Sunday, June 29, 2008

Report Finds Little Gain From Vouchers

This from the Washington Post:

Students in the D.C. school voucher program, the first federal initiative to spend taxpayer dollars on private school tuition, generally did no better on reading and math tests after two years than public school peers, a U.S. Education Department report said yesterday.

The findings mirror those in previous studies of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship
Program, passed by a Republican-led Congress in 2004 to place the District at the leading edge of the private school choice movement. It has awarded scholarships to 1,903 children from low-income families, granting up to $7,500 a year for tuition and other fees at participating schools.

The report comes at a politically perilous moment for the program. Congressional Democrats, led by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, want to phase it out, arguing that it drains money and other resources from public schools. Most scholarship
recipients have enrolled in Catholic and other faith-based private schools...

Rising graduation rate good for state

This from the Messenger-Inquirer by way of KSBA:

It is easy to become cynical about Kentucky's high school graduation rate, even though the picture is improving.

After all, in this day and age of ever-higher demands for an educated work force, when close to 30 percent of students do not graduate from high school either on time or at all, we wonder what the future holds for those individuals.

We also wonder what the future holds for this state when so many of its people enter adulthood sorely lacking in the ability to get ahead and forge a good future for themselves.

But the fact is, a higher percentage of Kentucky students are completing high school than ever before, and solid gains have been made in recent years, and that is good news. Couple that with the Kentucky's on-to-college ratio also improving over the years and it means that the state's overall education attainment level is going up. It can't help but pull Kentucky in the right direction.

Here in the Owensboro region, the picture is brighter still. The new report titled "Diploma Count 2008: School to College: Can State P-16 Councils East the Transition?" tracks high school graduation rates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by congressional and school districts.

The report puts Kentucky's 2005 graduation rate at 71.5 percent. That represents an increase of 6.2 percentage points since 2001, a growth rate more than double the national average. The 2nd Congressional District, which includes most of the Owensboro area, has a graduation rate of 74.8 percent, beating the state and national averages. Every district in this area had better rates than the state and national average, led by McLean County's 86.8 percent and Daviess County's 86.5.

Part of the reason for success here is the work of the local P-16 Council, called The Greater Owensboro Alliance for Education. The membership includes regional college presidents and school superintendents plus leaders from the work force and early-childhood learning, the chamber and economic development presidents, the mayor and The Learning Community director.

The goal of the council is to strengthen connections between elementary, secondary and higher education.

Much work remains to be done to push Kentucky's high school graduation rate to a more acceptable level, but with the stakes so high, even gradual improvement is cause for celebration.

Students, teachers, school officials and parents working together with the support of the community is the only winning formula that will keep the progress going.

States move toward uniform graduation rate reporting

This from USA Today:

SEATTLE (AP) — Comparing graduation rates from one state to the next or even one school to another can be as difficult as trying to help your children with their math homework: everyone has their own way of coming up with an answer.

That challenge is expected to go away within the next five years, but not without more pain, aggravation and money.

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced in April proposed new rules that would require states to assign each student a unique ID number to facilitate tracking from the time a student enters 9th grade until he graduates or drops out of school.

Spellings' call — which mirrors an agreement from the National Governors Association — will force every district to face up to the reality of a more scientific graduation rate, and quit hiding behind more positive estimates.

Washington state assigned a unique ID to every student four years ago, so this year's senior class will be the first with four years of data, so the 2008 graduation rate will be based on the method Spellings wants to mandate for all states.

State officials don't know if the new method will help or hurt Washington's steady 70% on-time graduation rate, said Joe Willhoft, director of assessment for the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

But, Willhoft adds, the point of the effort is to come up with a number that tells the truth...

Others will be protected thanks to Marshall case

This from the Paducha Sun:

The outrage expressed by the parents of Michael Colvett’s teenage victim is understandable to everyone who has ever been the parent of a teenage girl.

The former Marshall County High School band teacher, who abused his position to have a sexual relationship with an underage student, will not have to serve jail time, provided he meets the terms of his probation. The teenage girl, however, will have to live with the memory, as so many victims of sexual abuse do, for the rest of her life.

Her father, referring to the suggestion that Colvett’s actions stemmed from the difficulty he had dealing with the death of his infant son, said, “As we prayed for your child, you were making your move on my daughter. She was 14. Losing your child gave you no right to take mine.” Strong words. Words filled with anger and hurt at the man who betrayed the trust of parents and students and whose actions can never be undone. The punishment may not have been satisfying, but no punishment administered by the justice system ever could be. Not until they find a way to turn back the clock and change what happened.

The court of public opinion will have to determine whether the punishment was fair: five years probation, continued counseling, evaluation by a specialist in sex offenders, 200 hours of community service, no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18, surrender of his teaching license and registering as a sex offender for the next 20 years. He must also find employment, report regularly to a probation officer, pay $25 a month for his supervision, pay court costs, submit to random drug and alcohol tests. He also has to move to a new home because he lives across the street from an educational institution. Violation of any part of the conditions can result in jail time.

And, as his attorney pointed out, he has lost his reputation, for which he will suffer the rest of his life.

The victim’s parents can take some consolation in the fact that the case will help prevent other children from becoming victims of sexual abuse by those in positions of authority. The aggressiveness of prosecutors in pursuing Colvett shined a light on Kentucky’s lax law regarding such abuse.

The age of consent in Kentucky is only 16. But thanks to a new statute passed by the General Assembly, it is no longer lawful for a teacher, member of the clergy or other person in a position of authority to have sex with anyone under age 18 in his or her care. It was long overdue, but it took the Colvett case to spur lawmakers to act.

Even without the stricter age limitation, 95 teachers in Kentucky lost their certification for sexual misconduct in the five years from 2001-2005, with 80 percent of the cases involving students. Now the law will protect most students hrough high school.

The anger of the victim’s parents is not in vain; other fathers and mothers throughout the Commonwealth owe their own children’s safety to those who would not let this case be swept under the rug.

Bell Curve Author to Question College Goal in New Book

This from David J. Hoff at Education Week:

Charles Murray is about to publish a book about education—and he promises that educators won’t like it.

Fourteen years after The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure drew wide condemnation for its racially charged arguments on achievement, the author’s latest book, Real Education, will dispute the premise underlying much of education policy: All children should be challenged to achieve at high levels during their K-12 careers and pursue further education after high school. “It’s just idiotic,” Mr. Murray said of such beliefs in a recent interview.

Relying on the thesis of The Bell Curve—that intelligence, and therefore prospects for academic achievement, is determined by heredity—Mr. Murray’s new book argues that education policies should recognize that not all students can be expected to take high-level academic courses, and that some students should concentrate instead on vocational training to prepare for the workforce...

KSN&C Backstory: Scientific Racism, Neo-con style?

Johnson's decision to retire a good one

This from the Harrodsburg Herald:

We were relieved to hear Tuesday that Mercer County School Supt. Bruce Johnson has made the decision to retire from his position in December.

Johnson previously stated he planned to resign in December, then said he had decided to serve out his four year contract which was recently renewed. We are glad he has given the matter more thought and now plans to retire.

While the buck stops with the superintendent in most people's opinions, the school board has to take its share of the blame for the financial state of the school system as well. The board approves expenditures and financial reports and should not have been caught unaware of the current dilemma. Any board member who does not have time to be thoroughly informed on the financial status of the school system, at all times, needs to follow Johnson's lead and resign or retire, saving voters the trouble of not re-electing them.

Since Johnson initially announced $2 million in budget cuts for the coming year, including the loss of some jobs, and a recommendation to cut teacher salaries to save the full-day kindergarten program, he, and his school board have come under fire. We believe the initial inquiries were justified, and even though money was found to save the kindergarten program and salaries, we believe continued inquiries are also justified. More and more questions have surfaced as expenditures are beginning to be examined in depth.

