Wednesday, April 23, 2003
OH, THE SUN DOESN'T SHINE SO BRIGHT
ON OUR OLD KENTUCKY EDUCATION SYSTEM --
HERE'S HOPING NEBRASKA TAKES NOTE
KENTUCKY TESTING DEBACLE SHOWS FOLLY OF REMOVING LOCAL CONTROL
Kentucky was the first state to Goals 2000-ize itself, and institutionalize Outcome-Based Education in its public schools, replacing local control with state control.
Now it has major, major egg on its face. Are other states paying attention?
After a lengthy court fight led by radical leftists in that state, a June 8, 1989, ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court held that it was unfair for some districts to spend more per pupil than others just because they happened to have more wealth in their districts. In response, the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) became law and basically ruined the schools by "governmentalizing" them.
With a tax increase of $1.4 billion, a whole new system was put in place. It includes standards, assessments, graduation proficiency exams, penalties for schools that don't meet their goals and millions of dollars of rewards for those that do. Plus Kentucky now has a whole new big bureaucracy to administer all this. It's the same kinds of incredibly expensive and intrusive system that most states now are putting in, and which will be made even worse as the federal program, No Child Left Behind, sinks its teeth even deeper into public schools and pushes local school boards aside.
But here's what's sad:
After all of that spending and hardball politics and fuss, Kentucky's ACT scores last year averaged 20 out of 36, one of the worst averages in the nation. That average ticked up just .10 of 1 point since 1990. All that money, and all that damage to schools, for absolutely nothing.
Now that they realize that financially, educationally and from a public-policy standpoint, this has been a disaster, the state is considering getting rid of its statewide high-stakes assessments, the CATS exams (Commonwealth Accountability Testing System), but they have all that bureaucracy in place, they want to save face, and it's a big, fat mess.
You can read all about what's going on in the article, "Critics Push to Revamp CATS Exams," in the April 22 Louisville Courier-Journal, www.courier-journal.com
And you can talk to your state senators and educators and warn them that Kentucky puts on a heck of a horse race, but their education system is a broken-down nag.
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