Even The Good Guys Make Terrible Mistakes

Really pains us to have to criticize one of the few actual news organizations in Kentucky. Even more painful to criticize one of a handful of real journalists with guts and skill.

How WFPL can run this story without disclosing the long BIPPS involvement in the religio-right-wing education movement – the push to pay for crazy religious schooling with your taxpayer dollars headed by Frank Simon – we’ll never know.

Calling the Bluegrass Institute a watchdog? Really? That’s worse than pushing Hal Heiner’s Jefferson County Public Schools hit piece that was created by his PR guy. One commenter said it best about that one:


The same can and should be said about this Bluegrass Institute story.

Surely the story’s author remembers when his former employer ditched Jim Waters, the man he is presenting as some legitimate leader and educational pioneer, refusing to allow his weekly column to be published. That employer followed our lead on cutting ties with him in late 2007.

There are tons of reasons it’s just common sense for a news organization not to promote BIPPS/Bluegrass Institute as some wonderful educational leader. Not the least of which involves its recent thin-skinned reactions to public discussion.

Nope, we’re primarily focusing on the Frank Simon crew. The bunch of religio-right-wing hatemongers. The group of people who have spent years and years spreading ill will, attacking public education, trying to kill public pensions and doing the thing fat white guys love to do: causing racial division while attempting to scare a handful of African Americans into believing in their cause(s) with Jesus. The least WFPL could have done was focus a tiny bit on what BIPPS actually is.

There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that he doesn’t already know all of that. So this must have been a story that was assigned to him or pushed by his bosses who have something to gain (come on – that’s less crazy than the actual story). There’s no way this is a case of facts getting cut during editing. Nada.

Goodness gracious.

Goodbye to Jim Waters

It has been a pleasure providing a differing point of view each week. It’s been a pleasure hosting Jim Waters’ thought-provoking writing. That’s why we write today with a heavy hand. We’re disappointed.

Jim Waters was the special guest on Evangel World Prayer’s latest television program. He was there promoting a school “choice” plan backed by Frank Simon and the American Family Association of Kentucky. See it here for yourself. And here’s Jim’s one sheet on school choice, hosted by Frank Simon.

During the discussion on school choice the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation came up. And boy, were they fired up. An older, obviously gay gentleman called in who claimed to be “cured” of the gay. His father was allegedly a school teacher (convenient, eh?) who raped him along with other students when he was younger. This turned him gay, led to his alcoholism and landed him in prison. Imagine that. “Pastor” Bob Rogers, the host of the show, then used the story to scare the bejeezus out of folks re: the gays as teachers in schools. He provided the telephone number for Frank Simon’s office and proceeded to not-so-overtly spread the homophobia.

Jim tried to distance himself in his weekly column published yesterday on Page One and in LEO. But this just takes the cake. Promoting school choice or a voucher program is one thing. But combining it with religious hatred and homophobia is beyond offensive.

As a result we’ll no longer be publishing Jim Waters’ weekly column, Bluegrass Beacon. We’ll leave that up to LEO. That is, if they want to promote ignorance disguised as progress in the form of the Bluegrass Institute. And we doubt they’ll want to do that even in the name of offering an alternative point-of-view.
We’re disappointed and wish Jim the best. But we won’t be publishing anyone promoting Frank Simon’s tripe. Especially not a man who is a member of an alleged think tank that was established to prevent government waste while supporting education.

Jim Waters: School board’s pillow talk punishes parents and students

Jim Waters has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. Had he bothered to research this week’s topic, he may have come across as less ignorant on the issue. For him to proclaim that teachers aren’t being harassed because of their sexual orientation (orientation, not preference)? That’s ignorant and nothing but a right-wing talking point. We expect to sit down with him in the coming weeks for a discussion on the matter.

To Jim: Complaints aren’t filed because of fear of bigots like Frank Simon– whose hate group was responsible for the phone calls Jefferson County’s Board of Education received– and those within the public school system who are known for retaliation. Dig a little deeper or next time give us a call if you have questions.

And you’re anti-public education for wanting things like school vouchers. You’re anti-public education for your desire to stop teacher’s unions and to use public dollars for private or religious schooling. Not because you report the bad news about public education or the corruption that exists.  Even people like Jake chime in to support you when you’re revealing legitimate mistakes in education.

