Supporters of expanded casino gambling were for a constitutional amendment before they were against it.
– Former School Board Member Calls for Transparency
It’s an area where Kentucky has a long way to go. Do you know how much your school district spends on your own child’s bus route compared to other routes? How about the cost to heat your child’s school versus that of other schools in the district? Elsewhere in Kentucky?
These are the sorts of questions asked in “Democratize School Budget Data” (subscription may be required) in this week’s Education Week newspaper.
What makes this interesting is that Ed Week is a national newspaper. People all around the country are starting to ask the same questions that we’ve been asking at the Bluegrass Institute for some time – what is really being spent by our school systems, and why can’t the public have a better view of that information?
Kentuckians and their policy makers have been inundated over the past few years with all sorts of figures about how many kids actually graduate in Kentucky.
Unfortunately, because Kentucky doesn’t have high quality graduation rate data – and won’t get that until 2015 or so under current plans – a bunch of different formulas are being used here to estimate the proportion of kids who graduate within reasonable amounts of time from our high schools.
Bluntly put, those formulas don’t produce the same numbers, as this graph, which comes from a new item at the freedomkentucky.com Wiki site shows.
Sadly, the most inflated rates of all come from the formula officially being used by the Kentucky Department of Education. The department has announced changes to that formula, but I think they need to make them faster than currently programmed. With the confusion from all the rates shown above, a little more rational approach to calculating graduation rates won’t come a moment too soon.
California voters decided Wednesday to force state lawmakers to cut spending rather than vote in massive tax increases on themselves.
State officials responded by “threatening” to cut spending.
The feds are very likely to respond with a huge California bailout, which is a shame. After listening to all the big government caterwauling about inevitable disaster if spending is cut, we really need to see a state drive straight into fiscal responsibility just to prove that it can be done.
But who knows? Maybe Kentucky will do it.
– Almost 75 percent fail licensing test in Massachusetts
– And, Massachusetts has one of the best education programs in the country!
The Boston Globe reports that nearly three out of four aspiring elementary school teachers failed the new math section of the Massachusetts teacher licensing examination.
Says the Globe, “Education leaders said the high failure rate reflects what they feared, that too many elementary classroom and special education teachers do not have a strong background in math and are in many ways responsible for poor student achievement in the subject, even in middle and high schools.”
Well, if Massachusetts is worried, we should be petrified. Look at how our kids’ math performance stacks up to the Bay State’s kids on the latest federal math tests.
In Kentucky it is possible for elementary school teachers to be certified after taking only one college math course, something called “elementary math,” which is taught below the level of college algebra. I doubt that is adequate preparation, and the results in the graph above seem to verify that.
This new report from Greg Forster and Christian D’Andrea analyzes responses to an annual survey run by the US Department of Education. Some of the findings are remarkable.
– “Private school teachers are much more likely to say they will continue teaching as long as they are able (62 percent v. 44 percent), while public school teachers are much more likely to say they’ll leave teaching as soon as they are eligible for retirement (33 percent v. 12 percent) and that they would immediately leave teaching if a higher paying job were available (20 percent v. 12 percent).”
This seems to indicate that, despite often lower salaries and fringe benefits, that private school teacher morale is much higher than that for their public school counterparts. That is further supported by this finding.
– “Although salaries are higher in public schools, private school teachers are more likely to be satisfied with their salaries (51 percent v. 46 percent).”
Another morale-related finding says this.
– “Public school teachers are twice as likely as private school teachers to agree that the stress and disappointments they experience at their schools are so great that teaching there isn’t really worth it (13 percent v. 6 percent).”
– “Public school teachers are much more likely to report that student misbehavior (37 percent v. 21 percent) or tardiness and class cutting (33 percent v. 17 percent) disrupt their classes, and are four times more likely to say student violence is a problem on at least a monthly basis (48 percent v. 12 percent).”
These issues obviously impact the learning experience for all students.
– “Private school teachers are much more likely to strongly agree that they have all the textbooks and supplies they need (67 percent v. 41 percent).”
Given the huge amount of money we spend on public schools, this is really unacceptable.
– “Private school teachers are more likely to agree that they get all the support they need to teach special needs students (72 percent v. 64 percent).”
The Bluegrass Institute has heard for some time that the idea that private schools don’t serve kids with disabilities is wrong. This seems to support that.
– “Seven out of ten private school teachers report that student racial tension never happens at their schools, compared to fewer than half of public school teachers (72 percent v. 43 percent).”
This undermines the belief of some that snobs at private schools act out against minorities.
There are a number of other findings, but I’ll let you read the report for those. Certainly, this report provides some surprises about what does, and does not go on in private versus public schools in the eyes of the teachers. It is interesting reading.