Tuesday, August 25, 2009

School News from Around Kentucky

Hands-on Journalism - Warren Central students publish online newspaper, ‘The Digital Dragon’: Warren Central High School has not printed a newspaper in more than seven years. And a group of students at the school would like to keep that tradition going.That’s because a new class of seniors has started an online newspaper called “The Digital Dragon,” and while it is already unique in its non-paper presentation, its staff size makes it unconventional as well.The paper could have hundreds of “reporters,” as the newly formed staff has decided to take contributions from any student, parent or community member with Warren Central news. (Bowling Green Daily News)

Program touts success with advanced-placement exams: A program to put more Kentucky high school students in advanced-placement classes says its efforts helped students in 12 target schools dramatically increase achievement on national AP exams last school year. Students at the 12 Kentucky schools — all of which participate in the AdvanceKy effort to boost AP class participation — earned 768 passing scores on AP national exams in math, science and English, representing a 76.6 percent increase over the previous year. That increase easily topped the state's overall passing score increase of 17.5 percent, and far exceeded the national increase of 5.7 percent. The scores are from AP tests students took last school year. Advance Placement classes are viewed as keys to preparing students for college success. (Herald-Leader)

Jefferson school board raises tax rates: Property taxes for Jefferson County schools are going up again this year — but the weak economy will mean the district's revenue will increase less than in previous years. The school board raised tax rates Monday night to 64.6 cents per $100 of assessed value for real estate and personal property, up from 62.5 cents last year. That means the owner of a house assessed at $100,000 will pay an additional $21 a year, said Cordelia Hardin, Jefferson County Public Schools' chief financial officer. (C-J)

Group says charter schools would fix failing public schools: A group of black Louisville pastors and a conservative education think tank are calling for Kentucky to adopt charter schools, saying the state hasn't done enough to restructure chronically failing schools. The Bluegrass Institute argued at a news conference Monday outside Jefferson County Public Schools headquarters that the state has been too soft on schools that have failed to meet federal No Child Left Behind goals for five straight years, known as “Tier 5” schools. (C-J)

Prosecutors accused of concealing meeting with expert in Stinson case: Dr. William Smock, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Louisville, initiated a March 18 meeting with Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Stengel to advise that he believes Pleasure Ridge Park High School sophomore Max Gilpin's death was not a homicide, but a “tragic accident,” according to court records. But Stengel's office did not turn over information from that hour-long meeting to defense attorneys for former PRP football coach Jason Stinson, who is scheduled to stand trial Aug. 31 on charges of reckless homicide and wanton endangerment, the defense claims. In a motion filed Monday, defense attorneys Alex Dathorne and Brian Butler accuse Stengel and his prosecutors of conducting a “secret meeting” and “willfully” failing to disclose pertinent evidence in the case. (Courier-Journal)

School chief continues residency fight: That's according to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals, which last month upheld a July 2008 ruling by Campbell County Circuit Court. Brandt, superintendent of Newport Independent Schools, has now appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court. "It's a friendly case," Brandt, 62, said Tuesday. "I'm not trying to be stubborn, I just want to air it all out." (Enquirer)

30 years for ex-school bus driver: A former Ryle High School bus driver and child rapist will stay behind bars for at least three decades. Andrew Grabow, 42, of Florence was sentenced Monday in federal court to 30 years in prison for filming himself having sex with children and trading the images on the Internet. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. (NKY.com)

Sebelius says Closing schools wouldn't ward off virus: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that a massive school closing wouldn't stop the spread of the swine flu virus, saying vaccinations must be the defense against a menace that one report said could infect up to half of the population. "What we know is that we have the virus right now traveling around the United States," Sebelius said in a nationally broadcast interview. "And having children in a learning situation is beneficial ... What we learned last spring is that shutting a school down sort of pre-emptively doesn't stop the virus from spreading." (AP)


Richard Innes said...


RE: Public Schools Net Highest Approval in 41-year old PDK/Gallup Poll

I see a number of problems.

First, you write, “It seems the folks who don't like public schools mostly consist of those who know the least about them.”

This poll doesn’t provide the ammunition needed to make that claim.

For example, your blog also says the poll found most of its respondents still rely on newspapers to tell them what is going on in the schools. That finding is telling on at least two points:

Point 1) A recent Pew poll (http://people-press.org/report/479/internet-overtakes-newspapers-as-news-source) found the majority of people now get their news from the internet or television. That raises a question about possible bias in the PDK/Gallop poll’s sample.

Issues about the PDK/Gallop poll have been raised by a number of organizations in recent years. Two examples: The Center for Education Reform (http://www.edreform.com/Archive/?Bad_Data_The_PDKGallup_Poll) and The New York Sun (http://www.nysun.com/editorials/vouching-for-vouchers/77784/).

Keep in mind that Phi Delta Kappan is a teacher subscription supported journal. PDK/Gallop might not be immune to bias within the PDK readership that pays the bills.

Or, maybe the Gallop samples are just too small, which would lead to the sort of instability noted in the Sun article above.

Point 2) As you point out, newspaper coverage of what is happening in education has seriously declined recently as newsroom staff gets stripped down in response to hard economic times.

You and I both know of great examples here such as the Felner case, the Erwin case, the total absence of any print media representatives at the KDE’s 2008 Assessment and Accountability Task Force meetings, etc., etc, where print media coverage has been wanting, or at least seriously lagged, Internet sources. The newspapers are not a terribly good source of school information these days.

There is another interesting finding in the actual PDK summary you pasted into your blog. That concerns the fact that 2/3 of the respondents favor charter schools even though most are confused about what those schools actually are and do. That does not speak to a well-informed sample base, does it?

So, I could submit that it might be more likely that people who still have no major concerns about public schools and rely mostly on newspapers for their information actually know the least about the schools.

Or, returning to my first point, it may be that people who know the most about public schools have been under-sampled by the PDK/Gallop poll.

I really don’t know the answers here, but I know a number of very knowledgeable people who would not answer the poll the way the majority of PDK/Gallop respondents did.

And, I would submit, taking any one poll, ours, PDK/Gallop, yours, etc., as the final word on something so important might lead to some very misleading conclusions. That is why the Bluegrass Institute has already sponsored two different surveys on school choice in Kentucky from two different organizations. The fact that those surveys generally agree with the PDK/Gallop findings about charter schools, or at least some sort of school option for parents, does start to make a case that choice is popular with many.

Richard Day said...

Ha !

If one doesn't like the results I suppose its only natural to look for alternate explanations. I'd probably do the same thing.

Yes, survey data is always suspect to some degree. And it's hardly surprising - or particularly informative - to learn that people like choice. Just look at the bread or shampoo shelves at your local grocery. So what? If that alone was compelling, then we should expect BIPPS to support a public option for health care, but wse all know that's not going to happen.

But to assert that the Bluegrass Institute gets anywhere near the gold standard for surveying by using two different groups is a joke. The WKU survey BIPPS purchased a few years back was sophomoric. So to improve on it, BIPPS goes to the Friedman Foundation for an unbiased assessment? I can't believe that you even believe that one.

The fact that Friedman generally does better work than BIPPS does not make them unbiased in the least.

To its credit, the Gallup poll has neutrality and longevity on its side - something BIPPS could only dream of. For forty one years, a broad cross section of Americans, who don't have an axe to grind, have been telling Gallup that they like their own schools.

Those most distant from the schools have consistently rated them lower.