 2002 and 2006?
• Did the introduction of 100 percent testing with the ACT college entrance test in 2006 start to put a halt to that practice?
Those are questions worth thinking about.
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