I will be on a conference call Monday with former presidential candidate Mitt Romney discussing card check legislation.
If there are any questions you’d like me to ask, please pass them along.
Interesting report from The Tax Foundation about a new Arkansas law that lowers the state’s cigarette excise tax in towns bordering other states with lower tax rates. The idea is to eliminate travelling over state lines to pay less in taxes for cigarettes.
What will be really interesting to see is what happens when retailers in the next layer of towns who will get to watch their customers leave town — but not the state, which is illegal — to buy cheaper smokes.
Kentucky legislators wouldn’t fall into a trap like this which might actually generate lower tax revenues and lead to less spending. It’s too bad. Now that we have raised our cigarette tax above that of Missouri, West Virginia, and Virginia, we would be a great candidate to follow Arkansas on this one and save a few Kentucky businesses.
During a debate in Texas over proposals to offer scholarships to learning-disabled children, the contrast between those who understand that schools, districts and education systems were made for children – not children for the system – could not have been starker. Note the distinction in responses to the proposals:
Real leaders like Houston Rep. Dan Patrick pounded their desks (literally) and ask: “What about just doing the right thing” for children?
However, bureaucrats blather about money and try to pit groups against one another. They whine about anything but the kids, as demonstrated by the response of Craig Tounget with the Texas Coalition of Public Schools: “We don’t want the public funds coming out of the public school system.”
But at least they’re having the debate in Texas. In Kentucky, the politicians in charge of the House Education Committee won’t even give school choice for the learning disabled a hearing, despite research conducted for the Bluegrass Institute by Pacific Research Institute’s Vicki E. Murray, Ph.D. — one of the foremost authorities on special-needs scholarships in the country.
Murray’s report, “Enable the Disabled,” indicates that a special-needs scholarship program would help Kentucky’s schools, kids and communities.
Who will “pound the desk” for the children in Frankfort during the 2010 legislative session?
General Fund revenue numbers came in $169,716 higher last month than they did for the same period in 2008. Through nine months of the current fiscal year, General Fund receipts are $578,213 higher than they were at the same time in 2008.
According to Louisville government transparency activist Steve Magruder, the Metro Council voted unanimously Thursday in favor of an ordinance requiring the posting of city expenditures to the internet.
The ordinance immediately puts Louisville ahead of the state government in showing taxpayers the facts about where their money is going.
Nearly two decades after the enactment of KERA, Kentucky still lacks high-confidence answers to a very basic question – what proportion of our kids graduate from high school on time? Or, at all? And, how fast is this changing?
These are questions I have been asking for a long time.
Kentucky is definitely not in the lead in getting accurate graduation rate data. When we finally do get that data, the results could be a bit disturbing. That has generally been the experience in other states that moved ahead of us in collecting accurate data on this statistic.
Anyway, the issue is important, and in the vacuum created by the absence of high-quality graduation rate numbers, some continue to push rather inflated numbers for our high school graduation rate.
For example, over at the Prichard Blog, Susan Westin has been writing about the subject.
However, even after making those technical corrections, I still don’t think Ms. Weston has a good handle on this subject.
I could write a lot more about this issue, but I don’t have to. The federal government sponsored a very intensive examination of graduation rate reporting several years ago. The findings are published in “User’s Guide to Computing High School Graduation Rates Volume 1” and “Volume 2.”
You can read the 160 combined pages in this two-part report, or just take my word for it. The feds found the most reliable interim calculation for graduation rates isn’t what Susan seems to be touting with her 7th grade to 12th grade analysis. The feds recommend the “Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate” formula. It deals with the ninth grade bulge issue Weston raises. What’s more, in two trials in states that already have high quality graduation rate reporting, that federally recommended formula returns numbers only about two points above real graduation rates. However, the federal calculation produces lower graduation rate numbers than Ms. Weston seems to prefer. For that matter, the federal numbers are considerably lower than graduation rate figures the Kentucky Department of Education provides, as well.
Oh, by the way, the next best formula in those federal trials is a formula that simply divides the number of graduates by their class’ enrollment figure in ninth grade. The result is only about two points below the actual number, according to those federal trials.
There is some mystery here, as well. That formula Ms. Weston doesn’t approve of in her Blogs – it’s the same one the Prichard Committee itself used in their 10-year report on KERA.
They called it a “Cohort Survival Formula” back then.
Anyway, because it is nearly as good as the top-rated federal formula and considerably easier to compute, I still use what the feds call the “Freshman Graduation Rate” (FGR) fairly frequently. To be honest, until we get some high quality data, it isn’t worth the bother to mess with anything more complicated. Just add two points to the FGR and you will be almost dead on with the real results – and still well below numbers Ms. Weston and the Kentucky Department of Education would like to believe.
The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions works with Kentuckians, pro-liberty coalitions, grassroots organizations and business owners to advance freedom and prosperity by promoting free-market capitalism, individual liberty and transparent government. Join Us