If any good has come from the financial state of the school system, it is that community members as a whole have opened their eyes and have begun to question items they should have been watchdogging all along. We hope the questions continue until satisfactory answers are received. The watch dog does not need to sleep, and the school board needs to beware of the dog. It can have a nasty bite come election day.

Education Wanes as Campaign Issue, Poll Finds

This from Education Week:

With the general election less than five months away, voters’ concerns about rising gas prices and the sagging economy trump education as a campaign issue, even as more Americans believe the nation’s schools are getting worse, according to a new national poll released Thursday by the Public Education Network.

In fact, education is slipping as a campaign issue. Two years ago, when many governorships and state legislatures were up for grabs, education ranked as the most important issue in a similar poll conducted by the Washington-based group, a network of community-based organizations that work on school improvement in low-income areas. During the 2004 presidential election, education ranked second, behind the economy.

This year, education ranked third, the new poll found, with 12 percent declaring it the most important issue, compared with 22 percent who cited gas prices, and 19 percent who cited jobs and the economy as the most important issue. Education ranked ahead of health care, taxes, crime, and homeland security...

Universal preschool students perform better

This from USA Today:

An ambitious public pre-kindergarten program in Oklahoma boosts kids' skills dramatically, a long-awaited study finds, for the first time offering across-the-board evidence that universal preschool, open to all children, benefits both low-income and middle-class kids.

The large-scale study, by researchers from Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute and Center for Research on Children in the United States, looked at the skills of about 3,500 incoming kindergartners in Tulsa, where state-funded pre-kindergarten has been in place for 18 years — and offered universally for nearly a decade.

The researchers found that as the kids entered kindergarten those enrolled in the state program had better reading, math and writing skills than kids who were either not enrolled in preschool or who spent time in the federally funded Head Start program.

Previous research has shown that high-quality preschool pays off in better skills, especially for low-income kids. But until today's findings, even the biggest studies stopped short of making the case that universal programs, with children from all backgrounds, benefit virtually all of them.

"It's the whole city, it's all of the kids, it's done through the public schools and it
seems to produce pretty big effects for all of the kids," says W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). The institute was not involved in the study.

Kevin Noland Retiring as legal counsel to the Kentucky Board of Education

In Education Commissioner Jon Draud's Weekly Update, for the week of June 23, 2008 was this little item under "jobs posted"

  • KBE-KDE Deputy Commissioner

When I first saw it I thought...Elaine?! Huh? So soon? What does that mean?

What I didn't realize, was that in addition to serving as the Kentucky Board of Education's attorney, Kevin Noland does double-duty as a Deputy Commissioner...and he is indeed retiring.

When one is "in the field," one gains certain understandings about the larger bureaucracy: which departments can't help you...and which departments represent the best and most reliable service. In my experience, Kevin Noland's department, including Anne Keating and others, had consistently produced trustworthy counsel. I always found them to be terrific; responsive, accurate, and pleasant to work with.

Noland's departure will leave a large void in "education law" and "institutional knowledge" for Commissioner Draud to fill. If he hasn't been KDE's spiritual leader as well, I'd be surprised.

KDE spokeswoman Lisa Gross says they don't plan a public announcement.

They should reconsider.

An author of House Bill 940 (The Kentucky Education Reform Act) there has been no one more knowledgeable about the the law's intent as expressed in legislation; and no steadier hand than Noland. Through the Kentucky Board of Education's various travails Noland provided cool counsel. He read the law. He understood the law. He followed the law.

Since 1991 when Noland first joined the Kentucky Department of Education, he has served as legal counsel, associate commissioner and deputy commissioner.

But his real value came as three-time interim education commissioner: once after Thomas Boysen (1995)...most recently spanning the gap between Gene Wilhoit and Barbara Erwin - and again Between Erwin and Draud.

Gross says, "He will be sorely missed -- his legal expertise and vast knowledge have been invaluable to the agency."

I know she's right.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jack Jennings on the new CEP Study

KSN&C recently posted a story on the new report from the Center on Education Policy, "Has Student Achievement Increased Since 2002?"

CEP presents what is at least the fourth study in the past two years to confirm the significant progress being made in Kentucky schools - one of only four states to show moderate-to-large gains in both reading and math.

Richard Innes, a Bluegrass Institute researcher, doubted the credibility of the study.

Last year, a Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center study revealed that Kentucky made across-the-board improvements in its rank among the states; growing from roughly from 43rd to the 34th.

The Bluegrass Institute doubted the credibility of that study, too.

The KLTPRC report mirrored two previous studies done outside of Kentucky. Kentucky was 34th in Education Week's Quality Counts 2007 Achievement Index and was 31st in the Morgan Quinto 2006-2007 Smartest State Index."

I assume BGI didn't think much of those studies either.

When Richard questioned the quality of this study, I contacted Jack Jennings, President of CEP for a comment.

Here's his response:

Mr. Day, you sent a message on Wednesday saying that a commentator had a question about the report we released on Tuesday about student achievement. In
particular, he claimed our report would have credibility problems because Kentucky had a decline in 8th grade reading on NAEP that had not been reflected in the results on the state’s test. I asked the authors of the report to look at this issue and to respond. This is what they say:

First, this is consistent with the CEP report. Table 4-F (in the national summary) shows a moderate-to-large gain on the state assessment but a moderate-to-large
decrease on NAEP for grade 8 reading.

In the state profile, the first bullet says: "From 2002 to 2006, student achievement increased in both reading and math at all grade levels analyzed, according to percentages proficient and effect sizes." This is true for the state assessment, and presumably this is what the e-mail author is referring to.

Kentucky changed its assessment in 2007, so it's possible (although admittedly quite a stretch) that performance dropped in 2007... which showed up on NAEP but we couldn't see on state testing.

The report provides several reasons why NAEP and state tests might differ.

After receiving your e-mail, I got a call from a person from an organization in Kentucky who was asking the same question about our report. I asked him if he had read the report and he said that he had not, and that he was probably the source of your question. I urged him to read the report before he started raising concerns about it.

By the way, the report—Has Student Achievement Increased Since 2002?—and the fifty state profiles, as well as all the test score data from the states is on our web site,


Jack Jennings, President, Center on Education Policy

Now, Innes's suspicions were not irrational. Knowing that there was a decline in 8th grade reading on the NAEP seems inconsistent with the study's conclusions and knowing that the researchers accounted for the NAEP data is important.

But taken as a whole, BGI tends only to report the bad news about public schools...and I suspect he's was looking to discount the good news about Kentucky schools any time he can. It's probably in his job description.

It would seem any study that produces what BGI believes to be "the wrong answer" must necessarily be a bad study. This is a problem whenever one is hired to substantiate their boss's predetermine perception of reality.

Senate Panel Also Votes to Kill Funds for 'Reading First'

From Ed Week:

A Senate Appropriations subcommittee voted [earlier this week] to eliminate all funding for the Reading First program, as part of a fiscal 2009 spending bill that would provide modest increases for other education programs. Last week, a House Appropriations subcommittee also approved a fiscal 2009 spending measure that would scrap funding for the controversial reading program, which was authorized as part of the No Child Left Behind Act...

The Department of Education has just released an analysis of state test-score data showing that a majority of states have seen gains in reading fluency and comprehension in Reading First schools. ("Keep ‘Reading First’ Funds, Advisory Group Urges Congress", June 24, 2008.) ...

C-J Gives JCTA a well-deserved Smack

JCTA agit-prop

Shame on Jefferson County's teachers, for putting up with representation of the kind that union president Brent McKim and executive director Steve Neal have been providing of late.
These two leaders of the Jefferson County Teachers Association understandably feel an obligation to fight for members who lose their jobs. However, their recent conduct plays right into the hands of labor's opponents, who relish any evidence that a union ultimately will serve its own selfish interests rather than the broader interests of industry or society.

