Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Recession Imperils Loan Forgiveness Programs

“I remember sitting in the financial aid office
and them saying, ‘Pay for every penny of it,
pay for your books through loans,
because they’re going to be forgiven,’ ”
--Travis Gay

This from the N Y Times:
When a Kentucky agency cut back its program to forgive student loans for schoolteachers, Travis B. Gay knew he and his wife, Stephanie — both special-education teachers — were in trouble.

“We’d gotten married in June and bought a house, pretty much planned our whole life,” said Mr. Gay, 26. Together, they had about $100,000 in student loans that they expected the program to help them repay over five years.

Then, he said, “we get a letter in the mail saying that our forgiveness this year was next to nothing.”

Now they are weighing whether to sell their three-bedroom house in Lawrenceburg, Ky., some 20 miles west of Lexington. Otherwise, Mr. Gay said, “it’s going to be very difficult for us to do our student loan payments, house payments and just eat.” ...

...The Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation is at the extreme in cutting payments to people in midstream who have already finished their educations and are repaying loans, but organizations in many other states have curtailed their new offers to prospective teachers, nurses and others...

Ted Franzeim, vice president for customer relations of the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation told the Times that his group had never told participants that financing for forgiveness was guaranteed.

We don't know anyone who believes him.

For about a month now, Susan Weston at the Prichard blog has been spanking the group over the issue. Today she writes,

Either Best in Class was an honest promise or it was a trick to lure in borrowers. That second option is terrible to think about: dishonest incentives to student borrowers are forbidden by federal law and warrant major enforcement action by the federal Education Department.I don't think Best in Class was a trick or a lure.

I think it was a promise, made when the Student Loan People believed they would be able to afford to keep their word. The dishonest part is happening now, when they claim they made no promises and offered no guarantees.

Susan shows more proof that the Student Loan People described Best in Class as a promise students could depend on here, here, and here.

There is no clear accounting of how many people were swayed by loan forgiveness to pursue teaching, or how many might be deterred by the absence of such programs. But the anecdotal evidence suggests the programs matter.

Mark Henderson said he weighed a job as an auditor at Humana, where he worked as temporary help in 2005, against the chance to teach math, a subject he loved. Kentucky’s loan forgiveness program persuaded him to try teaching.

“I thought, at least if I have somebody repay it, I can last five years and get rid of this debt,” said Mr. Henderson, 26, a math teacher in Louisville.

School News from Around Kentucky

"We are not trying to play games here by doing this.
A cut is a cut and a raise is a raise,
but I think this is something we need to do.
--Sonny Fentress

Mercer avoids state-mandated raises: Mercer County Board of Education approved a tentative budget Thursday and used a unique tactic to avoid spending money on staff raises in hopes of balancing the budget and saving jobs. The board of education accepted Superintendent Sonny Fentress' recommendation that will essentially hold salaries flat by lowering them and then raising them again. The state legislature mandated that all employees receive a 1 percent raise for the upcoming budget year. Fentress urged the board to reduce 2008-2009 salaries by 1 percent on June 30, the end of the fiscal year, and then increase them by 1 percent at the beginning of the next fiscal year beginning July 1. (Advocate Messenger)

KDE recognizes 23 Kentucky public schools that have made significant progress to close achievement gaps between students of different genders, ethnic groups, income levels and special needs. (KDE)

Madison Central HS reports case of swine flu: A Madison Central High School student is Madison County’s latest case of H1N1 virus infection, also known as swine flu, according to the health department. A news release from the school district Monday said the student has been home “recovering and doing well since symptoms” appeared.County schools were in session Monday, and MCHS Principal Gina Lakes informed parents of the situation in a voicemail message at 3:30 p.m.Upon learning that a student had developed swine flu symptoms, Lakes said the school’s custodial staff immediately began disinfecting its buildings – including door knobs and drinking fountains. (Richmond Register)

Ohio school official apologizes for meeting: Ohio County Board of Education Chairman Barry Geary apologized for meeting with Superintendent Soretta Ralph and making an offer on behalf of the board to buy her remaining retirement eligibility years, but he denied reaching a consensus with two other board members before talking to Ralph.Geary's statements came at a special school board meeting Friday evening at the central office that was called to discuss Kentucky's open meetings law and to hold a closed session to discuss probable litigation against the board."I didn't intend to break the open meetings law," he said. "If a mistake was made, I didn't intend to."Geary said he met with Ralph "out of respect for her" because she said she didn't like surprises. Notes taken at the May 12 meeting that the Messenger-Inquirer received tell a different story -- with Geary saying that board members Brad Beatty and Dwight Raymond sent him to make the offer.The minutes show that Geary tells Ralph "they have the votes" to ensure that she doesn't get another contract. And he asks her to step down.At one point in Friday night's meeting, vice chairman Will Eddins asked Geary if he had considered stepping down as chairman."No, not unless these two guys want me to," he said, indicating Beatty and Raymond.Eddins said after the meeting he thought if Geary gave up the chairman's post, it would diffuse the situation. (Messenger-Inquirer by way of KSBA)

School drug testing proposal shifts: Members of a committee charged with developing a drug testing policy for students in the Caldwell County School District are shifting their focus toward a new group of students. ...Initially, the committee had focused on developing a random drug testing policy for students involved in extracurricular activities, such as athletics, band and school clubs. Of late, though, the committee has suspended that angle. “Essentially, we felt that policy would not bring the ends that we were looking for,” said Brown. ...As an alternative, Brown said, the committee is exploring a more focused, “suspicion-based” testing program.
The focus will now be on “fringe” students perceived to be in danger. Brown said that assessment would be backed up by certain statutory criteria, such as attendance and discipline records. (Times Leader)

Madison Graduation rates above state average: All four of Madison County’s high schools’ graduation rates above the state average in 2008, according to the latest data from the Kentucky Department of Education.Across the state, 84.52 percent of Kentucky high school students graduated in 2008, an increase of .8 percent over 2007.In Madison County, Model Laboratory High School had the highest graduation rate at 98.08 percent, with Madison Southern next at 91.74 percent. Berea Community High School was third with a 91.03 percent rate, while Madison Central High School graduated 88.08 percent of students last school year. (Richmond Register)

Arrested West Jessamine band director is out for rest of school year: A West Jessamine County High School band director who was cited Wednesday for loitering for the purpose of prostitution will not return for the remainder of the school year, according to a statement released by the district. The statement released by Jessamine County Superintendent Lu Young also said the district has launched an internal investigation in response to the allegations against Rex Payton, who has been band director at the high school for about three years. Young said they hope to have the investigation wrapped up within 10 school days. "In the meantime, Mr. Payton will not be returning to his position at West High for the remainder of the school year," the release says. "We are currently working with school administrators and band parents to successfully complete the year." (Herald-Leader)

