Sunday, October 28, 2007

BGI smacks schools; C-J smacks BGI; BGI smacks C-J...

In recent weeks the Bluegrass Institute has refocused its crosshairs on public education in Kentucky, and the Courier-Journal took notice.

In the last couple of weeks the Bluegrass Institute blog has issued forth with:
  • A pro-charter school piece that promises Kentuckians "better results for less money."
  • An anti-SCHIP piece that accuses Congress of "slouching to the 'for the children' propaganda level" and suggested that passage of the bill would be like "Feeding our children to big government monsters."
  • One opposed to Rep. Jon Draud's HB 60, a bill that "proposes to cover education-related expenses not met by other grant programs for anyone under 150% of the federal poverty level."
  • A few about how screwed up the CATS assessment is right now.
  • A few doubting the Kentucky Board of Education's selection process for the next Commissioner, one titled "Kentucky school board is driving again so stay off the sidewalks." (I had to smile at that one.)

And on balance, not much good to say about public schools. So yesterday, the C-J reached out and gave them a little smack saying:

  • "The determination of conservative think tanks, in particular, to undermine public education is a fierce thing to see. The market-knows-best types are relentless in smearing the credibility of public schools and teachers."
  • Criticized BGI for refusing to reveal "sources of its income or size of its dues-paying membership."
  • Called the think tank a "think puddle" and a businessman's "pet project."
  • Mentioned an unrealized 2005 BGI boast to "gather 100,000 signatures from supporters of legislation to let children attend schools of their choice, at state expense."
  • Accused them of "libertarian anti-government negativism."
  • And then went on to cite a "fact-based report just released by the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center."
Late last night BGI fired back claiming C-J:
  • hurled "personal insults when it runs out of intellectual ammunition."
  • that they "don't give out private financial information."
  • and that they hurt C-J's feelings "when we criticize what keeps proving to be shockingly sloppy, wasteful, or even fraudulent actions of Kentucky's public school officials."
  • and added, "Boo hoo."
  • Then BGI refers to the KLTPRC report.
It all makes me feel a moderate.

My 2 cents.
  • Promising Kentuckians "better results for less money" through charter schools is an extraordinary claim. Charter schools weren't designed for that. Any principal worth his salt is going to fight for resources that will allow him to do more for his students; just like when the private schools do fundraising.
  • BGI is anti-SCHIP because it is like feeding our children to the big government monsters. I disagree almost completely. Let's feed the kids to the same government monster that takes care of our congressmen and active-duty soldiers.
  • Draud's HB 60: No opinion. I haven't really read it yet.
  • How messed up CATS is: Too true. The feds and the Ky Board both contributed to making CATS worse.
  • The Education Commissioner process: I'm holding my breath. So far, no good.
  • Relentless does not seem too strong a term for C-J to describe BGI's stream of articles on the public schools; as is their right. And it's C-J's right to call them out on it. Both organizations are coming at the issues from their own points of view.
  • BGI may have refused to reveal sources of its income or size of its dues-paying membership, but being private, they don't have to. On the other hand, why not?
  • As for the report just released by the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center, I think it's a mere shadow of the kind of value added system I wish Kentucky had. If BGI can't do any better than to cherry pick data or point out that dropout data from 2004 was used instead of 2005 data - which was clearly shown in the footnotes - then just admit it. Kentucky students are making improvements that extend beyond what the citizens have any right to expect on the present effort. Kentucky's cost/benefit ratio is very good.
  • Y'all called each other names, but the attacks were institutional not personal.
  • What irked me most in the early days of KERA was the editorial board's tendency (and here I must confess, I am more attuned to the Herald-Leader's positions than I am C-J's, but I think I'm roughly correct) to defend against any changes to KERA, for fear of losing the whole thing I suppose, rather than supporting changes in areas where it was sorely needed, like the failed primary program that is still on the books after years of ineffective confusion and little (anything?) from the edictorial board.
  • What makes the C-J's point is BGI's criticism that "cheerleading for the education establishment when it is undeserving is what undermines our public school system." In BGI's hands, it can seem that the public schools are always undeserving. That's just not a true and accurate picture.


Kentucky Progress said...

You misspelled y'all.

Have a nice weekend.

The Principal said...

I gotta slow down and use spell check.

Thanks David. Y'all have a nice weekend, too.