Could something similar have happened here?
Editors at the Boston Globe are clearly worried about the replacement of two of the Massachusetts Board of Education’s most outspoken critics of the recent decision to drop Massachusetts’ highly regarded education standards. Instead, the state is signing on to the ‘Common Core Standards’ that Kentucky recently adopted.
The newspaper worries:
“The education bureaucracy rolls unimpeded without Stotsky, a prickly expert on English language arts, and Fortmann, an exacting math consultant.”
Under its soon to be replaced standards, Massachusetts has been cleaning up on recent testing from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
For example, the state’s 2009 NAEP proficiency rates in math in grade 4 was 57 percent, way above the US average of 38 percent and Kentucky’s 37 percent. In grade 8 math, Massachusetts scored 52 percent proficient while the nation only posted 33 percent proficiency and Kentucky scored just 27 percent proficient.
In NAEP reading in 2009 in grade 4, Massachusetts scored 47 percent proficient, while the US average was only 32 percent and Kentucky posted a 36 percent rate. In grade 8 reading, the percentages were 43 percent in Massachusetts, 30 percent nationwide, and 33 percent in Kentucky.
Of course, as I have written before, Kentucky enjoys a huge and unfair advantage in these NAEP comparisons because we are not a diverse state. In 2009 grade 4 reading NAEP reported 84 percent of Kentucky’s fourth grade students were white while in Massachusetts only 69 percent were. US wide, the white population was only 54 percent.
Anyway, I have to ask – Why would a state give up on success like that?
Closer to home, our own Kentucky Board of Education is getting a major rework, as well. Some of the same concerns the Globe raises about a loss of people willing to speak out may apply here, as well. Gone, in particular, is hard-charging Joe Brothers, former chair of the board. It remains to be seen if the replacement members maintain his strong push to address our chronically low-achieving schools or return to the ask no deep questions mode of operation that generally hampered the board ever since it was reformed in 1990 by KERA.
Operation: Open Records 2010 marches on!
Requests were sent yesterday to obtain the check registers for the last fiscal year to those schools who opted to reply to previous records requests via their lawyers. We talked a little bit about this when it was revealed that Grant County Schools (a district with 5 schools) paid close to $110,000 in legal fees in fiscal year 2009.
We have already received Grant County Schools’ check register. In FY 2010, the district spent $72,000 on legal expenses. The good news? This time, the school district didn’t have their attorney respond, it was someone on staff! Maybe, just maybe, we finally got through…
1) A foggy window is made of glass – but it’s still hard to see through. We’ve talked for a long time about how transparency is important because it is the first step toward accountability. This is absolutely the truth. While we do have the Kentucky Open Records Act (which we have made extensive use of here) in our commonwealth, we need to make sure that our transparency is transparent – that we have effective and responsive transparency. This video lays out why that is important.
2) FreedomKentucky.org, our government transparency and accountability website is on the cusp of hitting 1 million views! This is exciting as FreedomKentucky.org has become a resource for Kentucky’s citizenry to access information about their elected officials, schools, state performance data and also provide them with the opportunity to voice their own contribution!
3) Ungraded primary performance! – Check out this recently contributed article by education analyst Richard Innes.