Lawyer in texting case asks judge to seal files: Madison Circuit Judge William G. Clouse denied a request Thursday from the attorney of a former Madison Middle School volunteer to seal the case file because of media coverage.Attorney Wes Browne also sought more specific information about the charge against his client, Brandon Clay Rousey, 23, who is accused of attempted first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor for allegedly sending sexually explicit text messages to a 13-year-old student while he was an AmeriCorps volunteer and assistant coach at the school. (Richmond Register)

Legislator says Special session likely: State lawmakers could be headed back to Frankfort in mid-June for a special legislative session to deal with a projected budget shortfall and other issues. Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, sent an e-mail Thursday telling members of the Jefferson County delegation that a special session is likely to begin June 15 and that two major pieces of legislation are likely to be discussed: video lottery terminals at the state's racetracks and legislation that would help the state fund mega projects, such as new bridges in Louisville and Henderson. (H-L)

Op Ed - A shared duty: Legislators should approve plan to eliminate the shortfall: While the Consensus Forecasting Group has yet to officially release its projection concerning the revenue shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1, that group’s chairman, Lawrence Lynch, has said that Gov. Steve Beshear’s warning that the budget shortfall could top $1 billion “seems plausible.”Facing a possible shortfall, that is more than double the $456 million shortfall for the current fiscal year that legislators grappled with earlier this year, already has some lawmakers calling for unspecified tax increases to avoid sharp budget cuts and Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo continuing to beat the drum in support of video gambling terminals at the state’s race tracks.Meanwhile, Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, continues to place most of the responsibility for making the cuts to balance the budget on the shoulders of Gov. Steve Beshear. (Daily Independent)

Quick Hits

U.S. Supreme Court nominee's record provides clues on education: Sonia Sotomayor's 17-year federal judicial record includes high-profile rulings on several major education issues. She has questioned school strip searches, upheld tuition reimbursement for students with disabilities and rejected a reverse discrimination claim. (Education Week by way of KSBA)

Education Secretary Duncan Calls for State Standards on Restraints in Schools: Citing "disturbing" reports of schoolchildren being harmed when teachers physically restrained them, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called on state school chiefs yesterday to develop plans this summer to ensure that restraints are used safely and sparingly. (Washington Post)

Some state tests could be eliminated under N.C. budget proposal: North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue has proposed eliminating state tests that aren't needed for graduation or mandated by federal law. The state Senate agrees and wants to ax tests on five high-school subjects, an eighth-grade computer-skills test and tests for high-school students who struggle with reading and math. But state education leaders say the tests ensure that schools teach to state standards. (The News & Observer)

Utah districts embrace "whole child" model: Some Utah school districts attempting to narrow the achievement gap are educating parents as a way to focus on the whole child. Bilingual messages, on-site social services, health care and parent classes may get students who are low-income or English-language learners the help they need, some educators say. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Latest generation of NYC principals have more autonomy, but struggle: A New York City principal-training program has led to more schools being run by younger leaders who are paid more and have greater responsibility for hiring and budgets, but their schools do not perform as well as those of their peers on more traditional tracks, according to a New York Times analysis. Teacher turnover is higher at schools led by graduates of the New York City Leadership Academy, according to the analysis, although some say that reflects the change younger principals bring. (N Y Times)

Duncan: California schools are at a crossroads: California's $5.3 billion in proposed cuts to its education budget place students' futures in danger and may jeopardize the state's eligibility for federal "Race to the Top" funds, according to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "California has lost its way," he said. "The long-term consequences of that are very troubling." (L A Times) (San Francisco Chronicle)

Workers trade in Wall Street to teach math: Laid-off traders will be trained to use their finance skills to teach math during a three-month New Jersey program that begins in September. Montclair State University received 146 applications for the program's 25 seats. "It's a completely new pool of individuals," said Ada Beth Cutler, dean of the College of Education. (The Boston Globe/Reuters)

Pluses and minuses for California's charter schools in report: Most students at California's charter schools outperform their peers at traditional public schools, but English-language learners do worse at charter schools, according to a University of Southern California report on charter schools. Systems to ensure charter schools' fiscal responsibility need to be better, one researcher said. (L A Times)

Expulsion policy bars students from all Baltimore schools: The 34 students expelled from Baltimore schools this year for setting fires or detonating explosives will never be allowed to return to any district facility, including alternative schools. School officials say the policy has reduced the number of arsons, but parents who can't afford private school or to home-school their children are struggling to find options. (The Baltimore Sun)

Research shows setting goals may improve middle-school grades: Teaching middle-school students why doing well in school is important to their future and helping them develop effective ways to study may do more to improve their grades than homework help, according to a Harvard University researcher's analysis of 50 studies involving more than 50,000 students. Adolescents' burgeoning planning and decision-making skills can make middle school an especially effective time to use such strategies to overcome students' decreasing interest in school, lead researcher Nancy Hill said. (ScienceDaily)

Mass. elementary-school teachers may have to pass math test: Massachusetts may become the first state to require elementary-school teachers and special educators who teach prekindergarten through eighth grade to pass a math test before obtaining a teaching license. Mitchell Chester, the state's education commissioner, will bring the proposal to the state education board this week. Most states, including Massachusetts, require an overall passing score on a test that includes all subjects. (Ed Week)

Will traditional yearbooks fade from modern high schools?: Traditional high-school yearbooks are less appealing to students raised on Facebook and iPods, students and educators say. Some schools are improving sales by adding DVDs or online components, but some students are still skeptical: "I don't think memories should cost anything," said Texas senior Paul Tee. (The Dallas Morning News)

Study: Preschool children learn some language skills from peers: Young children's language skills are shaped not only by their parents and teachers but by their classmates, according to a study of more than 1,800 preschoolers in 11 states. "Classmates are an important resource for all children. ... These results also indicate that teachers can promote children's language development by effectively managing children's behavior, which creates an environment in which children feel comfortable to converse with and learn language from one another," said lead author Andrew Mashburn, a University of Virginia senior research scientist. (ScienceDaily)

College Board delays launch of eighth-grade exam: Because so many school districts have limited funds, the College Board said it will postpone the launch of an eighth-grade test scheduled to debut this fall. Officials say the exam could be available in 2010 if economic conditions improve. (The Oregonian)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

American Anomaly Led to American Prosperity

"… the U.S. lead in educational attainments over the 20th century
has been a major factor, and perhaps THE major factor,
that accounts for the U.S. overtaking Europe
as the economic superpower of the 20th Century."
--Isaac Ehrlich

As a follow up to last week's CPE conference KSN&C has obtained a copy of Robert King's remarks.