Are JCTA members proud of Mr. McKim and Mr. Neal for gratuitously and recklessly playing the race card, in a dispute with the Jefferson County Public Schools administration?

Do they want their leaders playing games with the most incendiary of local issues -- distorting numbers, obscuring relevant facts and reaching clearly unsupported conclusions on the school district's attitude toward race, of all things?

Superintendent Sheldon Berman has explained the non-renewal of one–year contracts held by 21 teachers, five of whom were African Americans, for poor performance, repeated misconduct or disciplinary problems. He has provided the facts -- not the speculation and innuendo that JCTA offered -- about 16 more teachers whose employment was not renewed.

Jefferson County teachers who already have earned their positions and their job security, and are fully familiar with the four-year process through which tenure is granted, will understand these facts. And they will understand these numbers: Of 419 fourth-year non-tenured teachers, 65 were African Americans, and all 65 earned, and were granted, tenure.

The duplicity in which Mr. McKim and Mr. Neal engaged is, or should be, beneath them as labor officials and community leaders. They say in one breath that they're "not accusing the district of racial bias." In the next gasp, they invoke "unlawful discrimination" and make a show of differentiating between two different kinds, then admit they don't know if they have found either in the contract renewal records.

This is agitation and propaganda, not serious, responsible representation of teachers. One hopes it won't spoil the good working relationship teachers seemed to be enjoying with the new superintendent.

Felner Probe Widens, UW-Parkside Search Process Questioned

Criminal investigation could involve
the purchase of illegal goods

The Felner investigation continues with a few new tid bits.

Yesterday, The Kenosha News reported,

The criminal investigation of Felner reportedly involves allegations of fraud and the mishandling of large sums of grant money. The Kenosha News has learned that it might also include the purchase of illegal goods.

...[U of L] spokesman John Drees...said the criminal investigation was initiated from someone at the university, and the campus police and staff were cooperating with authorities. He said several people had been interviewed by investigators.

...Felner was packing up his office Friday when federal agents swarmed in to seize computers and paperwork. Observers say investigators wouldn't let Felner out of their sight and even followed him to the men's room before escorting him from the building.

Jacob Payne, an editor for Page One Kentucky, a political news blog, said he spoke to several sources at the University of Louisville who said Felner argued with officials because he didn't want to return his computers to the school last week.

Yesterday, The Chronicle of Higher Education raised concerns over the search firm's (stop me if you've heard this before) lack of due diligence in selecting Felner. prominent search consultant said that Mr. Felner was considered a problem candidate and that a background check should have revealed several red flags in his past. Mr. Felner has been involved in at least one public flap involving research grants. In 2003 he resigned as dean of the University of Rhode Island's School of Education, blaming a state law for his departure. According to an account in The Providence Journal, Mr. Felner said he lost $15-million in research grants because of a cap on university staffing that prevented him from hiring enough employees to conduct the research.

EFL Associates, an executive-search firm with four regional offices, charged the system a $70,000 fee and expenses for the Parkside chancellor search. The firm's higher-education practice is "well entrenched" and was established 15 years ago, according to its president, Jason M. Meschke.

But while EFL employs three former college chiefs as consultants, it lists a relatively small number of higher-education searches on its Web site, including just two current and previous presidential searches, and is not among a "roundtable" of 30 respected executive-search firms identified by the American Council on Education.

In the case of a failed search, consultants typically conduct a second search without charging a fee. Mr. Meschke said his firm was contractually required to do so for the Parkside campus. "We are standing by the contract," he said.

The Kenoshia News reported (See sidebar),

Chris Evans, chairwoman of the UW-Parkside search committee and professor and chairwoman of the school’s Department of Geosciences, said Felner gave no indication that an investigation of this type could be coming...

But the search committee was aware of a no-confidence vote against Felner...

Evans said the committee became aware of that vote once the four finalists were announced. But Evans said that vote did not discourage support for Felner.

“We knew that there had been conflict, and it was only what you would expect from someone who was a determined change agent,” Evans said. “He never presented himself as uniformly popular. His references said that the faculty that objected to him were vocal, but they were definitely a minority. That didn’t cause us any alarm at all...

Apparently, Dr Evans doesn't understand the concept of a majority. The no-confidence vote was 27-24-2. She might want to study up on "confirmation bias" as well.

Now the Wisconsin system is re-examining the way it recruits, screens, and hires chancellors.

The system faced embarrassing headlines this year when a different search firm mistakenly released the name of a candidate for the chancellor position at its flagship Madison campus, even though the candidate had asked that his name be kept confidential.

This from the C-J:

Inquiry widens on dean's spending
Second school looks into use of grants

A federal investigation into allegations of mishandled funds at the University of Louisville has led another university to review grant expenditures made by the dean at the center of the investigation.

A spokeswoman at the University of Rhode Island, where Robert Felner worked from 1996 to 2003, confirmed yesterday the school is reviewing his grant expenditures while he was employed there.Felner was the director of URI's School of Education until he left in 2003 to become UofL's education dean, although he continued to serve on URI's National Center on Public Education and Social Policy until 2006.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Felner's No Confidence Vote

A while back, there was a "no confidence vote" taken at the College of Education at the Ville. This was fairly well known in higher ed circles. Felner has been described by some as a "street fighter." Agree with him and all is well. Disagree, and he'll take your knees out from under you.

Yesterday, Felner's attorney, Scott Cox, apparently said on WHAS11’s 5:00 P.M. newscast that everything on the internet was filled with “misinformation,” essentially saying that Page One Kentucky's reporting was not to be trusted.

Well. that must have hacked off Jake a he published the minutes from that meeting.

The faculty cited stuff like this:
Public humiliation of faculty, work place harassment, retaliation for voicing opinions, little or no governance, decisions that hurt College, unacceptable and unfair hiring practice; rude, offensive, unethical behavior by CEHD representatives; denial of support for research to those who differ in opinion; and extreme inequity of pay.

Yes = 27; No = 24; Abstained = 2; Motion passed

More minutes at Page One.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Haselton to become Interim Dean at U of L

With all the hubbub surrounding the University of theVille this week it's good to be reminded of this story (and photo) from Brad Hughes at KSBA last week:
Blake Haselton, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents (KASS), is leaving that post to become interim dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville.

Haselton, a former Oldham County superintendent, became the KASS exec three years ago following the retirement of former KASS Executive Secretary Roland Haun. While serving as the staff member for the superintendent's association, Haselton has been on the staff of U of L's education school. U of L's current education dean, Dr. Robert Felner, left to become chancellor of the University of Wisconsin system.

"Last Friday I was asked to discuss the position with University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey and he offered me the position of Interim Dean. Needless to say, this was an unexpected development but an exciting opportunity for me," Haselton said in an e-mail to the state's superintendents.

"I also think it is significant that the university would place a practitioner in the role of Interim Dean. Both President Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willihnganz indicated they want to continue to build on those relationships with school systems and I expect to continue to be an active advocate toward that goal," he said.

"My three years with KASS have been a wonderful experience," Haselton said. "We continue to be at a crossroads in elementary and secondary education and I will continue to be committed to achieving the goal of providing an adequate education for all kids. I have advised President Kelley Crain (superintendent of the Fleming County Schools) and the executive committee that I will continue to serve as your executive director during a transition period to a new director and will do anything I can to assist in the transition."
A little bit of light in a world of darkness.

Berman Smacks "Despicable" JCTA for Defending Bad Teachers

This from Sheldon Berman in the C-J:

Superintendent explains staff decisions
High-quality teaching is essential to move the Jefferson County Public School district toward increased excellence. Administration, parents, staff and the entire community maintain high expectations for quality instruction in our schools. Ensuring a high level of quality sometimes requires difficult, but diligent, decision making. State law and common sense require that as superintendent, I exercise my responsibility to ensure that only the very best teachers are employed and working in our classrooms -- this includes exercising the responsibility provided under Kentucky law not to renew some employment contracts.

