“Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless.” –Milton Friedman
“ARRA will provide a much-needed, one-time infusion of dollars that will allow us to maintain our jobs and quality of life through investments in education, health care and public safety; and to make strategic investments now to position Kentucky for the future.”
Has Kentucky used the $3 billion in federal funds to “maintain our jobs and quality of life?” We’ll let you decide:
• Nearly $1 million to fund a program to improve the cardiovascular health of male inmates.
• Another $600,000 to the University of Kentucky to investigate the fundamental constants, elementary interactions and basic symmetries of the Standard Model.
• UK also received about $570,000 to research Salamanders because they are model organisms in areas of human health.
• More than $120,000 to the city of Lancaster for an award description titled “arra stimulas” (yes, spelled this way) to fund an unknown project.
• Go Green Louisville got $7 million for energy efficient traffic signals and lighting and installation of renewable energy technologies on government buildings.
• A Louisville grocery store that has yet to even be built got $3 million — in the name of “community development.”
• $890 for work boots.
• More than $357,000 to repair an abandoned furnace in Fitchburg, Kentucky after a failed attempt in 2004 that cost over $660,000.
Sam Corbett, the chair of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, just had an Op-Ed posted in the Courier-Journal. He talks about a self-proclaimed Prichard goal to see Kentucky rank among the top 20 states in the year 2020 for educational performance.
According to Corbett, we are not far off from that goal now. He claims “reading results have arrived” already in both fourth and eighth grade today.
Let’s see where we have “arrived.”
The figure below shows the latest available proficiency rates for math and reading in grades four and eight and for writing in grade eight from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Note: NAEP science and fourth grade writing scores are half a decade or more old, too old to be relevant today.
The graph shows that, in general, little more than one out of three Kentucky fourth students is testing “Proficient” in either math or reading. Things are even worse in eighth grade, where it’s more like only one in four students tests “Proficient” on math and writing.
Yet, Prichard has the nerve to claim, “Reading results have arrived.”
Prichard ignores some important facts in its bogus state to state rankings. I pointed out some of those issues a few days ago.
Here’s some more information. Fact: Kentucky ranks a bit better in reading according to Prichard’s inappropriate rankings because the rest of the nation has experienced an upheaval of immigration, which is badly dragging scores down.
Kentucky’s current student population is about 85 percent white today, while across the nation, the percentage of whites in public classrooms has dropped from around 75 percent when KERA started to barely a majority today. And, in other parts of the country a notable proportion of the new students of color don’t speak English as their primary language, either.
In addition, Kentucky excludes more learning disabled kids from NAEP reading than the national average, further inflating our relative ranking.
Thus, Prichard is actually shooting at a low target. That’s how they can claim we have arrived when only around one in three, sometimes only around one in four, students are testing Proficient on NAEP. If we’ve “arrived” while proficiency rates hover as low as those shown in the graph above, it’s clear “arriving” per Prichard is meaningless.
Kathy Gornik, Bluegrass Institute board chair, used the current political campaign to make an important contrast on PBS between business and government.
“We create wealth as opposed to being on the dole where they have to confiscate money from those who produce wealth, like myself, and then redistribute it other people,” Gornik told PBS NewsHour correspondent Gwen Ifill.
Richard Innes, the Bluegrass Institute’s education analyst, will present information on the current performance of Kentucky’s public education system at forums being held Tuesday in Lexington and Louisville.
The Lexington Forum, hosted by the Asteroids Organization and Imani Baptist Church, will be held in the Imani Baptist Church Hospitality Room at 1555 Georgetown Rd. from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. A continental breakfast will be served.
The Louisville Forum, hosted by the Kentucky Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Kentucky Educational Restoration Alliance Inc., will be held at the NIA Center, 2900 West Broadway Street, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The forums will also feature presentations from Ken Campbell, president of Black Alliance for Education Options (BAEO), Todd Ziebarth, vice president of state advocacy and support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and Jeff Reed, state program director for the Foundation for Educational Choice.
Both events are free and open to the public. Anyone concerned about the future of public education in Kentucky should plan to attend.
The state reports the good news that revenues are up in September as the economy starts a slow recovery.
Of course, many local school boards already raised taxes at the maximum rate they were allowed to go without a vote by local residents. Want to bet if any of those raises get repealed if the revenue stream continues to improve?