The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

October 7, 2012

Supreme Court no friend of educational liberty

FRANKFORT — We’ve seen that many in Kentucky’s legislature and teachers unions are adamant enemies of school choice in the commonwealth.

The Kentucky Education Association has worked for years with powerful politicians to keep even the most rudimentary types of school choice – like the charter schools found in 41 other states and the District of Columbia – from winning out in Kentucky.

But a recent ruling has revealed another player in that axis against any type of educational liberty: the Kentucky Supreme Court.

The court’s verdict allows the bureaucrats who run the Jefferson County Public Schools to legally neglect the wishes of parents who have enrolled their children in the school closest to home. Instead, the school board is now permitted to force students on a bus that will coast right past their local neighborhood school and on to the other side of town – all in the name of some education elitist’s vision of diversity.

Why are the five justices so eager to jump on the same bus as those who run the failed JCPS system?

The losers in this case are parents who want their children in a school close to home so that the entire family can be involved in their education.

According to one of the two dissenters in the case, Justice Daniel Venters, the court’s decision is akin to the “surrealistic world of The Eagles’ song Hotel California.”

Just like that unfortunate hotel where visitors can check out any time they want but can never leave, the Supreme Court ruled that Jefferson County parents can “enroll” their child in their local school whenever they wish – but the child may never “attend.”

Yeah, you’re not the only one thinking: “that makes absolutely no sense.”

The justices fell back on a 1990 change that amended the law from allowing children to “attend” to one that only allowed them to “enroll” in their neighborhood school.

This was all done primarily to protect Louisville’s failed busing program, but could have consequences statewide for parents who move in order to enroll their children in a neighborhood school that’s part of a higher-performing district.

The whole line of reasoning is even more confusing than the attempts by teachers’ union bosses to explain why it actually benefits students for districts to reward teachers based on longevity instead of merit, prohibit the termination of under-performing teachers, and scoff at the notion that parents – not politicians, bureaucrats or even Supreme Court justices – know what’s best for their children.

In the past, parents with children in failing schools at least had the option of packing up and moving the family to a neighborhood with better schools. Some parents even dream of making such a move.

However, thanks to five justices in long black robes, those dreams went up in smoke – like the smoky exhaust expelled from one of Jefferson County’s road-worn school buses dragging students for miles on end out of their neighborhoods.

In fact, one of those Jefferson County deportation-mobiles recently overturned as a result of another one of its daily 16-mile treks busing students from one end of Jefferson County to another. The accident sent at least one child to the hospital and terrified the parents of the 48 students injured.

The court’s ruling ultimately bodes badly for the increasing number of Kentuckians committed to bringing choice – and reform – to an education system that has nearly doubled in real spending while remaining stagnant in its performance for more than two decades.

It also sends a clear message to all Kentucky families that the commonwealth’s highest court is no friend of educational liberty.

Jim Waters is acting president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.freedomkentucky.org/bluegrassbeacon.

1
Text Only
Viewpoints
  • 06.29 CrystalFarewell.jpg Starting over at Head Start

    All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
    I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.

    June 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ike Adams They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days

    I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
    At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
    I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth

    When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
    Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate

    Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
    His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Senate campaign already in full bloom

    Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
    McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG ‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’

    What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
    Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association

    Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
    Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Hitting the campaign trail

    The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
    We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
    McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case of the scary black cat

    If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
    Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.

    May 10, 2014

  • Ike Adams Basking in the spring sunshine

    If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
    I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.

    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

What county fair attraction do you like most?

Amusement rides
Beauty pageants
Flora Hall craft exhibits
Horse shows
Livestock, poultry shows
Truck, tractor pulls
Mud, dirt races
Gospel sing
I like them all
     View Results