Here’s a thoughtful editorial from Investors Business Daily that needs a real conversation in Kentucky.
“Emergency” legislation is hundreds of pages long, and often is not read by our representatives. As a result, the impact on Kentuckians of such legislation – including the current health-care proposal floated in the US House of Representatives – is left unconsidered.
For example, the health-care proposal includes a surtax of 5.4 percent, which the nonpartisan Tax Foundation projects will raise Kentucky’s combined tax rate to more than 53 percent in 2011 and tax ranking nationwide to No. 19.
Ironically, the plan will put more tax burden on small businesses that legislators are counting on to start hiring workers again.
Let’s hope our Washington representatives will read and analyze this 1,018-page plan before they sock it to us again. Increasing Kentucky tax burden more will drive business out of – or away from – the commonwealth.
I posted several blog items on a new federal report here and here that examine the achievement gaps between Blacks and Whites in Kentucky and other states. The federal report shows that those gaps in Kentucky remain a significant problem almost two decades after the passage of KERA. In fact, the eighth grade math Black/White gap here has very dramatically increased since KERA’s enactment in 1990.
However, the real messages in the federal report can be confusing. Yesterday morning, the Lexington Herald-Leader ran an article about the report titled “Ky., South successful in closing racial gap.” The opening paragraph said, “Southern states are closing the gap between how black and white students perform on tests – and Kentucky is no exception.”
That certainly wasn’t correct, because, as the graphs here clearly show, Kentucky has not closed the racial gap in either fourth or eighth grade math or in fourth grade reading (federal testing on eighth grade reading didn’t start until well after KERA was enacted).
So, I called the Herald-Leader to see if they would review the report with me and update their story. The reporter who wrote the original story wasn’t available, but senior newsman John Stamper came on the line and we went through the report together.
By mid-afternoon, the story was updated. It had a more accurate title, and some of my comments were added to point out that a smaller gap does not show our schools are doing a good job since that smaller gap only exists because our White kids also score very low.
So, a “Hats Off” to John Stamper at the Herald-Leader for taking time out of his busy day to listen and follow through to insure the people of Kentucky got a more accurate description of the new federal report. Achievement gaps continue to be one of the major problems with KERA, and effective answers continue to elude our educators. The public deserves to know that.
Gov. Beshear is using the appointment process to try and wrestle the Kentucky Senate away from Republicans.
Sen. Charlie Borders, who spent 18 years in the Kentucky Senate, has been offered a choice spot on the state’s Public Service Commission. Borders predecessor, John W. Clay, made more than $117,000 as a commissioner.
A special election will be held to determine Borders’ replacement. Look for Rep. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, to fare well in the Aug. 25 special election. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district by a 59.6 percent to 35.2 percent margin.
Read more here
I’ve been writing over the past few days about a report on Kentucky’s special education programs that was given to the legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Education on Monday. Until now, my comments have focused on data slides directly discussed in the meeting. However, as I read through the companion report I was absolutely awestruck by a huge imbalance in the different rates of special education enrollment for boys versus girls. Whether we are talking about mental retardation (MR), speech language problems (S/L), emotional behavioral disorders (EBD), other health impairment (OHI), specific learning disability (SLD), multiple disabilities (MD), or development delay (DD) doesn’t matter. As this table, which is an extract from Table 2.4 in the report shows, boys greatly outnumber girls in special education enrollment.
For example, among all students identified as having mental retardation (MR) in Kentucky, 58.5 percent are boys and only 41.5 percent are girls. In most of the disability categories, males are more than twice as likely to be identified as females. For autism, the rate of identification is more than 5.5 times higher for males – a way out of balance situation.
Can it really be that boys face so many more education challenges? Are we grossly under-identifying girls? Is our education system hostile to boys? What’s going on here? Someone better start asking some serious questions.
Gov. Steve Beshear refuses to consider Senate President David Williams’ plan to help Kentucky’s horse-racing industry address its most-challenging obstacles. As a result, the governor’s plan to add racinos at Kentucky’s horse-racing tracks failed to win enough support during a special legislative session and the commonwealth’s signature industry remains in danger of falling behind.
Click here to listen to this commentary.