Friday, March 30, 2012

UK President Eli Capilouto Talks Down the Big Blue Faithful

Via Twitter EdJurist Justin Bathon says he has never seen the university so nervous.

Be Smart
Be Safe
Be Responsible
Go Cats!

Access to Teacher Evaluations Divides Advocates

This from Education Week:
As the movement to overhaul teacher evaluation marches onward, an emerging question is splitting the swath of advocates who support the new tools used to gauge teacher performance: Who should get access to the resulting information?

As evidenced in recently published opinion pieces, the contours of the debate are rapidly being drawn. Some proponents of using student-achievement data as a component of teacher evaluations, including the philanthropist Bill Gates and Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp, nevertheless believe that such information should not be made widely public. Other figures, like New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, champion the broad dissemination of such data.

Regarding teacher evaluations, the policy landscape for disclosures is also in flux. An Education Week review shows that access to teachers' evaluation results is permissible under open-records laws in at least 18 states plus the District of Columbia, though they are often unclear as to specifics. And only Florida and Michigan have established policies requiring that parents be notified if their child's teacher repeatedly performs poorly on his or her evaluations...

What's More Expensive Than College? Not Going to College

There is a cost to not educating young people. 
The evidence is around us and all over the world.

This from The Atlantic Monthly:

If you want to feel optimistic about the state of things for unemployed, disengaged, and dissatisfied youths in America, here's a way. Spin a globe. Stop it with your finger. If you touch land, the overwhelming odds are that the young people in that country are doing much worse.

There are 1.2 billion people between 15 and 24 in the world, according to the International Youth Foundation's new Opportunity for Action paper. Although many of their prospects are rising, they are emerging from conditions of widespread poverty and lack of access to the most important means of economic mobility: education. In the Middle East and North Africa, youth unemployment has been stuck above 20 percent for the last two decades. And in the parts of the world where youth unemployment has been low, such as south and east Asia, young people are overwhelmingly employed in the agriculture sector, which leaves them vulnerable to poverty.

The report is a crackerjack box of interesting facts -- e.g.: the probability that a 15-year-old Russian male will die before he is 60 is higher than 40 percent, the highest in Europe; among women 15 to 24 years old, only 15 percent are working in the Middle East -- but some of the most surprising stats are the closest to home.

NEET.pngThe IYF authors focus on the so-called "NEETs" in the United States and Europe. NEET stands for those Not Engaged in Employment/education, or Training. A 2012 U.S. study put the social cost per NEET youth at $37,450, when you factored in lost earnings, public health spending, and other factors. That brings the total cost of 6.7 million NEET American youths to $4.75 trillion, equal to nearly a third of GDP, or half of U.S. public debt.

Statistics like this are a good reminder that, even though college tuition is famously outpacing median incomes, there is still something more expensive than going to school. Very often, that is not going to school.

The NEET study's final number might be too high. It also might be too low. I can't say. But it's far from the only report identifying a astronomical cost to not going to college.
-- The typical income gap between the a college graduate and the a high school dropout has never been higher. Today, college grads earn 80 percent more than people who don't go to high school.

-- A 2009 McKinsey report estimated that if we raised our education performance to the level of Korea, we could improve the US economy by more than $2 trillion. (We could, in other words, add the GDP of Italy to our economy with education reform.)

-- Yet another study from NBER estimated that the benefit of a good teacher over an average teacher could improve a student's future lifetime earnings by $400,000.

-- Finally, a study from the Hamilton Project found that $100,000 spent on college at age 18 would yield a higher lifetime return than an equal investment in corporate bonds, U.S. government debt, or hot company stocks.

College has its skeptics, and the skeptics make good points. Does a four-year university make sense for every student? Probably not. Is the modern on-site college education necessarily the ideal means to deliver training after high school? Maybe not. Vocational training and community colleges deserve a place in this discussion. And we happen to be living through a quiet revolution in higher education.

Here are three quick examples. First, beginning this year, students at MITx can take free online courses offered by MIT and receive a credential for a price far less than tuition if they demonstrate mastery in the subject. Second, the University of Southern California is experimenting with online classrooms that connect students across the country in front of a single professor. Third, there's Western Governors University, a non-profit, private online university that's spearheading the movement toward "competency-based degrees" that reward what students can prove they know rather than how many hours or credits they amass.

educationcollegewagesunemployment.pngSome of these experiments will fail, and some will scale. What's important is that they offer higher ed and retraining that is cheap, creative, and convenient. If we can win the marketing war in neighborhoods blighted by NEETs and deliver a post-high school education to some of those 7 million young people who have disengaged with education and work, we will be spending money to save money.

Take out that globe one more time and give it a spin. I challenge you to land on a region where education gains aren't translating to productivity and income gains. The highest-income countries have the highest rates of enrollment in secondary school and the smallest share of informal employment that is vulnerable to an economic downturn. There is a cost to not educating young people. The evidence is literally all around us.

Largest charter network in U.S.: Schools tied to Turkey

This from The Answer Sheet:
The largest charter school network in the United States is operated by people in and associated with the Gulen Movement (GM), a secretive and controversial Turkish religious sect. With 135 schools enrolling more than 45,000 students, this network is substantially larger than KIPP, the well-known charter management organization with only 109 schools. A lack of awareness about this situation persists despite it being addressed in a national paper and in articles about Gulen charter schools in Utah (also here), Arizona, (also here), Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania (also here), Indiana, Oklahoma (and here), Texas (also here), Arkansas, Louisiana (also here), New Jersey, Georgia, and North Carolina. It was also reported that the FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education are investigating practices at these schools.

