Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Kentucky educrat strikes back

A big reason nothing changes in Kentucky is that too many of the people who get theirs based on the status quo work very hard to cook up rationale for them keeping it and for you to keep your mouth shut.

Take, for example, The Gatton Academy of Math and Science on the campus of Western Kentucky University. Kentucky taxpayers have spent several million dollars -- we don't know how many because of the way the money is tucked into the state budget -- to send sixty boys and sixty girls from across Kentucky each year to gain a superior learning experience not available at their home schools. The students can gain up to sixty hours of college credit by the time they graduate from high school. Taxpayers pick up the cost of tuition, room, and board.

This is a fantastic opportunity for these young people. The program functions as a charter school, publicly funded but able to operate outside the control of the education bureaucracy.

The only problem is that the opportunity is not more widely available. Kentucky law prohibits charter schools. In fact, The Gatton Academy operated for a full year without legislative approval, but with the support of House Speaker Jody Richards. That's something else the rest of us couldn't do.

An upcoming legislative effort to make similar educational opportunities more widely available will earn the wrath of the education bureaucracy. In fact, just pointing out this discrepancy on The Bluegrass Policy Blog caused an anonymous commenter to come unglued:

This is pretty good example of the noise you get from the status quo crowd trying to protect their turf. It would be nice if we could have a spin-free conversation about improving education opportunities for more than just a handful of people.