Charter schools not answer for Kentucky
Wayne Lewis and Hal Heine argued in a Feb. 27 commentary not to worry about charter schools; they, like other public schools, will be held accountable to state standards. But I still worry.
Charter advocates claim the needs of the poor and underserved call for the schools' implementation. But few parents in Louisville seem to want to take advantage of the school choice that already exists. Jefferson County helps parents transfer children from low-performing schools to better ones; but only 73 kids out of thousands eligible did this last year.
Proponents continue to claim charters are the obvious choice to see dramatic gains in educational attainment. Sorry, the evidence is that some charters do fine, others do about the same and others worse than regular public schools. We have nothing to document that charters' increase learning outcomes at the state level. If there was, we would know since charters have been around for 40 years.
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The real aim of many charter advocates is to undercut the power of teacher unions, which the advocates claim block good learner outcomes. But while the Kentucky Education Association is a weak union, teachers were nevertheless key in planning and implementing KERA, nationally hailed as a model for transforming public education.
Also, rural school districts that might want to establish charters would face huge economies of scale and strain remaining schools. Some might have to close, which is my concern. Public schools ought to be community schools not outposts for private enterprise and a place to bash public employees.
No longer Lincoln's GOP
Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas' astonishing piece arguing that "the liberal establishment" stole from the Republicans the rightful credit for ending slavery and Jim Crow is a masterpiece of doublespeak.
Yes, the party of Lincoln ended slavery. But Thomas — deliberately, one has to believe — confuses party names (Democratic, Republican) with party policies (liberal, conservative). In the Civil War era, at least with respect to race, Republicans were the liberals and Democrats the conservatives. Liberals agitate for change; conservatives want things to stay the same or return to their origins.
Yes, in the 1960s there were Democrats — the "Dixiecrats" — who tried to derail civil-rights legislation. But Thomas omits that they lost standing in the party, which was pressing for that legislation through figures like the Kennedys, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. A good many Dixiecrat types were won over by Richard Nixon's "Southern strategy" and became Republicans.
Understand, I'm not suggesting that the Republican Party is racist. That would itself be sloppy thinking. I'm only saying that Thomas' sophistries are no substitute for honest debate. This kind of column does nothing but muddy the waters and polarize the debaters.
Capitalism best we have
University of Kentucky professor Ron Formisano's shameful Feb. 17 comparison of what he and his progressive soulmates like to call "income inequality" with slavery is beyond the pale. Equalization of wealth and income was a goal of the Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba and Greece, among others.
I suggest that he, as a history professor, focus more on understanding those failed efforts and the impact on the citizens of those countries than on trying to manipulate our history to score political points.
Why in the world would anyone wish those systems on our nation? Capitalism may not be perfect but history has demonstrated that it has no equal in creating vibrant economies that generate a rising standard of living for all citizens.
Unfortunately, this is just another example of college professors distorting history to promote their liberal political agendas. I hope his students are intelligent and perceptive enough to see through his propaganda.
David L. Patton
Stick to the subject
It is absolute nonsense to assert that we can fix our broken health care system without either a single payer public option or a private mandate. That is why conservatives pretend that it is not about health care, but about the Constitution. So long as they can pontificate about big government overreach, they don't have to offer any viable, real-world alternatives for health care reform.
Now we have Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in a recent Herald-Leader commentary, pretending that it's not about contraception but about religious freedom. McConnell has no hope of explaining to anyone why insurance coverage for birth control should suddenly be in dispute, so he wants to talk about the First Amendment instead.
But conservatives really seem to have lost their touch. If you are going to change the subject of the debate, you should at least change it to a debate you have some hope of winning. I doubt they will convince anyone other than former Sen. Rick Santorum that the Constitution somehow grants the Catholic Church the right to mandate public health policy.
Connect OTB numbers
I was confused by reading the Feb. 26 commentary "Outdated OTB system hurts tracks." It seems advertising executive Fred A. Pope doesn't like the agreed-upon distribution of funds in Thoroughbred racing.
He presented a lot of numbers, but I had trouble seeing how these numbers connect. It would be helpful to see some examples, such as, how much does Keene-land take in on its own races and how is it distributed. Then how much do they take in on their OTB (simulcast) races and how that is distributed. Then I'm interested in the OTB (simulcast) races outside of Kentucky and how much they take in and how it is distributed. In a sense, we need a spreadsheet with all the figures.
All the talk about the late Steve Jobs of Apple added further confusion that seems to lead to a solution of either government intervention or a Wall Street type of platform that will allocate all the money bet on horse racing.
Apparently, the meaning of "think differently" is not as simple as it sounds.
Vincent C. Smith