 The concerns raised about the charter schools in the GM network have related to questionable admissions practices; the channeling of school funds to close associates; abuse of contractors; participation in biased, GM-created competitions; incidents of bribing; using the schools to generate political connections; science fair projects being done by teachers; unfair hiring and termination practices; and more. Still, authorizers continue to approve charter applications, ill-informed parents continue to use them, and taxpayers keep funding the schools – all without much discussion.

 The Gulen Movement originated in Turkey in the late 1960s and has become increasingly powerful. Its members are followers of Fethullah Gulen (b. 1941) a self-exiled Turkish preacher who has been living on a secluded compound in rural Pennsylvania since 1998. Members call themselves hizmet, meaning “volunteer services” movement. The GM conducts four primary activities around the world: a media empire, business organizations, an enormous number of Turkish culture-promoting and interfaith dialog organizations, and a network of schools in over 100 countries, a large portion of which are U.S. charter schools.

 After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the GM began to establish schools outside of Turkey, first in the newly established republics of Central Asia and then beyond. One expert noted that the “...worldwide extent of Fethullah Gulen’s educational network testifies to the internationalist, even imperialist, nature of the movement.” Last year an analyst viewed the raison d'ĂȘtre for the schools “spreading across the globe” in this way: “Students will learn how to speak Turkish, the national anthem, how to be the 'right kind of Muslim', etc. In essence, it buys [the GM] loyalty.”

The first Gulen charter school was opened in 1999. U.S. officials have known about the movement’s involvement in charter schools since at least 2006 when our Istanbul consulate noticed that a large number of Turkish men, suspected to be GM-affiliated, were seeking visas to work at charter schools. A company specializing in geopolitical analysis reported in 2010 that the GM was running “...more than 90 charter public schools in at least 20 states.”...

Kentucky's Final Four History is Truly Impressive

This from Tim Letcher at SEC News:
When Kentucky meets Louisville shortly after 6 p.m. on Saturday night in New Orleans, the Wildcats will be making their 15th appearance in the NCAA Final Four. That’s the third-highest total in the history of the NCAA Tournament, behind only North Carolina and UCLA.

Below is a look back at each of the storied program's appearances in the Final Four.

1942 (Final Four) - Kentucky’s first appearance in the Final Four came in 1942, which was Adolph Rupp’s 12th season at the helm of the program. Kentucky won the SEC Tournament championship, earning the right to play in the NCAA Tournament in New Orleans.  Only eight teams were invited to the NCAA Tournament in those days, so Kentucky only needed to beat Illinois to make the Final Four. The Wildcats did just that, winning  46-44, marking the first NCAA Tournament win in school history. In the national semifinals, Kentucky lost to Dartmouth, 47-28. Junior guard Marvin Akers led the Wildcats in scoring that season, at 7.6 points per game. Junior center Mel Brewer averaged seven points per game and junior forward Milt Ticco averaged 5.8 points per contest.

1948 (NCAA Championship #1) – Kentucky’s first NCAA championship came in 1948, with a team called the “Fabulous Five” bringing the first title back to Lexington. After losing only twice in the regular season, Kentucky won the SEC Tournament, then won three straight games for the championship. Kentucky beat Columbia 76-53 in the round of eight, then beat Holy Cross 60-52 in the Final Four. In the championship game, Kentucky downed Baylor, 58-42. Kentucky went on to compete in the Olympic Trials, where they beat Baylor again. This team was also the core of the 1948 United States Olympic Team, which beat France 65-21 to win the gold medal in London, England. Alex Groza and Ralph Beard led Kentucky in scoring that season, averaging 12.5 points per game. Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones averaged 9.3 points for the Wildcats.

1949 (NCAA Championship #2) – Kentucky returned nearly all of the 1948 national championship team in 1949, and the Wildcats put together a 32-2 campaign behind a quartet of talented seniors. Alex Groza was the standout, averaging 20.5 points per game. His fellow seniors Ralph Beard (10.8), Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones (8.6) and Cliff Barker (7.3) all played their roles very well. After losing to Loyola of Chicago in the NIT, Kentucky turned its attention to the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky beat Villanova, 85-72 in the round of eight in New York, before pounding Illinois, 76-47, also in New York. In the NCAA Championship in Seattle, Kentucky got 25 points from Groza in a 46-36 win over Oklahoma A&M, bringing another title back to the Bluegrass.

1951 (National Championship #3) – In 1951, Kentucky turned to a “giant” to win its third NCAA Championship in four years.  That “giant” was seven-foot junior center Bill Spivey, who towered over most of Kentucky’s opponents that season. The Wildcats posted a 32-2 record behind Spivey’s 19.2 points per game.  In 1951, the NCAA Tournament field expanded from eight teams to 16, so the Wildcats had to win a fourth game on their way to the title. In round one, Kentucky downed Louisville, 79-68. In the second round, Kentucky beat St. John’s, 59-43 before beating Illinois, 76-74. In the NCAA Championship game in Seattle, Kentucky had only six healthy players, but got 22 points from Spivey and 10 from an ailing Cliff Hagan to beat Kansas State, 68-58. Kentucky trailed 29-27 at the half, but stormed back behind Hagan to win championship number three.

