Saturday, October 31, 2009

Former Male Principal repeatedly investigated for inappropriate conduct

This from Adam Walser at WHAS-TV by way of KSBA:

New allegations arise about Male High principal's past
WHAS11 has learned that Jefferson County Public Schools reprimanded David Wilson more than three years before recent serious incidents led to his early retirement.

We got a tip from a Male High School employee that Wilson had been repeatedly investigated for inappropriate conduct while serving as principal.

So we asked for records involving prior disciplinary action and we discovered a long account of an incident more than 3 years ago in which administrators say Wilson’s actions put students’ lives and the school district’s security at risk.

The faded pictures from a disposable camera show evidence of what looks like a school prank. Books are scattered and furniture is stacked into a pyramid but the prank that took place at Male High School in May 2006 was different.

According to the investigation report, Principal David Wilson was one of its masterminds.

“We’d never had a principal that had helped assist in a senior prank that could have potentially turned out to be so dangerous,” said JCPS Spokesperson Lauren Roberts.

According to investigators, Wilson met with students and encouraged them to break into the building.

He even promised that if they were caught by police, he would get them out of trouble and handle the situation.

Wilson also advised students to prank the band tower, told them how to climb onto the roof and to encouraged them to target the library.

“Mr. Wilson had informed the students how they could get into the school after hours as well as how to compromise the security system,” said Roberts.

On the night of the prank, students broke in through a window left unlocked and pulled hundreds of books off the library shelves as well as risked life and limb vandalizing other parts of campus.

According to one student, Mr. Wilson later congratulated her, saying “I have one word for you, “bravo.””

But Mr. Wilson didn’t have much at all to say to us.

Wilson announced his sudden retirement a month ago after allegedly showing teachers security footage of students having sex in the cafeteria and after complaints were lodged against him accusing him drinking on the job, making vulgar comments and violating other board policies.

“We tried for a period of time to continue to work with Mr. Wilson on these issues,”
said Roberts. “I guess if it had worked, we would not be at the point where we are now.”

Wilson has served the Jefferson County Public School District since 1978 and was named principal of Male High School in 2000.

Quick Hits

Federal data shows a third of states lowered achievement standards: Many states lowered their standards on state math or reading tests from 2005 to 2007, according to data compiled by the Department of Education. While a number of states adopted stricter standards during the same time period, "overall, standards were more likely to be lower than higher," a department official said. No Child Left Behind requires states to show by 2014 that 100% of their students are proficient on state math and reading tests or face sanctions. "Clearly what a lot of states are doing is changing the bar so that a lot more students will become proficient," a researcher said. (The New York Times), (Education Week)

Research: Many top-tier students opt out of STEM studies: The number of students studying science, technology, engineering and math remains strong among all groups except for a growing percentage of top performers, according to a new study financed by a philanthropy. The study results call into question the belief that students are not choosing STEM careers because they are underprepared or short on talent. Researchers theorized that top-tier students might be lured away from STEM careers by other higher-paying jobs or by jobs in fields such as information technology that require STEM skills but are not classified as STEM fields. (Education Week)

Co-founder of Google advocates for technology in schools: Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who dropped out of high school before helping form the successful company, says today's schools should be equipped with the most modern digital technology and that high-school curricula should better reflect real-world issues. At a conference on learning and technology, Brin also advocated for a switch to digital textbooks and for students to serve as teachers of technology -- to younger students and in the community -- to better help them learn. (Los Angeles Times/Technology blog)

Hundreds of schools close nationwide over H1N1 virus: About 600 schools nationwide have closed at some point this year -- more than 350 across 19 states last week alone -- because of the H1N1 flu virus. While the federal government has urged school closings to be a last resort, many school officials have expressed concerns over the tendency of the virus to spread so quickly in the school setting. They have said shutting the schools during outbreaks prevents further illness from students coming to school when they are sick. (Google)

More schools are looking at departmentalizing at elementary level: The pressure for schools to post higher scores on standardized subject tests is resulting in a growing push to departmentalize -- or platoon -- instruction for students as young as 6 years old. While the practice of having students change classes to receive instruction from subject specialists is typical in middle school and high school, students in elementary school are typically taught by generalists under the assumption that they benefit more from the stability of staying in one classroom. (Harvard Education Letter)

Denver schools are under fire over turnaround strategies: As it considers adopting strict turnaround strategies recommended under federal reform guidelines, the Denver school district is increasingly under fire from parents, board members and the community. Although it has not presented its final recommendations, district officials have said they are looking at the possibility of removing staff and principals at three schools, scrutinizing three low-performing charter schools as well as closing some programs, including a popular middle-school International Baccalaureate program. (The Denver Post)

Religious signs at football games are subject of debate in Ga. town: At high-school football games in one Georgia town, members of the community are testing the district's boundaries when it comes to the separation between church and state. The local school district recently banned cheerleaders on the field from displaying signs containing religious phrases at football games. Townspeople who disagree with the decision have turned out in full force with religious signs of their own. (The New York Times)

Grant provides boost to art, music efforts in Boston schools: District officials in Boston say they are closer to having weekly arts and music instruction in all elementary and middle schools by 2012, thanks in part to a $750,000 grant from the Wallace Foundation, which supports expanding art and music programs in schools nationwide. The district launched a major fundraising effort this year after reports that budget cuts had led to many schools not meeting standards for music and art instruction. (The Boston Globe)

Des Moines schools may offer alternative diploma to lower dropout rate: District officials in Des Moines, Iowa, are considering a proposal to offer an alternative high-school diploma that requires fewer credits earned for students to graduate -- part of an effort to reduce the district's rising dropout rates. Many school districts nationwide have raised the number of credits needed for graduation and have also adopted similar strategies to help stem dropout rates, including modifying graduation requirements, offering alternative diplomas and providing online courses and extra support for students who fall behind in credits. (The Des Moines Register)

Turnover in principalship focus of research

This from Education Week by way of KSBA:

...Data available from a handful of states suggest that only about half of beginning principals remain in the same job five years later, and that many leave the principalship altogether when they go.

“I talk to a lot of principals, and it’s becoming more and more rare that you’ll have a principal stay at a school for 15 or 20 years,” Ms. Gillespie said. “Now, you stay three to five years, and you either move to another school or go to the central office. I think it is a problem.”

Whether this apparent churn in the principal’s office signals a problem, progress, or business as usual seems to be a matter for debate, though.

Among tthose who see the turnover as worrisome is University of Texas researcher Ed J. Fuller, who with his colleague Michelle D. Young published new data this month on the retention rates of newly hired principals in Texas.

“We think the job has outgrown the ability of one person to handle it,” said Mr. Fuller, who is a special research associate for the University Council for Educational Administration, an international consortium of research institutions at the university’s main campus in Austin. “Nobody is staying long enough to make connections or shepherd a reform through,” he added.