Kentucky Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Robert L. King, President
Council on Postsecondary Education
May 20-21, 2009

First, let me thank Adina for this opportunity to speak to you, and take a moment to specifically recognize Mike Seelig, our interim Vice President for Academic Affairs. Mike has been on loan to CPE for the past eight months and had made a profound, positive impact on our work, and on our relationship with our campuses. He has recognized our need to be less mysterious, and more connected to all of you. He has established an internship program where faculty from many of our campuses are spending a semester at CPE, learning about what we do and educating us about what you do and how we can help. In addition, Mike has recognized the importance of getting our staff out to your campuses to actually see and understand the unique circumstances and dynamics of each of our campuses and the communities they serve. Sadly, Mike has chosen his wife and his campus over CPE. So we will be losing him, but doing so with enormous gratitude for his leadership and keen insights, and for the positive changes he has implemented in the way we do business with all of you.

When I was first appointed Chancellor of the State University of New York nearly ten years ago, I attended a speech by the President of Duke University, Dr. Nan Keohane. In her speech she recounted that access to higher education in the United States had been, since the American Civil War, an anomaly in the world. While attendance at a University in Europe and Asia had historically been reserved for the sons of wealthy or politically connected families, the U.S. had chosen a different path, expanding access to anyone with the intellectual talent and determination to seek a college education. This notion of making higher education accessible to all did not occur in a single moment of enlightenment. The principle was imbedded in a series of actions taken at both the national and state level. It started in the 1860’s with the first Morrill Act which created America’s "Land Grant Colleges," and continued through the creation of the GI Bill at the end of World War II, the great civil rights laws of the 1960’s, and the ongoing support of publicly financed tuition assistance programs, and low interest college loans. All of these public policies, expressed in our laws, have worked together to give real meaning and substance to the notion of nearly unfettered access to higher education to anyone in America who seeks it.

Dr. Keohane’s observations about access caused me to ask whether or not there was a connection between this fact and the growth of the American economy? To answer the question I enlisted the assistance of a colleague, Dr. Isaac Ehrlich at the University of Buffalo, to help with the research. Part of what follows is a reflection of that research.

Let me start by asking you to sit back and imagine there was a G-8 in the year 1820. Had there been, the U.S. would not have been a member. The economic and military powers of the day would have included England, Russia, Japan, China, France, India, Spain, and Austria.

Imagine also that they have assembled for their annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Anti-globalization protesters had not yet been invented, but I know you can imagine all the pomp and ceremony as the Kings of England, France and Spain, the Emperors of Japan and China, and the Czar get together over cocktails. Czar Alexander leans over to King Louis XVIII and says: "So, Lou, what do you think we can do, either collectively or individually, to become relatively less prosperous and less powerful over the next couple hundred years?"

Obviously, such a conversation never took place, but that hypothetical suggestion is exactly what happened. In contrast, during that same period the United States grew from being a modest experiment into the economic and military power it is today. This result, however, was not a foregone conclusion or some predetermined outcome of history. I doubt anyone could have imagined back in 1820 such a remarkable story unfolding.

Consider, as well, the fact that all of the nations in the 1820 version of the G-8 were blessed with large populations, access to natural resources (either indigenously or through conquest), financial capital, established universities, established armies and various types of functioning economies. And none of the largest national economies of the day intended to relinquish their relative positions of wealth and power. So what happened? And why?

Professor Ehrlich’s research and my questions led us to study the public policy choices made in each of these nations, contrast them with policy choices made in the U.S., and to measure their economic impact simply expressed as the change in the size of each nation’s Gross Domestic Product over time.

The research led us to three principal factors which differentiated the behavior of the U.S. economy from those of the nineteenth century G-8 nations.

First, the U.S. embraced a free enterprise economy while the members of the old G-8 were experimenting with communism, and socialism, or perpetuating old systems of feudalism.
Second, the United States made secondary education (grades 9-12) universal in the early 1900’s, nearly forty years before any other nation.

And third, access to higher education was significantly broadened to people of all economic and social classes through a series of laws described earlier, bringing the treasure of higher education within reach of nearly every American who need only demonstrate the motivation to seek it.
My colleague, Isaac, is an advocate of what economist describe as the "Endogenous Theory" of growth. He contends that, "The reason persistent growth is enabled by human capital formation is that human capital, unlike conventional physical capital, has both the direct effect on the productivity of current labor and capital inputs, and an indirect effect on the production of more knowledge. A continuous accumulation of knowledge can thus lead to a self-sustaining growth in per capita income."

Using international OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) data assembled in 2002 on educational attainment some startling differences appear.

When I graduated from college in the late 1960’s, nearly 22% of Americans in my age group had a Bachelors degree or higher. That compares to 11% in England, 6% for France, 9% in Japan, 6% in Spain, etc. I must confess that I had never expected to see differences of this magnitude. When you multiply this difference across the span of an entire workforce, the differences in productivity, especially in an increasingly information based world, clearly explain how the U.S. grew so substantially, particularly in the 20th century.

In the U.S., it was not just the CEO or the company owner that possessed a college degree. The Human Resources professional, the marketing manager, the engineers on the factory floor, and the sales force had bachelor’s degrees. Even the machinist operating highly sophisticated pieces of manufacturing equipment will very likely have earned at least an Associate’s Degree from one of our community colleges.

The point is that America’s workforce has historically been more highly educated than any other nation in the world, and that education has translated into more innovation and productivity than any other nation throughout the twentieth century. Dr. Ehrlich has actually concluded that, "… the U.S. lead in educational attainments over the 20th century has been a major factor, and perhaps THE major factor, that accounts for the U.S. overtaking Europe as the economic superpower of the 20th Century."

I asked Professor Ehrlich if we could measure the difference in the growth of GDP during the period 1820 to 2000. While this was somewhat difficult to do given the differences in currencies and exchange rates, especially going back into the nineteenth century, he was able to come up with a reasonable representation, measured in constant 1990 U.S. dollars.

During the period indicated (he actually was able to develop the numbers for the period 1820 to 1994), the economy of the U.K. multiplied itself 27.6 times, France 27.3, Spain 38.3, Japan 111.8, India 12.7, Russia 36.1, and China 18.1.

In this same period, the U.S. multiplied its GDP 474 times.

Recent OECD data and studies confirm the value of the American experience. In fact, the 2004 OECD report states that, "…while financial capital investment is most strongly associated with growth at early stages of industrialization, the role of human capital increases with industrial development and overall level of educational attainment, and eventually becomes the strongest driver of economic growth."

The point of all this is that higher education has been intimately connected to the growth of the American economy, and that ties between it and private industry, support of entrepreneurship and scholarship, human capital formation and the commercialization of new knowledge must be at the center of any strategy to enhance America’s future. This is not to say that this is all that we are about, but that our Universities and colleges cannot and should not diminish the role we can play to enhance the human condition and our nation’s prosperity.