I do not take these decisions lightly; however, our bottom line is about educating children and ensuring that only the best and most qualified teachers are leading instruction.

The contract of a limited contract teacher expires at the end of each school year. Pursuant to state law, I, as superintendent, must determine whether or not those teachers will be rehired for a subsequent school year.

This year, 21 non-tenured teachers in the district received nonrenewal notices based on documented poor performance, misconduct or repeated disciplinary problems. Each of those teachers was employed on a one-year contract, and that contract had expired. The Jefferson County Teachers Association has continued to protest my decision to exercise the right provided under Kentucky law not to renew these limited contract teachers despite arbitration and court rulings that clearly uphold my ability to take this action. They also have moved their concern to the next level by filing suit in Jefferson Circuit Court on behalf of these teachers.

JCTA also has distributed misinformation both internally and to the community at large about this situation. JCTA has attempted to remove the focus on the poor performance and repeated misconduct of these teachers who were not renewed. They have tried to divert the public's attention from the true reason for these actions by playing the race card, which is despicable.

We cannot account for the inaccurate numbers that JCTA is publishing. Even in its own publication, The Action, and in The Courier-Journal, both on May 14, JCTA
president Brent McKim is quoted as saying there are 20 teachers who were not
renewed for performance reasons. According to JCPS records, there were over
2,000 non-tenured teachers last year. Of those, 21 teachers' contracts were non-renewed due to poor performance, repeated misconduct or disciplinary measures. Of those, only five are African American.

It is important to point out the other inaccuracies of JCTA's arguments:
JCTA contends that the collective bargaining agreement covers nonrenewal of limited contracts; however, previous arbitration awards and court decisions have clearly recognized that nonrenewal of limited contracts is not addressed in the collective bargaining agreement and that a labor arbitrator may not supersede the superintendent's statutory authority to not renew a limited contract.

JCTA asserts that the nonrenewal is the equivalent of termination or discipline under the discipline clause in the collective bargaining agreement. The fact is that nonrenewal of a limited contract and termination are two separate actions. When teachers are non-renewed, they work through the end of their contract period and are simply not rehired for a subsequent school year.

JCTA does not acknowledge the difference between tenured and non-tenured teachers.

JCTA claims that these teachers were not told the reasons they were not renewed.

The fact is that in compliance with state law, as superintendent, I provided each teacher upon request with a written statement of the reasons for nonrenewal.

The facts relating to these 21 teachers are as follows:

Each teacher was employed under and signed a one-year limited contract that clearly expired at the end of the 2007-08 school year.

Each teacher's performance was monitored, and he/she was provided multiple support systems for improvement.

Each teacher's situation was reviewed on an individual basis.

Each teacher's contract was not renewed based on legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons, including performance issues, repeated disciplinary problems and/or other misconduct.

The reason a non-tenured teacher receives and signs a one-year contract is to give the administration the opportunity to judge the quality of the performance of a teacher and to make a decision about that teacher's future with the district. In
fact, in order to improve the quality of our teaching faculty, nonrenewal of some non-tenured teachers is essential.

I stand firm in my belief that the district has acted within the provisions of Kentucky law and that our decision not to renew these limited-contract teachers was based on the best interest of students, parents and the entire community.


Meanwhile, JCTA President Brent McKim grabs a law book and trots out discrimination...also in the C-J.

Felner: Federal investigation leads to resignation

More from, and Photo (Robert Felner answers questions during a May 5 visit to Kenosha.)

...David Giroux, a UW System spokesman, who earlier Monday said talks of resignation were premature, told the Kenosha News Tuesday evening that Felner offered his resignation Sunday when he informed the university about the investigation. He declined to say if UW President Kevin Reilly asked for the resignation first, but indicated that any investigation would hinder Felner's Parkside position.

Giroux said Reilly wanted to look into the matter for a couple of days before formally accepting the resignation."I'll just say he offered the resignation and the resignation was accepted," Giroux said.

"We came to believe it was in the best interest of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside to move into a different direction, and we are doing that now. We have a campus that has ambitions for the future and is focused on strong leadership. Anyone in Dr. Felner's position would be hard pressed to give that focus."

According to a report on Page One Kentucky, an online news blog, Felner was packing up his office in Louisville Friday when federal investigators swarmed in to cart away computers and paperwork from his office and other areas of the College of Education. The blog said federal agents escorted Felner to the bathroom and out of the building...

Thanks Jake. You da Man on this one.

Johnson resigns Mercer post

This from the Advocate Messenger:

Embattled Superintendent says he'll step down Dec. 31
HARRODSBURG - Those who thought a resolution to the saga of Superintendent Bruce Johnson and the Mercer County Board of Education had been reached should remove their bookmarks, as a surprising new chapter has been written.

Tuesday night at the end of a special board meeting, Chairwoman Glynda Short read a short letter from Johnson announcing his resignation as superintendent effective Dec. 31.

The announcement came as a shock to not only those in the audience but also to board members and staff. Short said she had received the letter only a few moments before the meeting. To call the last two months tumultuous for Johnson and the board would likely be regarded as an understatement, and Tuesday's turn would seem to mark the second time in the span of a few weeks that Johnson has announced his intention to leave the district.

In early May, Mercer announced a vast number of budget cuts for next school year, including elimination of 42 jobs and reduction of the kindergarten program from full day to half day.

This, and Johnson's ensuing proposal of a 3.5 percent salary cut for all district
employees as a way to hypothetically fund full-day kindergarten, sparked

Eventually, full-day kindergarten was saved by moving around $250,000 in capital outlay funds, and the idea of salary cuts was scrapped. But during a near-month long period of uncertainty when the budget remained tabled and the capital outlay funds solution was a secret, Johnson came under heavy scrutiny, and research conducted by The Advocate-Messenger confirmed what was widely rumored: Johnson was by far the area's highest paid superintendent, earning $155,827 this year.

In late May, Johnson offered the school board the option to release him from his contract. At a May 27 meeting, the board met behind closed doors for 2-1/2 hours to discuss personnel but said no action would be taken.

Two days later, the 2008-09 budget was approved, with the capital outlay plan finally being revealed. Johnson said he wished to clarify his position and withdrew the option he'd placed before the board.

"If I decide to retire," Johnson said, "I will put in writing to the board asking them
to release me from my contract." And now he has. Johnson's announcement comes merely days before his new contract, which was signed Jan. 31, was to take effect. The contract would have started July 1 and run through June 30, 2012.

"I have to say that I'm not totally surprised by it, but I'm not necessarily happy about it," said Short. Erin Milburn, a teacher at the high school who served as a teacher representative at the meetings, often questioning board policy and encouraging amendments to make information more accessible, was also present at the meeting. She praised Johnson in what she called "a smart move."

"I think it shows wisdom on his part, and I think the decision was done with dignity and with respect to the chaos that's been going on," said Milburn. "He's trying to do the right thing, and I appreciate that." ...

Another National Report Verifies Educational Progress in Kentucky

Kentucky Among 4 states to show
Moderate-to-Large Gains in both
Reading and Math since 2002

A new report from the Center on Educationa Policy asks, "Has Student Achievement Increased Since 2002?"

And the answer in Kentucky is YES!

Since ... 2002, four states made moderate-to-large gains in reading and math at all three grade levels analyzed (elementary, middle, and high school) according to both the percentages of students scoring at or above the proficient level and effect sizes. ...and Kentucky finds itself among the top "growers" with Arkansas, Texas and Washington.

Main Conclusions of the Study:

1. Since 2002, reading and math achievement on state tests has gone up in most states according to the percentages of students scoring at the proficient level. Gains tended to be larger at the elementary and middle school grades than at the high school level. Achievement has also risen in most states according to effect sizes. These findings are drawn from states with at least three years of comparable test data.