But another researcher who has studied principals’ career patterns, Susan M. Gates, a senior economist for the Santa Monica, Calif.-based RAND Corp., is less bothered by the turnover she sees. If more principals are leaving schools now, she said, it could be because the nationwide movement to hold educators responsible for their students’ scores on tests is prompting districts and school boards to oust school leaders who are not producing results.

“If you put someone in the principalship and it just doesn’t work out, do you want to keep them there just because it’s good to have low turnover,” she said, “or do you want to get somebody in there who’s good at the job?” ...

BS from GS

...but no mention of what Kentucky really needs to help avoid this annual drama. Barring a political miracle - legislative leaders who actually want to solve long-standing revenue problems - Kentucky will still not have what it needs; a new tax code.

This from Speaker Stumbo in C-J:

Stumbo explains stance on 'rainy day' funds

As Gov. Steve Beshear and the General Assembly prepare for the upcoming legislative session, it is becoming increasingly clear that the state's two-year budget will be the most challenging Kentucky has faced since the Great Depression.

Federal stimulus dollars have helped significantly, but unless Congress provides additional funds, the stimulus dollars will run out by the budget's second year. Barring an economic miracle, there will be considerable budget gaps and no painless way to fill them.

We must also consider skyrocketing health insurance and retirement costs, increases in a Medicaid program that already covers a fifth of our population and the growing needs of our schools and universities. Each of these areas must be adequately funded if we hope to move forward as a state.

It was with this in mind that I discussed the possibility of using a portion of the surplus funds that are kept by our elementary and secondary schools for unplanned expenses and “rainy days.”

I want to make it clear that I do not believe these funds can be used for any programs or expenses outside of the school's district. In fact, as attorney general, I filed litigation to protect education dollars.

The surplus funds are a mixture of local and state dollars prudently set aside by the school districts for future needs and expenses. It would be patently unfair to “rob Peter to pay Paul,” but it may be time for Peter and Paul to help themselves more during these rainiest of days.

I believe all options need to be considered as we begin writing the state's budget in the next several months. If this is an unprecedented suggestion, it is because we are in unprecedented times.

In our current budget, kindergarten through high school accounts for more than 40 percent of our state tax dollars; when you add postsecondary schools, the figure for education jumps to 58 percent. Critical health and family services and the judicial and justice systems push the total over 90 percent.

Because so much of the state's budget goes to these areas, they are the ones most affected by cuts that have topped more than $1.5billion during the last two years. Additional cuts are expected to exceed a billion dollars in the upcoming two-year budget. Federal stimulus dollars have helped us balance our current budget, but these are one-time funds and not a permanent revenue source.

I have no doubt that we will find a way to live within our means, but it will not be easy. My goal is to continue protecting, if not increasing, school funding. Reducing money for education would have negative effects lasting for generations. School surplus funds may or may not be part of that equation, but if they can be a bridge to better days, it is an idea that at least deserves to be discussed.

School News from Around Kentucky

Mountjoy resigns education secretary post: Helen MountjoyKentucky Education Secretary Helen Mountjoy has resigned her position effective Nov. 30, citing a long commute from her home in Owensboro and a desire to spend more time with her family, Gov. Steve Beshear’s office announced Wednesday. Mountjoy will continue to serve as Beshear’s point person on the recently appointed Transforming Education in Kentucky (TEK) task force. (Bluegrass Politics)

Bill would protect funding for schools hit hard by flu: A proposal backed by Senate President David Williams that would keep flu outbreaks from affecting school district funding could be fast-tracked in the opening days of the legislative session that begins Jan. 5.
Although some school superintendents had not yet seen the bill, which Williams pre-filed on Friday, many said any move to keep the cash-strapped districts from losing money would be welcomed. (Bluegrass Politics)

Ex-teacher withdraws guilty plea - Former teacher withdraws guilty plea in Lynne Maner case: Former teacher Roberta Blackwell Walter on Friday withdrew her guilty plea stemming from an allegation that she raped and molested a 15-year-old Fayette County high school student more than 30 years ago. What followed was a fireworks show of how American jurisprudence works.Walter had reconsidered her guilty plea after Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael Jr. insisted on jail time despite a prosecutor's recommendation of probation. (Herald-Leader)

‘Celebration of a legacy’ - Jessamine Board honors Royse, dedicates East Middle: Herbert H. “Pete” Royse Jr. started helping build schools in Jessamine County in the 1960s when, as an assistant superintendent, he convinced the superintendent of the school board to buy more than 80 acres of land off Wilmore Road. Jessamine Junior High opened on the property in 1971 and later became East Jessamine Middle School — the first school Pete Royse built. Sunday afternoon, Jessamine County Schools honored Royse at the dedication of the new East Jessamine Middle School — the last school Pete Royse built. Royse died in May. (Jessamine Journal)

Electronic Lunch - New BGHS cell phone policy decreassing office referrals: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Check. Apple. Check. Chocolate milk. Check.iPhone. Check. There’s a new food group added to the lunch of Bowling Green High School that has drastically chewed into the number of office referrals caused by cell phones.The school has taken an unprecedented step in allowing students to brown bag their cell phones and MP3 players and use them during their 30-minute lunch period to offset the “need” to use them during class. (Bowling Green Daily News)

Stumbo’s budget suggestion doesn’t fly with Superintendent: At Thursday night’s meeting of the Trigg County Board of Education, Trigg County School Superintendent Tim McGinnis expressed his anger about comments that were recently made by Kentucky Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo. McGinnis told board members that Stumbo had stated that legislators might need to take money from the contingency funds of local school boards in order to balance the state’s budget. “I think it’s ridiculous, I think it’s absurd … it’s hard for me to comprehend [how anyone would] entertain that possibility,” McGinnis said. (Cadiz Record)

Parents voice viewing concerns: Some Scott County High School parents are trying to find out if showing R-rated movies in classrooms is breaking the law by contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The heated debate took place Thursday night in the school’s library regarding controversial movies between the Site Based Decision Making Council, parents and teachers. A concerned mother of five, Karen Roark, said she does not agree with the movies shown in class and received information from an e-mail stating that showing the R-rated movies to students under 17 may be against the law...However, some teachers asserted the movies they show, regardless of their rating, are for educational use only. “The Holocaust was not G-rated,” English teacher Lynn Fiechter said. (News Graphic by way of KSBA)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thriller 2009

Holiday at EKU

We got 99% highly qualified teachers in Kentucky.
But why is it we've still got high schools
that have
a 50% graduation rate?
--Terry Holliday

EKU student Jason Williams asks a question of Commissioner Terry Holliday.
In background left is Holliday's wife Denise chatting with

former Fayette County principal Judy Boggs,

now working with Ky Center on Instructional Discipline.