But the terms of engagement are changing. The gap I described earlier in terms of bachelor’s degree attainment has evaporated, and what was once America’s secret has been discovered and emulated across the globe.

If Professor Ehrlich’s conclusions are correct, the key to regaining America’s preeminence will be an undiluted focus on getting more of our citizens into and through our colleges and universities. By "through," I mean "graduated from."

This focus does not necessarily mean huge infusions of more money, although having some predictability and financial stability would be helpful. But before I get into some positive suggestions regarding what we can do to help achieve that focus, I want to share one more slide with you. It was inspired by a comment I hear repeated almost weekly by policy makers and ordinary citizens, and as a new comer, is striking in its penetration into the thinking of Kentuckians: on any topic of significance the sentences too frequently end with the words, "…but we are a poor State."

So I asked our staff to look at this educational attainment data, and to map improvement over time against per capita GDP.

As you can see, nations with significantly less wealth than Kentucky have advanced farther and faster than we. I don’t point this out to be critical, but rather to emphasize that the focus these nations have given to getting their populations educated, whether in their own universities, or ours, has been expressed in terms of national budget priorities, and an unrelenting focus on the importance of education to the economic future of their countries.

Pointing out these challenges is easy. Describing actions to bring that "unrelenting focus" to Kentucky is a task that I welcome. The question is what can we do, as advocates, as professionals, and as teachers to help our Commonwealth and its children secure the education they will need to enjoy a quality of life we desire for all our citizens?

Start with this: accept the notion that every member of the faculty of our two and four year institutions can play an instrumental role in increasing the numbers of students from all walks of life who successfully matriculate through the system, and graduate with a degree in a timely manner.

• First, we must make sure that our system of postsecondary education is accessible to every citizen who has the desire and ability to succeed. This means assuring anyone with the motivation to seek postsecondary education can do so without regard to their personal income. From our first generation students, to our citizens of color, to our returning adults, each needs to have access to a high quality postsecondary education, whether it be a certification in welding, a bachelor’s degree in teacher education, or a post-doctoral degree in physics.

• We have to be continually innovative in the way we offer our programs and deliver our courses to meet the changing needs of an increasingly diverse student population. We’ve got to do a better job providing outreach and support for high school guidance counselors, and their students, who need our support in transitioning into postsecondary education. And we need to provide more timely, informed and available advising for students seeking to transfer from KCTCS into any of the baccalaureate campuses in our state, and for adults seeking to complete a degree that may have been started years before, but interrupted by circumstance.

• We must commit ourselves to improving the quality and rigor of every course offering on every campus. Are we setting high expectations for our students, in their writing, their research, their capacity to demonstrate deep understanding of subject matter, or are we simply testing memorization of facts discussed in textbooks and lecture notes that have not been changed for years? Are we preparing our students for the new demands of a global economy? Are we approaching our courses as simple collections of subject matter content, or as tools to teach critical analysis and thinking, and developing the capacity to solve complex, multi dimensional, and multi disciplinary problems?

• We need to expand our connections with our P-12 colleagues and renew our commitment to quality teacher preparation, and to keeping K-12 teachers engaged as scholars throughout their careers. More than anyone in our State, you know that too many of our incoming freshmen are not ready for postsecondary work. Too many arrive on our campuses in need of remediation. Students, who in high school were receiving A’s and B’s, suddenly find themselves unable to perform college level work. Embarrassed, frustrated and confused, they often drop out. Slightly more than a quarter of the students who come to us earn a degree in four years, and fewer than half earn a degree in six years.

• Fortunately, the legislature just passed Senate Bill 1. The bill specifically calls on us to work directly with our K-12 educators to align their standards to levels of knowledge and performance expected of college freshmen at our campuses. To fulfill this responsibility we will also participate in providing professional development to our current corps of teachers, preparing them to teach to these new standards. And, as Marc Tucker suggested earlier today, we need to ensure that teaching becomes attractive to our best, brightest, and most committed students and then recruit them into the teaching profession.

You will make the difference in our success in all these areas. This mission to ignite the "relentless focus" that will be central to our capacity to improve the lives of Kentucky’s people is highly dependent on your commitment. Achieving a highly educated population and a stronger system of postsecondary education will not be accomplished in the halls of the capitol in Frankfort or in the meetings rooms at CPE. It will not happen in the offices of your presidents, or the board rooms on your campuses. It will happen in the classrooms, and in the thousands of personal interactions you have with your students, and in the inspiration you provide through your guidance and teaching. Thank you.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

In Memorial

The human race has one really effective weapon,
and that is laughter.
-- Mark Twain

Friday, May 22, 2009

Maner Wins Fayette Sex Abuse Case on Appeal

KSN&C Backstory:

This from the Herald-Leader,

Appellate court upholds verdict

against Fayette schools

in sex-abuse lawsuit

The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed Friday that the Fayette County Board of Education must award Carol Lynne Maner $3.7 million in her high-profile sex-abuse lawsuit against the district.

In 2007, a Fayette Circuit Court jury found that school officials in the late 1970s and early 1980s ignored allegations that Maner was sexually abused by four teachers, a guidance counselor and an assistant principal at Beaumont Junior High School and Lafayette High School. The jury's verdict is one of the largest awarded in Fayette County.

The school board had appealed the trial court's decision.

Maner said the appellate court's decision to uphold the 2007 verdict sends a message to school systems that "there's a problem, that this kind of thing happens, and they're not untouchable anymore." ...

In its appeal, the school board basically contended that the trial court had erred in failing to rule that the statute of limitations in the case had run out. But the appeals court rejected that argument.

Maner sued the district in 2003 on a civil rights claim and the Title IX Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions. She says she was essentially denied her right to an education and subsequently slid into depression and drug addiction from the alleged abuse...

Why Kids Learn Robotics

Former Fletcher Administration Healthcare Honcho Mark Birdwhistell is back in the saddle at UK and last week he joined the blogosphere.

As a fan of Battlebots, his first post reminded me that there is much more to student robotics competitions than just fun and games.

This past February, 18 students from Dunbar and Henry Clay high schools became members of the first high school team from Central Kentucky ever to participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition, which is sponsored by Dean Kamen, inventor of the futuristic Segway scooter. Why?

Well, the Jetsons may be history but Rosie the Robot is very much in UK's future.

