“It is mothers and fathers – not any politicians – who have the greatest interest in the welfare of their children and who know their children best. As long as funding for schools is independent of parents’ choices of which schools to send their children, and as long as government owns and operates schools, government schools will respond less to the needs of children and more to the interests of the government-salaried bureaucrats who run each school as the monopoly that it is.” -Donald J. Boudreaux, George Mason University economics professor
Melanie Barrett and Kathy Hancock get it in Christian County.
So does the Kentucky New Era in Hopkinsville.
Barrett and Hancock are “Opening Doors” (subscription) to a better life for young adults ages 18 to 21 who dropped out of school. Their Academy of Continuing Education (ACE) allows these recent dropouts to complete their education with a full high school diploma rather than the far less rigorous GED.
Why is a high school education and the related diploma better?
One reason, as the New Era points out, is that savvy employers know the difference. A high school diploma provides a definite hiring edge.
One example cited in the newspaper: “Rarely do military units accept someone without a high school diploma.”
The reason is simple. The US military knows that people with high school diplomas are far more likely to successfully complete their first enlistment. Given the growing expense to train each soldier, sailor or airman to function and fight in today’s complex military environment, those first-term losses are just too expensive.
Since its inception, the Bluegrass Institute has pointed out the same facts about the GED versus a full high school education, and we’ve made it very clear that Kentucky’s unacceptably high public school dropout rates cost the state more than we can bear.
The Hopkinsville academy also highlights something else. Our ‘One Size Must Fit All’ public school system isn’t meeting the needs of many kids. Now, the ACE program in Hopkinsville is introducing a different approach for kids with different needs who CHOOSE to go to a different type of school.
So, why does the public school establishment – which doesn’t meet the needs of these kids and which continues to suffer a dropout rate so high that it never honestly determined what that rate is – continue to fight real school choices for Kentucky’s children?
On December 23, 2009 the Herald-Leader reported under the title above that Kentucky’s application for ‘Race To The Top’ funding from the federal government would not include the introduction of charter schools in Kentucky.
We see several problems with the article.
For one thing, if the Herald-Leader got it right, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday isn’t well informed on Kentuckians’ opinion about charter schools. The Herald-Leader writes, “Holliday added that he’s not sure there is widespread support for charter schools.”
We have two public opinion polls that say different. One was conducted for the Bluegrass Institute by staff at Western Kentucky University. Another was recently conducted by the Friedman Foundation with support from the Bluegrass Institute. Both surveys found that Kentuckians definitely want more parent choice and that there is interest in charter schools here.
The 2007 “School Choice Survey” from Dr. Larry Caillouet and his Western Kentucky University team (Caillouet, Larry, “School Choice Survey,” Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Bowling Green, Kentucky, April 30, 2007) asked this question:
“Charter schools are a form of school choice in which schools are run by the principal, teachers and parents without the regulation of teachers unions and state education departments. Do you feel charter schools would be good for Kentucky education?” Here’s how Kentuckians responded:
The Friedman survey uncovered similar reactions.
I guess Commissioner Holliday isn’t reading us as carefully as he needs to. If he can come up with some scientifically conducted surveys to counter ours, we’d love to see them.
There’s another problem of a technical nature with the Herald-Leader’s article. It gets our name wrong. We are NOT the Bluegrass CENTER for Public Policy Solutions. We remain – as we have from our inception six years ago – the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions.
We contacted the Herald-Leader before Christmas with a request to correct the error. When I checked a few minutes ago, the original error remained in the web version.
At this point, both a correction and an in print and on line apology would be appreciated.
I hope the newspaper did a better job getting the rest of the article correct.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation reports that there has been huge growth in charter school enrollment in Texas.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s kids can’t get into a charter school because they are not legal here. Ask your legislator why Kentuckians can’t enjoy this high performance educational choice – one that minorities especially find beneficial – while over 100,000 kids down in Texas can.
There have been concerns for some time that the criteria for giving away tax and lottery money to Kentucky college students are too lenient. Kids who really don’t deserve the money get it, anyway.
Now, WAVE 3 TV reports that legislators may finally discuss tightening requirements for KEES awards.
Plenty of kids in Kentucky can use extra help in paying college expenses, but we need those kids to understand they have to meet us half way with good academic effort to earn that support. With budgets getting tight, we simply cannot afford doing anything else.
Apparently, the Jefferson County Board of Education just doesn’t get it.
Here’s the deal: the public’s right to know trumps the seemingly incessant desire of some in the education complex to hide their actions from public view.
Now, the Messenger-Inquirer (subscription) chides the Jefferson County board for trying to get a special law passed so their desire to evaluate their superintendent in secrecy will no longer be illegal.
We agree with the Messenger-Inquirer on this one. Ultimately, public money, lots of it, gets spent by local boards and their superintendent. Thus, except for some very special situations which are already covered in statute, local boards have no right to conduct their affairs in secret.
A whole lot of “stuff” is happening in Jefferson County – athletes dying in football practice, a busing plan from hell, deceptive redefining of CATS scores, and more. Especially in Jefferson County, the public deserves to know how all of those issues are being handled, fully and openly. If school board members there can’t deal with that, they need to resign so others who understand the concept of openness and transparency can replace them.
The state’s open meetings law is one of our better statutes, and it needs to be supported, not subverted.