Is another depression at the end of the current path littered with higher taxes and increased spending by government?
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There has been a lot of “yes it will, no it won’t” discussion about whether the final rules for the federal ‘Race To The Top’ second tier stimulus money would require charter schools in Kentucky.
Even as the final rule release grows close (perhaps this week), it looks like the Kentucky Department of Education isn’t really sure what the wording will look like, but according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, David Cook, the state department of education’s guru for ‘Race To The Top,’ says that if we want the money, we may have to implement charters, or something like them, at least in our lowest performing schools.
Cook says that education officials expect that ‘Race To The Top’ will require “a very much more extreme model of intervention than we’ve ever used.”
Absent the final ‘Race To The Top’ language, Cook speculated that changes could include releasing low-performing schools from many burdensome rules and regulations that currently hobble our educators’ ability to make changes that really work for kids. Schools might be closed and reformed as charters, or school staff might be replaced.
What is sad about this story is that after 20 years of KERA, the Kentucky Department of Education knows we have schools in such bad shape that radical new efforts are probably necessary. Those schools are out there, and everyone knows it.
Still, after 20 years of KERA, Kentucky’s own education establishment has never been resolute enough to stand up and say we need to make much more radical changes than anything we have done before.
If we finally get changes, it will be because the federal government finally had to step in to force us to do our own business. It will also only happen because we now have a new leader at the Kentucky Department of Education who doesn’t have a closed mind about charters and isn’t trying to undermine Race To The Top from the get-go.
That is a refreshing change from the past when Kentucky’s education crowd created every loophole it could to undermine ‘No Child Left Behind’s’ ability to create real improvement in Kentucky’s schools.
Some final notes:
Mr. Cook’s comments were made at the annual Prichard Committee meeting. Prichard has been fighting charters for years. I wonder if the Prichard folks will experience a sudden epiphany and come out in favor of this major education reform effort that is working in 40 states around the country.
Also, why should parents be forced to wait until their child’s school slides all the way to the bottom before they are allowed school choice? Why do our public education people continue to cling to the idea that they, not parents, should have the overriding authority to assign students to schools, and to protect those schools and their staff from making real changes, even if the schools are mediocre?
Unfortunately, in the past there has been hostility towards our men and women in uniform in some pubic schools around the nation.
But, that isn’t the case in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer’s reader area. This recent article (subscription) lists a host of activities that are scheduled in Owensboro area schools to honor veterans as Veterans Day approaches.
To that, we can only add our thanks to the many Kentucky vets who served us all proudly and add a “Well Done!” for the area schools that are helping their students learn more about those sacrifices.
Nonsmoker Jim Waters, director of policy and communications for the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank, will debate government-imposed smoking bans on Western Kentucky University’s Revolution 91.7, WWHR-FM, on Tuesday at 7:15 (EST)/6:15 p.m. (CST).
Waters’ opponent will be smoker Will Doolin, a junior majoring in broadcasting with a minor in meteorology.The 15-minute program is the first of several weekly on-air policy debates hosted by Sylvia Horlander, a junior nonsmoker majoring in broadcast news and political science. Future shows will feature debates concerning current events, including health care and gun control.
Let’s hope there will be more of these types of programs that allow free-market viewpoints to gain a fair hearing among much of the leftist/politically correct blather emanating from university campuses on a regular basis.
The good news about Senate Bill 1 – which threw out our CATS assessments and told the public school folks to start working with college folks to develop a better curriculum – is that things are actually happening.
The Bowling Green Daily News reports that Western Kentucky University (WKU) is teaming up with the 33 school districts in its region to develop better means of educating students in our Primary to grade 12 schools so they will be ready for college.
Clearly, the need to do something is very serious. The newspaper reports that “only 62 percent of students entering WKU in fall 2007 were college-ready.”
And, make no mistake, this is something new for Western Kentucky. The newspaper further reports, “Bowling Green Independent Schools Superintendent Joe Tinius said while it would be a natural assumption that the city schools would be closely linked to what is going on at WKU, that has not been the case.”
In other words, until Senate Bill 1 came along, even the upscale independent school district right in WKU’s home town really wasn’t talking to the college about the inadequate preparation level of its students.
I know that a similar effort has been going on in Northern Kentucky for some time, but let’s hope the other regions of the state get on board with the northern region and WKU’s area to really start primary-secondary school to postsecondary school collaboration. It’s long overdue.
The National Center for Education Statistics just released a report on how states are gaming their state tests to look good under No Child Left Behind. The comparison metric was the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Here is a Wall Street Journal graphic sourced to the US Department of Education which shows those states that are playing games by setting the state standard for proficiency below what the NAEP calls “basic” performance (which is only partial mastery of reading).
Note that Kentucky is one of the many states, shown in light blue, that are “cheating” on this measure.
Of course, this is old news to our readers. We developed our “NAEP Ruler” several years ago to show the exact same thing.
Now, what was that again about those high Kentucky testing standards?
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