Monday, May 4, 2009

Courier’s Claims of ‘CATS’tastrophy Ring Hollow

One day after the Kentucky Derby’s big surprise, the Courier-Journal’s editors failed miserably to score their own upset. Instead, the Courier is still fenced in by the same old remarkably uninformed opinions about what’s going on with Kentucky’s education reform.

The Courier’s Sunday opinion piece runs the same old, tired and worn course. It’s loaded with whining and complaining about recent education legislation. Though the Courier is too far behind the pack to see it, that legislation finally offers us some promise of getting Kentucky’s public schools aimed in the right direction and on a path to provide kids what they’ll really need in the world of work and postsecondary education.

It’s amazing what the Courier doesn’t seem to know. For example the recent education legislation grew out of some very obvious problems such as our horrible college remediation rates, and high youth unemployment rates, which are an indication that something also is wrong in the education of kids who are not going on to college.

The Courier also is clearly ignorant of what writing portfolios were, or more accurately, were not doing in Kentucky. The portfolio’s value as a writing instructional aid was destroyed when they became an assessment and accountability item.

Even the Prichard Committee, often the darling at the Courier, admitted last Wednesday that writing in Kentucky has problems, but four days later the Courier’s Sunday opinion piece was still running well behind on the issue.

The Courier’s slam at No Child Left Behind also rings hollow. CATS was ignoring problems with achievement gaps. NCLB, despite its faults, did squarely bring this endemic problem to light in Kentucky.

Of course, it’s really no surprise that the Courier doesn’t get it. Courier first-hand coverage of important education meetings in Frankfort has largely dried up.

The Courier failed to show during all seven meetings of the Assessment and Accountability Task Force last year.

And, I can’t remember the last time I saw a Courier reporter cover a meeting of the legislature’s Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee. That committee has primary oversight of the state’s assessment. The presentations they get are important – if you really want to know about the issues. But, the Courier simply scratched.

Still, after dropping out of a lot of very interesting discussions, the Courier sounds off, again, bemoaning the demise of a failed assessment program.

Thus, in the race to do smart things for Kentucky’s education system, the Courier is just running nags – in fact, when it comes to education, that’s all the Courier’s editors seem to be, as well.

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