Mark writes,
One of the most interesting changes that I have witnessed in the UK health system are the robots that travel back and forth between the Chandler Hospital and the Kentucky Clinic transporting lab specimens between these locations. I enjoy watching the astonished patients and their families observe these Robots for the very first time. It is not unusual to see families using their cell phone cameras to take pictures of these fascinating pieces of modern technology! I can't help but have flashbacks to the Candid Camera episodes that I watched when I was growing up in Lawrenceburg Kentucky in the 1960's. In this case, these are not pranks like I witnessed on the black and white TV show, but rather an example of how UK Healthcare is using modern technology to advance health care for Kentuckians.

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Mark.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's been Two Decades. Anybody Up for a Radical Restructuring of Kentucky's School System?

That's what we've been talking about (among other things) for the past two days at the CPE's annual conference in Lexington.

The Kentucky Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning merged with the Teacher Quality Summit to offer college faculty and administrators a forum to examine topics related to K-12, adult, and postsecondary education. The 9th annual conference was jointly sponsored by the Council on Postsecondary Education, Kentucky's public postsecondary institutions, and the Kentucky Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Aside from the usual presentations, panel discussions, and poster sessions the participants heard from new CPE head Robert King at dinner and Marc S. Tucker, author of the report Tough Choices or Tough Times at lunch. (Photo: Robert King)

King, a former budget director to New York Governor George Pataki (R) and former SUNY Chancellor has been on the job in Kentucky for four months now. King's invitation to Tucker may have shed some light on the direction he wants Kentucky to go.

His old boss, Pataki, came under fire for politicizing public education in New York. According to the Village Voice, Pataki brought "a dramatic shift in mission and tone."
A Republican elected on a small-government platform, Pataki has slowly but markedly moved the university away from its stated mission of access and affordability and shaped it along the lines of his free-market, lower-taxes philosophy. Its deepening relationship with the corporate sector is only one example of the changes.."
Would King do the same in Kentucky?

Marc Tucker is President and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy, a leader in the movement for standards-based school reform in the United States. Tucker authored the 1986 Carnegie Report, A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century, which called for a restructuring of America’s schools based on standards.

CPE says,
Although Kentucky has made measurable progress since passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) of 1990 and the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, we still have a long way to go to be considered among the best educational systems in the world. While Kentucky continues to be innovative in teaching and learning, the stakes are higher now, and the system is losing ground in a number of important areas. This is compounded by an economic downturn of severe proportions that calls for a new educational reform framework.
Tucker presented a compelling set of ideas on how America might maintain it's (slipping) standing among world nations through a radical restructuring of the whole system of schooling.

Among its problems, however, is that it directly attacks "the system" for a cure and a whole host of sacred cows like, the Carnegie Unit, the graded structure that under girds high school athletics, teacher pay, early childhood education, local school boards, social promotion, teacher qualifications, graduation ...and those are the ones off the top of my head.

Senior Fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution and President of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Chester E. Finn Jr. called Tucker's report a “penetrating, scary analysis" with "astute, far-reaching recommendations [that] amount to A Nation at Risk for the next generation. "...a brave, clear call for top-to-bottom reforms in U.S. education. While overturning plenty of creaky applecarts, Tough Choices sketches a bold and efficient new vehicle for equipping 21st century Americans with the skills and knowledge they will need—and that the nation needs.”

The recommendations include:

S T E P 1 : Assume that we will do the job right the first time and get students are ready for college — really ready for college — when they are 16 years old.

S T E P 2 : Make much more efficient use of the available resources. The changes will save $60 billion nationally.

S T E P 3 : Recruit from the top third of the high school graduates going on to college for the next generation of school teachers.

S T E P 4 : Develop standards, assessments, and curriculum that reflect today’s needs and
tomorrow’s requirements.

S T E P 5 : Create high performance schools and districts everywhere — how the system
should be governed, financed, organized, and managed.

STEP 6: Provide high-quality, universal early childhood education.

S T E P 7 : Give strong support to the students who need it the most.

S T E P 8 : Enable every member of the adult workforce to get the new literacy skills.

S T E P 9 : Create personal competitiveness accounts — a GI Bill for our times.

S T E P 10 : Create regional competitiveness authorities to make America competitive.

This righty-approach challenges us to look at better ways to do schooling, but it's going to take legislators with political death wishes and balls the size of Alpha Centauri to get it done in Kentucky.
According to Mission Measurement, six states - Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Utah, Arizona, Delaware, and New Mexico – have committed to the “Tough Choices or Tough Times” education reform agenda so far.
Writing for the Tom Mooney Institute for Teacher and Union Leadership, Mark Simon argues that the plan gets several things right - brightest teachers; current accountability measures are failing; reality of social inequities; need for expanded pre-school - but that it makes some unsubstantiated leaps. Simon says,

What we need is not a new system based on flawed assumptions about the efficacy of the private marketplace, but a system guided by the wisdom of educators. In the past decade, the voice of teachers has been absent. That fact speaks volumes about the theory of change – the strategy – of the reformers. Reforms that also dis-empower the key actors, teachers, have bred cynicism, and have failed to unleash the creative energy of the profession.

The key "Tough Choices" prescriptions take us in the wrong direction. They essentially sidestep the issue of how to get us better teaching and learning to world class standards, because, at their core, they are not about improving the quality of teaching and learning in our schools. They focus instead on who should administer public education.

Shannon T. Hodge reviewing for the Harvard Education Review expressed serious concerns for higher education under the plan.
While the report focuses on preK–12 issues, the commission’s recommendations place heavy demands on institutions of higher education, which would need to make substantial changes in the way they operate to align with restructured high schools. The commission itself notes, “The sea changes we propose in higher education will not happen unless the higher education community is deeply involved in the discussion” (p. 48). However, while the commission demands much from colleges and universities, Tough Choices or Tough Times fails to engage thoughtfully with the challenges currently confronting postsecondary institutions, such as access, accountability, cost, quality, and student success.
Hodge points out similarities and differences with the Spellings Commission report and recommends that policy makers take care "to explore whether the ambitious high school plan is feasible and actionable, given the challenges facing postsecondary institutions."
Given both the criticism of the report and the lack of enthusiastic support from key players such as state education boards and teachers unions (see, e.g., McNeil, 2007; National Education Association, 2006; Ravitch, 2007), worth serious consideration is whether these recommendations are even desirable, much less attainable, or whether they merely serve a symbolic function. For example, the report’s recommendation to restructure high schools clearly responds to existing problems with secondary schools and the transition to college, but its heavy reliance on a shift in postsecondary education without any discussion of what it will take to get there reveals a substantial weakness.
As a provocative conversation starter Tough Choices or Tough Times is terrific. As a policy, it lacks a strong constituency and far too many details regarding implementation to be a serious proposal. For that to change, there's going to have to be a lot of conversation that includes the very stakeholders Tough Choices seems to dismiss - teachers and community leaders.
In 2007 AFT President Randi Weingarten sat beside Tucker and expressed teachers union objections to privatization as a solution and Tough Choices' plan to pay teachers more - but at the expense of retirement pensions - which she calls a false choice. (Video at Celebration of Teaching and Learning from 13/WNET, WLIW21 )
Back at the CPE conference, King followed Tucker with a keynote that underscored the need for American education to hop up off its laurels and expand advanced educational opportunities once again.
Access to higher education in America since the civil war a was truly an anomaly in the world. While attendance at a university in Europe and Asia had historically been reserved for the sons of wealthy or politically connected families, the United States had chosen a different path expanding access to anyone with the intellectual talent and determination to seek a college education.
There is broad agreement that America's economic prowess was directly related to the expansion of high schools in the early twentieth century and a higher education system that was the envy of the world. But not any more. In fact the world was so envious, that many nations went out and surpassed America in the number of its citizens with advanced degrees. In India, for example, it is commonplace for a family to spend 50% of their worth educating their children. This has implications for America's future economic competitiveness.