Wednesday, Terry Holliday was our guest speaker in EDF 203: Schooling and Society, which I team teach with June Hyndman. Watch the Commissioner's chat on streaming video at EKU (57:00).

Here are some snippets from the Commissioner:

On Technology in the Classroom
Every one of you, I bet, have a cell phone...Think about all the ability you have to retrieve information, share it with each other, edit information, and do the work in the classroom with your cell phones or a laptop. But what we do with students when they come in the door, is we tell them to slow down...We're still teaching 18th century style in a 21st century classroom. So I encourage you as professors, and I encourage you as teachers to figure out what makes a good teacher for 21st century learning.
On Highly Effective Teachers
Here's what's going to happen. You're going to go out and get that job teaching. And we're going to track you back to your university preparation program. We're going to provide the professors ...with data that tells them how effective you are as a teacher.
On Evaluating Highly Effective Teachers
Now, here's the thing that we cannot let happen: We cannot let it happen that the only measure we look at is performance on standardized tests.
No Child Left Behind, if it's done one thing, it's let us know which children aren't getting it. But what it's done probably more than anything - and many professors and many researchers will tell you this - there is a concern that maybe No Child Left Behind actually dumbed down America.
On Testing and Program Reviews
I am extremely concerned that we cannot test your creative ability with a standardized test....Everybody wants to take the easy way out. Everybody wants to say, well, let's just measure effectiveness with standardized tests....

How many of you want to teach [something in the arts]? Ah. Sorry. We can't measure your effectiveness. We don't have a standardized test for you. We got a thing called program review. And we're not real sure what we're going to put in that yet, but we'll figure it out by the time you guys get to teaching. So those of you guys who are teaching reading, math science or social studies, it's simple. We're going to hire and fire you based on how well you do off those standardized tests. All you other people, you might slide a little bit because, you know, it's going to be a little bit more subjective.

We can't let that happen. You're coming into teaching in the near future and will be impacted by this, so I need your help today with the types of questions you might ask...What would teacher effectiveness look like?

On Teachers
Don't tell me teachers don't make a difference. Teachers are the only thing that make the most difference. I can tell you that we shouldn't be spending our time repainting the Cadillac. We ought to be spending our time focusing on helping you guys be great instruction people. And principals need to be great instruction leaders. Just reshaping and making magnet schools and schools of choice and this, that, and the other - none of that's going to work unless you change what happens in the classroom.
On Assessing Creativity and Problem Solving

[Holliday once asked the head of the Research Triangle Park, NC] How do you assess creativity, problem solving and critical thinking [in your employees]? He said, 'We do it simulations.' ...Why can't we develop game-based instruction and game-based assessment rather than always relying on paper and pencil tests?

On Photography

Here's the Commish's snapshot of the class for his Facebook page. 'Nuf said. : )
A special thanks to Terry and Denise Holliday for stopping by and spending the day with us at EKU; to Dorie Combs for her continuing support and for shepherding our guests around campus; Janna Vice for her help in planning the day's activities; Bill Phillips for organizing meetings, events and topics for the day; June Hyndman and Rebecca Sears for their help in ramping up EDF 203 this year; and our colleagues Kim Naugle, Billy Thames, James Dantic, and Rande Jones for their assistance. And special thanks to President Doug Whitlock for his very supportive comments to our students:
Now, I want to say some nice things about the students in this room. I was very proud of the quality and depth of the questions that our students asked in here today because I think it is both reflective of how serious you are about this preparation to become teachers, but it's also a great testimony to the job our faculty is doing here exposing you to what some of the real issues in education today. That was a feel good moment for me, so thanks.

Holliday to Revise Mission at KDE

Citing a declining budget and a staff that is 60% smaller than it was in the 1990s, today Commissioner Terry Holliday called for KDE to redefine itself.

I am asking staff to look closely at revising our mission statement and to review the work they are doing to ensure we are aligning the work and the budget to the key strategic goals of high student performance, high-quality teachers and administrators, supportive environments, and high-performing schools and districts.

KDE will be abandoning some things they have done in the past but will retain those highest priority activities based on input from stakeholders.

Holliday credits CPE head Robert King with opening up higher education to greater level of cooperation than has historically been the case.

Commish Pays a Visit - 203 Rocks

Well boys and girls, it's been a very busy week - and that has made it hard to blog.

One of the gifts one receives when achieving a tenure-track position is a bunch of advisees. Whatever time scholarship fails to consume gets sucked up very effectively by the advising process.

But it's been a good week nonetheless.

First there was the Dean's Night of Excellence, pulled together by my teammate June Hyndman. She ran a hundred or so students through mock interviews and sessions on various topics.

I did a session on "Teachers Behaving Badly: What not to do." We looked at the Nicole Howell case as a cautionary tale, highlighting selected aspects of the teacher's contract, ethics, and how some teachers run afoul of the law. The workshop provided tips for avoiding trouble - mostly, living a balanced life and being in control of oneself.

Other topics:

Roger Cleveland on cultural discontinuity -"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"
Samuel Hinton on Perceptions of the new China
Ginni Fair on life in the middle schools - "Meet Me in the Middle"
Sherwood Thompson on education in India - "Two Democracies, Two World Views"
Peggy Petrilli on what principals are looking for - "One Principal's Perspective"
Diana Porter on the secrets of honor students - "Don't Survive, Thrive"
Kristina Krampe on the Student Council for Exceptional Children - "What SCEC can do for You"

Then, there was "Rose at 20," a wonderful evening. As soon as I can figure out how to convert .msv files to mp3 I will post the speeches from that event. Until then, check out Justin's stuff and Susan's posting of Debra Dawahare's comment on Bert Combs.

On Wednesday, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday was our guest here at EKU. We had a great day full of tours, meetings, a luncheon, and the commish spoke to my EDF 203 students. State BOE member, and our department chair, Dorie Combs, played hostess throughout the day navigating Holliday to confabs with President Doug Whitlock, Interim Provost, and former state BOE member, Janna Vice, Ed Dean Bill Phillips. Did I forget to mention Rep Harry Moberly?

Special thanks to my 203 students for their excellent questions of the Commissioner. The students got the attention of President Whitlock, Drs Combs and Phillips, and even drew a congratulatory tweet from Commissioner Holliday:

"Great visit today with staff at EKU. Very impressed with students in Richard Day's class and questions they asked in session on tchr effctns"

Thanks 203. Y'all rock.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Education chief: Overhaul teacher training

I believe that education is
the civil rights issue of our generation.
And if you care about promoting opportunity
and reducing inequality,
about promoting civic knowledge
and participation,
the classroom is the place to start.

