The announcement by Kentucky education officials yesterday of alleged improvements in the state's school system over the last few years may be the fulfillment of the prophecy of a famous Kentuckian.
After I introduced Wendell Berry last year at the CiRCE Institute Padeia Prize banquet, he said, "I think our education system is too big to fail, but I also think it's too big to fix—without a lot less money. Perhaps poverty will do them some good."
With this in mind, did anyone happen to notice that the day after all these great improvements in Kentucky schools since 2010 were announced (reduction in dropout rates, greater college and career readiness), the Lexington Herald-Leader, in an impeccably-timed editorial today, complained about the decline in state education funding since 2008?
Now it's rather humorous that the Herald-Leader editors would be complaining about something having a negative effect that actually had a direct correlation with education improvement!
And furthermore we could give this correlation scientific legitimacy by merely conferring an acronym on it and using scientific lingo to describe it. Let's call it the FREIE (The Funding Reduction Education Improvement Effect) which represents the research-based conclusion of the correlation which we observe in the data indicating the need for a repurposing of our cognitive presumptions given the fact that decreases in education expenditures seem to contribute to the conclusion that educational infrastructures problematize the cognitive outcome that increases in expenditure generate critical proficiencies.
(Why is it that I feel like taking a shower after I say something like that?)
Think about it: If a decline in educational funding of ten percent correlates with the kind of improvement Kentucky officials are now claiming, just imagine how much Kentucky schools could be improved by, say, a 20 percent or even 30 percent funding cut.
It's worth a try.