King's data supported the direct relationship between America's educational success and its economic success as measured by Gross Domestic Product from 1820 to 1994. His presentation was compelling and important but would be strengthened if he would drop the old-school pretense that running a PowerPoint slideshow is difficult to master, while exhorting Kentucky's students to higher standards. It undermines the message.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sacrificing no one

This from C-J:

On the one hand, it's discouraging that "hundreds seek change in school assignments," as a recent headline put it.

On the other hand, as Jefferson County Public Schools student assignment director Pat Todd observed, "Out of 12,000 applications, we had about 850 inquiries" that referred to attending different schools. That's a relatively small number, given the great sensitivity of such issues. Few things, if any, move parents as powerfully as
the safety and success of their children, and both can be at issue in the assignment of a youngster to a particular location.

Overall, the JCPS administration has made a success of redoing student assignment, to overcome the wrongheaded objections of a U.S. Supreme Court majority. If there is any justice, the new plan will pass legal muster, and this community will be able to pursue its goal of preparing the next generation of local graduates, emphasizing academic achievement across a system that is diverse and demanding.

By approving the student assignment plan unanimously, the board placed its confidence in the school system to do all that's possible for every single student. Principals, teachers, staff and administrators absolutely must take seriously the concerns of parents, like Gina Gatti, who "understand the logic of student assignment" but fear their child "is being sacrificed."

It's up to our public educators, from Superintendent Sheldon Berman on down, to make sure that no student is sacrificed— that every youngster's needs are recognized and each one's opportunities are maximized. And Ms. Gatti also may find reassurance in this truth: Nothing predicts student success as reliably as parental concern and involvement.

JCPS officials should do everything they can to answer the questions and concerns of parents such as Ms. Gatti. They are predictable and legitimate. However, Mr. Berman's goal is the right one — quality in every school, opportunity in every classroom, commitment to every child.

There's a false sense of security in a school system that only puts students in seats next to those who come from the same kinds of homes and share the same benefits or deficits of history. A system that ghettoizes achievement — racially, socially, economically or on any other basis — would sacrifice the future of our whole community.

Do College Rankings Belong on the Sports Pages?

This from The Chronicle: Daily News Blog:

Washington — College rankings may not be to blame for the decline in the quality of higher education in the United States, but they are doing little, if anything, to help. That was the nearly unanimous consensus of a panel of speakers from across the ideological spectrum who gathered here today at the American Enterprise Institute to discuss how the nation assesses the performance of its colleges.

Speakers suggested a variety of alternative approaches, including Europe’s lead in setting learning-outcome standards for universities in more than 40 countries and the Canadian example of letting students set up their own college rankings systems.

Popular rankings of colleges, such as those by U.S. News & World Report, are principally entertainment and belong on the sports pages, said Clifford Adelman, a senior associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Instead of worrying about superficial measures of performance, he said, American colleges need to harmonize degree cycles and university systems in the same way that many European countries are doing through the Bologna Process...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


This from Jeff Danziger in Slate:

Quick Hits

Ky.'s graduation, dropout rates increased in 2008: More Kentucky high school students graduated last year, but dropout rates increased slightly, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.High school graduation rates increased from 83.72 percent in 2007 to 84.52 in 2008, according to a news release from the department.The overall high school dropout rate increased from 3.17 percent in 2007 to 3.3 percent in 2008, according to the release. In grades 9 through 12, 314 more students dropped out in 2008 than in 2007. Dropout rates for nearly all ethnic groups rose from 2007 to 2008. Native American and black students had the highest dropout increases at 1.83 percent and 1.37 percent, respectively. (H-L)

Do College Rankings Belong on the Sports Pages?: College rankings may not be to blame for the decline in the quality of higher education in the United States, but they are doing little, if anything, to help. That was the nearly unanimous consensus of a panel of speakers from across the ideological spectrum who gathered here today at the American Enterprise Institute to discuss how the nation assesses the performance of its colleges...Popular rankings of colleges, such as those by U.S. News & World Report, are principally entertainment and belong on the sports pages, said Clifford Adelman, a senior associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Instead of worrying about superficial measures of performance, he said, American colleges need to harmonize degree cycles and university systems in the same way that many European countries are doing through the Bologna Process. (The Chronicle)

Former Florida A&M Student Gets Prison Term in Grade-Changing Case: A former Florida A&M University student was sentenced Monday to 22 months in prison in a case involving unauthorized changes to grades and other student records at the university, the Tallahassee Democrat reported, citing information from the U.S. attorney’s office. The former student, Lawrence Secrease, pleaded guilty to charges that included aggravated identity theft, unauthorized access of a protected computer, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his part in a scheme that involved grade changes for about 90 students, prosecutors said. Mr. Secrease and two co-defendants also changed the residency status for some out-of-state students to in-state, reducing tuition revenue to the university by thousands of dollars, the prosecutors said. (The Chronicle: Daily News Blog)

Pool of teachers being depleted: Even with thousands of teachers statewide facing layoffs, recruitment experts are warning of an impending teacher shortage. (San Diego Union-Tribune by way of EdNewsDaily)

Report: Discipline Methods Endanger Disabled Kids: In a large number of schools, children — particularly those in special education classes — are being disciplined in potentially dangerous ways, a Government Accountability Office report finds. Some children have died or been injured after having been restrained by adults or locked in secluded rooms. (NPR)

President Obama's Visit to Notre Dame Carries Barely a Hint of Controversy That Preceded It: Hecklers briefly interrupted President Obama’s much-anticipated commencement address this afternoon at the University of Notre Dame, but they were quickly shouted down as the crowd filling the Joyce Center on the Indiana campus booed them and chanted “We are ND.” (The Chronicle of Higher Ed)

