Bluegrass Institute columnist Jim Waters will make the case for allowing restaurant owners, employees and customers to make decisions concerning smoking bans, free of government interference.
Click here to read the entire article.
(LEXINGTON, Ky.) – Should government force restaurant and bar owners to ban smoking in their privately owned establishments? Should Frankfort’s politicians be allowed to trample on local communities’ smoking policies? Should constitutional principles be surrendered to satisfy the insatiable appetite of health nannies for more government control of our lives?
These questions will be debated tonight on KET’s “Kentucky Tonight,” hosted by Bill Goodman, at 8 p.m. (EDT).
Bluegrass Institute columnist Jim Waters will make the case for allowing restaurant owners, employees and customers to make their own decisions concerning smoking bans, free of government interference.
“While we are concerned about the unhealthy effects of smoking, we believe it’s critical to counter the assault on private-property rights by some in government and academia occurring under the guise of improving Kentuckians’ health,” Waters said. “Decisions about smoking and whether to allow the practice on one’s private property – whether that be a restaurant, bar or home – are best left to individuals, not Frankfort.”
– Merit pay works – in Kentucky!
I wrote yesterday about the very nice increase in Kentucky’s Advance Placement Test (AP) performance that was announced a few days ago. In this post, I discuss a dramatic contribution to that increase that came from just 12 of the 230 or so high schools in the state – those few schools that participated in the first phase of the “Advance Kentucky” program to improve AP performance.
The 12 Advance Kentucky high schools are: Anderson County, Barren County, Corbin Independent, Henderson County, Lone Oak, Marion County, North Laurel, Reidland, Scott County, Shelby County, South Laurel, and Warren East.
According to Advance Kentucky’s press release on the 2009 results, students in those high schools made extraordinary improvement. The 12 schools increased their numbers of AP tests in the key areas of math, science and English getting a score of 3 or more by 76.6 percent while across Kentucky there was only a much lower 17.5 percent improvement.
An AP score of 3 is usually the minimum “Qualifying Score” for a student to get college credit for the course.
In fact, fully one-third of all of the math, science and English AP increases in tests receiving qualifying scores came from just the 12 Advance Kentucky high schools.
Advance Kentucky’s press release says that females in the pilot project contributed fully one-half of the entire increase in female AP qualifying scores across the entire state.
Low income students in the 12 pilot schools increased their AP course qualifying score rates in math, science and English AP testing by 148 percent and supplied nearly half of all the increase across Kentucky for similar income level students.
How did they do it?
Advance Kentucky was developed by the Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation in partnership with the National Math & Science Initiative, or NMSI. The model involves a number of coordinated actions as shown in this NMSI “pie,” but I want to mention some key ones.
Kentucky teachers of the pilot schools’ AP courses received a stipend of $100 for every qualifying score their AP students achieved. This is a teacher merit pay example – right here in Kentucky – that paid big dividends to the students involved.
In addition, the student who scored a 3 or more also received a $100 award. Plus, those students will save the considerable tuition costs for the college courses that they successfully completed while still in high school.
So, overall, the financial inducements in the Advance Kentucky program seem to have helped get everyone’s nose to the grindstone on the other items in the “pie,” which are all important.
There is one somewhat cautionary note to the good news. Minorities in the 12 schools improved their AP “pass rate” by a whopping 225 percent compared to a far more modest 31 percent rise across Kentucky (including the huge contribution from the pilot schools). However, when I checked the minority 12th grade enrollment in the 12 pilots (see table below), I found that Kentucky’s dominant minority group, the African-Americans, were notably under-represented.
Overall, the average enrollment percentage for Blacks in the Advance Kentucky schools was only 5.7 percent, little more than half the state-wide high school average of 10.0 percent, which I calculated from the listing of all schools in the state from the “FY 2009 Qualifying Data (Source – Oct 2008).xls” file availabe here.
That raises a question. Our African-American population is heavily concentrated in Louisville. Why isn’t a single Jefferson County high school in this first set of high schools or even in the additional group of 15 more high schools that will be in the “Cohort 2” phase of the project? It seems like the pilot badly needs representation from Kentucky’s largest school district.
Meanwhile, you can learn more about the Advance Kentucky program at www.advancekentucky.com. If your high school isn’t in the program, it should be.
And, “hats off” to the Advance Kentucky crowd, headed by Ms. Joanne Lang, who are making this great idea work for Kentucky students.
(minor edit added 30Aug09)
The Kentucky Enquirer reports that a law aimed at increasing safety for students in public schools, “grew into a wide-ranging, omnibus law of too many costly regulations that strayed far from the original intent of protecting school children from obvious dangers.” As a consequence, the Ohio legislature, in a rather remarkable action, repealed legislation known as “Jarod’s Law.”
Impacts of this specific law – which was enacted in an emotional reaction to a child’s accidental death – were, according to Ohio State Rep. Randy Gardner of Bowling Green, “more costly and more regulation” than legislators intended.
Make no mistake – we need realistic and effective rules for public safety. But, those rules need to be carefully crafted to avoid serious unintended consequences. Apparently, in a remarkable all all to rare case of self-appraisal, the Ohio legislature realized that in the case of Jarod’s Law, they had simply gone too far.
A couple of days ago, the Kentucky Department of Education released new public school Advanced Placement Test (AP) data for 2009 along with a notable amount of older data from earlier years.
The table below, which comes directly from the department’s news release, shows that the number of students who got a college credit level AP score (a 3, 4 or 5) rose for all reported ethnic categories. That is certainly good news at a time when the state needs more college-educated citizens to meet the demands of the new economy.
The department’s news release lists a number of the efforts to improve our AP programs but failed to mention the latest, and perhaps most important of all. That was legislation in Senate Bill 2 from the 2008 Regular session.
Senate Bill 2 created a number of new programs to enrich teacher preparation for AP instructor duties and for the first time adds KEES college scholarship award “kickers” for students who qualify for the federal school lunch program – an indicator of low income – who get a 3 or higher. The students covered by the new 2009 AP data were the first ones eligible for the KEES AP boosts, and I see some indication in the results that the plan is working.
This next table might make that a bit clearer. This slide shows the percentage change in the number of students scoring a 3 or more on the AP by racial group. For example, the top left figure shows that in 2001 the proportion of African-Americans getting a 3 or more on the AP rose by 2.4 percent.
Notice in the table I shaded declines in the percentages from the previous year in red. One of the first things that jumps out at me is that in 2009, for the first time since 2005, no ethnic group had a decline in the percentage of students scoring 3’s and above.
The next notable thing is that in 2009 every single group posted at least a double-digit percentage increase in AP successes. In previous years, at least one group had only either single digit positive increases or a decline.
Finally, looking at the bottom line, which summarizes the trends for all students averaged together, the change in the percentage getting a 3 or higher between 2008 and 2009, 19.8 percent, is the largest ever.
So, it looks like the overall effort to increase Kentucky’s AP performance is having a positive effect.
I’ll have some more interesting news on the AP situation tomorrow, so stay tuned.
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