If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that, if it is comfort or money it values more, it will lose that too.
— William Somerset Maugham 
Good news! We’ve been hard at work collecting check registers in order to shine a light on how money is spent in Kentucky. This week, many more school district check registers were added to FreedomKentucky.org in the form of PDF documents. Below is a list of recently added check registers:
Mercer County Schools Simpson County Schools
Lewis County Schools Green County Schools
Nicholas County Schools Menifee County Schools
Murray Independent Schools Leslie County Schools
Johnson County Schools Pikeville Independent Schools
Fulton County Schools Webster County Schools
These are just some of the most recent school districts to be added. You can find a complete list of school districts pages here.
Spend a few minutes looking into the school district where you live or your children go to school. See how taxpayer money is being spent. After all, spending transparency is the first step toward accountability.
Kentucky officials say site-based councils are good enough and performance is good enough. Just send money.
The Massachusetts process has been rife with controversy over funding and the loss of local control, with resistance led by superintendents, school committees and teachers unions.
Oh my, controversy! In Kentucky, that means time for talk, talk, talk and then a multi-year task force. Elected officials certainly can’t rock the comfort boat of special interests.
“I think it’s important to pass the bill not only to qualify for the race-to-the-top funds, but because it is the right thing for our children,’’ said Martha M. Walz, cochairwoman of the Joint Committee on Education. “The bill focuses on two things: closing the achievement gap in those schools and communities where some children are lagging behind, and for communities doing well, it creates a method for them to do even better.’’
Wow, putting kids first! What a novel approach! Kentuckians can’t even get their legislators to muster enough courage to discuss charter schools in an education committee.
As the world passes Kentucky by, at least we can watch real leaders in other states find a way to get the job done and put their children’s education first.
After a great deal of anticipation, the final rules for states to compete for over $4 billion in federal Race to the Top stimulus money are finally coming out.
Education Week reports (subscription) that Kentucky will start out of the blocks at up to a 32 point disadvantage in this high stakes competition due to our lack of charter schools.
I wrote yesterday about a new report from the US Chamber of Commerce that will raise eyebrows about what is, and isn’t, happening in our schools.
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the interesting data in that report. First up are some real shockers.
Here are the results from an opinion poll called the Schools and Staffing Survey which the National Center for Education Statistics distributes to schools around the country every four years. The graph shows how our teachers feel about paperwork getting in the way of instruction and about how well their schools are being run.
This data comes from a table on page 18 of the Chamber report.
Clearly, only a very small minority of our teachers don’t feel burdened by paperwork. Looked at the other way, 92 percent of our teachers think that paperwork is interfering with teaching.
That may indicate that there is too much paperwork, but it also might indicate that teachers don’t understand the value of the paperwork they need to complete – probably because they don’t know how to use the results effectively.
Either way, there is a huge problem with the paperwork requirement. In fact, teachers in only 10 other states are even more upset about paperwork requirements than our Kentucky teachers are.
There is also a crisis of teacher confidence in the way Kentucky’s schools are being run. Fewer than one in three teachers is happy about their school’s management.
This is an astonishing revelation.
Kentucky teachers directly control school management through their domination of the School Based Decision Making Councils.
Something here is terribly wrong if teachers don’t like the way they themselves are running the show. If they are unhappy, they are doing it to themselves.
The US Chamber of Commerce just issued a new report, “LEADERS and LAGGARDS, A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Innovation.”
It takes a new approach to evaluating education in the 50 states using a number of statistics that have not been part of earlier discussions.
And, to be sure, the new report is going to create lots of discussion with its various findings, which include:
Rigid education bureaucracies impede quality schooling
State finance systems are opaque, inefficient, and undermine innovation
The teacher pipeline fails to provide a diverse pool of high-quality educators
Teacher evaluations are not based on performance
Major barriers exist to the removal of poor-performing teachers
The outcome of state technology spending is unknown
State data systems provide limited information on school operations and outcomes
Schools provide too little access to college-level coursework
Only one state, Hawaii, has created a student-based funding system
States lack a culture of education advocacy
It’s not so much that the findings are new surprises; in fact, we’ve been saying a lot of the same sorts of things for years.
But, in the past it was unusual for “main line” organizations to be so blunt and outspoken about these problems. Now, the US Chamber has opened the door wide.
Stay tuned for more, as the report cites some really interesting data for Kentucky.