-- Arne Duncan

This from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Secretary's Talk About Teachers Colleges
Isn't All Negative

It's been a rough month for the nation's teacher colleges.

Two weeks ago, in a speech at the University of Virginia, Secretary of Education Arne uncan called teachers colleges the "neglected stepchild" of higher education. On Thursday, he was back at it, accusing "many, if not most" of the country's 1,450 schools, colleges, and departments of education of doing a "mediocre" job of preparing potential teachers for the rigors of the modern classroom.

Yet the secretary's remarks, delivered on Thursday in a speech at Columbia University, weren't nearly as negative as the early excerpts of his speech suggested, and some educators who attended the speech left it feeling more inspired than maligned. Although the secretary offered plenty of criticism of teacher-training colleges, he also cited several "shining examples" of colleges and states that have upgraded their programs, including Louisiana, and said he was optimistic that "the seeds of real change have been planted."

He also blamed universities and states for many of the problems confronting teachers colleges, saying it would be "far too simple" to fault colleges of education for the slow pace of reform. He accused universities of using teachers colleges as "cash cows" and "profit centers" to finance "prestigious but underenrolled graduate departments," and he criticized states for approving weak teacher-education programs and licensing exams, and for neglecting teacher outcomes.

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) President Sharon P. Robinson urged the US Department of Education and Congress "to not only continue, but to expand an essential tool in this endeavor – the Teacher Quality Partnership grant program." Robinson said, "It is the major source of federal support for developing critical relationships between K‐12 schools and colleges of education and is indispensable in preparing high performing teachers and increasing student achievement."

Robinson had previously fired a volley across Duncan's bow in reaction to his speech at UVA.

"I read with disappointment Secretary Duncan's speech at the University of Virginia on October 9. While I applaud the Administration's recognition of teaching as an honorable profession, I am sorry the focus of the speech was, once again, on shopworn criticisms of educator preparation programs. I look to Secretary Duncan to lead us into the future by informing and encouraging a vision of how it should be," Robinson wrote.

President Barack Obama is correct to be concerned about raising the number of well-educated citizens. High quality colleges of education are necessary if the president's college attainment goals are going to have a chance. And those colleges must rethink what it means to go to college - while expanding online course offerings.

Duncan said the nation cannot rely alone on schools of education to produce the next generation of teachers. He called for expanding alternatives such as Teach for America, which recruits recent college graduates to teach in schools in poor communities for at least two years.

Somebody will have to explain to me how a 5-week training program with (is it?) zero hours of field work is enough at Teach for America yet Duncan is worried that the hundreds of hours of field work required of today's preservice teachers may be insufficient.

But let's be real clear about Teach for America: It's not their training program that produces results. The whole premise seems to be, 'if one is smart enough, one doesn't need training.'

This from MSNBC:

Programs criticized as cash cows
that fall short in
preparing for classroom

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is calling for an overhaul of college programs that prepare teachers, saying they are cash cows that do a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the classroom.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for "revolutionary change" in these programs, which prepare at least 80 percent of the nation's teachers.

In a speech prepared for delivery Thursday, Duncan said he has talked to hundreds of great young teachers while serving as Chicago schools chief and later as President Barack Obama's schools chief. The teachers have two complaints about education schools, he said.

"First, most of them say they did not get the hands-on teacher training about managing the classroom that they needed, especially for high-needs students," he said in the speech to Columbia University's Teachers College.

"And second, they say there were not taught how to use data to improve instruction and boost student learning," Duncan said.

A 2006 report found that three of five education school alumni said their training failed to prepare them to teach, he noted. The report was by Arthur Levine, a former Teachers College president.

Their large enrollment and low overhead makes education schools cash cows for their universities, Duncan said. But their profits have been diverted to smaller, more prestigious graduate departments such as physics and have not been spent on research and training for would-be teachers, he said...

Quick Hits

Wisconsin teachers find success with responsive classrooms: Some Wisconsin elementary-school teachers are learning that how they teach is just as important as what they teach through a new curriculum that emphasizes social, emotional and academic growth in teaching core classes. Teachers are being trained in responsive classrooms, where lessons will include a focus on student cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy and self-control. Such classrooms give students more autonomy over their learning -- focusing on 10 key practices, including rule creation, positive teacher language and academic choice. (New Richmond News)

Opinion - Time is now to make teacher quality a top priority: Adopting policies and practices to identify, develop and retain the best teachers is the biggest challenge in effecting local and national education reform, writes Daniel Weisberg, a vice president of the New Teacher Project. Weisberg argues in this column that the time is now for states and districts to embrace the challenge and make radical, transformative changes -- however uncomfortable -- "to ensure that a great teacher stands at the front of every classroom." (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Enrollment in online school exceeds expectations in Florida district: Enrollment in online classes in one Florida school district has surpassed expectations, said the program's administrator, resulting in the hiring of nine teachers in addition to the 28 that came on at the program's inception in August. More than 100 students are enrolled in full-time programs across all grade levels, and nearly 1,000 students are taking advantage of individual course offerings, said district officials. (The Tampa Tribune)

Nashville officials look at linking teacher pay to student achievement: Officials in Nashville, Tenn., are examining the possibility of tying teacher compensation and job security to student achievement as a way to improve education in the state. While a recent report by Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education says making the connection is an important step toward strengthening the state's teachers, members of the state teachers union say they would support using student test scores to evaluate teachers only if other criteria are considered as well. (The Tennessean (Nashville)

What should state tests look like under common standards?: The Department of Education will seek input from testing experts and members of the public as it decides what state testing will look like under common standards and how tests might best include English-language learners and students in special education. Officials will travel to Boston, Atlanta and Denver to gather advice as they design guidelines for the Obama administration's next competition for education stimulus funds, which will help pay for developing the tests. (Education Week)

NCLB allows neglect of gifted students: Gifted students lack protection under No Child Left Behind, which forces teachers to spend a majority of their time helping struggling students while gifted students remain unchallenged, writes Stephen J. Schroeder-Davis, a curriculum specialist for a Minnesota school district. Schroeder-Davis argues that "the chasm between what gifted students could learn and what they are actually learning" is creating an achievement gap separate from those of race and economics. (Star Tribune)

School leaders should not be handcuffed by the status quo: School leaders should break through what are often perceived obstacles to school reform by trying new things and seeing opportunities for change even within existing rules and statutes, writes education expert Frederick M. Hess. He offers five strategies for administrators hoping to move beyond the status quo: look beyond the usual boundaries of what is allowed; promote transparency; make laws a tool of reform; encourage nontraditional leadership; and honor change while accepting that some ideas could fail. (Educational Leadership)

