- Washington’s Parasites Take Aim at Apple – government take-over of the car industry, regulation of soft-drinks, tobacco bans…yes, government intervention is getting out of control but don’t mess with my Apple! The Cato Institute takes a look at being penalized for success.
- FreedomKentucky.org – just a little plug for our government transparency site. We are nearing a million visits and with each day our database of information becomes more and more robust. Spread the word about this site and if you’re feeling particularly saucy, maybe you can contribute some of your knowledge to help the cause!
- Followthemoney.org – if you haven’t visited this site, you are missing out on a great resource. There are so many things you can track here it’s almost not worth listing them…just go check it out!
- Superintendent Reviews Update – we have continued posting superintendent reviews, check and see if your district is listed. You may find the reviews to be surprisingly…well…glowing.
- Federal money, local jobs? – This CafeHayek piece is a good follow up to a blog I posted yesterday about the creation of “energy-manager” positions for school districts.
KET’s Monday night show on charter schools provided plenty of examples of how opponents of charters will grasp at almost any straw to fight introducing these highly successful public schools in Kentucky.
One of the more outrageous of those examples occurred about 48 minutes into the program (which is on line here) when Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, tried to make a case that competition from charter schools would induce public schools to waste money on public relations instead of helping students.
Well, even without charter schools, our regular public school system has been working overtime to inundate the public with all sorts of public relations “stuff” about how wonderfully the system is progressing.
One of the worst examples comes from McKim’s very own school district. The Bluegrass Institute has written plenty about it.
This PR nonsense involves grossly inflated claims about reading improvement in Jefferson County under the Every1Reads program.
If McKim is really serious about public schools wasting money on PR stunts, he can start saving some money right now by getting his very own home town school district to stop misleading the public with the nonsense that any kid who scores above “Novice” on the Kentucky Core Content Tests is somehow “performing at grade level” and is doing just fine.
The facts are that while the Every1Reads program claims Jefferson County readers are over 90 percent up to speed, the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress Trial Urban District Assessment showed only 30 percent of the fourth graders in town read proficiently and just 26 percent of the eighth grade students did.
Per our alert yesterday, last night’s Kentucky Tonight show on KET was all about charter schools.
It brought together State Representatives Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville and Carl Rollins, D- Midway with Jefferson County Teachers Association president Brent McKim and Bluegrass Institute board member Phil Moffitt to hassle it out about charter schools.
Of course, as is usually the case with Kentucky Tonight shows, there were plenty of ‘opinions,’ only some of which are really true. I’ll discuss an obvious one in this first blog.
One of the key issues in the charter school debate is whether or not the current, plodding pace of Kentucky’s regular public schools is adequate.
Around 49 minutes into the show (which is now viewable on line here), McKim stated that Kentucky used to score around 48th or 49th on a whole host of education indicators in the early 1990s. One indicator he mentioned was the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Well, here are some facts.
Back in 1992, Kentucky’s overall eighth grade math scale score on the NAEP ranked 28 out of 41 states. Thirteen states scored lower than Kentucky did that year (so, we didn’t rank 49th or 48th, not even close). On a percentile basis that can be compared to the 2009 results, when all states participated, this is about the 34th percentile.
Flash forward to 2009.
Kentucky’s overall eighth grade math score on NAEP tied one other state for a rank of 34 out of 50 states. Fifteen states out of this larger testing group scored lower than Kentucky. Kentucky’s performance falls at about the 34th percentile for comparison to the 1992 situation.
In other words, in eighth grade math our relative performance didn’t budge for all students compared to other states between 1992 and 2009. But, back in 1992 the state’s performance wasn’t equivalent to a 48th or 49th place performance, either.
Adding insult to injury, as of 2009, the NAEP says Kentucky’s eighth grade math proficiency rate is only 27 percent, little more than one in four. How can anyone call this significant progress?
By the way, we didn’t score at the bottom on NAEP fourth grade reading and fourth grade math in 1992, either. Fourteen states scored lower in reading and eleven states scored lower in fourth grade math.
Now, regular readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of simplistically looking only at overall NAEP scores for all students (I’ll leave such misleading simplistic analysis to the Prichard Committee, which McKim praised during the telecast, by the way).
I explain why I don’t favor simplistic ranking of overall student scores from NAEP in this freedomkentucky.org Wiki item.
So, let’s very quickly look at how our eighth grade whites did on NAEP math back in 1992 and in 2009. Whites in Kentucky comprise about 85 percent or so of the NAEP samples.
In 1992 the NAEP Data Explorer shows that 41 states received eighth grade math scores for whites. Kentucky ranked in a tie with Arkansas and Alabama at 35th place. That was around the 17th percentile. Four states had lower white math scores.
In 2009, Kentucky’s eighth grade whites were in a four-way tie, ranking 44 out of 50 participating states. Whites in only three states scored lower. On a percentile basis, make that the 14th percentile.
So, our whites lost a little ground between 1992 and 2009 in eighth grade math.
Now, why would Mr. McKim be so confused about all of this?
More importantly, how can we continue to just tinker with a public school system that has continuously failed to perform for two decades? It’s time for something better. Our kids deserve it.
The NAEP scores were all obtained from the NAEP Data Explorer.
I assembled the rankings from downloaded spreadsheets of the data.
Yesterday I asked some questions regarding stimulus money being used to hire 35 full-time “energy managers” for Kentucky school districts.
On the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence website you can see how all of the stimulus money set aside for the Kentucky State Energy Program is divided up – all $52.5 million of it.
The “School Energy Managers Project”, as you can see, is allotted $5,050,012. That’s a lot of money for 35 people. In fact, that is $144,286 a person. I certainly hope that’s not an annual salary figure.
Seems like a lot of money to me, especially since Governor Beshear already received input from state workers on how the state can save money through simple energy fixes. You can see those energy saving recommendations made by state workers here.
Question: Your essay offers parallels between Brooklyn busybodies and Taliban oppressors. How does the nanny state resemble totalitarian theocracy?
Answer: Consider ice cream: Even a single scoop of vanilla was forbidden to women in pre-war Afghanistan, lest they become decadent and Western. In Brooklyn, moms try to force ice cream trucks out of parks, thus eliminating the temptation to consume fat and sugar. The magnitude of interference is different, but both are looking to the state to protect the people from their worst selves.
But according to US Debt Clock.org, it’s not California or New York or Arizona that’s in the hottest fiscal water. It’s………Kentucky!
According to the real-time info on this “clock,” Kentucky’s 32 percent debt-to-GDP (technically, it would be Gross State Product, which is the best indicator of a state’s economic health) ratio is the highest in the entire nation. And that percentage keeps growing.
And just think, the Kentucky House of Representatives wanted to add more than $1 billion worth of additional bonded indebtedness to the backs of Kentucky taxpayers during the just-completed legislative session. Shameful.
For your added viewing pleasure: Watch the “clock” and you’ll see the debt, like magic, increase right before your very eyes!!