1958 (National Championship #4) – The 1958 Kentucky Wildcats were not one of Rupp’s best regular season teams. Kentucky was 19-6 in its regular season games, but the Wildcats got hot at the right time, during the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky hosted the Mideast Regional, and the Wildcats posted victories over Miami of Ohio (94-70) and Notre Dame (89-56) to advance to the Final Four in Louisville. Kentucky got a scare in the national semifinals before beating Temple, 61-60. Then in the finals, Kentucky faced perhaps the best player in the nation, Seattle’s Elgin Baylor. In the championship game, Baylor had a huge game, with 25 points and 19 rebounds, but Kentucky got 30 points from Vernon Hatton to win Rupp’s fourth national championship, 84-72. Johnny Cox had 24 points and 16 rebounds for Kentucky, while John Crigler added 14 points and 14 rebounds. Kentucky twice battled back from 11-point deficits and actually didn’t lead until 6:08 left in the game, when Don Mills hit a hook shot to give the ‘Cats a 61-60 lead.

1966 (National Runner-Up) – After a few lean years, Kentucky found its way back to the Final Four in 1966 with a team that became known as “Rupp’s Runts” due to their lack of size. Kentucky found itself in the Mideast Regional, where the Wildcats beat Dayton 86-79, allowing Rupp to pass Phog Allen as the winningest coach in Division I history. The next night, Kentucky beat Michigan 84-77 to advance to the Final Four in College Park, Md. In the semifinals, Kentucky beat Duke, 86-79 and advanced to the championship game, where they would meet Texas Western. This is the game made famous by the movie Glory Road, when Don Haskins’ team of five African-American players would beat all-white Kentucky 72-65 in the championship game. Texas Western’s Bobby Joe Hill led all scorers with 20 points, while Kentucky got 19 points apiece from Louie Dampier and Pat Riley.

1975 (National Runner-Up) – By the time Kentucky returned to the Final Four in 1975, several things had changed .Most notably, Kentucky was now coached by former Rupp player and assistant coach Joe B. Hall. The 1975 team was Hall’s third Kentucky squad, and the Wildcats were finally primed for a run back to the Final Four. This team got most of its scoring production from seniors and freshmen. Seniors Kevin Grevey (23.6 ppg) and Jimmy Dan Conner (12.4) led the team in scoring, followed by freshmen Rick Robey (10.4) and Jack Givens (9.4). Another change was that the NCAA Tournament field had expanded, so Kentucky had to win three games to make the Final Four. Kentucky got past Marquette (76-54) and Central Michigan (90-73) before beating heavily-favored Indiana, 92-90, breaking the Hoosiers’ 34-game winning streak. The Final Four was in San Diego, and Kentucky beat Syracuse 95-79 in the semifinals. In the championship game, Kentucky ran into UCLA and legendary coach John Wooden in what would be the Wizard of Westwood’s final game. Despite 34 points from Grevey, Kentucky lost 92-85.

1978 (National Championship #5) – The stage was set for the 1978 Kentucky team to do something special. Kentucky had not won a national championship since 1958, and Hall had assembled a team that was ready to bring the big trophy back to Lexington. Kentucky went 25-2 in the regular season, losing only at Alabama and at LSU. The Wildcats opened the 1978 NCAA Tournament by beating Florida State (85-76) and Miami of Ohio (91-69). In the Mideast Regional Finals, Kentucky met Michigan State and its outstanding freshman guard, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Kentucky held Johnson to only six points and beat the Spartans, 52-49. In the Final Four in St. Louis, Kentucky beat future UK coach Eddie Sutton and his Arkansas Razorbacks, 64-59. Jack Givens had 23 points and James Lee added 13. In the NCAA Championship game, Kentucky faced Duke, and Givens had one of the greatest games in tournament history. The senior forward from Lexington hit 18-of-27 from the field and five-of-eight from the free throw line, scoring 41 points as the Wildcats beat the Blue Devils, 94-88.

1984 (Final Four) – The 1983-84 Kentucky Wildcats appeared to have a team that could win another national championship. This Kentucky team’s strength was inside, with the “Twin Towers” Sam Bowie and Melvin Turpin, who were 7-1 and 6-11, respectively. Kentucky also had a pair of very good forwards, Kenny “Sky” Walker and freshman Winston Bennett. Kentucky went 23-4 in the regular season, then won the SEC Tournament in Nashville, beating Charles Barkley and his Auburn Tigers 51-49 in the championship game. In the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky stormed past BYU (93-68) before returning to Rupp Arena for the Mideast Regional. In the first game of the regional, Kentucky got past intrastate rival Louisville, 72-67 before topping Illinois, 54-51. Kentucky returned to the Final Four for the ninth time in school history. The Wildcats faced the Georgetown Hoyas in the national semifinals in Seattle. Things started well for Kentucky, as the Wildcats took a 29-22 halftime lead. But the second half was a disaster for Hall’s team. Kentucky hit only three-of-33 (9.1 percent) of its shots in the second half, and Georgetown rallied past Kentucky, 53-40. The 40 points was the lowest scored by a Final Four team since 1949. Kentucky was able to hold Georgetown standout Patrick Ewing to eight points and nine rebounds. Bowie was the only Wildcat in double figures, as he had 10 points.

1993 (Final Four) – After a nine-year absence, a pair of coaching changes and a recovery from probation, Kentucky returned to college basketball’s biggest state again in 1993. The previous season, Kentucky had been denied a trip to the Final Four by a guy named Christian Laettner and a shot you may have seen. So the 1993 Wildcats, under the direction of Rick Pitino, were determined to make the Final Four. After a 23-3 regular season, Kentucky won the SEC Tournament, then started their tournament run with a thumping of Rider, 96-52. The ‘Cats followed that with an easy win over Utah, 83-62. In the Southeast Regional in Charlotte, Kentucky blitzed Wake Forest, 103-69 and Florida State, 106-81 to make the Final Four. In New Orleans, Kentucky faced Michigan and its famed “Fab Five”. Despite 26 points from junior Jamal Mashburn, Kentucky lost in overtime, 81-78. Kentucky also got 16 points from Dale Brown and 12 points and six assists from Travis Ford, but foul trouble doomed the ‘Cats. Michigan’s Chris Webber led all scorers with 27 and Jalen Rose added 18 for the Wolverines.

