Charter Schools, while still a focus of debate in Kentucky, exist just across the river in Ohio. In an experiment, a charter high school in Cincinnati now pays its students for perfect attendance and good behavior. The program proved successful on day one.
Rep. Carl Rollins pitched his “districts of innovation” bill to local school board members Monday, just hours before his House Education Committee was to host a hearing about allowing charter schools in Kentucky. House Bill 37 – the innovation legislation – would allow school districts to sidestep certain state regulations that govern Kentucky’s public schools with approval from state education officials. Rollins, a Midway Democrat, said the bill would let educators try charter-like reforms without siphoning funding from existing public schools. It cleared the House unanimously last week.
Central Kentucky superintendents were pleased to learn Kentucky is one of 10 states allowed flexibility under Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind laws. Instead of receiving testing data for NCLB and the state accountability system, schools will receive data from one source this year. President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan set provisions last year for the way states could receive waivers from NCLB mandates, according to a news release from the Kentucky Department of Education. States had to show progress in efforts to close achievement gaps and prepare students for colleges and careers.
A group of Franklin County freshmen are hard at work this year seeking a unique reward: the chance to graduate high school in half the time it will take their peers. About 50 teens from Franklin County and Western Hills High schools have joined a national pilot program called Excellence for All in hopes of earning a diploma in just two years.
In its recently released “Best Value Colleges: 2012 Edition,” Princeton Review has included Centre College on its list of the nation’s top 75 best-buy private colleges. Centre is the only private college in Kentucky to make the list, and Kentucky is one of just 37 states represented. “Centre College remains committed to being a place of high achievement and high opportunity,” said John A. Roush, Centre’s president since 1998, “and this recent ranking affirms our efforts.”
Kentucky has been granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind standards. NCLB has been criticized the past few years as having unreachable goals for education. Kentucky was one of 11 states that applied for the waiver last fall and 28 more states have announced they plan to seek waiver later this year. In the first round ten states, including Indiana, were granted a waiver.
Budget cuts and education reforms are putting pressure on teachers and principals to improve student performance. And the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is reaching out to help them. The chamber’s Leadership Institute program gives Kentucky’s principals the same training many corporate CEOs go through. The program costs $9,000 per principal, but is paid for with donations raised by the chamber.
A bill allowing charter schools in Kentucky will get a hearing in the House Education Committee. Chairman Carl Rollins has set February 14th as the hearing date, but that could change if the deadline for candidates to file to run for General Assembly seats is pushed back again. Rollins still doesn’t support charter schools, but thinks it's time for the bill to be discussed.
Kentucky’s two largest universities are facing grim futures with more budget cuts planned for the coming years. But the schools' presidents say they can survive. University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and University of Louisville President James Ramsey addressed the Senate Education Committee today. They did not attempt to talk their way out of proposed 6.4 percent budget cuts. Instead, both men talked highly of their current programs and their ability to survive past budget cuts.
As this year’s battle over the budget develops, there’s a new combatant on the field. As WEKU’S Stu Johnson reports, the Kentucky Education Action Team includes many of the special interests involved in education. The new education advocacy group includes parents, teachers, school administrators, and community leaders. And, it’s gaining influence. This week, the state school board this week passed a resolution supporting the group’s position on funding. It also called upon elected leaders to commit additional money for students. State school board chair David Karen says there’s power when various voices come together.
On Kentucky Tonight, we sometimes address complicated subjects, raising questions rather than providing answers. On some Monday nights, I leave my desk wondering whether we have dealt with the issue well enough so that Kentuckians can make intelligent decisions. New education issues cropped up this year—whether or not the University of Pikeville, a private institution, should be supported by state higher education dollars, thus becoming a public university; and the controversial subject of charter schools.
More cuts to Kentucky’s education budget will slow down the implementation of a landmark reform law. Senate Bill 1 is a wide-ranging education law that replaced Kentucky’s school testing system with stronger tests and content standards. Currently only English and math standards have been developed. And with a 4.5 percent cut planned for the Department of Education in Governor Steve Beshear’s latest budget proposal, new standards in other subjects are going to be delayed.
Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education is confident the commonwealth will receive a waiver from No Child Left Behind standards. Terry Holliday has been in direct talks with federal officials, and he says a big announcement confirming the waiver is coming next week.
The state’s community and technical college system is enlisting Governor Steve Beshear in an effort to increase Kentucky’s African-American college enrollment and graduation rates. At a news conference in the Rotunda today, KCTCS and Beshear announced a new effort to hold college fairs at African-American churches across the Commonwealth on February 12.
