Friday, April 22, 2011

Government not the only state entity with a spending problem

The Family Foundation of Kentucky is calling for both a moratorium on -- and an investigation by the attorney general of -- rising tuition prices at Kentucky's public universities.

A study by the foundation last year showed that colleges and universities have failed to control costs and have been increasing tuition at rates that far outstrip median household incomes. As of 2009, the average college graduate had incurred student debt of over $24,000.

“The state’s universities are refusing to run their institutions efficiently and they’re passing the cost of that failure on to students, families and taxpayers,” said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky.

The University of Louisville (6 percent), University of Kentucky (6 percent) and Eastern Kentucky University (5 percent) have all raised tuition during the past month. No one in Frankfort seems to be paying attention. (Hmmmm. We wonder if the state auditor might begin paying as much attention to public universities as she has been to for-profit colleges recently.)

"When gas stations in Jefferson County dramatically increased their prices several years ago, the Attorney General launched an investigation because of the effect on the public," Cothran said. "Universities are increasing their prices at almost three times the rate of inflation. Where are the investigations?"

Where, indeed?


Hempy said...

Some of the rising costs of tuition can partly be blamed on reduction of state support for public universities.

However, a far more serious lapse in public funding of education lies in early childhood education. It’s at this young age when the brain is growing like topsy that the most resources are needed to provide the necessary intellectual stimulation for a successful school career.

Nevertheless, in order to be competitive in attracting the best teachers, it becomes necessary for universities to offer competitive salaries.

If tuition costs are far outstripping household incomes that’s because business are failing to pay adequate salaries. If businesses paid adequate salaries, the median household income wouldn’t be falling.

The rise in gasoline prices has nothing to do with political turmoil in the Middle East or any shortage. Those exorbitant price increases are due to the futures market, a derivative, which neither the White House nor Congress want to touch.

A proportional rate tax that maxed out at 5% would serve as an incentive to keep derivatives from increasing as much due to rigging by the marketeers.

Hempy said...


Tenure was set up to break up nepotism. Doing away with tenure would simply be going backwards to an inefficient system.

Accountability for results? What kind of results? Test scores? Test scores don’t test for creativity much less all seven types of intelligence.

Educational testing is an inexact science. It simply measures performance in certain areas. What kind of accountability could be established for a teacher that has a class of 30 students where 15 of them are a combination of special education, homeless, migrants or English is not their primary language, studentsw? With a class like this even the most competent teachers would appear to be inept based on test results.

Teachers that exhibit a continuing pattern of being ineffective should be provided with mentoring and skill training. The current practice is to transfer them to schools that have more difficult students.

What’s needed is an ethical shift in cultural, spiritual and moral values that seeks to promote the common good. Programs like Teach for America that takes some of the most talented college graduates and sends them to some of the most hopeless schools needs to be expanded. This could provide working models for dealing with these kinds of students.

Logan said...

Hempy, who determines what this "common good" you continually speak of is?

Richard Innes said...

Hempy, we frequently hear the same old, unenlightened nonsense about testing from you and others.

Such attacks on testing wind up mostly being just a defense of the education status quo and an attempt to avoid accountability for educators. That won’t fly.

Tests certainly cannot assess every outcome we would like our children to receive from education, but testing can evaluate a lot of important things. That includes whether students have decent core knowledge of factual information that every American should know. It also includes determining if students can accurately do arithmetic and compose sentences in English (or other languages, for that matter) which adhere to the rules for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and are successful as basic communications.

Tests can even be constructed to explore some of the higher order thinking you value. It can even be done today with carefully crafted multiple-choice tests.

The most important point is that while skills tests can evaluate are not sufficient, those skills tests can evaluate are essential. If teachers do not provide those skills to their students, those teachers are failing to meet some very important needs. More subjective-to-evaluate higher order thinking skills don’t matter if students lack the basics required to really deploy more advanced skills in a powerful way.

As far as treating teachers fairly when they have students with different demographic backgrounds, this is why more advanced states like Tennessee use value-added assessments. The Tennessee Value Added Assessment System, or TVAAS (which has been around since 1992, while Kentucky created – and crashed – TWO less-well-designed assessment programs), compares results for such students fairly so teachers don't suffer unfair advantages or disadvantages.