This whole “special rights” and “special protections” crap has got to stop. It’s bogus. Tell us– what is special about being treated as equals of the majority?

School board’s pillow talk punishes parents and students

By Jim Waters

Some school-board members exhibit more passion for what happens in a teacher’s bedroom than in the teacher’s classroom.

If they focused more on improving Kentucky schools, parents would sleep a lot better.

An example: The Jefferson County Board of Education voted 4-3 on Nov. 26 to add special protection for gay and lesbian employees to its harassment and employment policies.

The problem: Teachers aren’t being harassed because of their sexual preferences.

Read more…

Jim Waters: The good faces of education shouldn’t get a nose job – Updated

This week Jim Waters focuses on the state of public education in Kentucky and the recently passed selection of Commissioner of Education Jon Draud. While the story is a week old (because we wouldn’t want to compete with antiquated print operations we enjoy) it’s worth a read. Not even a mention of school vouchers or Ronald Reagan. We jest.

Updated: Jim has updated his story to include information about Draud.

The good faces of education shouldn’t get a nose job

By Jim Waters

The Kentucky Board of Education thumbed its nose at Gov.-elect Steve Beshear, who wanted to slow down the selection process for a new education commissioner.

Beshear said he thought some good candidates didn’t apply because of the contentious gubernatorial campaign. But he overestimates the involvement of politics and underestimates the obstacles to attracting quality candidates created by an education bureaucracy so bloated it can’t bend over and touch its toes – a body part unseen for decades.

But the cloud of neglect the board cast on Beshear comes with a silver lining: the clearly diminished power of Kentucky’s governor.

Read more…

Jim Waters – Commish Search II: The Sequel

The right and left should all agree with Jim this week. The state school board’s “search” for a commissioner is laughable and embarrassing.

Get a grip, people! Call this “search” off and start fresh. This Barbara Erwin clustercrap has to stop.

Commish Search II: The Sequel

By Jim Waters

Al Smith, longtime host of “Comment on Kentucky,” is right in urging the Kentucky Board of Education to wait and conduct a national search for a new education commissioner – like other states do.

But his plea falls on deaf ears.

The board’s haste – along with the insipid candidates it has attracted – confirms Solomon’s reckoning that: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be.”

Read more…

Jim Waters: Leaner government? Treasure the thought

Jim Waters misses the mark this week.

If you oppose unnecessary spending on children’s health-care programs, Hollenbach and his political siblings probably consider you “anti-children” or “anti-family.” If you support offering parents a choice – any kind of choice – on where their children attend school, then they call you “anti-public education.”

Way to use Republican spin, Jim! Unnecessary spending on children’s health care? What? Yeah, the zillion children in this country don’t deserve care. That’s the ticket.

Providing taxpayer-funded vouchers for children to go to private religious institutions is hardly being anti-choice. It’s about avoiding the real problem and not making public education work. It’s about the separation of church and state. It’s not a black & white issue and painting it as such is closed-minded and uneducated.

And using Todd Hollenbach as a poster child for Democratic ideology was just hilarious.

Leaner government? Treasure the thought

By Jim Waters

A chasm exists between anti-government zealots and those who believe in limited government.

One believes in anarchy. The other holds to the principle offered in a statement attributed most often to Thomas Jefferson: “government governs best which governs least.”

Again, that’s “governs least,” not “governs not at all.”

Read more…

Derby of Gubernatorial Race

Kentucky’s Jim Waters has a feature story about the non-race between Ernie Fletcher and Steve Beshear in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. Guess the entire country really is paying attention to the Bluegrass these days.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Kentucky Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher should have been a shoe-in for re-election this year. Four years ago he won the governorship in a walk, after serving six years as a popular congressman. He’s an ex-fighter pilot, ex-Baptist minister and a very strong campaigner.

But as voters prepare to head to the polls in a little more than two weeks, there is a political horse race underway here in Kentucky. And thanks to a nagging political scandal, it’s Gov. Fletcher who is trailing. One recent poll found him behind Democrat Steve Beshear by 16 points.