Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"See this apple? It's really an orange"

It's easy to tell that the work of the Bluegrass Institute is not complete when the Louisville Courier Journal editorial page trots out another Sunday op-ed extolling the virtues of the Kentucky Education Reform Act and claiming that all will be well with our K-12 pubic schools when we just give them "enough" money.

"The landmark state Supreme Court ruling in 1989 and the subsequent passage in 1990 of the Kentucky Education Reform Act are considered among the most significant events in the history of our state and its schools. But there have been many opportunities for KERA's changes to run into a ditch. It has been the tenacious, focused efforts of committed Kentuckians -- particularly the hundreds who have volunteered their time with the Prichard Committee -- that have kept school improvement on course."

"That course has moved Kentucky up from the cellar and is pointing us toward the higher echelons of the nation. In just one generation, the state has moved from a 43rd place ranking among the 50 states to 34th on an index of indicators developed by the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center. The index shows that national test scores, dropout rates and the number of high school and college graduates show improvement across the board."

Those statistics sound good and suggest the conclusion you are supposed to draw that throwing more money will spur on the demonstrated momentum. But the research behind those statistics is not legitimate. Our Education Analyst Richard Innes debunked that Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center report almost a year ago.


Richard Innes said...

It is disappointing to watch the credibility of various leaders in Kentucky falling prey to the inexcusably poor analysis in the Kentucky Long Term Policy Center’s (KLTPRC) Policy Notes #23. These leaders demonstrate a telling lack of critical thinking – a skill even our kids are supposed to be learning under KERA. The end result is our leaders just create a smoke screen for themselves and many others about what is really happening with Kentucky education.

Here’s one easy to understand example of the bad analysis in Policy Notes #23. The KLTPRC ranks Kentucky’s high school dropout rates against rates in other states even though Kentucky’s rates have been officially discredited. How did all the people who created or now cite Policy Notes #23 miss the official Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts 2006 audit that found this Kentucky data is unreliable? What sort of report dares to rank officially audited and discredited data?

All of this just builds more and more distrust for governmental agencies (the KLTPRC is an arm of the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission) and private individuals who are trying to create an aura of great educational progress since KERA’s enactment. When these people have to stoop to citing reports like Policy Notes #23 to make their case, it is clear that the truth about Kentucky’s public education system must be found elsewhere.

Stick with us over the next few days, as we are about to have more to say about what is really happening in one of KERA’s cornerstone areas. Those who uncritically accepted Policy Notes #23 are going to be shocked.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of how much praise you lavish on the Emperor, he still is unclothed to the casual observer. So it is with KERA.

Gov. Wallace Wilkinson raised our taxes by $1 Billion per year to fund this great education reform. As a result a lot more people are employed by school systems, but students still score about the same on their ACT tests as they did in 1990.

I don't think the Prichard Committee gives a damn about the kids.