2. Trends in reading and math achievement on NAEP have generally moved in the same positive direction as trends on state tests, although gains on NAEP tended to be smaller than those on state tests. The exception to the broad trend of rising scores on both assessments occurred in grade 8 reading, where fewer states showed gains on NAEP than on state tests, especially in terms of effect sizes.

3. In states with sufficient data to determine achievement gap trends on state tests, gaps have narrowedmore often than they havewidened since 2002, particularly forAfrican American students and low-income students. Gap trends were also largely positive for Latino students,but this finding is less conclusive because in many states the Latino subgroup has changed significantly in size in recent years.On thewhole, percentages proficient and effect sizes revealed similar trends of narrowing or widening, although percentages proficient gave a more positive picture of achievement gap trends than effect sizes.

4. Gaps on NAEP have also narrowed more often than they have widened in states with sufficient data to determine gap trends. The exception was in grade 8 math, where gaps on NAEP widened more often than they narrowed for most subgroups. In general,NAEP results painted a less positive picture of progress in narrowing gaps than state tests did.

5. It is impossible to determine the extent to which these trends in test results have occurred because of NCLB. Since 2002,many different but interconnected policies and programs have been undertaken to raise achievement—some initiated by states or school districts and others implemented in response to federal requirements.Moreover,all public school students have been affected by NCLB, so there is no suitable comparison group of students to show what would have happened without NCLB.

Children at the Economic Margins Key to Sustaining Progress

A new study by the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center emphasizes the critical need for Kentucky to invest in education for children from all walks of life in order to raise our economic status.

Some highlights from the article include the following facts:

National picture:
Ø “As education and skill levels rise in the developing world, businesses are tapping into a vast pool of highly skilled, lower-cost talent. Engineers, accountants, architects, radiologists and computer programmers from India, China, and the Philippines, for example, now perform these jobs for U.S. entities for a fraction of the cost of their American counterparts.”
Ø “. . . Forrester Research predicts that roughly 3 million high-tech jobs will be relocated overseas by 2015.”
Ø “. . . it is widely acknowledged that more U.S. students need to pursue careers involving the STEM skills—science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Ø “A National Science Foundation survey found that only 16.8 percent of first university degrees in the United States were in the STEM fields as compared to 33.3 percent for Asia, 64 percent for Japan, 52.1 percent for China and 40.6 percent for South Korea.”
Ø “. . . by high school, U.S. students fall behind most of their peers in industrialized as well as what many still regard as developing nations.”
Ø “We seem to be the only country in the world whose children fall farther behind the longer they stay in school.”

Kentucky landscape:
Ø “In general, the performance of the typical Kentucky student on national testing has steadily improved in each subject area. However, in spite of these gains, the academic performance of Kentucky students merely parallels and at times lags the national average, an unenviable benchmark, international testing suggests.”
Ø “Kentucky’s students have shown steady progress at all levels; however, the same pattern of lost ground at the middle and high school levels is observed.”
Ø “. . . the state’s overall profile is one of steady, measureable, and broadly recognized improvement. Nevertheless, just as U.S. students do not distinguish
themselves internationally, Kentucky students, with the notable exception of 4th-grade science students, have yet to distinguish themselves nationally.”
Ø “. . . Kentucky has improved its national education ranking from 43rd in 1992 to 34th in 2005, a finding consistent with Education Week’s Quality Counts 2007 Achievement Index, which also ranks Kentucky 34th, and the Morgan Quitno 2006-07 Smartest State Index, which ranks Kentucky 31st. This improvement has been driven by 4th- and 8th-grade science scores, 4th-grade reading, and the steady decline in the dropout rate from 5.6 percent in 1996 to 3.3 percent in 2004.”
Ø “Kentucky’s gains have come in spite of the considerable and broadly recognized liability of educating children who are at a profound economic disadvantage and lifting the educational status of a population that has historically been undereducated and disproportionately poor.”
Ø “Given the challenge that remains to be met, it will be necessary to maximize returns on the huge public investment we are making in education.”
Ø “. . . a RAND study of student performance on components of the NAEP and the effects of state-level spending identified key areas that exerted the most influence on test scores. While higher levels of investment per pupil clearly yielded higher results, strategic investments may matter more, suggesting that the wise use of even limited resources can improve academic performance. What’s more, RAND researchers conclude, increased investment in public education matters far more to less-advantaged students. While the effects of increased investment are negligible or nonexistent for more-advantaged students, they clearly affect minority and less-advantaged students, and the outcomes “can be large and significant if properly allocated and targeted.”
Ø “While surrounding states have caught up with the national average in per pupil spending, Kentucky continues to lag behind. Kentucky now spends just 82 percent of the U.S. average per pupil compared to 99 percent among surrounding
Ø “In spite of significant barriers that strongly influence educational outcomes—high poverty rates, low educational attainment levels, and lagging investment—two separate indices suggest that the efficiency of Kentucky’s investment is high.”
Ø “In a 2004 student using 2001 data, the Manhattan Institute concluded . . . Kentucky ranked fourth in the nation for school efficiency. Using similar criteria, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Education Report Card gives Kentucky a B for its “solid return on investment,” which it deems “strong relative to state spending.”
Ø “We calculate that Kentucky’s national ranking of 37th on NAEP proficiency is equivalent to a ranking of 25th on NAEP returns per dollar spent on students, and a ranking of 8th nationally when we control for factors such as poverty and the low level of education attainment in the state. In short, our state has achieved
measurable gains relative to our rather significant fiscal and cultural limitations.”
Ø “States with higher levels of achievement, RAND finds, also have more children in public prekindergarten programs, underscoring the critical role played by early
childhood education.”

Ø “. . . Kentucky ranks highly among states for its preschool efforts, which are free to at-risk children. However in light of research about early childhood development, they appear to be too little too late. . . Participation in state-funded
preschool programs is restricted to three-year-olds with a disability and four-year-olds with a disability or from low-income families.”
Ø “. . . the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education recommends programs for infants and toddlers be led by teachers with BAs. Kentucky falls egregiously short of this standard, requiring only that child care workers be 18 or older, have no criminal record, and be free of tuberculosis. Moreover, assistants to
state-run preschool teachers are not required to be credentialed, and facilities
are not monitored.”
Ø “Disadvantaged children arguably hold the key to Kentucky’s future. Their academic success will ultimately determine whether our state’s future remains one of disproportionate poverty or gives way to rising prosperity. An extensive and longstanding body of research clearly shows that economic disadvantage has a
significant negative drag on academic performance.”
Ø “Were we to close the substantial academic gaps associated with inequities, Kentucky students would be performing at dramatically higher levels relative to their national peers. . . . Kentucky’s 4th and 8th graders would rank among the nation’s leaders in reading and science and move into the top tier in mathematics. In short, our goals for education would be nearly realized.”
Ø “How we pay and reward teachers and where the best teachers are typically found have emerged as central issues. At present, we reward our veteran and, research suggests, most competent frontline educators by permitting them to choose from available slots based on seniority, rather than utilize their talents where they are most needed.”
Ø “Inarguably, teachers are key to rising levels of achievement. A landmark mid-1990s University of Tennessee study that grouped teachers by their longitudinal effects on student performance on standardized tests found teacher quality to be “the single most dominant factor affecting student academic gain.”
Ø “A growing body of more recent quality research, . . . further refutes a longstanding assumption that demographics are too powerful to overcome. These studies show that good teachers can raise student performance, regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Ø “Indeed, the human resource system for teachers may require restructuring if we are to ensure that all students, particularly poor and minority children and those from undereducated families, are given every opportunity to excel.”
Ø “To avoid continued economic stagnation, incomes that year after year lag the national average, Kentucky must continue to vigorously pursue its ascent in educational status. In some areas, research suggests the need for new investment, but a more informed, focused use of the significant resources we now deploy to public education may yield gains in the classroom, the workplace and our larger economy.”