Research shows trial and error helps students learn: Students learn more effectively through trial and error in answering questions about challenging material, according to researchers who found that getting answers wrong actually helps learning. Their research revealed that students perform better if they try to answer questions about a textbook passage before reading it. For example, students should try to answer questions before reading a textbook chapter, then read the chapter and answer them again during and after reading. (

Proposal would create charter high school for prospective teachers: The executive director of the Clark County teachers' union in Nevada is proposing the creation of a charter school designed for students who want to become teachers. John Jasonek says the school would provide students with scholarships to local colleges in exchange for a promise to teach in local schools for four years after graduation. If approved by the state board of education, the school could open in August. (Las Vegas Sun)

Research - Oral-language practice helps English-language learners: Researchers and educators who specialize in teaching English-language learners say that spending more classroom time practicing oral-language skills will help these students find their "voice" in their new language. Researchers suggest that English-language learners and other at-risk students benefit from working in small groups or pairs, building an academic vocabulary and improving "deep reading" skills through structured academic conversations and teacher-guided debate. (Education Week)

White House: Stimulus preserved 250,000 jobs in education: About 250,000 education jobs have been created or spared through federal economic stimulus money -- but it remains unclear how many jobs have been lost or are in jeopardy as the country recovers from an economic recession, according to a report released by the Obama administration. Officials across the country said many states and districts are still facing bleak budgets and predictions of cuts. (The Washington Post)

New mathematics guidelines focus on critical thinking and reasoning: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is urging high-school teachers to focus on "reasoning" and "sense-making" in classroom lessons and engage students in open-ended conversations about math whenever possible. The council released new teaching guidelines this month and says it hopes that reintroducing critical thinking -- which has become a victim of standardized testing -- will lead more students to careers in math-related fields. (The Washington Post)

Educators are held to "higher standard" on social-networking sites: Administrators in Florida's Brevard County are advising teachers to be cautious when using online social-networking. "When you take this job, whether you agree with it or not, teachers are held to a higher standard," said a principal. An associate education professor at the University of Central Florida, who incorporates guidelines for social networking into teacher-training classes, says educators should be wary when posting personal information but should use technology in a positive way, such as using Twitter as a way for students to follow current events. (Florida Today)

"Value-added" evaluation system gains support despite concerns: Educators nationwide are talking about "value-added" teacher-evaluation systems that measure individual student progress on standardized tests from year to year instead of comparing raw test results to other students and schools. The system -- praised by the Obama administration -- also has been used as a gauge of effective teaching. However, teachers unions have resisted "value-added" evaluation systems, saying that student progress and teacher effectiveness cannot be measured by standardized tests. (Los Angeles Times and Again)

Henry Clay English teacher arrested

This from H-L:



An English teacher at Henry Clay High School was arrested Friday morning by Lexington police on drug and alcohol charges, and she was later charged with child endangerment after she told jail officials that she had left her toddler home alone.

According to Fayette District Court documents, Erica Shannon Cooper, 38, was arrested shortly after 4 a.m. Friday near a "known crack house" on North Upper Street. She was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and public intoxication...

In a citation filed with the court, officers described Cooper as "manifestly under the influence," with slurred speech, a strong smell of alcohol and acting "very belligerent and combative." ...

While being booked into the Fayette County jail, Cooper told jail officials she had left her 2-year-old daughter home alone, according to police reports.

Officers went to Cooper's apartment on North Limestone, where they found the child. While they were inside the home, the officers noticed "in plain sight a can containing marijuana and a marijuana pipe laying on the kitchen counter," according to the court filing.

School News from Around Kentucky

Lawmakers - New schools a local responsibility: Some lawmakers say they want Kentucky school districts to invest more in their oldest and most dilapidated schools rather than wait for additional state money. (H-L)

Farris - Some children being left behind: After seeing the latest No Child Left Behind scores for Clark County Public Schools, Superintendent Elaine Farris declared publicly that things would have to change. (Winchester Sun)

Grand jury says parents caused kid's fight on school bus: The Letcher County Grand Jury has named nine people in 11 indictments, including a Hallie couple charged with inciting their child and another child to attack the children of potential witnesses against the husband in a court case. (Mountain Eagle by way of KSBA)

Coyotes make River Ridge cautious: Coyotes have been spotted on the grounds of River Ridge Elementary School. Students at the school, located on Amsterdam Road, had recess indoors Wednesday after the coyotes were seen that morning on the playground. “We did spot two of them,” said Principal Shawna Harney. “Some of our staff members saw them.” No children were on the playground at the time. (

Kentucky Teachers of the Year: The announcement was made today at a ceremony at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet auditorium in Frankfort by Ashland Inc. and the Kentucky Department of Education... Jan Vaughn Horn, a fifth-grade language arts teacher at Shearer Elementary School in Clark County, was named 2010 Elementary School Teacher of the Year, and Melissa Evans, a seventh-grade science teacher at Corbin Middle School in the Corbin Independent school district, was named 2010 Middle School Teacher of the Year. (Enquirer)

Funding needed for lengthening school years: What do Murray Independent and Calloway County school district officials think of President Barack Obama's suggestion that youngsters spend more days in school; possibly shortening summer vacations?The move may or may not help, but if implemented, officials at both school districts hope any future mandates will come with funding to pay for them. (Murray Ledger & Times)

Bills seek to bring charter schools to Kentucky: The idea of charter schools has long failed to gain traction in Kentucky — but that could be changing. Two bills to authorize charter schools have been filed for the coming General Assembly, and the Kentucky Department of Education is currently studying the pros and cons. Supporters say momentum is building because without such legislation, Kentucky could lose out on up to $200 million in federal stimulus money aimed at education reform and innovation. (C-J)

Judge orders jail time instead of probation in sex abuse case: In a surprise move, a Fayette County judge decided Friday against a prosecutor's recommendation of probation and said jail time would be more appropriate for a teacher who admitted to raping and molesting a 15-year-old student more than 30 years ago. Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael Jr.'s decision during Roberta Blackwell Walter's sentencing prompted her attorney to request more time for his client to reconsider the guilty plea that she made earlier Friday as part of an agreement with the case's prosecutor. (H-L)

Legislators, BOE balk at Stumbo's Plan to Raid School Funds

This from the Jessamine Journal, Cartoon by Marc Murphy in C-J:

Ky. budget deficit to occupy General Assembly

House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s plan for state lawmakers to consider reaching into local school system’s contingency funds has met a bump in the road from Jessamine legislators and the local school board.

According to an article in The Louisville Courier-Journal, Stumbo has discussed his plan with Gov. Steve Beshear, who has not weighed in on with his thoughts.

State Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, and state Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, both agree the plan doesn’t stand much of a chance come January when the General Assembly begins its 2010 session.

