From North Carolina, no less:
“Alvin Rabushka has a good idea for the next round of Congressional hearings – have the members explain why gas and oil prices are falling despite speculators and greedy oil companies.”
There are huge amounts of time and effort placed on writing in our CATS public school assessment program. CATS has all year long writing portfolios, on-demand writing tests, open-response written answers in all the academic CATS tests, practicing for same, and so forth. Our kids never get a break from it.
Anyway, after all this writing, you might think our kids would ‘cream’ students in a state like Tennessee that only takes an on-demand writing sample once at each school level and has no open-response questions at all in its academic tests.
Well, guess again, and check this out:
I don’t think there is much doubt about who is in charge of public school education in Kentucky. It certainly isn’t parents, and it isn’t local school boards (who lost almost all authority for school operations under KERA). It isn’t even legislators, who are supposed to be in ultimate control according to the landmark 1989 Kentucky Supreme Court decision that led to KERA.
It is our educators.
Teachers dominate local school councils, which are now the ultimate local arbiters of what goes on in schools (local school boards lost this power with KERA).
Teachers dominate the legislature through their union. Teachers say “Jump,” and the Kentucky House just asks, “How High?” Any legislative action the teachers don’t want is impossible.
And, teachers and other professional educators (who almost always start out as teachers) dominate state-level groups that control public education activities such as setting testing standards, setting teaching standards, and setting just about everything else, too.
A very recent example of this is the Assessment and Accountability Task Force (which everyone is calling the CATS Task Force), which the Kentucky Department of Education set up to recommend changes to the CATS assessments. Educators dominate the panel (Find the list of members and their affiliations here).
In fact, to be more specific, K to 12 educators and their close fellow travelers like Bob Sexton of the Prichard Committee dominate the panel. Only two representatives from the state’s postsecondary system are involved, and neither has recent classroom experience in our colleges. Business and industry’s only representation is by two chamber of commerce people. There are a number of legislators, but the ones from the House are unlikely to do anything teachers don’t want.
So, once again, K to 12 teachers are in control.
But, is this a good idea? Do K to 12 teachers really know what kids need to succeed in the new economy? How could they know that, as very few have ever been outside of a classroom for anything other than a part-time summer job. In fact, do K to 12 teachers really know what kids need to go on to postsecondary education?
For an answer to that, check this out:
Kentucky State Budget Director Mary Lassiter reported at 8:15 am today that total General Fund receipts for July were $646,572,028. That is $12,334,025 more than was collected in July of 2007.
This is just more evidence that we have a spending problem and not a revenue problem.
The Frankfort State Journal reports today that Gov. Steve Beshear spent $86,000 on his recent junket to Japan. Beshear spokesman Jay Blanton says we should be happy about it:
“Despite the high price tag, Jay Blanton, a spokesman for the governor, said the trip to Japan was a good investment.”
“”You have got to spend dollars and time and effort to get the payoff,” he said. “When the economy is tight we need to pay more attention to job recruitment efforts. The people of Kentucky expect the governor to aggressively recruit investments that result in jobs.””
That kind of effort, expense, and the tax dollar giveaways that seal the “economic development” deals politicians tout may continue to be the best we can do as long as the state keeps taxes too high for everyone else.
Or we could get rid of taxes on income altogether and see how much more competitive and productive that makes us.
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