Approving charter schools during the upcoming special legislative session could boost Kentucky’s chances of securing millions of federal education dollars.
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The News-Journal reports that the Corbin Independent School District has made good on its promise to do what it takes to protect student choice. The district filed suit in court to get its long-standing student transfer agreement with the Knox County Public Schools reinstated.
This lawsuit is about protecting the rights of parents to make a choice in the schools their children attend.
I would not be surprised if the relative performance of these two school systems becomes part of the lawsuit. After all, why should children be trapped in such a low-performing school system when a better option, at least until recently, has been available for many years?
How does trapping kids in schools advance education in Kentucky?
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) recently released results from the NAEP 2005 high school transcript study.
The report contains this graph, which shows the increase in grade point average by subject for high school seniors.
It’s interesting to compare that trend to the math scores for 17-year old students from the NAEP Long-Term Trend Assessment. Here is a graph of those scores which I assembled using the NAEP Data Explorer:
Can you say, “grade inflation?”
Our schools are grading more easily, which makes them look good, but our kids are hitting college and getting the rude shock that they don’t know enough math and need to take remedial courses despite their misleadingly high GPAs from high school.
The School-Based Decision Making (SBDM) Law (KRS 160.345) relinquishes too much decision power to part-time administrative amateurs. Kentucky has systemic problems in its schools.
Name one other organization that has a crucial mission with severe consequences if it fails that hands over critical top management planning and decision-making to three non-management employees and two customers. Think about it.
Even though Kentucky’s school councils know there are problems, a special report documents achievement gaps are not being closed with any sense of urgency. It’s a tough job to turn a school around. It is next to impossible with Kentucky’s legislative edicts and union constraints.
There is another way. Kentucky could give total control and accountability to experienced, proven leaders that taxpayers are paying for but getting no real leadership from.
The Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education at the University of Virginia offers the opportunity for successful school administrators who have earned at least a master’s degree to also earn a professional credential in educational turnaround management. Successful candidates are established leaders who are dynamic, committed, strategic, data-driven and results-oriented. Moreover, they will have demonstrated success at mobilizing resources and motivating people to elevate student achievement in a time-compressed manner.
There’s no comparison between the criteria to enter the Darden/Curry education management turnaround program and that required to serve on a Kentucky school council. Kentucky kids deserve the best at every Kentucky school.
It’s time to can the SBDM theory and implement a proven responsibility and accountability chain of command to get needed results with a sense that time is of the essence.
Getting results is what big education spending is all about – not management experiments and just getting along.
Want to find a good example of where we need accountability in government? Try the upcoming Lexington-Fayette County PVA race. A former PVA is running again after a short stint away from the position. Apparently she left the post just in time to receive a nice state funded pension and now seeks to receive a paycheck in addition to that.
We need accountability.
In a time when jobs are being cut and budgets are tight we need accountability so that we don’t waste funds.
As long as state and local leadership continues business as usual we will continue to have the usual problems.
The short answer to this question is very poorly.
Hear exactly how poorly from Jackie Stamps, the Regional Director for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department of Community Based Services.
Some of the things Ms. Stamps mentions are a depressingly low high school graduation rate for Jefferson County foster care children of only 26 percent and the fact that among those children who became too old to remain in foster care in 2008, 21 percent were already in jail.
Ms. Stamps also indicates that part of the problem is that foster care children in Louisville move frequently, and this disrupts their schooling.
I would add that point that if Jefferson County had a charter school option, it might help with this problem for foster care children and many other disadvantaged students, as well.
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