Thanks to Jon and Dorie for passing this along.

Assessment and Accountability Task Force Set to Meet

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The first meeting of the Task Force on Assessment and Accountability will be held on Tuesday, August 5, in the State Board Room of the Capital Plaza Tower in Frankfort.

The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. and is scheduled to end at 4 p.m. The tentative agenda includes discussion of the group’s work, procedures and future meeting dates.

The task force will review the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) and provide a blueprint for the system’s progress in the future to ensure that the system meets the best interests of public school students. Members of the group include policymakers and experts in the field.

Education Commissioner Jon E. Draud asked statewide organizations, partner groups and leaders of the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives to name members to the task force.

The task force will seek input from teachers, administrators, parents, businesspeople, elected officials, education advocacy groups and others. The group will analyze individual components of CATS and determine the effectiveness of those in meeting the needs of students.

Task force members are:
Jim Applegate, vice president for Academic Affairs, Council on Postsecondary Education
Joe Brothers, chair, Kentucky Board of Education
Dale Brown, superintendent, Warren County (representing the Partnership for Successful Schools)
Paula Eaglin, Kentucky Association of Professional Educators
Jenny Lynn Hatter, instructional supervisor, Harrison County (representing the Kentucky Association of School Administrators)
Rep. Jimmy Higdon, 24th District, Lebanon
Brenda Jackson, past president, Kentucky School Boards Association
Sen. Dan Kelly, 14th District, Springfield
Mike Lafavers, principal, Boyle County Middle (representing the Kentucky Association of School Councils
Roger Marcum, superintendent, Marion County (representing the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents)
Sen. Vernie McGaha, 15th District, Russell Springs
Rep. Harry Moberly, 81st District, Richmond
Helen Mountjoy, secretary, Education Cabinet
Sharron Oxendine, president, Kentucky Education Association
Rep. Frank Rasche, 3rd District, Paducah
Speaker of the House Jody Richards, 20th District, Bowling Green
Wayne Roberts, district assessment coordinator, Wayne County (representing the Kentucky Association of Assessment Coordinators)
Rep. Carl Rollins, 56th District, Midway
Sandy Rutledge, president-elect, Kentucky PTA
Bob Sexton, executive director, Prichard Committee
Diana Taylor, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, 29th District, Drift

Since the membership of the task force was originally announced in early June, Suzanne McGurk, representing the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, has joined the group. To provide additional geographic and racial diversity, Education Commissioner Jon Draud also named Marlene Helm, Ed.D., with Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (and a longtime educator), and Steve Stevens, with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, to the task force. Dave Spence, president of the Southern Regional Education Board, will serve as facilitator for the group.

NOTE: Although earlier communications indicated that the task force would hold its first meeting in July, scheduling conflicts made it necessary to set the first meeting in August.

SOURCE: KDE press release

Felner resigns as U W-Parkside Chancellor

This from the

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A University of Louisville dean hired to lead the University of Wisconsin-Parkside has resigned amid a federal criminal investigation in Kentucky.

Louisville College of Education and Human Development Dean Robert Felner was to start as chancellor of UW-Parkside in Kenosha next week. But UW System President Kevin Reilly says he accepted Felner’s resignation on Tuesday. Felner had alerted Reilly on Sunday that his college was facing an unspecified criminal investigation.

The Board of Regents approved Felner as the school’s chancellor earlier this month with a salary of $205,000.

This morning the C-J reported:
...Scott C. Cox, the attorney for Robert Felner, said the investigation is looking into an allegation that roughly $500,000 in federal grant money was mishandled.“We believe from our very preliminary investigation that he has not mishandled any funds,” said Cox, who added that Felner has “cooperated fully with federal authorities.”

...The investigation was triggered by university officials who became concerned that federal grant money may have been mishandled, Cox said. The U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Secret Service are investigating the case jointly with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he said. As part of that investigation, the agencies seized documents and a computer from Felner’s university office on Friday.

Page One Kentucky, who broke the story, is reporting and asking questions about new information ont he Feltner/U of L investigation.
After speaking with our sources, we believe that’s $500,000 in question from more than one grant. E.g., could be funds from a total of the $17million figure we gave you earlier....

Turns out the investigation is being conducted by The United States Postal Service, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Which meshes with what we’ve heard from UofL officials.

What exactly would the USPS and Secret Service investigate? What sort of crimes do they usually handle? We know the USPS investigates everything from identity theft to child porn and money laundering when it involves the postal system. But we are not alleging anything....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Feds Raid U of L College of Education ?

This shocker from Jake over at Page One Kentucky:
Remember that mysterious investigation at the University of Louisville that popped up last week? The one where TV crews flooded UofL’s campus only to report that they didn’t know anything? The investigation that the U.S. Attorney’s office admits is taking place? ...

We know the offices that investigators were in were those of College of Education officials.

Specifically, the office of Robert Felner, Dean of the school. (view Felner’s massive curriculum vitae here.) Felner, whose last day coincided with the arrival of investigators (conveniently after all of his boxes were packed and he was ready to jet), controls a massive No Child Left Behind grant worth about $12.5 million....

Pandering alert !

Thanks to David at

House Bill 8 was recently introduced by Rep. Melvin Henley (D - Calloway/Trigg) for the 2009 session. If adopted HB 8 would
permit students in public schools to voluntarily express religious viewpoints in school assignments and to organize prayer groups, religious clubs, or religious gatherings before, during, and after school, to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities on school property.
HB 8 would also
allow student-led prayers at school events, and require school districts to only allow students to give public prayers at graduation ceremonies who are either a student council member, sports team captain, senior class officer, academic high achiever, or who meet “neutral criteria” for being accorded a “position of honor,” or who are on a list of “student leaders” designated by the district.
The bill establishes explicit criteria for allowable content of all student graduation ceremony speeches.

Here's my favorite misguided provision of this misguided bill:
"...a student shall be permitted to voluntarily... Express religious viewpoints in a public school to the same extent and under the same circumstances as a student is permitted to express viewpoints on nonreligious topics or subjects in the school..."
Since student's spend virtually all of their time in class discussing nonreligious topics, this bill would free students who may wish to turn their local high school classroom into a church - and defends students who wish to claim that "wrong answers" are true because they believe them to be true.
Homework and classroom assignments must be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance. Students may not be penalized or rewarded on account of the religious content of their work;
So no extra points for believing the world is 6,000 years old. Then there's:

...a student shall be permitted to voluntarily... organize ...religious gatherings before, during, and after school..

Your attention please, students. The wholistic snakehandlers prayer and jihadist club will meet this Wednesday in the science lab right after the pep rally.

Principals’ Group Calls for National Academic Standards and Tests

This from Education Week:

A plan for adopting national academic standards and assessments in reading and mathematics, as well as for helping states and districts implement them, should be included in the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act...the National Association of Secondary School Principals [said]. [NASSP called] on Congress to appoint an independent panel of researchers, educators, and others to come up with a set of common guidelines for what students should know and be able to do in the two subjects at each grade level. The standards, and accompanying assessments,
should replace punitive provisions in the federal law, the NASSP says.

“Under NCLB, we’re holding schools accountable, talking about adequate
yearly progress, creating lists of schools not reaching AYP,” said Gerald N.
Tirozzi, the executive director of the Reston, Va.-based organization. “The
irony is that we have 50 states, which have 50 different definitions of
proficiency, and NCLB never even describes what is meant by proficiency.” ...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Tribute to My Parents

Yesterday, it was my honor to pay tribute to my parents.

Through 60 years of marriage they built a family that I often thought of as typically American for folks of our generation. As a result, I have always thought of myself as an "average American." Born in the middle of America, in the middle of the last century, in the middle of the political landscape - this middle child is grateful for the great "good fortune" of being born into a loving family and to still enjoy the love and guidance of my parents.