1996 (National Championship #6) – Much like Kentucky’s team in 1978, the 1996 version of the ‘Cats was expected to do big things. After losing its second game of the season, 92-82 to UMass and a coach named John Calipari, Kentucky went on a 27-game winning streak, including a perfect record in the SEC regular season. Kentucky did fall to Mississippi State, 84-73 in the SEC Tournament Championship, and that seemed to motivate this group of ‘Cats. Kentucky opened its six-game run to the title by crushing San Jose State, 110-72. The ‘Cats followed that by thumping Virginia Tech (84-60) and Utah (101-70). In the Midwest Regional finals, Kentucky thumped Wake Forest and Tim Duncan, winning 83-63 in a game that wasn’t that close. Kentucky reached the Final Four in East Rutherford, N.J., where they had a rematch with Calipari and UMass. This time, Kentucky got 20 points from Tony Delk and 14 from Antoine Walker to beat the Minutemen, 81-74. UMass big man Marcus Camby scored 25 in the loss. Kentucky advanced to face Jim Boeheim and Syracuse in the championship. In the title game, Delk was outstanding again, scoring 24 points, while freshman Ron Mercer added 20 as Kentucky claimed the national championship for the first time in 18 years by winning 76-67.

1997 (National Runner-Up) – After losing much of its scoring from the previous season, the 1997 Wildcats weren’t expected to be able to contend on a national level. But Kentucky’s “Air Pair”, Ron Mercer and Derek Anderson, had other ideas. Kentucky wasn’t overwhelming in the regular season, losing four games, including a senior day loss at home to South Carolina. But when the postseason hit, the ‘Cats once again hit their stride. Playing without Anderson, who injured his knee earlier in the season, Kentucky roared through the SEC Tournament, winning all three games by at least 18 points. The Wildcats started their NCAA Tournament run by thumping Montana, 92-54 and beating Iowa, 75-69. In the West Regional in San Jose, Kentucky beat St. Joseph’s, 83-68 and Utah 72-59. The Wildcats advanced to a second straight Final Four, this time in Indianapolis. In the national semifinals, Kentucky downed Minnesota, 78-69 behind 19 points from Mercer and 13 from Anthony Epps. Kentucky met Arizona in the national championship game, and it was a classic. Epps hit a three-pointer at the end of regulation to tie the game at 74. But in overtime, Arizona’s Miles Simon took over, and his Wildcats beat Kentucky, 84-79. Scott Padgett led Kentucky with 17 points, Mercer had 13 and Nazr Mohammed had 12.

1998 (National Championship #7) – Following the 1997 season, Pitino left Kentucky to become head coach of the Boston Celtics. In his place, Kentucky hired former Pitino assistant Orlando “Tubby” Smith, who inherited a team led by seniors Jeff Sheppard and Allen Edwards, as well as juniors Nazr Mohammed, Scott Padgett and Wayne Turner. It took this group of ‘Cats quite a few games to adapt to Smith’s coaching style. After losing to Ole Miss on Valentine’s Day, Kentucky was 22-4 and this didn’t
look like a team that would make a title run. At that point, Smith and his Wildcats got on the same page. Kentucky won its last four regular season games, all three games in the SEC Tournament, then began another NCAA Tournament run. Kentucky beat South Carolina State (82-67) and St. Louis (88-61) to advance to the South Regional in St. Petersburg, Fla. Kentucky thumped UCLA, 94-68 in the regional semifinals, setting up another regional final against Duke, which had broken Kentucky hearts in 1992. In this game, Kentucky fell way behind. In fact ,the ‘Cats trailed by 17 in the second half before mounting a rally. When Padgett hit a three-pointer with less than a minute to go, Kentucky pushed past the Blue Devils and eventually won, 86-84. In the national semifinals in San Antonio, Kentucky fought from behind once again, and beat Stanford in overtime, 86-85 behind 27 points from Sheppard. And in the championship game, Kentucky found itself behind yet again, 41-31 to Utah. But the ‘Cats rallied in the second half and won their seventh NCAA Championship, 78-69 over Utah. Padgett had 17 points and Sheppard had 16 for Kentucky. The nickname “Comeback Cats” was given to this team, because of their ability to continually come from behind.

2011 (Final Four) – In only his second year at Kentucky, John Calipari got Kentucky back to the Final Four, ending the longest drought in school history without an appearance in the event. The 2011 team didn’t have the raw talent of the 2010 team that lost in the regional finals, but the 2011 ‘Cats eventually figured out how they needed to play. After losing at Arkansas on February 23, Kentucky was 19-8 overall, and the rest of the season could have gone either way. But Kentucky rallied to win its final regular season game, then three straight in the SEC Tournament for yet another title. Kentucky was seeded fourth in the NCAA Tournament, which was probably not good enough for this team. In Kentucky’s first game in the Big Dance, freshman guard Brandon Knight hit a game-winning shot, pushing the ‘Cats past Princeton, 59-57. Kentucky then beat West Virginia, 71-63 to advance to the East Regional in Newark, N.J. In the regional semifinals, Kentucky upset the region’s top seed, Ohio State, 62-60. Knight was the hero for the second time in the tournament, as his jumper with five seconds left in the game lifted Kentucky to a 62-60 win over the Buckeyes. Kentucky then beat North Carolina, 76-69 to advance to the Final Four for the first time in 13 years. In Houston, Kentucky fell behind Connecticut in the first half, and trailed 31-21 at the break. Kentucky rallied in the second half behind Knight (17 points), Doron Lamb (13) and Terrence Jones (11), but it wasn’t enough as the ‘Cats fell to the eventual national champions, 56-55.