“I think Greg may have been misquoted,” Damron said. “I don’t think that there’s any way that the legislature can do that.”

Damron said that each school system has reserve money set aside for different reasons.

“It’s imperative that districts keep an adequate fund balance for the issuance of bonds to provide support for the bond rating,” he said. “Other districts have money set aside for future building needs, like Jessamine County. Jessamine County has set aside some money in their surplus in order to start up a new school.”

Damron also said the legality of the state taking from the school districts would not be favorable...

This from the Ledger Independent:
'Rainy Day' robber

Dear Speaker Greg Stumbo,

Let me get this straight.

You are proposing -- or at the very least raising the possibility -- that the State of Kentucky confiscate the "Rainy Day" contingency funds of school districts throughout the Commonwealth in order to balance the state budget in 2010.

Is that right?

Taxpayer money that has been set aside for the education of our kids in school districts that have carefully managed their finances will be robbed to balance a state budget that is out of control.

Am I missing something?

You are suggesting that lawmakers in Frankfort, instead of making the tough decisions and living within the means provided to them by the working people of this state, simply declare that emergency funds set aside in school districts be seized and thrown into the bottomless pit you call state expenditures?

Come again?

I ask because a news story earlier this week quoted you as saying:"We do have a bunch of money that the schools have saved in their budgets, their 'Rainy Day' funds...and there's a pretty good sum of money there which will help us get through."The story went on to say that state officials are predicting a $161 million shortfall in the current fiscal year which ends on June 30, 2010. Officials said the outlook is even worse in the next two fiscal years.

From your standpoint, I assume that is the bad news. But there is good news as well. The story went on to say:"Tom Shelton, superintendent of the Daviess County school system, has studied the issue and estimated that the contingency funds of all districts total $300 million to $400 million."School districts are required to keep at least 2 percent of their annual expense budgets in a contingency fund and districts are actually encouraged to set aside more. Those districts who have followed the state mandate and have carefully controlled their expenses have the most to lose.

Mr. Speaker, these are very difficult economic times. Businesses small and large across this state and across this nation have been forced to make tough decisions. Good employees have been terminated, plants have been consolidated or closed.

Management and workers have taken salary reductions and seen benefits reduced.

We expect -- in fact we demand -- that state government face reality and reduce its size and its presence. Get a realistic projection of the funding you expect to have and then create from scratch a budget that will match that number.

It will not be easy. There will be pain both in Frankfort and in every community that has a state government office. Fewer state employees will be asked to do more work. Benefits -- including 30-year-and-out retirements, double dipping and generous medical benefits will need to be reduced.This is what you have been hired to do, so do it.

Rob the rainy day funds of local school districts so you are not forced to make these tough decisions and put off the Reckoning Day for another year?

That's a coward's approach.
This from the News Enterprise:

Superintendents oppose using contingencies for state

HARDIN COUNTY — Local superintendents have expressed concern over a state budget fix that was suggested this past week, and local legislators have mixed feelings about the idea.

Nannette Johnston, superintendent of Hardin County Schools, and Gary French, interim superintendent of Elizabethtown Independent Schools, both opposed the idea of taking money from school district contingency funds that House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, publicly proposed last weekend.

Stumbo said legislators might consider using some of the money set aside in district contingency funds, which is money all districts are required to set aside in case of emergencies and for use on special projects, as a way to help balance the upcoming biennium budget.

Districts are required to have at least 2 percent of their total budget in the contingency fund.

French said EIS has been very conservative with spending to build a solid contingency fund, which he said the district has for large, expensive purchases it must make.

“I would hate to see those sacrifices we’ve made” not serve the district, he said.

EIS’ contingency fund contains about $2.7 million...

Former Teacher Says Life 'Ruined' by Student Sex Claims, Will Sue

This from ABC News (Video): Interview on GMA.

Acquitted Nicole Howell Denied Sex With Student
From Start; Didn't Stop Arrest, Trial

Former teacher Nicole Howell was found not guilty last week of having had a sexual relationship with a student, but that did not stop the rumor from destroying her career, getting her arrested and ruining her life, she said today.

Nicole Howell talks about the allegations that ruined her career.

"My life is ruined. Completely," Howell told "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview. "My name has been dragged through the mud. I won't be able to teach again. Not because I did anything -- I did not -- but because of the situation."

Her ordeal started in December, when she was suspended from her job as a teacher and assistant cheerleading coach at a Kentucky high school after one of the male students, a 16-year-old football player, claimed the two had had a sexual relationship.

Howell, 26, of Florence, denied that the encounters ever happened and argued that the only evidence against her were the ramblings of a high school kid who, at first, claimed the two had been involved in a threesome with another male student.

Investigators arrested Howell the next month on felony sex abuse charges.

"I think, honestly, it started because people overreacted," Howell said today. "They took something that they thought looked like what they wanted it to look like -- like a stereotype, 'a teacher is accused by a student,' and automatically, it happened. ... That's why I went to trial." ...

This from the Enquirer:

Howell verdict: Who did jury believe?

With no physical evidence presented at trial, it took jurors only 70 minutes to find Dayton High School teacher Nicole Howell not guilty of having sex with a 16-year-old student who played football.

The majority of the case hinged on whether jurors believed what the student claimed (he also contended the sex was consensual), or Howell, who took the stand in her own defense....

Howell's case was one of the first to be prosecuted under a more-stringent state law that makes it a felony for a person in authority to have even consensual sexual relations with someone under 18. In all other instances in Kentucky, the age of consent is considered to be 16....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stumbo's Historically Stinko Idea

Get Your Scorecards!
You can't tell a Stumbo from a Williams without a Scorecard!

Continuing the too-oft dubious tradition of the Kentucky legislature this week, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, (D) Prestonsburg, sounded more like another infamous legislator we know - (R) Burkesville.

Stumbo proposed the idea of recapturing school contingency funds to balance the state budget. This glaring disincentive to efficiency and frugality stands in history along side:
  • the Seminaries of Learning Act (1798) where the legislature created a fund for schools only to divert the fund for non-school purposes;
  • or the time in the 1830's when they received $1,433,754 as a gift from the national government to build schools but raided the fund and passed a law requiring the governor to burn the bonds on the capitol steps;
  • or later when the Constitution of 1850 finally required the establishment of a school fund and declared it inviolable - and the legislature refused to put any money in it.
Stumbo's stinko idea can stand equally with these examples of bad governance. All to avoid the tough decision - a reformed tax code.

This from the Bowling Green Daily News:

Stumbo: State may need
school contingency funds

Kentucky lawmakers may consider dipping into local school districts' contingency funds to help balance the 2010-12 state budget, according to House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, told The Courier-Journal in an interview this week that he has discussed the issue with Gov. Steve Beshear, who did not indicate his position.