So with the indulgence of KSN&C readers, I proffer this very personal observation:

Tribute to My Parents:
On the 60th Anniversary of
John L. and Eileen C. Day

Fort Mitchell County Club
21 June 2008

Good afternoon.

On behalf of my big brother Jack and my little sister Kim Carter; along with our spouses, Sidney, Dennis and Rita - it’s my pleasure to welcome you - and thank you for joining our little celebration of the 60th anniversary of the elopement of John & Eileen Day. Of course, it might also be a celebration of common law marriage and the statute of limitations in Kentucky.

As it turns out, thirty years ago we were in this same room celebrating their 30th anniversary.

I’d also like to especially recognize Sidney for putting her considerable organizational skills to work – to pull together this luncheon. Thanks Sid.

Also we’d like to recognize our kids, who we stuck in the back corner of the room. Hi guys.

Before we begin, I’d like to recall some important people to whom we owe a great debt. First, there are our largely unknown ancestors. From photographs, I surmise that Mom’s ancestors were merchant-class English immigrants: Mom’s parents, Joel and LulaMae Clore held professional positions in Cincinnati. “Papal” as we called him was Safety Director for Cincinnati Gas & Electric; and NaNa worked for Thomas Emory & Sons, and in 1954, was the first woman named President of the Cincinnati Chapter of the National Insurance Buyers Association.

Now, don’t take this wrong - but to begin visualizing the Day’s of Tazwell TN, it’s helpful to recall the Clampets before Beverly Hills. ‘Cept more of ‘em. I’m pretty sure Dad’s Great Grandmother was a full-blood Cherokee. Somewhere around 1914, Dad’s father – “Pop” - hopped a train heading north, and found a railroad job in Ludlow. His wife Reba – “Mom” - was a homemaker who raised five children

Their spirits are alive in us today.

I’d also like to invoke the spirit of Uncle Joe - and say that if you’ll laugh at my stupid jokes, we’ll all have a better time.

Now, Mom & Dad’s actual anniversary was in February - but as is sometimes the case in this branch of the Day family – we get around to celebrations when we get around to them.

That reminds me. Last week was officially Father’s Day and Rita and I were in Atlanta (visiting the families of my son Travis and daughter Ashley, including 3 Great Grand children) and were not around to celebrate with Dad. I did call him - and he chided me for not singing “Happy Father’s Day” to him.

So, if you’ll permit me….I’d like to make up for that right now….

Today, Father is Father’s Day
And we’re giving you - a tie

It’s not much we know
It is just our way of showing you
We think you’re a regular guy

You say that it was nice of us to bother
But it really was a pleasure to fuss

For according to our mother
You’re our father
And that’s good enough for us
Yes, that’s good enough for us
(Harry Ruby)

Now, on with the services.

When the siblings and I were discussing the nature of today’s proceedings we decided to keep things rather simple: No big video productions. No totally embarrassing photos of unguarded moments - Just a few remembrances of the parents who raised us; who loved us; who exalted us; and defended us –

Then they threw us out of the house and started booking cruises.

So this will be something between a toast and a roast.

If at any point you are tempted to take a sip of champagne…we strongly suggest that you do so.

We owe our parents everything. They taught that if we’d value education and hard work, and treat people right, this country would provide us with opportunity, and we could live a happier life. They were right.

In fact, I can’t think of a single parenting mistake they made. Or - if they did - I’m sure we’ve forgotten them.

After a shaky start, Mom and Dad turned out to be terrific parents - who never really meant us any harm.

Now, I know that may sound like a strange thing to say. So let me explain.

My earliest memory in life involves Mom, Jack, and an old Nash Rambler. As most of you know, we lived in Ludlow in those days (the mid 50s) – on the Highway - and at the top of a steep hill.

One day Mom was driving Jack to kindergarten. As usual, we were both in the back seat of the Rambler. Mom backed out of the garage - and then got out of the car to close the garage door. For some reason, I remember the steering wheel turning very slowly - then I could feel the car moving backward over the hill and Jack pulling me down in the seat. Before we knew it, our Rambler was sitting down at the old barrel factory. It never really hit anything bigger than a bush, and Mom was the only one hurt, running down the hill after us and cutting her leg.

I told my therapist about it. He says I should let it go. “Probably an accident,” he says. So, I’m over it. All better.

Besides, neither Jack nor I can think of a time they ever tried to knock off Kim.

Well according to Dad’s stories he had a difficult childhood. It was the depression and he was forced to pull his little red wagon through the streets of Bromley selling vegetables. And like others of his generation, he had to crawl to school on his hands and knees over broken glass just to get an education. And he was glad to do it.

He lost a brother, Kyle, at the age of 9. But big brother Frank edited the Dixie Heights school newspaper while younger brother Clyde became a sports star. Big sister Vira must have just hung around looking good, because she was featured in the newspapers a few times, riding her bike, playing softball...being all leggy. Dad went for public speaking.

He apparently fussed with his brothers over who would get the boat during the ’37 flood. He worked with a Chaplin in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor. And at some point was a Police Judge in Bromley – where he once had a close call with disgruntled gun-toting union official.

Mom must have had it easier. She wintered in Ludlow; but summered in Fort Mitchell. There aren’t a lot of stories. But knowing Mom - she probably just kept them to herself. Most of the stories in the Clore family involved her little brother Joe.

As a child Mom was selected to be a Goldenrod Page and got her picture in the paper. I don’t know what it meant to be a Goldenrod Page, but any time I would mention it she’d roll her eyes…so I thought it might be fun to mention it again today.

You know, maybe I CAN think of one parenting mistake. Jack, you know the one I’m talking about. Kim got a TV in her room. We were never allowed a TV in our room.

No big deal. I’m just sayin.’ I told my therapist about it. He says I should let it go.

The long-term success of this “mixed marriage” - He from an independently-minded Democratic family - She from Goldwater Republican stock – was based on departmentalization. There were things Mom was in charge of and things Dad was in charge of. By that means they directed us - and gave each other breathing room.

We were a very religious family. Y’all probably didn’t know that. Our parents operated on the principle that a strong family needed a good foundation and Dad turned to the good book for guidance. His most frequently recited Bible verse – in fact, it may have been the only Bible verse we ever heard from him – was Exodus 20:12. Not the whole verse. Just the first part that said, "Honor thy father and thy mother.” We heard that a lot. Dad seemed to think that if we’d do that - everything would be fine.

In the early days, Mom & Dad went through the normal kinds of upwardly mobile affiliations. Dad was in the Jaycees back in the days when they did more serious projects. He did a year at UC.

Mom was in the Jaycee Wives; wearing big hats and raising money for local charities. Jack and I grew up like Wally and the Beaver – and saw our mother change from dresses to Capri slacks with Mary Tyler Moore. We remember Mom & Grace Bullock, antiquing & decoupaging; bridge parties and family gatherings with the cousins; we remember the river boats paddling past our home with the calliope playing; exploring the river bank and hiking to Pigeon Point; the birth of our baby sister ten years behind me; LoDaBul & Derby parties.

Our parents built a great home for us to grow up in.

At some point, Mom picked up the nickname “Queenie.” There is some dispute over how she got this lofty title. Some have suggested that Mom carried herself in a manner that was almost regal – and perhaps she tended to direct others – so the title seemed to fit. We’re pretty sure she did not marry a prince …who then became King.

I naturally assumed that, like all divine rights rulers, she was ordained by God.

Her nickname was only reinforced during a long stint with the Ludlow Schools. With her gold slippers and hair bun, she was a force to be reckoned with at Ludlow. Moving from secretary to Principal Arthur Tipton, to board treasurer under Superintendent Tebay Rose and later Jon Draud – Mom was a player among the men who ran the school district – in the days before women were commonly found in powerful positions.

