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.
The Kentucky Kids Count 2010 County Data Book was released recently, and I’m still looking over the data tables as there may be some good information here.
However, one set of data in the book is definitely wrong.
On page 2, the new report says,
“From the 2002-03 school year to the 2008-09 school year, the Kentucky high school graduation rate increased 5 percentage points from 79 percent to 84 percent, yet this is a drop from 85 percent in SY 2008.”
That’s not right. It grossly overstates the real graduation rate in Kentucky, something I have reported on for the Bluegrass Institute since its founding days back in 2003, and which was confirmed by federal research four years ago, which I also reported about extensively, for example here.
Why does the Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA), who publish the County Data Book, continue to echo the past nonsense from the Kentucky Department of Education? Why does the KYA rely on data that even the Kentucky Commissioner of Education now admits over-reported graduation rates by about 10 points?
This graph, which I have used before, shows the difference between the nonsense that the KYA continues to quote and the results of graduation rate calculations by the US Department of Education.
By the way, I asked KYA about their continued use of data that even the federal government is no longer willing to accept. KYA weakly replied that they and their parent organization for this report series have decided to use government reported data.
OK, which government data?
The graph above shows the difference between graduation rates calculated with the Kentucky Department of Education’s inflated formula, which is being dropped, and the graduation rates reported by the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.
Why continue to report bad data?
Over to you, KYA.
How many kids got sent all over creation during Jefferson County Schools’ opening day?
It’s kind of amusing. The Courier-Journal doesn’t seem to be able to get its numbers straight about the number of kids who got home really, really late on the chaotic opening day of schools in the newspaper’s own home town.
On August 31, 2010, in “JCPS may delay new assignment plan for middle, high schools,” Courier reporter Toni Konz said 400 kids were impacted.
Back on Sunday, a Courier editorial said it was only 200 kids.
Of course, that Sunday editorial was trying to take a shot at State Senators David Williams and Dan Seum for being concerned enough about the mess in Jefferson County to propose a bill to protect parent and student rights to choose a school close to their home.
I guess when the Courier wants to take shots at legislators it’s perfectly OK to cut numbers in half whenever it suits the editors’ purposes. Or, maybe some of the Courier’s editors got too much of a dose of that “fuzzy math” our kids have been getting in KERA schools for the past 20 years.
By the way, I’d not be surprised if even the 400 number Toni Konz reported were actually low. I am hearing from parents who have children in other schools besides the three where the 400 kids supposedly got badly misrouted on opening day.
And, just today I heard that a bus that had been dropping kids from Cochran Elementary off at 5:15 PM or later suddenly dropped kids off without parents waiting a half-hour early at 4:45. Five year olds got to walk home, crossing busy Louisville streets, on their own thanks to this latest busing gaff.
If you are a Jefferson County parent who knows of other continuing problems with the busing program, let us know.
Recently the Mercatus Center was invited to testify before the interim joint committee on state government in Frankfort about the virtues, best practices, and challenges of transparency in government. Representing the Mercatus Center was Jim Musser, Director of Economic Education. You can view the entire presentation below…
Some key points from the presentation:
- Transparency is a process not an end.
- Transparency is being able to see the results of money spent, not just seeing that money was spent.
- Legislative action is the best way to ensure transparency because this ensures that there is a discussion on what should be transparent and provides safeguards against transparency being easily removed (vs. transparency by executive order which can disappear when an office changes hands).
They are already heading down that road, but some don’t know it
GPS car navigation units are great. Can’t read a map? No problem – a GPS can give you step-by-step voice directions to get you to your destination. It can even nag you if you make a wrong turn.
It’s too bad there isn’t an ‘education system GPS,’ because the editors at the Courier-Journal clearly need one. Their local school system is already headed down the wrong road, but the editors don’t even know it. They need an ‘education GPS’ nagging them that an hour-long school bus ride for a five year old is just too long when other options are available, and the resulting loss of education readiness in that child just too high a price to pay.
Here are just a few of the ‘danger ahead road signs’ the editors missed in their Sunday editorial:
• Two out of three students in Louisville now must ride a bus to get to school, which is throwing a lot of education dollars out of school bus tail pipes instead of into classroom improvements.
• Because of the diversity plan, children attend schools sometimes over an hour away. That includes kids as young as five.
• Kids as young as five have to negotiate bus changes in transfer yards that reports indicate are more suited to herding cattle. Kids are held on the bus in those yards without water or rest facilities until the transfer bus arrives.
• The Courier prattles on about “giant strides” Kentucky has made in education. Really? The editors must have missed my blog, “TEK Task Force talks up Kentucky education progress: Really?” and this graphic:
If this is all the proficiency we can demonstrate now, exactly how much progress could we have made in the past 20 years?
• Finally, the Courier talks about how those outside Kentucky highly regard Louisville’s school system. That is a bunch of ‘sellers talk.’ After going down in defeat twice in Race to the Top, I think most sober people in Kentucky are finally realizing that the state is no longer considered an education leader. The Courier is living in some sort of KERA anti-bellum haze.
To finish, diversity is a worthwhile goal, but not if it is pushed to an extreme.
After all, most of the eastern counties in Kentucky have virtually no black kids. If diversity ‘a la Louisville’ is the key, why aren’t we busing kids all the way over there?
The answer is that there has to be some balance in this program or else it winds up undermining education. Clearly, the folks at the Courier have gotten lost on this road to bad education, and so far they have not had the courage to ask for help to get back on the right track.