There is still basketball left to play for the 2012 Wildcats, who are hoping to bring an eighth championship to Lexington.

Shootin' Hoops

Students' Basketball-Playing Robots Face Off at Rebound Rumble

I love this.

OK, I confess, I'm an old Battlebots fan. I enjoyed watching the execution of cleverly conceived designs and approaches to...well....kickin' "the other guy's" butt. Plus, all the great action. Battlebot drivers were all about impact but lacked precise control.

In the FIRSTRobotics Competition groups of town folk including students and volunteer engineers create robots capable of shootin' hoops. There is offense and there is defense. You know....March Madness, in April.

I hope this catches on in Lexington.  How cool would it be to put students together with creative folks from the community to create something cool... in a competitive environment. But so far, I don't see anything in Kentucky. The nearest competition I could find was at one of my old schools, Xavier University in Cincinnati.

This from Schooled in Sports:
Worried that you won't be able to get your fill of youth basketball once the NCAA tournament wraps up next week?

Allow me to introduce you to the Rebound Rumble, the 2012 edition of the FIRST Robotics Competition. Ever since January, teams of high school students and volunteer engineers have gathered together to design robots created entirely to shoot basketballs into hoops.

Yes, that's right. Basketball-playing robots.

Without getting too far into the detail of the rules, two teams (so-called "Alliances") of three robots each work to score as many baskets as possible in a 2-minute, 15-second time period. On each side of the court, there are four baskets at varying heights; the higher the bucket, the more points a team earns for each made basket.
The robots can operate on preprogrammed commands for the first 15 seconds of the contest, at which point drivers take control of the robot for the remaining two minutes. At the very end of the match, drivers work to balance the robots on three platforms in the middle of the court for extra points.

If this description conjures images of the old Comedy Central show "Battlebots" in your mind, you're not the only one.

Words don't really do the competition justice, so below, I've embedded a tutorial video from US FIRST explaining the rules a bit more. To see some of the Rebound Rumble in action, click the "basketball-playing robots" link above. If you're interested in checking out the Rebound Rumble nearest your hometown, here's the schedule of remaining events.

The Rebound Rumble championship will be held at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on the weekend of April 26-28. (Just in time for the NBA playoffs!)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Holliday Decries Congressional Paralysis on ESEA

This from Politics K-12:

What's Up in Congress? Not Much Real Action, State Chiefs Hear
Chief state school officers from all over the country came up to Washington this week to hear lawmakers explain why one of their top federal priorities —an honest-to-goodness reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as opposed to just waivers from the U.S. Department of Education—won't get done this year.

Most folks who are watching movement on education, or just about anything in Congress, are well aware of the never-ending stalemate when it comes to ESEA renewal—not to mention the federal budget.
The lack of action is still frustrating and depressing to some state education officials.

"It seems like [the system] isn't working at all. I definitely think there's paralysis," said Terry Holliday, Kentucky's education chief, in an interview during the Council of Chief State School Officers' annual legislative conference.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., the former Denver schools chief and a rising star on K-12 education policy in Congress, feels their pain.
"We have been unable, in our dysfunction, to move ESEA forward," he told the chiefs in a wide-ranging speech...

Kentucky House and Senate reach deal on state budget

This from C-J:
House and Senate negotiators reached final agreement early Thursday on a $19.3 billion state budget for the two-year period beginning July 1.The agreement was reached at about 2:40 a.m., which is just in time for the final version of the bill to be prepared and printed for final votes in the House and Senate on Friday afternoon...

The final budget approved by the House-Senate conference committee is similar to the lean budget Beshear proposed in January...

During the final negotiating session, the Senate agreed to fund the House priority scholarship fund for students in Eastern Kentucky coal counties. However, the Senate got the House to agree that the scholarships would be available to students in any coal-producing county, including those in Western Kentucky.And the Senate agreed to authorize $100 million in bonds to be issued in 2014-16 for school construction, another House priority...

Fayette public schools place hold on purchases from Hands On Originals

"[I]t is the prerogative of the company to refuse any order 
that would endorse positions that conflict with the convictions of the ownership."
--Blaine Adamson, Hands On Originals

I agree. It is the company's prerogative to not do business with anyone it chooses to disrespect.

But it is also the prerogative of any customer to refuse to do business with any company that discriminates against valued members of their community. I was surprised and pleased to learn this morning that FCPS Superintendent Tom Shelton, the son of a Baptist minister, took a public stand on this issue and has frozen all FCPS purchase orders for Hands On Originals. 

I suppose Shelton knows a thing or two about the teachings of Jesus and stood up for the oppressed. It will now be up to Hands On Originals to prayerfully reassess their convictions in the fresh light of economic considerations.  

Way to go Tom: ($28,548.41 customer since July 2010)
Way to go  Mayor Gray: ($53,585.27customer since July 2010)
Way to go UK ($200,000 customer since July 2011)

This from the Herald-Leader:
The leader of Fayette County public schools said Wednesday the district will place a temporary hold on purchases from local T-shirt company Hands On Originals, which has been accused of discriminating against the organizers of Lexington's gay pride festival.

Also Wednesday, the school system, city government and University of Kentucky told the Herald-Leader how much business they have done with the company.

Mayor Jim Gray also weighed in, saying, "People don't have patience for this sort of attitude today."

