Last week’s January 11, 2009, Kentucky Tonight subject on Public Broadcast TV was the state budget. All of the guest participants were connected to groups with interests in education in Kentucky.
I was able to phone in a question. I pointed out, as I have a number of times in this blog, such as here and here and here, that due to major failings discovered in 2006 with the Kentucky Department of Education’s MUNIS financial system, that the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability and other groups have never been able to do detailed “Bang for the Buck” studies that drill down to the efficiency of major education programs like teacher professional development.
In fact, more than three years after the MUNIS problems were identified in the Legislative Research Commission’s Research Report 338, MUNIS remains unrepaired.
I then asked the show’s participants if, after more than three years of failure to fix MUNIS, is it time for the legislature to step in?
Terry Brooks, executive director of the Kentucky Youth Advocates – one of the show’s guests – really surprised me with his candor about the Kentucky Department of Education’s responsibility for the MUNIS problem and program review in general.
Said Brooks, “The lack of accountability – the lack of program evaluation that the department does – is stunning. And, it makes it very difficult to advocate for sustained or increased levels of funding in K to12 when there’s no proof in the pudding.”
To that, I can only say Amen.
It’s time to fix MUNIS. Legislators – you have ultimate responsibility for education, and our tax dollars. Are you listening? You may have to make tough decisions on education programs, but thanks to the department’s failure to provide decently accurate fiscal data, you will have to do that without the benefit of ‘bang for the buck’ information that you asked for three years ago.
By the way, Bluegrass Institute’s director of policy and communications Jim Waters appears on tomorrow night’s January 18, 2009 Kentucky Tonight along with Rev. Jerry Stephenson, chair of the Kentucky Education Restoration Alliance, Sharron Oxendine, president of the Kentucky Education Association and Superintendent Sheldon Berman of Jefferson County Public Schools. This group will discuss charter schools for Kentucky. Given the panel’s wide-ranging viewpoints, the show is certain to provide lively comments that Kentuckians need to hear. Some may come from people you might not expect to make them. So, tune in at 8 PM Eastern Time on KET 1.