Tuesday, February 27, 2007

KY Progress Praises Billy Harper

Just as I am hearing from more serious GOP primary voters who say they will vote for Billy Harper for governor, Mr. Harper seems to be improving his message. The MSM didn't cover it, but Harper was the only GOP candidate to stand up with Rep. Stan Lee last week and support the HB 30 special needs student school choice bill.

The soft underbelly of the education bureaucracy is its poor return on investment and continued clamoring for more money. Mr. Harper did himself no favors in his early commercials when he linked himself to KERA, but seems to be hitting his stride with this:

The notion that we need increased taxes and more government spending to transform our schools is not only misguided, but reads right from the outdated playbook of the politicians in Frankfort. An unfortunate example of this approach is the Covington Independent School District, which spent $13,166 on each student during the 2005-06 school year Ð the second highest rate in Kentucky Ð yet ranked last among the state's 175 school districts for its performance on the annual CATS assessment.

Spending per-pupil in that district has risen 121 percent since 1989, but student achievement has failed to keep pace. The funding is there, but the approach clearly is not working. In fact, average per pupil spending in Kentucky has risen every year since the KERA reforms, but student performance as measured by a variety of standards is not on the same track.

Now that he is properly indentifying the problem, it is time to hammer home some of the solutions. One of them is empowering parents with school choice. With Mr. Harper deciding to take a stand like this on real education reform, he may want to take a good look at this bill too.

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