Controversy arose Monday when the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, which organizes the June festival, filed a discrimination complaint with the city's Human Rights Commission. The GLSO alleged in its complaint that Hands On Originals had submitted a bid to produce T-shirts for the event but then, upon being told it had been selected and learning more about the nature of the event, refused to fill the order "because we're a Christian organization." The company said it would find another company that would honor its price.

The T-shirts for the fifth annual event were to include a stylized number 5 on the front, with "Lexington Pride Festival" and the event's sponsors on the back.

The complaint has sparked criticism of the company, including the creation by community members of a Facebook group encouraging a boycott that now has more than 1,200 members. A protest has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday in downtown's Triangle Park. Both the Facebook group and protest have been organized by people other than the GLSO's leadership.

On Wednesday, Fayette County public schools Superintendent Tom Shelton said his administrators "will make our staff aware that a complaint has been filed."

"And if any purchase orders come through before the complaint is resolved, we will temporarily hold them until we find out about any final action being taken," he said.

Since July 2010, the Fayette County Public Schools has paid $28,548.41 to Hands On Originals for various orders. That amount includes only purchases made by the schools themselves, and not booster groups or parent-teacher organizations...

Read more here:

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

$100 million in school construction bonds subject of budget wrangling

This from Bluegrass Politics:

Senate President David Williams and House Democratic leaders wrangled over how much debt there should be in the state budget Wednesday in a third day of negotiations over the two-year, $19 billion spending plan...

In little more than an hour of negotiations Wednesday morning, lawmakers argued over whether to include in the budget a $100 million bond for school construction and a $20 million bond for high-tech economic development construction projects.

Williams, R-Burkesville, opposed the additional debt.

House Majority Caucus Chairman Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, said the money is needed.

“If we don’t deal with this issue in the next two years, we are going to be in a worse situation than we are,” he said.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said now is a good time for the state to issue bonds because interest rates are at historical lows.
Williams countered that interest rates might rise again before the bonds are issued.

“What is the bond rating going to be two years from now? How much is it going to cost to meet this obligation? That’s the reason we can wait a year on this,” Williams said...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Senate Ed Committee passes Charter pilot

This from The Courier-Journal:

A House bill to allow districts of innovation for public schools has been amended to include a charter schools pilot program.

The bill passed the Senate Education Committee 6-2 Tuesday with one abstention.
The original bill by House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Carl Rollins, a Democrat from Midway, would allow the Kentucky Department of Education to authorize the creation of districts of innovation, which are charter-school like reforms for regular public schools.
Republican Rep. Brad Montell of Shelbyville offered a substitute that would keep all of the Rollins bill intact but also create a pilot program for up to 20 actual charter schools, half of them in economically depressed areas.
The schools would be authorized by local school districts or a charter school commission.


There has never been any confusion about the difference between being "enrolled" in school and "attending" school. Never. Unless you count a recent Kentucky Court of Appeals opinion which is under review by the Kentucky Supreme Court. I can't explain the Appeals Court's confusion except to guess that it is related to some form of judicial activism; the kind that couldn't care less about what the law actually says.

As a school principal, I enrolled thousands of school children over two and a half decades. And students attended school after they enrolled. They aren't the same thing. Some days students were absent, but we didn't clear out their desks, because they were still enrolled. In order to keep school attendance up during the last century, districts even hired truant officers (DPPs) to chase the enrolled kids out of the pool halls and into the schools so that they were in attendance.

In fact, if I had turned in an attendance report that claimed 100% attendance based on the total number of students enrolled at the school, I would have been charged with fraud. 

KRS 159.070 reads, "Within the appropriate school district attendance area, parents or legal guardians shall be permitted to enroll their children in the public school nearest their home." We know that the legislature meant what they wrote in 1990 because the Kentucky Supreme Court had just evacuated all Kentucky school laws when it declared the entire system to be unconstitutional in Rose v Council for Better Education. In the midst of a declared emergency, the legislature reviewed the old law, and amended the statute.

Judge Kelly Thompson
But Kentucky Appeals Court Judges Kelly Thompson and Michael Caperton don't like busing and argued emotionally that the state's efforts to use buses to desegregate the schools, was a "social experiment."

"Busing creates the impediment of distance among parent, child, and school and, therefore, increases the difficulty of family involvement," Thompson wrote, as though he was running for the state house. (Video of the Court of Appeals arguments) (14-minute Video segment of Attorney Brian Leet during oral argument)

This from the 25 August 2011 Herald-Leader:

Ky. judge pushes for neighborhood schools

 A Kentucky appeals court judge called Wednesday for the state's largest school district to end the "social experiment" of busing students for desegregation purposes and revert to neighborhood schools, stepping into what has become a high-profile political issue.
Judge Kelly Thompson said Jefferson County Public Schools should "get out of the courtroom" and abandon any plans that include having students ride school buses across the county.
"I'd like to ask that you concentrate on neighborhood schools and get out of the courtroom," Thompson said at the end of two hours of oral arguments over how the Louisville-based school district assigns students to schools. "You've got more litigation than any school district in the country." ...
The central legal issue is whether Kentucky's law, which says parents may "enroll" a student at the school closest to their home, also entitles that student to attend the same school.
Sheila Hiestand, one attorney for the parents challenging the student assignment plan, told the judges that there's no practical difference between "enroll" and "attend" when it comes to the law.
Judge Thomas Caperton questioned the wisdom of taking students from areas of the city noted for low academic achievement and sending them across town: "Rather than hire a teacher ... it's better to put them on a bus and ride them around for a few hours."

Read more here:

But Thompson and Caperton's ideological view of the school business could, if upheld, kick-start a string of unanticipated consequences that would likely cost Kentucky schools far more than the already substantial costs associated with transporting students.