Kentucky had a chance to go to a system like Tennessee's in 1998 when the old KIRIS was thrown out. Our unenlightened school board of that era couldn't understand why Tennessee's system was so powerful and rather stupidly adopted our now failed CATS assessment program, instead. So, today, tons of education research is conducted in Tennessee, where there is valid data stretching over nearly two decades. In Kentucky, we don’t even have an assessment at present – hence no consistent data of any value is available.

Hempy said...

As I said previously:

"What’s needed is an ethical shift in cultural, spiritual and moral values that seeks to promote the common good. Programs like Teach for America that takes some of the most talented college graduates and sends them to some of the most hopeless schools needs to be expanded. This could provide working models for dealing with these kinds of students."

Hempy said...

The "common good" is an application of John Stuart Mills' utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number. It's an affirmation of moral and spiritual values applied economically.

The term “common good” is used in the Federalist Papers a couple of times. The purpose of government is to pursue the common good of society.

Thomas Jefferson expressed similar sentiments when he said: “The care of human life and happiness and not their destructions is the first and only legitimate object of good government."

If government is not seeking the common good, then it can no longer be considered good government.

In Federalist Paper 10, James Madison wrote:

“A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.”

In Federalist Paper 57, Madison or Hamilton wrote:

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society….”

A story in the gospel of Matthew of feeding a multitude with a few fish and loaves is about providing for the common good. It also contains the principle of proportionality in the distribution. “All ate and were filled.” (14:20) Stories such as these form the basis for spiritual and moral values of providing for the common good.

It’s from these stories that form the basis of Western civilization. Those same values and morals are incorporated into the Constitution by such terms as the general welfare.

Anonymous said...

Hempy - You said:

As I said previously:

"What’s needed is an ethical shift in cultural, spiritual and moral values that seeks to promote the common good. Programs like Teach for America that takes some of the most talented college graduates and sends them to some of the most hopeless schools needs to be expanded. This could provide working models for dealing with these kinds of students."

You propose a solution that might help a few kids while you leave the rest of the system protected and status quo. To get the attention of low proficiency kids, the teachers might just need some experience and street smarts in addition to outstanding college grades. Why is it the academic community always needs something new and more money and never addresses what exists?

Developing new models is the academic way to chew up time for the benefit of research while kids languish under failing approaches. Holding people accountable to get results within a certain time works everyplace but government and education because those two institutions avoid accountability at all cost for THEIR common good - not the USA.

You propose no reforms, no accountability, no timelines. But you can certainly exude theory.

We can only hope our kids have some real adult leadership come to the table and institute reforms that give them a fighting chance for a future. Of course wishing and hoping aren't viable processes to reform are they?

Hempy said...

Once a program like Teach for America gets established and achieves results, then the whole system will begin adapting to those changes.

It won't happen overnight, but neither was Rome built in a day.

If government is not working for the common good of society, then it is not good government.

The results for the benefit of the common good of society would be: Are students going into those fields required of the 21st century and are they functioning consistent with the values of our founders and those expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

Are they promoting the general welfare, are we moving more towards a society of liberty and justice for all?

Those would be a viable measurement standard of how effective an educational system is.

Logan said...


The biblical parable of Jesus feeding multitudes is no doubt an important lesson for us all. But let us not forget that Jesus did not represent the government when he helped others. His act was one performed by a single man, a citizen who was not forced by his government to do what he did.

The difference is that he wasn't FORCED. Government only has what it takes by force.

Liberty General said...

Very good point, Logan! I agree!

Hempy said...

Logan, I guess you deliberately want to miss the point of the story.

It's a story; not a historical account. It illustrates the positive benefit that comes from providing for the common good.

The effort was collective. A collective effort can be done by government just as it can by a group of individuals.

The means and the authority have to be there to carry out such an effort.

As James Madison or Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper 51:

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

It takes government to provide for the general welfare of a population exceeding 300 million people.

Logan said...


I'm no theologian, however I've always understood that story to be less about distribution of other's property and more about the fact that regardless of man's need, God can provide for that.

Hempy said...

That's a theological interpretation. It misses the point that people were provided for by a collective effort for the common good.

It's a story reflecting the principle of love your neighbor as yourself.