The Real Scandal at Notre Dame: Religious vigilantism poses a danger to Catholic colleges, writes Patricia McGuire. Hearing from the president of the United States does not. (Inside Higher Ed)

Hiring Scandal Escalates at North Carolina State: The president of the University of North Carolina System and the chancellor of North Carolina State University have called on Mary Easley, wife of the former governor, to resign from a position at North Carolina State that has come to be seen as political patronage, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Easley was hired to direct a speakers series, but was given additional duties and a five-year, $850,000 contract during a period of budget constraints at the university. The controversy has already led to the resignation of the university's provost and of the a university trustee. Easley has not indicated if she will quit. (Inside Higher Ed)

Secretary Duncan Urges "States to Act Now" and Submit Stimulus Fund Applications: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today urged states to submit applications for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds as quickly as possible, saying teaching jobs are at risk and reforms must move forward. "We have an urgent need to reform our schools and prevent teacher layoffs," said Duncan. "The Department is turning around applications within nine days on average. States that have not yet applied need to do so now." (U.S. Department of Education)

Spotlight Focuses on D.C. Vouchers: For such a small program, the private-school-voucher initiative for the District of Columbia has been getting an awful lot of attention lately.
One of its longtime champions, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., convened a May 13 hearing during which he made the case for extending the life of the federally funded program, which President Barack Obama recently proposed to phase out. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, established as a five-year pilot in 2004, now serves some 1,600 low-income students in Washington. The program has become a focal point of debate nationally between voucher supporters and opponents. (Ed Week)

Home-Schoolers Rally: Hundreds of home-schoolers descended on the Missouri Capitol on May 14 to protest a measure that would require students to earn 16 credits before they can drop out of high school. (Education Week)

Report Highlights Risks of Teacher Merit Pay: Teacher merit-pay plans may be growing in popularity with politicians, but a new report finds such programs are less widespread in the private sector than might be expected, and often bring unintended negative consequences. (Education Week)

N.C. School District to Replace Laid-Off Teachers With Novices: Some experienced teachers being laid off in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., district will be replaced with 100 new Teach For America recruits. (Education Week)

Psst! Need the Answer to No. 7? Click Here: As Web sites are transforming the way undergraduates study, some wonder whether they encourage cheating and undermine learning. NY Times)

Something Gingrich, Sharpton Can Agree On: Close Education Achievement Gap: Politics often produces strange bedfellows. But yesterday, on the 55th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that integrated the nation's schools, when former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich shared the stage at a boisterous rally in front of the White House. (Washington Post)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Student Accused Of Attack At School

This from WKYT; (video):
Georgetown Police are investigating an end of the school day attack.

A seventh grader at Scott County Middle school reportedly went on a rampage with scissors through the middle school hallway. Police say the student chased a teacher through the hallway with the scissors in a attempt to injure them, but instead ended up slashing another student.

The attacker was immediately subdued by school authorities, the injured student was treated for what are being called minor injuries.

Georgetown Police are now investigating to learn exactly what set off the student.
It's likely the child will be charged with wanton endangerment and assault.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quick Hits

Detroit education reforms may draw federal support: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is promising federal support for the struggling Detroit school system if leaders implement needed reforms; he urges officials to learn from cities such as Chicago that have improved through education reform. "I think Detroit is ground zero" for U.S. school reforms, Duncan said. "Detroit is New Orleans two years ago without Hurricane Katrina, and I feel a tremendous sense of both urgency and outrage." (Google - AP)

N.C. district to hire Teach for America grads while laying off own staff: Schools in the Charlotte, N.C., area are sending layoff notices to more than 400 veteran teachers based mostly on their job performance, and plan to hire 100 Teach for America educators for the next school year. "I think it is a slap in the faces of the ones who are going to be losing their jobs. It's more or less telling them, 'We don't give a flip about you,' " said Mary McCray, president of the district's teachers union. (The Charlotte Observer)

Does passion plus knowledge equal learning?: While rote learning quickly fades from students' memories, students who are excited about a subject may learn lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime, members of the Teacher Leaders Network said in a recent discussion. Teachers also must be passionate about student learning and the subjects they teach to be positive role models for students, others said. (Teacher Magazine)

Duncan: Schools will be rewarded for innovation: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's $5 billion in discretionary funds, to be granted in fall 2009 and summer 2010, are meant to help encourage education reform and innovation. The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund is for grants to states making the most progress. "States that are simply investing in the status quo will put themselves at a tremendous competitive disadvantage for getting those additional funds," Duncan said. "I can't emphasize strongly enough how important it is for states and districts to think very creatively." (The Washington Post)

Indiana enacts law protecting teachers from lawsuits: Indiana teachers were granted qualified immunity from lawsuits stemming from how they discipline students, under a law signed Monday by Gov. Mitch Daniels. Teachers who act reasonably to discipline students or break up fights need no longer fear legal retribution, Daniels said of the law, which also sets requirements for more extensive criminal background checks for teachers and other school employees. (The Indianapolis Star)

Congressional hearings may display geographic, racial split on vouchers: Young black and urban lawmakers increasingly are moving away from teachers unions that object to vouchers, saying private schools can offer an important alternative to disadvantaged children in troubled school systems. Such Democratic legislators "see that what's happening to our kids in these schools just is unacceptable -- we need to look at all options," says former Washington, D.C., Councilman Kevin Chavous, who supports vouchers. (USA TODAY)

More adults seeking GEDs after layoffs: Many laid-off adults who dropped out of high school decades ago are heading to GED classes and basic literacy programs to improve their job prospects. A Knoxville, Tenn., literacy program received more inquiries in March than it had in almost all of 2007 and 2008. (National Public Radio)

Novice teacher, 68, finds teaching more challenging than expected: Former engineer Norval Broome, who adopted teaching as his third career a few years ago, says his biggest challenge is getting his students in Suffolk, Va., to care about math lessons. However, Broome sees small victories when his high-school students perform well on tests or understand the concepts he teaches. (The Virginian-Pilot)

Exit exams may keep thousands of Florida students from graduating: Nearly 5,600 Florida students who have not passed state reading and math tests may not graduate from high school this year. Last year's cuts to the state education budget eliminated test retake dates that typically are scheduled in the summer. (The Miami Herald)

California teacher defends controversial classroom methods: High-school history teacher James Corbett -- a 36-year classroom veteran who a California judge recently said violated the First Amendment for calling creationism "religious, superstitious nonsense" -- says he didn't do anything wrong and won't change his provocative teaching methods, which he says encourage students to think critically. The 2007 lawsuit filed by a former student triggered death threats, he says, but also an outpouring of support from hundreds of former students. "As a teacher, you get toward the end of your career and you never know if you've really made a difference," Corbett says. "I learned what most teachers will never know -- I made a difference to an enormous number of people." (The Orange County Register)

Report: Incidents of violence decreasing at U.S. schools: The amount of school violence has been decreasing for several years, although bullying and gangs continue to be a problem, according to a federal report on crime in schools. "A lot of attention has been given to programs against bullying, taking a whole-school approach to this, and when they work well, they change the attitude that kids have toward their school," said Lynn Addington, an American University associate professor of public affairs and an expert on school violence. (The Washington Post)

Angry parents seek school assignment transfers

"He'll never set foot in that school"

--Parent Scott Burba whose kindergartner was assigned
to a lower-performing school for first grade.

