Kentucky’s priorities

Governor Steve Beshear (D) of Kentucky has just approved the state’s new budget for 2012-2013: millions of dollars cut from education, while the Creation Museum’s $43 million dollar Ark Park still stands. The $11 million going toward highway development for the amusement park was also untouched.

I can see Beshear’s airtight logic now. If we keep Kentuckians uneducated, they’re more likely to visit that intellectual black hole, thus increasing money spent on tourism! Budget problem solved!

And to think states like Kentucky wonder why they experience a “brain drain.”


  1. Patrick G says

    As a Former Kentuckian, I have to say, unfortunately this is business as usual for the government. Universities in Kentucky continually have to lobby Frankfort for any funding. All while being expected to increase graduation rates, teacher salaries, and increase the number of students they have. 90% of the time this results in program cuts, At my Alma mater, this resulted in: the school’s CREW program being cut after doing very well in competitions, the new Science facilities construction budget. As well as downsizing/pay increase freezes in many departments.

    So glad I’m in Massachusetts now, much less crazy here.

  2. Ben says

    Unrelated to this piece in particular, I am happy to see several small updates from you recently! I always like seeing what news is relevant to the theist community and your thoughts, even if it’s just a sentence and a link.

  3. Tommy says

    Alison beat me to it. This won’t come close to our news today, especially here in Lexington. The larger concern to our brain drain currently, however, is the collegiate in fighting over allocations to community colleges and small schools wanting to become state schools and the larger universities who don’t want to give up any more of their pie. Hell I understand the Ark Park, idiotic as it is, it brings in revenue, and while its not helping our image, its bringing in money, which we need. Embarrassing, but not “wrong.” But the larger issue is as state money shrinks for state schools tuition at those schools has steadily sky rocketed. That is the brain drain. The established state schools will weather, even prosper, but fewer Kentuckians will be able to afford it, and the smaller schools they CAN afford, won’t be able to grow at all. So the urban areas may thrive but not to the commonwealth’s benefit, and the rural schools won’t be able to grow to meet the needs of their populace.

  4. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Actually the Ark Park doesn’t get $43 million. If it’s built and if it makes a profit then there’s a tax break on the profits.

  5. josh says

    AND! they are the same tax breaks that any organization would get, IF they manage to do what the park is promising in terms of revenue. Sure the Ark Park is idiotic, but that doesn’t make it legal to deny them what any other organization would get. This is a case of a religious organization getting the same benefits as secular organizations…there shouldn’t be a problem.

  6. josh says

    Because it brings in the business. This isn’t something unique to KY or unique to religious organizations. If KY doesn’t offer such tax breaks, then organizations will go to other states that do, pulling all the potential revenue away from KY. Better, from a financial standpoint, to give the organization the tax break, and skim the revenue they bring via taxes.

  7. josh says

    The real issue here is that Ky has cut education funds. As stupid as the Ark Park is, it isn’t getting special treatment, and so it doesn’t belong in the same story. It’s an unrelated side issue. The state hasn’t pulled money from education and given it to religion; it’s made cuts to the education budget, and at the same time has on the books tax-friendly laws for businesses. Cut those laws for businesses, and they move elsewhere, taking their revenue with them.

    The Ark Park getting the same treatment other organizations would get (think six flags), to bring in a possible revenue stream for the state, is the kind of treatment secular people should fight for, not bitch about.

    As infuriating as it is that people will fall for the Ark Park, don’t let the Ark Park’s stupidity blind you to the fact that even idiots deserve equal treatment under the law.

  8. says

    As someone from Louisville, this disappointing me…

    and I bet the intelligent Kentuckians in Louisville and Lexington are livid as well about this.

  9. josh says

    It depends on what you mean by “this”. I hate that education isn’t given a better budget throughout the US. Our school system nation wide is failing, and everyone should be concerned about that.

    But if “this” is the ark park being treated fairly, and given promises to the same incentives other organizations would get, I’m not really livid.

    If the secular community wants to get livid about something that actually includes both education and religion, they should be livid that something like 6 “teach creationism” bills have been proposed just this year, across the US.

    It’s a waste of effort to get angry that a religious organization has been treated fairly, especially when there are so many good things to get angry about.

  10. butterflyfish says

    Welcome to Massachusetts. The weather is crappy, but the political climate makes you want to stay forever.

  11. says

    I’ve lived in Kentucky my whole life. This is distressing. I work as staff for WKU while I get my Masters. I was actually talking to a friend of mine who is a professor at the community college. BGCC or South Campus is affiliated with WKU, but for some reason the faculty dislike each other greatly.

    I honestly wonder if it is because of wage differences between those on main campus vs. those on south campus, or if it is because in recent years south campus has grown at a faster rate than the main campus because tuition is cheaper, yet those attending still get the WKU status.

    Of course this has little to do with Kentucky’s public educational system, which has always been terrible. I’ve always vowed if I ever have children and I’m still stuck here that I would home school because of the public school situations.