The most immediate concern would be the near total loss of economies of scale due to the dispersion of very expensive special education services mandated to approximately 100,000 Kentucky students under federal law. The federal courts have previously ruled that parents of special needs students have no right to their child being educated in the school nearest their home. Districts must provide special education program accessibility, but not in every school in the district. This allows districts to manage service delivery for a more efficient operation. Where the Rose decision had required an efficient system of schools, Judges Thompson and Caperton would waste millions of dollars "legislating" their ideological preference.

Viewed historically, the Court of Appeals interpretation could be seen as simply one more volley in a long-running battle over how students in Louisville are assigned to schools.

The latest such volley came last Tuesday from Sen Dan Seum in the Kentucky Senate.

This from the Courier-Journal:

Kentucky Senate passes anti-busing bill 
aimed at Jefferson County 
The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would allow parents to circumvent Jefferson County’s controversial student-assignment plan — though the measure is expected to stall in the House amid criticism that it would undermine decades of desegregation efforts.

Senate Bill 9, approved by a vote of 21-15, would allow parents to enroll their children in the school nearest their home, undermining the district’s student assignment plan in which students are bused to other neighborhoods in the interest of diversity.

All Republicans present voted for the bill, as did the chamber’s one independent, while all Democrats opposed it.

Sen. Dan Seum, R-Fairdale, the bill’s sponsor, conceded that the measure has little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled House, particularly with little more than a week left in the session.

But Seum said Tuesday’s debate on the Senate floor helps keep a spotlight on the issue as the Kentucky Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments this spring on a legal challenge to the plan...
The district’s student-assignment plan has generated consternation among some parents over longer bus rides, which can be as much as two hours per day for some students.
Jefferson County parents filed suit for the right to send their children to neighborhood schools, and they prevailed before the Kentucky Court of Appeals — the case the Supreme Court is about to hear. But the district and others contend that undermining the busing policy would reset the clock on integration...
[Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville] sought to draw attention to the issue of local control by proposing an amendment that applies the bill statewide. But Republicans defused the point by supporting the change — on grounds that it would not change current law — and the amendment passed on a unanimous vote...
Critics have continued to call for a return to neighborhood schools, arguing that busing has failed to improve achievement while burdening students.
Jefferson County has received support in the suit from the Kentucky School Boards Association and Fayette County public schools — groups that have filed briefs in the case.
The Louisville League of Women Voters and the Jefferson County Teachers Association has also voiced support for the student-assignment plan.
When Seum proposed the same legislation in 2010, it drew a response from State Sen. Tim Shaughnessy who filed a bill that would require the state to pay the costs — possibly hundreds of millions of dollars — that would result from the neighborhood schools proposal. Senate President David Williams called Shaughnessy's bill "a cheap political trick," something Williams knows a thing or two about.

A "Neighborhood Schools Law" will 
resegregate Kentucky's public school districts 
wherever segregated housing patterns 
exist within the larger community. 

It is vital that citizens understand this: The public schools eat what the public feeds them. 

Whatever exists in the larger society will be visited upon the schools, in some measure that is roughly proportionate to its scale in the community. Where there is great poverty in the community, needy students arrive at school, and such schools typically struggle to meet high standards. Where the community values and supports education, the schools tend to flourish. And where there are segregated housing patterns within a large city, it is impossible for school districts to desegregate without busing, until those housing patterns shift.

In Jefferson County, busing has been a concern to some citizens since Day One.

Since people tend to view the Kentucky schools in terms of their own neighborhood school experience, a "neighborhood schools law" might not raise an eyebrow in most parts of Kentucky, the 8th whitest state in America. But in large communities it would surely reverse decades of social progress.

Viewed historically, the neo-conservative brand of social engineering represented by Senate Bill 9 is suspect. 

Following Brown v Board of Ed, the government had a compelling interest in assuring that public schools (an arm of the government) were not continuing their past discriminatory practices (as were required by state legislatures during the Jim Crow era). Conservatives wanted the courts to stay out of local business (arguing states' rights, while attempting to maintain the status quo). Through the 60s and into the 70s Jefferson and Fayette Counties lacked a non-discriminatory system, so the courts granted plaintiffs relief, requiring school districts to come up with student assignment plans that promoted racially diverse student populations. Civil rights advocates were arguing against states' rights at the time, asking the court to monitor such plans - and they did. The Jefferson County Public Schools were desegregated by court order until 2000.

After its release from the order, JCPS implemented an enrollment plan to maintain substantial racial diversity within the schools. Students were given a choice of schools, but not all schools could accommodate all applicants. In those cases, student enrollment was decided on the basis of several factors, including place of residence, school capacity, as well as race. However, no school was allowed to have an enrollment of black students less than 15% or greater than 50% of its student population. When Crystal Meredith's son, a white child, was denied entry into his neighborhood school based on his race, it set off a challenge to several decades worth of student assignment plans.
In 2007, a divided (5-4) US Supreme Court struck down public schools' consideration of race when assigning students to schools, holding that the policies did not survive the applicable "searching standard of review," which required the school districts to demonstrate that the use of individual racial classifications in the assignment plan is 'narrowly tailored' to achieve a 'compelling' government interest."

I suppose that since the Jefferson County plan worked, and the state was no longer preventing blacks from being educated with whites, the Roberts court figured protections against discriminatory segregation wasn't needed anymore. Civil rights leaders turned 180 degrees arguing that the court should stay out of local affairs.


So now, if enacted, Senate Bill 9 would apply state-wide, including in Fayette County where segregated housing patterns would guarantee a resegregation of the Fayette County public schools.