Adam Smith wrote:

“As to love our neighbor as we love ourselves is the great law of Christianity, so it is the great precept of nature to love ourselves only as we love our neighbor….” (The Theory of Moral Sentiments)

To the extent that one helps one’s neighbor is the equivalent of how much one loves oneself.

The Bible is filled with all kinds of statements urging the care of the less fortunate. The Golden Rule is another example.

Providing for the elderly and disabled via Social Security and Medicare are government programs applying those principles. The Affordable Care Act is a further extension of applying those principles.

In the document, Mr. Y, the authors similarly expressed those values:

“America was founded on the core values and principles enshrined in our Constitution… Our values provide the bounds within which we pursue our enduring national interests…. As we continue to evolve, these values are reflected in a wider global application: tolerance for all cultures, races, and religions; global opportunity for self-fulfillment; human dignity and freedom from exploitation; justice with compassion and equality under internationally recognized rule of law; sovereignty without tyranny, with assured freedom of expression; and an environment for entrepreneurial freedom and global prosperity, with access to markets, plentiful water and arable soil, clean and abundant energy, and adequate health services.”

Logan said...

You are correct - it is a theological interpretation. It also happens to be the main theme of that story.

I'm glad that we both agree that people in need should be provided for. That is very important.

Hempy said...

You missed the main theme of the story. God was not the provider. The providers were the people who gathered the bread and fish and dived them out till all were filled. No one was excluded.

All the stories, allegories, parables of the Bible drive the point home that God does not interfere directly in the affairs of humanity. People are the change agents and vessels through which those changes occur.

It can be a church potluck; it can be any number of civic organizations and it can be government. None excludes the other.

The goal is to benefit the common good. Constitutionally, government is to promote the general welfare.

Anonymous said...

Your view that God does not directly involve himself in the affairs of man becomes problematic when trying to explain the role of Jesus, the plagues in Egypt described in Exodus, or the story of Noah.

Hempy said...

The plagues of Egypt, the story of Noah are just that--stories. Those are allegories.They're not historical accounts.

The stories of Jesus are not historical. The quest for the historical Jesus has been going on since the end of the first century and well into the 2nd century AD.

Albert Schweitzer discussed the question in his book The Quest for the Historical Jesus.

The gospels are not historical accounts. They are theological writings adapted to a time in history.

Anonymous said...


Exactly which other surviving chronicles of the Biblical era other than the Bible do you think are unquestionably accurate historical documents unshaded by any significant biases?

Do you think Romans, Greeks, etc. of that era wrote without any political motivation, intentional deception or bias? How could you know?

In think it is fair to say that ongoing archeological findings confirm more and more of what is in the Bible.

Perhaps in the end the Bible will turn out to be more accurate than any of the other stuff you and your fellow travelers lay your hat upon.

Hempy said...


The Bible is not a historical document. It's a book of theology.

Writing to persuade was the common writing style of those days. Setting a story in a physical location gave the story a sense of placing it historically.

Biblical archeology tends to support more and more what I am saying than what you're saying.

For example, Jewish archeologists have fairly well established that the Jews have been indigenous Canaanites all along just like the Palestinians. This disputes the whole Exodus scenario. This includes archeology evidence as well as DNA.

Articles like this come out infrequently on the Internet, and unless you look carefully they can easily be missed. They tend not to hang around long.

Logan said...

Infrequent articles that disappear quickly? That doesn't seem very reliable.

Hempy said...

Reliability has nothing to do with it. The articles are generally scholarly and reliable. Unless one is familiar with the history and geography of the area in question, it's not likely to attract too many readers.

Those who would be generally inclined to dismiss it because it didn't support their opinions often won't read them either.

It's more about the number of "hits" an article receives as to how long it's going to be "front page" news.

Sometimes controversial articles get squelched quickly too. For example, Bishop Long of Atlanta's Missionary Baptist Church and his sex scandal with several young 17-year-old boys, as soon as they turned 17, was front page news for a few days, but then quickly disappeared.

Logan said...

"Reliability has nothing to do with it." - Hempy

Got it. I will remember that.

Hempy said...

Context is everything. "The articles are generally reliable and scholarly."

The ones that generally are not reliable and scholarly are the ones that reflect a more orthodox point of view.

For those type articles, "reliability has nothing to do with it." They're generally neither reliable nor scholarly.

Logan said...

Hempy, I promise not to take your quote out of context.