Members of Kentucky’s newly named student council expect to wrestle with more than just academics. For example, the high school students will also consider lifestyle issues. When the inaugural Next Generation Student Council meets on February 28th, among its 11 members will be Iman Ali . Ali, who’s a junior at Pikeville High School, says the council should consider ways in which schools can improve their learning environments.
More than 500,000 Kentucky public school students will take the state's new K-Prep test for the first time this spring, and educators are concerned that the results could leave many families confused and concerned. The new test was mandated under Senate Bill 1, the 2009 reform package that the General Assembly passed to strengthen Kentucky's public education system. Scores will look radically different from those on the old CATS test, which K-Prep replaces.
For the first time, a group of eleven high school students will formally have access to Kentucky’s Board of Education. The members of the Commonwealth’s inaugural Next-Generation Student Council were named today. State Department of Education spokeswoman, Lisa Gross says the aim is to get an up close student view of the classroom.
Kentucky State University President Mary Sias has pledged to contribute at least $37,500 of her own money to the school’s five-year, $12.5 million fundraising campaign. “Not because I have it, but because this is important,” she told university regents. University officials outlined the effort for regents and senior staffers Thursday, urging them to donate and make connections with others who might also give. Sias says it’s the first time in recent memory – maybe the first ever – that KSU has organized a capital campaign.
The head of Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education foresees a dire future for higher education if the state can’t correct its budget woes soon. CPE President Robert King told a budget subcommittee today that Governor Steve Beshear’s 6.4 percent budget cut on higher education will definitely mean higher tuition for college students. But another increase won’t be enough to fill the hole created by four years of budget cuts.
President Obama highlighted an innovative Kentucky community college in his annual State of the Union address. The president says a key to the economic future of the U-S is education and he told the nation that Louisville’s Metropolitan College Project is an example for cities across the country to mimic. Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth says the unique partnership between academia and the company UPS has helped thousands of Kentuckians.
Advocates for charter schools in Kentucky took their cause to Frankfort today. A handful of organizations support charter schools. One of the most vocal has been the Black Alliance for Educational Opportunities or BAEO. Its national president, Kenneth Campbell, helped lead the rally for charter schools at the Capitol. And he told the crowd Kentucky’s education system doesn’t serve all students equally.
Kentucky’s ranking in an annual grading of all states on key education indicators rose dramatically this year, placing the state 14th in the nation for its work on academic standards, the teaching profession and many other variables related to public education. Each year, Education Week (a national publication that focuses on P-12 education) produces a special issue, “Quality Counts.” The report tracks key education indicators and grades states on their policy efforts and outcomes. Last year, Kentucky ranked 34th in the nation in this annual report.
Midway College may team up with the University of Charleston to offer a pharmacy program in eastern Kentucky. Although not finalized, the two schools have signed a letter of intent to allow the West Virginia school to locate a branch at Midway’s Paintsville campus. Dr William Drake, President at Midway, says the proposal will be reviewed over the next two months.
Participants in a grassroots effort at Frankfort Independent Schools hope their work gives black male students a boost for better lives. The program they’ve started, Frankfort’s OWN, will provide those students a place to study, practice working in teams, meet role models and learn about college opportunities every Saturday during the school year. The program is modeled after the Black Males Working Academy in Lexington.
The band director at East Jessamine High School has been suspended during an investigation into claims he sold school instruments online for personal gain. Rex Payton is in his second year as director of the program and also has directed the band at West Jessamine High. Formal charges against him are expected in the next week, Nicholasville police Sgt. Scott Harvey said Thursday.
The Scott County Board of Education abruptly ended its work session Tuesday after two members got into a squabble. Haley Conway and Luther Mason quarreled over Conway’s frequent questioning of decisions by Superintendent Patricia Putty and other administrators, particularly the school district’s delay in building a new high school to alleviate overcrowding in current facilities.
As Kentucky faces it’s most difficult budget yet, a new education coalition is calling for even more early education funding. The Kentucky Education Action Team is made up of well-know education associations, including the Kentucky Education Association and groups representing administratiors, teachers, parents and school boards and councils. In a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda today, they made a case for an increase in SEEK funding back to 2008 levels.
The Council on Postsecondary Education has a new leader as of this week. Former Lexington Mayor Pam Miller is the new chair of the Kentucky CPE. According to a news release, the Council promoted Miller, a member of the panel since 2008, from vice chair, to chairwoman.