To illustrate the point, KSN&C sat down with FCPS Attendance Analyst Bob Joice to look at the current distribution of students by race according to the district's 2011 data. I have an old map of the district that I had created when I was still with the FCPS Equity Council, somewhere around 2001 or so, which I use from time to time when I teach. I revisited that map most recently on Thursday. I cannot reproduce it here, but in many sections of the county racial divisions were readily apparent. Looking at Bob's new data, segregated housing patterns still exist - but to my eye - to a lesser degree than a decade ago. It was the first thing Bob pointed out to me. Some progress is being made under the existing conditions in Fayette County.

The map below shows the distribution of Fayette County students by race; where the white dots (which when overlapped due to population density appear gray) show the actual location of homes where white children reside; and similarly, Yellow for Asian student homes; Gold for "Two or more races" (a category we did not even track a decade ago; Red for Hispanic; and Blue for African American or Black.

As I would say to my students:   Tell me what you see.
Compared to my 2001 map, the clustering (segregation) of the African American population on the north side of town still exists but there appears to have been some inroads made on the south side of town outside of Man O War Blvd. A growing cluster of Asian students has appeared in the west. Hispanic students seem to be more distributed across the county rather than clustered in the western Cardinal Valley area as they were a decade ago.

To anticipate the impact of a "neighborhood schools law" (SB9) on the Fayette County schools, let's do a visual thought experiment. What if one were to mentally draw circles on the map above to represent a radius of about a one mile from a given school? (On my laptop screen those circles would appear to be about the size of a nickle; larger for larger monitors.) Visualize rows and columns of circles and notice what colors are captured by those shapes. It's pretty easy to see how the segregated housing patterns get reflected directly into the schools.

But it's not quite that simple. Schools aren't necessarily where we imagine them to be. In reality, where schools are actually located is based on historical building patterns - where a school was needed at the time it was built. So any new "neighborhood schools law" would be superimposed on top of existing schools and they are not evenly distributed. It can get to be a mess pretty quickly as one might imagine from the map below which uses the location of existing schools for our experiment. It's actually a pretty good example of why school board members hate to deal with redistricting. It is nothing short of a major pain in the rear.
In practice, school attendance areas follow roads and neighborhoods like this example from Fayette County. It doesn't take a genius to see how the neighborhood schools law would wreak havoc on the Fayette County Board of Education.

The Racist History of Neighborhood School Laws 

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," Chief Justice John Roberts famously wrote. Those who believe that America, in the era of Obama, is post-racial, are likely to agree with Roberts. But those who believe that America is not yet post-racial, are likely to view the ruling suspiciously, particularly since neighborhood school laws were used in the past to maintain segregated systems.

The history of neighborhood school laws has a sinister underside that gets completely lost when one only focuses on their own neighborhood school in 2012. Last fall, Indiana University researcher Hope Rias reported to the Organization of Educational Historians that the racist history of neighborhood school laws is perhaps best illustrated by the St Louis experience. In 1970, at roughly the same time Louisville was coming under a court order and struggling with busing, St Louis decided to deal with student assignment by holding students in neighborhood schools.

Like virtually every other city in America, segregated housing patterns existed in St Louis. Under the neighborhood schools plan, two thirds of all St Louis black students attended schools where 75% or more of the students were black. St Louis blacks tended to live in the north end of the city while the southern suburbs were overwhelmingly white. The downtown area was fairly well integrated. So, unless one lived in downtown St Louis, they were very likely to live in a segregated neighborhood, amid housing patterns that kept blacks with blacks, and whites with whites.

St Louis did not have explicit school attendance laws for black children because the segregated housing allowed whites to use neighborhood schools to keep the races apart. Over a decade, city officials redrew the lines whenever a sufficient number of blacks became rich enough to move into the better neighborhoods of the suburbs. By that means, black children remained in black schools.

Rias found that "As black families started to make a little bit more money...and move toward the suburbs, the city would redraw the district lines, starting with that black neighborhood...all the way to the suburban neighborhood and circle the three houses were where black people lived, so that they technically had to go to that black school down in the city proper."

St Louis was a latecomer when it came to court orders forcing desegregation. Busing in St Louis under the neighborhood approach meant busing white kids from overcrowded white schools to other white schools.

This from The Courier-Journal:
Misbegotten bill
The Kentucky Senate has passed the so-called “neighborhood schools” bill, and that is as far as this misbegotten piece of legislation should go.

The partisan ploy, hatched during the failed gubernatorial campaign of Senate President David Williams and sponsored by Fairdale Republican Sen. Danny Seum, is an assault on local control of public schools.

Beyond that, it is a thinly veiled effort to undercut the student assignment plan. Virtually all observers suggest that it is could have the effect of resegregating Louisville’s public schools.

There is no public groundswell for this meddlesome bill. In fact, when given a chance to request reassignment for their children recently, elementary school parents overwhelmingly stuck with their assigned school rather than seek transfers.

Sen. Seum’s career has been marked by repeated efforts to lower the quality of life in his home county (remember, he was the bitter foe of mandatory auto emission inspections). Our student assignment plan has created diverse and popular public schools. Let the Senate stick to bungling its redistricting plan and leave our public schools alone.
The only way to achieve the twin goals of educational excellence and equity is to assure that every Kentucky neighborhood has an excellent school. Anything short sells some students short.We will never get there if the Court of Appeals is allowed to legislate massive waste and duplication into the system: inefficiencies which threaten
  • magnet schools
  • specialized programs
  • alternative programs
  • special education programs 
  • vocational programs
  • technical schools
  • English language learners