  12. DaveyGTi says

    I’ll Say it again, America scares me! I read somewhere on teh interwebz yesterday that something like 49% of Americans believe creationism is a more credible ‘theory’ than evolution, the really worrying thing (for me anyway) is that the uk is starting to go the same way, with faith schools popping up all over the place and the likes of nadine dorries trying to push through abstinence education and other religion fuelled nonsense.

  13. Erin Winslow says

    These projects are ***supposed*** to generate revenue for the state. There is no guarantee that this will happen though; that is a bit of a crap shoot. AND, if the Ark project doesn’t prove popular with tourists, are the people behind it going to reimburse the state the money spent building roads to it, etc? Or will they just declare bankruptcy and walk away?

  14. josh says

    As has been said, the Ark Park itself doesn’t get anything up-front. IF it pulls in what it promises, then it gets a tax break.

    The only thing that might come up-front is the road improvement (I don’t care enough about this to follow all its details…i think the road improvement happens after the park gets rolling).

    Anyone who’s driven on a KY road knows they need improvement, and again, this is the kind of incentive any company might get. Hell, wal-marts sometime negotiate for road improvements when they move to an area. 11million dollars is a few miles and a couple of stop lights (depending on the location, of course…11million might go further in KY).

  15. josh says

    Yep. Penn State published an article in Science last year. Their research showed that 60% of our science teachers don’t teach evolution, in large part because they’re afraid of the controversy (they don’t have time to deal with ignorant parents, they don’t want to ignore other things because evolution would take so much time and they have lots to cover, etc…not afraid as in ‘afraid for their life’…but afraid still).

    The people we pay to educate our children aren’t educating our children. Truly worrying.

  16. says

    Nadine Dorrines bill got utterly crushed. I think she had 12 MPs on her side (the exact numbers skip my memory but it was very very small since around 600 people voted against them…)

    I feel the issue in the USA is the SATS and No Child Left Behind. If you make or break funding based on a single test then there is no incentive for teachers to teach to anything but the test and the science section of the SATS is an optional extra. So it’s easy for most teachers (and more sensible) to simply ignore science since the money comes from children matching the core principles.

  17. josh says

    No Child Left Behind is an issue, for alot of reasons. The SAT’s don’t concern me; intelligent people who ought to know have often quipped to me, in frustration with their students who complain about tests, that (barring the rare learning disability) students who understand material do well on tests. Students who claim to know the material but don’t do well on tests, probably don’t know the material (that’s a non-scientific opinion, but it’s an opinion I agree with).

    The worst thing about NCLB (in my opinion) isn’t that it teaches to a test (though I agree it’s bad to teach for taking a test…teach important material that pushes students, and doing well on tests comes out of that). The worst thing about NCLB is that there’s no incentive to push students to do their best. Entire classes are taught at the pace of the slowest student, and so long as a minimum of material is understood, good students get put in a corner to do their own thing because they don’t “need” the teacher’s attention to perform well on the test.

    The purpose of NCLB is to literally make sure that no student is left out of a minimum education. Even if it’s entirely successful (which it isn’t…) that means our star performers–the people who can go on to do great things–get nothing (or very little, at any rate) out of the time they sit in a classroom.

  18. CeePeeThreeOwe says

    The bill was listed to receive its second reading but was withdrawn before it had a chance to be debated. Dorries refused to say whether she had withdrawn it but a bill can only be removed with the permission of the MP who proposed it.
    The Guardian

  19. Strider says

    I’m a progressive and I wouldn’t vote for Beshear again if you *paid* me; and I’m from Chicago originally!

  20. M Groesbeck says

    Teaching an understanding of the material might help students do well on the test — if the test were designed to assess mastery of the subjects. On the other hand, if rote memorization is what is tested, then that is what the test results will show. If standardized tests are designed to favor the drill-and-kill of fundamentalist private schools and corporate charter schools designed to produce workers for permanent low-end jobs, then that’s what the test results will show.

    The tests mandated by NCLB were never intended to assess subject mastery. They were designed to produce a tailor-made metric to “prove” that public schools, especially in low-income areas, should have their funding cut and turned over to for-profit groups and/or fundamentalist churches.

  21. josh says

    This post makes me wonder if you’ve seen bigfoot recently; you have alot of conspiracy here, but your logic doesn’t hold up and you offer no evidence–which doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It just means you give us little reason to believe your conspiracy.

    My take on conspiracies like this–that imply a large segment of the government is working together to keep down the working man, or whatever–is that the government doesn’t function well enough to coordinate such an activity.

    Moreover, while I don’t like NCLB, it was designed at least in part with expert teachers, experts in different subjects NCLB, etc. Even if the gov’t wanted to do what you’re saying, you have to show that these professional educators, professionals in various fields, all wanted to do it, too.

    Politicians aren’t that smart, and teachers–while they have their faults–for the most part at least want to do right by their students.

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