We at the Bluegrass Institute extend our best wishes to all Kentuckians for a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.
As a country and commonwealth, we are thankful for liberty’s blessings and also extend our thoughts and prayers to those service men and women who will remain at their post defending our freedoms during this holiday. Many of those troops either are, or have been, stationed in Kentucky. We thank them and their families for their service to our country.
Here is the first-ever official Thanksgiving proclamation, offered our nation’s first president:
The Obama administration plans a Dec. 3 forum on jobs and economic growth at the White House. Then the president plans to travel around the country and talk, talk, talk, talk, talk about his concern concerning the nation’s jobless rate.
But his very visible actions taking over private sector businesses, appointing anti-capitalist czars, pushing for health care mandates, supporting proposals that raise taxes and implement fines and supporting policies that would devastate Kentucky’s coal industry drown out his words.
What incentive do Kentucky businesses have to have to grow and create jobs with so many anti-business policies staring them in the face?
Maybe the president should humble himself and actually read, analyze and understand the impact of the language being crafted to implement his policies.
Arrogance (except when bowing low before Japan’s emperor) and ignorance of the free-market principles that made our nation great could result in voters sending Obama himself to the unemployment line in a few years.
Penny Sanders, Kentucky’s first-ever director of the Office of Education Accountability, has been involved with KERA from the get-go.
So, comments in her post about “Unfinished Business” are worth everyone’s time to read.
I talked to Penny about “Unfinished Business,” and she definitely thinks it is time to look at charter schools as a way to deal with the chronic under-performing schools in the state.
By the way, Penny updates from her initial cursory analysis: there are actually several districts besides Jefferson County which had more than one Tier 5 charter school in 2009. Those are Christian County with three Tier 5 schools, and Floyd and Hardin Counties, with two Tier 5 schools each.
That doesn’t change Penny’s point that the bulk of the Tier 5 schools are in Louisville. Like us at the Bluegrass Institute, Penny says it is time to finally do something better for the kids in those schools and to start paying more than lip service to the idea that after so many years of failure, educators in chronically poor performing schools should be facing real consequences.
The Alliance for Excellent Education just published an analysis of the economic costs of high school dropouts for 50 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. That includes this report for the Louisville area.
High schools in Louisville and the surrounding 13 counties lost over 30 percent of their students prior to graduation according to the Alliance. If that loss were cut in half, the Alliance says the added graduates would earn $27 million more and generate an additional $4 million in taxes for the region.
Per the Alliance, five high schools in the Louisville area are “Dropout Factories,” which means they graduate less than 60 percent of their students.
Those schools would be wonderful candidates for conversion to charter schools, which news reports around the country are saying do much better than regular public schools in graduating students.
WAVE 3 TV in Louisville has an excellent, two-part video series on charter schools. You get both the great positives, including a look at two concrete charter school examples from Indianapolis, and the shots thrown at charters by the naysayers.
Here’s the link to the WAVE 3 text article. The links to the two videos are on the same page, near the top.
There are some great interviews with Shelbyville Rep. Brad Montell, Louisville Pastor Jerry Stephenson, Tony Bennett, Indiana superintendent of education, and others. These people have seen what happens in charter schools and want Kentucky children to experience the same.
The lead naysayer you will hear is Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman, Ph.D. He relies in part on a recent study by the CREDO group at Stanford to put down charters, conveniently overlooking some important findings in that study.
As I reported when that CREDO report came out, the report says, “Relative to their TPS (typical public school) peers, the average performance of charter students in reading was significantly positive in Arkansas, California, Colorado (Denver), Louisiana, Missouri, and North Carolina.”
This indicates that not all charter school legislation is created equal – something we will want to watch for as our 2010 legislature convenes.
Also, the CREDO report found in general that charter school students do outperform once they have been in a charter school for more than a year or two.
If you think about it, that makes sense. Many charters are in inner city systems, and they often take in kids who are several grade levels behind. You cannot wave a magic wand and change that deficit in a day or two, or even in one school term. And Berman knows that.