Thursday, January 11, 2007

“Kentucky schools must and can do better”

Local businessman and Republican candidate for Governor Billy Harper responded today to the Cradle to Career: Quality Counts 2007 Report, which gave insight on how Kentucky ranks against the rest of the nation in education. The report showed Kentucky’s fourth graders are dramatically behind the rest of the nation in math proficiency.

“It is unacceptable for Kentucky students to be so far behind the rest of the nation when it comes to a subject as important as math. We must act now to implement creative reforms to our public schools. The first step is implementing the remaining parts of the Harper Report,” said Billy Harper, Republican Candidate for Governor.

According to Natalie Jordan’s article in the Bowling Green Daily News, the report showed that an average of 26.1 percent of fourth graders are proficient in math as compared to the national average’s 35.3 percent. The national average of eighth-grade math is 28.5 percent which is higher than the state average of 22.5 percent.

“Some have expressed surprise that the state is below the national average. Our school leaders should no longer be surprised by the results of our children but be in touch enough to know what is expected. That’s why one of the recommendations of the Harper Report is to hold teachers, principals, school councils, students and superintendants personally accountable for student achievement,” said Harper.

The Quality Counts Report also showed that the percentage of students proficient in reading was slightly above the national average. According to Ms. Jordan’s article, the report showed an average of 30.8 percent of fourth graders are proficient—the national average is 29.8 percent—and 30.6 percent of eighth-graders—the national average is 28.9 percent.

“I applaud that our Kentucky student proficiency in reading is improving, but as a state, Kentuckians must ask themselves, do we consider ourselves an average state, or one that will provide a world-class education system to our students, ensuring the future of Kentucky’s economy thrives?” asked Harper.

Billy Harper brought together business leaders, school administrators and teachers to come up with 52 recommendations to create the Harper Report to make Kentucky schools better. Among these are funding for full day kindergarten, requiring school councils to collaborate with superintendants on hiring principals and allowing for regular business review of educational standards. Billy Harper is also a strong advocate of giving parents authority over their children’s educational future.

The first five statewide campaign advertisements for Harper’s campaign all focus on educational reforms needed for Kentucky.

Harper chaired Leadership Kentucky, an association of business leaders from across the state and has also served as chair of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Harper is a professional race car driver on the American Drag Racing League. He developed a “Race for Education” program designed to improve attendance among middle school children — and it has. Every participating middle school reports that the number of children in attendance per day has increased from five percent to 50 percent. He also uses his racecar as a teaching tool during engineering and career days at the Paducah campus.

Please direct questions to the Harper Campaign Headquarters 270-448-0663

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