Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Set Up

Maybe social conservatives are different these days, and I'm just behind the times.

Maybe they really-o truly-o love diversity and would like nothing better than to see our tax dollars go toward lifting up the marginalized. Safe housing for the poor; better healthcare; close those gaps! Maybe they think in retrospect that Reganomics was a mistake for its undoing of LBJ's Great Society programs, which were helping close achievement gaps in the 70s. Maybe they are, but I'm just not hearing it.

Perhaps today's creationists have disavowed former claims of Biblical acceptance of slavery, former support for state's rights over constitutional rights and oppressive local decisions that created a social system of haves and have nots based on race. Perhaps today's social conservatives are sorry the achievement gap was deliberately created and perpetuated throughout the Jim Crow era. Perhaps they regret funding schools for blacks at one third those of whites throughout much of the past century. Perhaps they do, but I just missed it.

If that's true, then please accept my apologies, in advance.

Forgive me, I beg you, if by chance I have only heard the fringe few social conservatives who cry out against diversity and urge the disestablishment of the public schools in favor of a system of free-enterprise options. And forgive me if I missed hearing the mass social conservative movement that calls for justice in a divided world.

But if that's not the case, then the Bluegrass Institute's latest stunt is simply shameful. It is a set up.

This from BIPPS:

ACTION ALERT: Ask Kentucky’s new education commissioner to develop a plan to close longstanding achievement gaps in math and reading between white and black
students in Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky’s largest school district
(97,412 students).

SUMMARY: Efforts to improve education, especially for black students, have failed to produce anything close to acceptable results in Jefferson County. It’s time to take action!

ACTION REQUESTED: Please contact the new commissioner, Terry Holliday, and ask him to do what he did as superintendent of the Iredell-Statesville, N.C. school district between 2002 and 2009: focus on, and close, the gap. Please do the following today:

1. Call Commissioner Holliday’s office at (502) 564-3141 or e-mail: terry.holliday@education.ky.gov.
Politely ask him to:

•Do what he did as superintendent of the Iredell-Statesville, N.C. school district in less than seven years: Relentlessly pursue closing gaps in math and reading between Jefferson County’s white and black students.

•Require the districts’ highly paid leaders to develop and publicize their plan to close the gap.

•Convene a task force that will hold public hearings to gather input from all stakeholders in the district: students, parents, teachers, clergy, business and political leaders, teachers, objective researchers and taxpayers.

•Require the district to set a timetable and deadlines for closing the gap.

There is not a thing wrong with citizens expressing their opinions.

But this cynical advocacy favors rallying town hall refugees to pressure school leaders while BIPPS argues against adequate resources. It is disingenuous, at least, but probably worse.

The public schools in Kentucky would exist on greatly reduced funding if the Bluegrass Institute had its way. Vouchers for private religious schools would abound if the Bluegrass Institute had its way. The Kentucky Education Association would not exist if the Bluegrass Institute had its way. If the Bluegrass Institute had its way, I suspect they'd put the system on life support and monitor the the schools using every measure available....if only to know when the patient was dead.

I've got an idea. Call Jim Waters, director of policy and communications for the Bluegrass Institute, at (270) 782-2140 and tell him we'll believe his new found concern for the achievement gap when he speaks out in favor of adequate funding for each and every Kentucky school child; that he opposes any move to teach any specific religious views, including intelligent design, in the public schools; and that the Bluegrass Institute will support healthcare options for all American citizens .

Prefer to email him? Try this, jwaters@freedomkentucky.com.

SOURCE: BIPPS Action Alert


Anonymous said...

You'd think some educators would have responded by now to this posting.

I'm saddened to teach in a state where educators are so apolitical and often so silent on the matters that count.

Anonymous said...

If you would remove your head from your butt you might be able to see the truth in what the Bluegrass Institute is saying about the education gap, school vouchers, and educational funding. The Bluegrass Institute is for vouchers for every child, so that the parents can decide what school they send their children to. This is not a new found concern for achievement gaps as you say, the Bluegrass Institute has been concerned about the achievement gaps for a very long time and will continue to be concerned until every child receives the education they are entitled to. You should try supporting your rantings with facts sometime.

Richard Day said...

Sure is dark in here.

I’m happy to try and reconcile the truth with Bluegrass Institute activities any time I can help out. But tell me, which BIPPS are we talking about here?

Truth is, if this “action alert” had come from Dick Innes instead of Jim Waters, I suspect my reactions might have been tempered a bit.

Innes has been considered a foe of KERA since the beginning, but he does his homework and I think he generally has his heart in the right place. He has forced the education establishment to take a good look at itself from time to time, and while that may be uncomfortable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I’d argue, that part is good. In fact, I commended BIPPS when Innes acknowledged the importance of closing achievement gaps in Jefferson County. I hope his criticism makes the schools better in the long run, even if we have to ignore those things he stretches to the breaking point. I get upset when he spins his data and refuses to retract errors; but who among us is perfect?


This action alert was from Jim Waters, however, and that’s a whole different thing.

Waters has given us little more that shallow tripe. When he is merely echoing the work of others, like Innes, he’s harmless enough. But he has recently introduced his own creationist views into the public discourse on the schools revealing religious motivations behind his push for vouchers. Given the opportunity, he hasn't walked that back.(http://theprincipal.blogspot.com/2009/05/bipps-has-faith-in-school-choice-and.html) Page One Kentucky reported a bothersome 2007 appearance by Waters on a socially conservative church related program that argued against gays as teachers in schools. (http://pageonekentucky.com/2007/12/06/goodbye-to-jim-waters/#more-534) As Jacob Payne objected, “Promoting school choice or a voucher program is one thing. But combining it with religious hatred and homophobia is beyond offensive.”

Maybe I’m taking aim at the messenger, but I’m not distorting the facts. America's social history is well known to those who have cared to look. And if you’re up for some light reading on the history of the achievement gap and the importance of closing it, pick up a copy of Jencks & Phillips’ The Black White Test Score Gap.

If BIPPS, which was founded somewhere around 2003, wants to be associated with the libertarian right, as opposed to the shrinking neo-conservative movement, they need a new spokesperson.

I’d suggest an African American, or a wise Latina, perhaps. What are the chances someone suitable already exists on the staff?

Anonymous said...

I think the Bluegrass Institute's real goal is to turn Kentucky into a theocracy.

Anonymous said...

I checked out the blog for Bluegrass Institute. All white people on teh Board. And free market capitalists, to boot. I don't think it is wise to apply a business model to the public schools.

Sorry, but the schools are not a business.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the schools are not a business.

That's the damn truth. If they were we could cut their budgets by 75% and they would produce a superior product ;-)

[begin sarcasm]I do see what you mean though...all white people on the board...must be a racist organization.[end sarcasm]

Anonymous said...

I don't think think the Bluegrass Institute is racist. It is not diverse, however, in the
composition of the Board. Check out the website.

I continue to argue that the public schools are not a business. A business, in my view, is run for profit. Clearly, the schools are not.

In spite of my suspicions, I say let foundations like the Bluegrass Institute flourish, although I'm not comfortable with their position on charter schools.