"We do have a bunch of money that the schools have saved in their budgets, their 'Rainy Day' funds," Stumbo said. "And there's a pretty good sum of money there which will help us get through."

Various estimates say the funds contain hundreds of millions of dollars.

School officials say they are strongly opposed to the idea because they need those funds to balance their own budgets during tight economic times.

A preliminary state revenue forecast this week predicted a $161 million shortfall for the current fiscal year, which ends next June 30. The outlook looks worse for 2010-12.

Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association, said any effort to tap the contingency funds would be unfair to districts that have prudently saved more. He said such a move could be illegal because contingency funds include money raised with local taxes.

"But the most obvious concern of school districts is what happens if they get hit in the middle of the year with something like a major heating and cooling problem or something like that that could cost $50,000 to $100,000," Hughes said....

This from H-L:
Irresponsibility on tax reform
A recession worse than anything this nation has experienced in 70-plus years is a dominant factor in state government's dismal budget outlook. But Kentucky's fiscal fortunes were gloomy well before the big crash of late 2008.

State lawmakers started robbing Peter to pay Paul years ago, irresponsibly passing budgets "balanced" by vacuuming up every dime from a variety of funds state agencies and even universities generate through their own activity.

Our representatives and senators turned to a "smoke and mirrors" approach to budgeting because they simply lacked the backbone to do the right thing: Pass the kind of real tax reform that could provide state government with a stable, sustainable revenue base.

So, here we are again, preparing for another two-year budget cycle with dreary revenue prospects and the federal stimulus dollars that helped fill a $1 billion hole in the current year's spending plan set to expire. And what's the first plan that comes to legislative leaders' minds?

Why, robbing Peter to pay Paul again. Only this time, Peter is a schoolchild.

In an interview with The Courier-Journal last week, House Speaker Greg Stumbo proposed the atrocious idea of raiding local school districts' contingency funds to help lawmakers avoid their responsibility again. ...
Every dollar taken away from educating the youth of this state is a dollar deducted from this state's ability to compete in the modern high-tech, information-based economy.

Both Stumbo and Gov. Steve Beshear argue that taxes shouldn't be increased during this recession. But there is no better time than a recession to pass real tax reform that moves the state away from a tax structure that relies on retail sales and toward a tax structure that captures the growing service sector of the economy.
Reform of that nature may be revenue neutral on Day One but will soon pay dividends for the state — and help balance budgets without robbing Kentucky's schoolchildren.
This from the Paducah Sun (subscription):

‘We have been frugal' McCracken Supt criticizes

talk of using school surpluses

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s proposal to tap local school district surplus funds to balance the education budget is drawing strong opposition from local school superintendents and generating questions for Gov. Steve Beshear.

Each school district is required to maintain a cash surplus equal to at least 2 percent of its budget. The surplus is set aside to cover emergencies and unexpected increases in costs.

Most school districts maintain contingency funds equal to about 5 percent of their
budgets. But some carry more than 20 percent.

McCracken Superintendent Tim Heller said it would be irresponsible of the legislature to take that money away.

“We have been frugal to cut expenses and build a contingency fund, and for the legislature to threaten to take it away is pretty ridiculous,” Heller said, whose district’s surplus sits at about 6 percent of its budget or $3 million.

“If that happens, I’d have no respect for the legislature.” Heller asked Beshear about Stumbo’s idea on Monday when the governor visited Paducah to announce the appointment of a task force to take a new look at education reform that started in 1990.

The governor said he’s talked with Stumbo but hasn’t made any commitments. He said he doesn’t know what he’ll recommend to balance the budget until he begins formulating the 2010-12 plan that he’ll present in January to lawmakers...

Moving up in math!

This from Susan Weston at the Prichard Committee:
2009 NAEP scores released today show Kentucky fourth graders performing at the national average in mathematics. Given our history of being behind in math, it is a sweet, sweet thing to see. Two snapshots of the data are below... We've got a long road to travel, my friends, but this result is a milestone worth some mighty celebration.

Kentucky is one of eight states that had a statistically significant increase in 4th-grade mathematics scores from 2007 to 2009. Mathematics scores for Kentucky 8th graders were not significantly different from the national average.
Scale scores for Kentucky 4th and 8th graders in 2009 are at or near the national average. The NAEP grading scale ranges from 0 to 500.

Charter advocates challenge school finance systems in Arizona and North Carolina

This from ACCESS:
Charter school advocates in Arizona and North Carolina filed lawsuits last month alleging that their respective states have provided inadequate and inequitable funding for charters. The cases are the most recent examples of an emerging trend of charter school groups initiating education finance litigations.

The plaintiffs in Foley v. Horne—seven families of charter school students—claim
that Arizona’s separate financing system for non-traditional schools contravenes the state constitution’s equal protection and uniform public education guarantees...

In North Carolina, seven charter schools and 16 families have filed a suit with claims similar to Foley. Their complaint alleges that regulations prohibiting counties and local school districts from providing funds for facilities needs to charters violate the “general and uniform system of free public schools” clause in the state’s constitution.

In North Carolina, only traditional public schools have access to the capital outlay fund, which provides monies for real property and capital construction. The plaintiffs allege that the expenditure discrepancies are discriminatory, and that they inhibit charter students’ access to “equal opportunity for a sound basic education.” ...

These cases follow a number of victories for charter schools in North Carolina and other states in recent years. In Sugar Creek Charter School, Inc. v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, several charter schools based in Charlotte, N. Carolina—including plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed last month—argued that districts’ refusal to provide them categorical funding for specialized programs contravened the state law. The court ruled in their favor in 2008.

In City Neighbors Charter School v. Baltimore City Board of Commissioners, a Maryland Appeals court decided that the city board of education—which provided charter schools 25% less in average per pupil funding than traditional schools—failed to satisfy a Maryland statute requiring districts to award funds “commensurate with the amount disbursed to other public schools in the local jurisdiction.”

Some commentators, however, question the merits of charter advocates’ claims...According to Arizona law, for instance, charter schools must meet the same academic requirements as traditional schools, but are subject to fewer administrative regulations and less oversight, including budgeting and collective bargaining. These circumstances presumably promote greater efficiency and lower costs.

In a number of states, local school boards and/or local schools have sued to block funding of charter schools in their area. For example, in Georgia, a number of district schools recently sued the state over charter funding. In Gwinnett County School District v. Cox, the plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the state’s reallocation of funds from district schools to their charter counterparts....

In Arizona, Hobday v. Horne, by public school parents takes the more traditional tack of focusing on inequities of public schools in property-poor districts...