This from Toni Konz at C-J:

Angry parents questioning
JCPS placement of elementary students

Jefferson County's new student-assignment plan is prompting hundreds of angry parents to ask for transfers because their child is being sent to a different elementary
than they requested.

A week after notices were sent out for roughly 12,000 incoming kindergartners and first-graders, officials with Jefferson County Public Schools are being assailed with hundreds of calls and transfer requests from parents questioning their assigned schools.

By noon Friday, more than 250 parents had called the district and 600 had filed transfer requests, and officials expect more this week.

Some parents are complaining that their children are being sent across the county when there's a school near their home...
And this from C-J:

School board approves plan on integration

Elementary parents complain

Despite vocal opposition, the Jefferson County Board of Education last night approved the final piece of its new, more diverse school-integration plan, capping a two-year effort to replace a desegregation policy that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down because it relied too heavily on race.

But the approval of middle school and high school boundaries and program changes came as angry parents descended on the meeting to complain about the district's elementary school plan, which was approved last year and is being enacted this fall.

Upset about student assignments for next year, they complained that their children were being sent to more distant or lower-performing schools when better schools were nearby. Some even vowed to leave the school system rather than send their children on long bus rides...

School News from Around Kentucky

Madison County eliminates 32 teaching jobs: The Madison County School District has eliminated 32 certified teaching positions to prepare for a budget shortfall for the 2009-2010 school year.Aside from the 32 eliminated teaching positions (two of which are teachers who are retiring and will not be replaced), 12 teachers were transferred to different schools, with some being assigned to teach in areas that differ from their former subject. (Richmond Register)

State has few options in dealing with budget hole: Gov. Steve Beshear said Wednesday he will wait for a revenue forecast from the Consensus Forecasting Group before making any decision on calling a special session. (Commonwealth Journal)

Rowan County Plan would split Siblings: McBrayer Elementary students whose siblings have not yet enrolled in school will be allowed to attend school at McBrayer, school officials said.The Rowan County Board of Education had proposed to change district lines. As a result, those siblings would have to enroll at Clearfield Elementary. There are 77 more students than there is room for at McBrayer. Ninety students who are enrolled at McBrayer do not live in the McBrayer district. (Morehead News)

Auburn & S. Oldham Named Middle Schools to Watch: Seventy-nine exemplary middle-grades schools in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia have been named “Schools to Watch” as part of an eighteen state recognition and school improvement program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. Having established partnerships with education leaders in these states, the Forum today announced the names of schools in each state that meet its strict criteria. In Kentucky: Auburn School – Auburn, KY; South Oldham Middle School - Crestwood, KY (Center for Middle School Academic Achievement)
Legislators accuse KHSAA of acting 'above the law' on athlete transfers: Lawmakers faced off with Kentucky High School Athletic Association officials Tuesday, saying the KHSAA had made decisions that were not good for Kentucky's children and had acted as if the agency is above the law. The issue that riled several members of the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee was KHSAA's policy of penalizing or threatening to punish schools that follow a circuit judge's order against a KHSAA ruling. (H-L)
Board of Education, KHSAA agree to policy change: Under pressure from lawmakers, the Kentucky Board of Education agreed Wednesday to change a controversial KHSAA policy regarding court orders. The move means that high school officials no longer have to be afraid of penalties or warnings from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association when they allow athletes to compete because of a judge's order. (H-L)
OpEd - State's view change not proper one: It won’t be a total disaster. Attendance will probably not be as bad as local officials fear. But the state Department of Education’s decision to change an initial decision reached last May is a slap in the face to local board members. By virtue of an April 24 decision, Bullitt County public school students will be in the classrooms on June 3. This is one more day than the amended calendar called for after wind and ice storms. Faced with possibly losing $400,000 in state funding, school officials had to agree. (Pioneer News)

House approves $6.4 billion, Chandler bill for green schools

This from H-L:

WASHINGTON -- The House on Thursday passed a multiyear school construction bill with the ambitious goals of producing hundreds of thousands of jobs, reducing energy consumption and creating healthier, cleaner environments for the nation's schoolchildren.

Opponents, almost all Republicans, objected to the cost associated with the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act. The cost would be $6.4 billion in the first year with similar outlays approved over the next five years.

It passed 275-155, and now goes to the Senate, which did not act after the House passed similar legislation last year.

The situation has changed this year. While then-President George W. Bush threatened to veto the measure, objecting to a costly new school construction program, President Barack Obama made school improvement projects an element of his economic stimulus initiative.

"It will give much needed money to our schools struggling with huge budget deficits and deteriorating facilities while encouraging energy efficency and creating jobs for Americans that cannot be shipped overseas," said Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky., sponsor of the legislation...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – At its retreat today, the Kentucky Board of Education selected Kevin Noland to serve as interim education commissioner. Noland will serve during the time between the departure of current Interim Education Commissioner Elaine Farris and the selection of a permanent commissioner.

The board is in the midst of the search process for a new commissioner, and Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc., of Florida is conducting the search. The timeline will culminate with the hiring of a new commissioner in August.

Farris, who has served as interim commissioner since the retirement of Education Commissioner Jon Draud in December 2008, has accepted the position of superintendent of the Clark County school district. She will begin her new duties on July 1.

Noland retired from the Kentucky Department of Education in 2008. He served as legal counsel, associate commissioner and deputy commissioner during his employment. Noland also served as interim commissioner three times previously.

Details, including salary and benefits, of Noland’s employment have not yet been finalized.
The board also took action on two additional items during its retreat:
· agreed to move school council authority at Two Rivers Middle School in the Covington Independent school district to the superintendent of the district
· gave approval to 703 KAR 5:080 (emergency and ordinary versions) to implement revisions required by Senate Bill 1
· agreed to insert language in the Kentucky High School Athletics Association’s Bylaw 33 that would prevent a member school, student, coach or administrator from being punished or sanctioned if a student is allowed to play in an athletic contest or practice with a team if a court order permits the student to do so

The board’s next regular meeting is June 10-11 in Frankfort.

SOURCE: KDE press release