I recently invited Draud to speak to one of my classes at Eastern. A former superintendent found out I was from Ludlow and came over to reminisce. He went on about Draud’s good fortune in Ludlow and said, “That lucky SOB could do anything he wanted because he had - that woman who ran the district for him.” I told him, “We just call her, ‘Mom’.”

While Mom worked in the schools – Dad went on the stump. He served two terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1954 & 1956. Speedy Kentuckians can thank his House Joint Resolution 14 for the “points” they get on their driver’s licenses.

Dad’s career included some youthful union activism. He helped lead a successful strike that aided his fellow workers – and got himself fired in the process.

So he switched to a career in real estate – first in sales – but later in appraisal. He served as President of the Kenton-Boone Board of Realtors and did appraisals for public agencies (like the Kentucky Highway Department, Greater Cincinnati Airport and East Kentucky Power) as well as individual home owners. He was named Realtor of the Year in 1968 and again in 1972 - and has been slacking off ever since. But he wrote and taught appraisal – and a few years ago, was awarded Emeritus status by the Kentucky Board of Realtors for more than 50 years of service to the industry.

As a high schooler, I found myself on “the dumb end” of a tape measure more than once as Dad taught me the exciting grunt work of real estate appraisal. Thrilling. But the truth is - it was in the court room where Dad came alive. There was nothing he enjoyed so much as going head-to-head with an opposing attorney in some condemnation case.

In fact, among my favorite memories were our family’s dinner table debates. They would usually start by Dad saying something outrageous. Then, Jack and I would take the opposing view and see if we could hold our positions against him. It was a great mental exercise, and Mom only left the room angry a few times.

I suspect Dad was really a frustrated attorney - and I doubt it is a total coincidence that my brother turned to the law for his profession. Interestingly, the three of us reflect our parents in some combination of ways. Jack’s choice of law is all “Dad.” I’m a teacher who writes political commentary – a little of each. Kim’s choice of fashion for a career is all “Mom.” It’s just how we were raised.

Speaking of Jack, I’d like to thank my big brother for making straight A’s in high school. With Mom & Dad figuring they had one successful child, it apparently took a lot of pressure off of me and I got through just fine on Bs and Cs. It apparently took pressure off of Kim too - but it didn’t seem to matter. She went off to the Big Apple to make more money than either of us.

Not to be indelicate – but as we all have grown older, the topic of inheritance has come up. Now, you all should know that our parents have always made a particular effort to treat each of us equally.

Except for Kim's TV: but I’m so over that!
At any rate, if one of us got a “big gift” at Christmas, Mom would explain that the others got two smaller gifts – but it all came out even in the end.

But that’s NOT the case with the family inheritance. Apparently, the plan is that the two “more-favored children” will receive an equal share of whatever Mom & Dad haven’t spent. The third - and less-favored child - will receive Mom and Dad’s Cruise Albums.

This lovely collection of photos, from places we’ve never been, has become the family “hot potato.” Get on the wrong side of an issue with Mom – and presto – you could get the cruise albums. Over the years, the cruise albums have gone back and forth and I’m not sure where they’re headed at this moment.

But this is a little game that even our spouses can play. The least favored daughter-in-law or son-in-law could get this prize bestowed by proxy. Take today for example. Sid scored major points for Jack. So Kim and I are relatively screwed. And God forbid one of us misses Christmas Eve with the family.

As each of us has grown and brought our own children to “Granny and Papa’s” – the grandkids have each experienced the love – and “the Granny Grip.” That’s just what it sounds like.

They too learned life’s important lessons. Take care of your business. Take care of each other.
And always remember:

“It’s easier to stay on the good list, than it is to get off the bad list.”

Again we’d like to thank you for joining us today to honor our father and our mother.

We know it means so much to Mom & Dad to be surrounded today by family and friends - to mark this special occasion.

So please raise a glass…and join Jack, Kim and I in saying congratulations to John and Eileen Day on achieving their 60th anniversary - and we look forward to being right here once again for their 90th.

By Richard Day

Friday, June 20, 2008

Study Finds Little Benefit in New SAT

This from the New York Times:

The revamped SAT, expanded three years ago to include a writing test, predicts college success no better than the old test, and not quite as well as a student’s high school grades, according to studies released Tuesday by the College Board, which owns the test.

“The changes made to the SAT did not substantially change how predictive the test is of first-year college performance,” the studies said.

College Board officials presented their findings as “important and positive” confirmation of the test’s success.

“The SAT continues to be an excellent predictor of how students will perform,” said Laurence Bunin, senior vice president of operations at the board, and general manager of the SAT program. “The 3-hour, 45-minutes test is almost as good a predictor as four years of high school grades, and a better predictor for minority students.”

But critics of the new test say that if that is the best it can do, the extra time, expense and stress on students are not worth it.

“The new SAT was supposed to be significantly better and fairer than the old one, but it is neither,” said Robert Schaeffer, the public education director at FairTest, a group that is critical of much standardized testing. “It underpredicts college success for females and those whose best language is not English, and over all, it does not predict college success as well as high school grades, so why do we need the SAT, old or new?”

The reports, called validity studies, are based on individual data from 151,000 students at more than 100 colleges and universities who started college in fall of 2006.

Plans to revise the SAT were announced in 2002, the year after the University of California president, Richard Atkinson, threatened to drop the test as an admission requirement.

“Given the data released today, what was the point of all the hoopla about the SAT’s revisions beyond preserving their California market?” Mr. Schaeffer said. “This is all spin. It’s been a marketing operation from the get-go.” ...

Advocates Say NCLB’s ‘Comparability’ Provision is in Need of Fine-Tuning

This from Education Week:
When Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, it rewrote much of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, increasing the amount of testing required and demanding that states hold schools accountable for results on those tests.

Although the changes were intended to hold school officials accountable for the educational experiences of disadvantaged children, Congress left intact a short clause in the main K-12 education law that, in practice, has failed to ensure that money from the federal Title I program only supplements state and local money, researchers and advocates said at a conference here last week.

“Title I is not having its intended effect,” Marguerite Roza, a research associate professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, said at the one-day conference sponsored by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank. “It’s filling in the holes left by state and local funds.” ...

Early Intervention

One of the most important methods of closing the achievement gap is early intervention - something lacking for far too many children.

This from Education Week:

Kids Who Need Preschool the Most Aren't Enrolled

Low income and minority children could benefit most from quality preschool, but a new report finds that they're least likely to be enrolled in good early development programs.

In a report released Wednesday by the RAND California Preschool Study, researchers estimate that only 15 percent of those who could benefit most are in high-quality programs that prepare them for success in K-12.

"We can't close the achievement gap unless we close the preparedness gap before kindergarten," said Debra Watkins, founder of the California Alliance of African American Educators. "As a former high school teacher of nearly 30 years, I certainly see what happens (to students who) do not have high quality preschool by the time they reach high school, where we have a dropout problem."

Dems Move to Kill Reading First

Typical partisan wrong-headedness: House panel uses bad study to justify killing a good program tainted by Bush Administration schennagans - throws baby out with the bath water.

This from EducationWeek:

House Panel Would Kill ‘Reading First’ Funding

The controversial federal Reading First program would be eliminated under a fiscal 2009 spending measure approved unanimously today by a House Appropriations subcommittee.

In explaining the decision to zero out the program, Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, cited the results of a preliminary federal evaluation of Reading First, released May 1, which found that the program has had no impact on students’ reading comprehension.

Reading First “has been plagued with mismanagement, conflicts of interest, and cronyism, as documented by the inspector general,” Rep. Obey said, referring to a series of reports by the U.S. Department of Education’s watchdog that suggested conflicts of interest had occurred among officials and contractors who helped implement the program in its early years.

“Moreover, a scientifically rigorous study released by the Department of Education found that the program has no discernible impact on student reading performance,” Rep. Obey, who is also the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that handles education funding, said in reference to the evaluation by the Institute of Education Sciences, an arm of the department....