Interestingly this case was also funded by the Arizona Charter Schools Association. Presumably their interest is that raising per capita funding for public school students in the property poor districts would also have the effect of raising the base per capita allocations for the charter school students.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Gov Beshear Launches Initiative to Transform Education in Kentucky

"Twenty years ago we made a start -
a ground-breaking approach that drew
the attention and praise of the nation.
Today that mission continues...
Today I'm calling upon our state and our people
to recommit ourselves to assuring the future of our children."
--Governor Steve Beshear

TEK task force will be catalyst to
reinvigorate public support for K-12 education

I took a little trip down memory lane this morning as Governor Steve Beshear, kicked off his tour in support of transforming education reform from one of my old schools - Meadowthorpe Elementary in Lexington. There was very nice turnout of... (I didn't really count...but) maybe 70 people to learn about the governor's plans.Joining Beshear were First Lady Jane Beshear, Education Cabinet Secretary Helen Mountjoy and Commissioner Terry Holliday. It was nice to finally meet Terry Holliday, who will be a guest in my little lecture hall next week, and it was great to see Jane Beshear many years after our Kentucky Literacy Commission days. And despite our paths crossing over the years, this was the first time I actually met Helen, unless addressing her across a board room table counts.

Among other things, the Governor wants to expand preschool opportunities; fully fund all-day kindergarten; improve teacher pay and training; give every student the opportunity to take AP courses; and to provide better textbooks.

"But for now, my biggest financial priority is simply to maintain our current investments in education during this worse recession since the Great Depression," Beshear said.

Beshear advocated taking this time to aggressively look at our education system from top to bottom; to build partnerships with the business community; and to rally around our students and our teachers, reasoning that - if we do this - when the recession ends, we will know how to best invest those dollars.

This from the Gov:

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 19, 2009) – In a move to re-energize the support of public schools that nearly 20 years ago sparked Kentucky to implement the nation’s most comprehensive school reform, Gov. Steve Beshear today launched his new education initiative, Transforming Education in Kentucky (TEK). The goal is to create a unified vision of what schools in the Commonwealth need to offer in order to better serve students today and tomorrow.

“Our world has changed dramatically since the reforms of 1990,” said Gov. Beshear. “We must now turn our focus to the future and again to our schools to ensure that our strategies and programs are designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

(The last 2:22 of Beshear's remarks...starting right after he states his support for expanded pre-school opportunities. Here's the audio of the full speech: 13:26)

To that end, Gov. Beshear appointed the TEK Task Force to help develop new strategies while reinvigorating public and business support for K-12 education in the Commonwealth.

The members of the task force include education advocates, teachers, superintendents, legislators, business leaders and others who have been handpicked for their commitment to education and to Kentucky.

The group will examine efforts currently underway in the state, such as the Common Core Standards Initiative, Graduate Kentucky, the Gates Foundation/SREB college and career readiness initiative, the Race to the Top competition and the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education. Against this backdrop of renewed energy and activity, the panel will recommend ways to channel all of these efforts into an integrated and comprehensive system of education in Kentucky.

In addition, the task force will explore career and technical education, expanded use of technology for learning, increased opportunities for students to earn college credit in high school and other issues that affect student success.

The goal is to formulate recommendations by the end of 2010, for consideration during the 2011 legislative session.

In an effort to build awareness of the initiative and to receive input from citizens statewide, Gov. Beshear is visiting 10 cities across the state for a series of press conferences and town hall forums. The Governor and the TEK Task Force will use this input as guidance for the work of Transforming Education in Kentucky.

“This effort seeks to build off the progress of the last 20 years in order to lay the foundation for the 20 years ahead,” said Gov. Beshear. “Today, I’m calling on our state and our people to recommit ourselves to ensuring the future of our children.”

Gov. Beshear and Kentucky Department of Education
Commissioner Terry Holliday will serve as co-chairs of the task force.

Other members of the task force include:

Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-19th District
Rep. Leslie Combs, D-94th District;
Rep. Jeffrey Hoover, R-83rd District;
Rep. Carl Rollins, D-56th District;
Helen Mountjoy, secretary, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet
David Adkisson, president, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce;
Sheldon Berman, superintendent, Jefferson County;
Mary Ann Blankenship, executive director, Kentucky Education Association;
Karen Cash, classroom teacher, Louisville;
Margaret Cleveland, school board member, Woodford County;
Sam Corbett, chair, Prichard Committee;
Ben Cundiff, Cundiff Farms, Cadiz;
Sharon Darling, president, National Center for Family Literacy;
Betty Griffin, The Griffin Group, Frankfort;
Tim Hanner, superintendent, Kenton County;
Trichel House, classroom teacher, Russell;
Nanette Johnson, superintendent, Hardin County;
Eleanor Jordan, executive director, Kentucky Commission on Women;
Robert King, president, Council on Postsecondary Education;
Nana Lampton, American Life & Accident Insurance Company of Kentucky, Louisville;
William Lovell, school board member, McLean County;
Brent McKim, president, Jefferson County Teachers’ Association;
Bob Porter, mayor, City of Paintsville;
Johnna Reeder, Duke Energy, Covington;
Stu Silberman, superintendent, Fayette County;
Stephen Trimble, superintendent, Johnson County; and
Diane Whalen, mayor, City of Florence.

*Gov. Beshear has asked Senate President David Williams to recommend two additional members from the State Senate and they will be added to the task force once they have been named.

Others in the crowd:
Mike Stacy, Meadowthorpe principal; FCPS honchos Mary Browining, Mike McKenzie, Jack Hayes, Melissa Bacon; Cindy Heine from the Prichard Committee; Rep Charlie Hoffman; KBE member Rev C B Akins; Meadowthorpe School Council member Tracy Letcher; P G Peeples of the Urban League; H-L's Jim Warren and lurking in the rear of the room Larry Dale Keeling; Alva Clark of Petrilli v Silberman fame.

This from Jim Warren at the Herald-Leader:

Beshear announces education task force

Gov. Steve Beshear announced in Lexington on Monday morning that he is naming a task force to develop plans for future educational development in the state, to build on the success begun with the Kentucky Education Reform Act almost 20 years ago.
Beshear made the announcement at Lexington's Meadowthorpe Elementary School on the first stop of a three-day tour of the state that will include press conferences and town-hall meetings to talk up the importance of education...

..."This effort seeks to build off the progress of the last 20 years in order to lay the foundation for the 20 years ahead," Beshear said. "Today, I'm calling for our state and our people to recommit ourselves to ensuring the future of our children."

Beshear said that although KERA, which was enacted in the early 1990s, dramatically improved Kentucky education, more work is needed to improve the state's education system and prepare its children for the future.

"Slow, steady, incremental improvement is no longer enough," he said, calling for "an all out sprint" to boost student achievement.

"Let's get started," he said.