Friday, January 31, 2014

Survey: 77 Percent of Ky Teachers Enthusiastic about Common Core, 90 Percent Claim CCSS More Rigorous

Kentucky teachers, like those in a nationwide poll, are enthusiastic about teaching the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) according to data released today by the Kentucky Department of Education. 

The data stem from the Primary Sources survey of 20,000 public school teachers nationwide last summer.  The survey, conducted by the Harrison Group, asked teachers across the country their thoughts on implementing the Common Core State Standards -- a set of clear, consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do for success after graduation.
·         97 percent of teachers are aware of the new English/language arts and mathematics standards
·         73 percent are enthusiastic about implementing the new standards in their classrooms
·         73 percent believe implementing the standards is or will be challenging
·         74 percent believe implementing the standards will require them to make changes in their teaching practice
·         73 percent felt they were prepared to teach the new standards in their classrooms
·         76 percent believe the standards will have a positive impact on students’ ability to think critically and use reasoning skills

Several hundred Kentucky teachers voiced their opinions as part of the national survey. However, to gain a broader view of what Kentucky teachers think, the Kentucky Department of Education followed up with an online, anonymous, voluntary survey that was open from mid-November to mid-December. Questions focused on the Kentucky Core Academic Standards which include the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics as well as the Next-Generation Science Standards. More than 6,700 Kentucky teachers responded to the open survey.  Results show:
·         93 percent of those who teach English/language arts are implementing the Kentucky Core Academic Standards in their classrooms
·         93 percent of those who teach mathematics are implementing the Kentucky Core Academic Standards in their classrooms
·         49 percent of those who teach science have already started implementing the new science standards in their classrooms
·         77 percent are enthusiastic about teaching the new standards in their classrooms
·         78 percent believe implementing the new Kentucky Core Academic Standards has required or will require changes to their teaching practice
·         86 percent feel they are prepared to teach new English/language arts and mathematics standards
·         90 percent agree that the standards are more rigorous than previous standards
·         67 percent believe the standards will have a positive impact on college/career-readiness of students; 25 percent don’t’ think it will be positive or negative; and only 8 percent think the standards will have a negative effect

To help the most students in their classroom meet the new Kentucky Core Academic Standards, teachers say that they need a variety of additional resources. Of those that responded to the survey:
·         60 percent need aligned instructional materials
·         56 percent need student-centered technology
·         54 percent they need formative assessments
·         52 percent need summative assessments
·         45 percent need new curricula
·         37 percent need additional professional development on the new standards

Kentucky Education Association president Stephanie Winkler is not surprised by the results. The feedback she’s gotten from superintendents and teachers is also largely positive.

I, as a classroom teacher who just left in May, know that the standards not only made me a more focused teacher, but I saw the benefit to my students," Winkler said. “Kids are able to master concepts and think critically to apply their knowledge, so when they go onto the next level, they’re more prepared, she said.

Anybody who would say that we need to get rid of the common core standards in Kentucky has not been in the classroom and worked with them like the teachers have,” Winkler said. “What we really need is resources to support professional learning and aligned instructional materials and textbooks that support the standards’ implementation.”

Since the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1 in 2009 and it became law, teachers, administrators, school boards, professors and postsecondary leaders, education professional associations, education advocacy groups, parent groups and business organizations have been working diligently to implement its provisions, including creating and implementing the new, more rigorous academic standards.  New English/language arts standards are being taught for the third year; new science standards will be implemented in the fall.  New arts and humanities and social studies standards will follow in the future.

 “Local school boards have the authority to go above and beyond these standards at any time; they represent the minimum of what students should know and be able to do,”  Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said.  “Already, districts choose and local boards of education approve the curriculum their teachers use, so districts retain local control with the new standards.”  

Holliday said the Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS) have resulted in great cost savings to the Commonwealth and came about thanks to the involvement and input of hundreds of Kentucky educators.

 “To abandon the years’ worth of work and the millions of dollars spent to develop and implement the new standards would be a waste and disservice to those who have worked hard to fulfill the directives of Senate Bill 1,” Holliday said. “It would be demoralizing to teachers to start over with new standards and a setback to Kentucky students becoming college/career-ready.

 “The bottom line is the new standards are working.”

SOURCE: KDE Press release

Adkisson Named KSBA's Friend of Education

2014 Friend of Education rallies business community – and the state – around education

This from KSBA:

Dave Adkisson
A business leader with a heart for education has been honored with the 2014 Friend of Education Award by the Kentucky School Boards Association.

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dave Adkisson, who most recently barnstormed the state with Education Commissioner Terry Holliday to raise awareness and support for the Common Core State Standards, was to be presented with the award Friday, Jan. 31, during KSBA’s annual conference in Louisville.

Adkisson has headed the Kentucky Chamber since 2005, leading its board to make improving education in the state its No. 1 priority and to become more proactive in shaping education policy.

Among those efforts were the chamber’s adoption that same year of many legislative goals set by the Business Forum for Education and its partnering with on a drive that resulted in the awarding of more than 2,000 GEDs to Kentuckians.

Adkisson also actively supported legislation in 2006 that required greater accountability in the ACT and WorkKeys exams, additional school days and preschool expansion. He advocated creation of the Index of Educational Progress, which combines multiple educational attainment and achievement factors into a single index, now administered through the University of Kentucky.

Because of the chamber’s more prominent education profile, Kentucky’s university presidents asked the group in 2007 to conduct an independent study, mandated by the legislature, of higher education progress in the state. In 2009, under Adkisson’s leadership, the chamber issued its Leaky Bucket report, highlighting to Kentucky lawmakers that unsustainable growth in pensions, corrections and Medicaid was robbing education of much-needed funds. A follow-up report in 2011 continued the focus on education funding.

Adkisson was the driving force behind creation of the Leadership Institute for School Principals, which accepted its first class of 48 principals in 2011. The institute provides participants with free, year-long, personal, executive leadership training. The program, which has benefited more than 200 principals, is supported financially by the business community.

When the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the Kentucky Chamber a $500,000 grant in 2012 to bolster business support for the Common Core State Standards, Adkisson joined Holliday on a statewide tour to explain the standards. During their travels, they distributed 10,000 business education kits, which later became a model for similar campaigns in other states. As part of that effort, the chamber also recruited 85 business leaders to join Business Advocates for Education, which supported more rigorous standards.

Adkisson was nominated for the Friend of Education Award by the Owensboro Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Nick Brake. That area of the state benefited from Adkisson’s education efforts when he served as CEO of the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s. While working there, he helped found the Regional Alliance for Education, a P-16 council, and, as Owensboro’s mayor, led a group that worked on expanding Owensboro Community and Technical College.

Adkisson serves as chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Education, Employment and Training Policy Committee, is a founding board member of the Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky, a former chairman of the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education and serves on the Dean’s Leadership Council at Harvard University. An Owensboro native, he is a Georgetown College alumnus and holds a master’s degree from Harvard.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beshear's Budget Supports 'Commonwealth College' to Help Working Adults Finish Degrees

This from WFPL:
Working adults in Kentucky could soon have another option for completing their college degrees.

That option is called the Commonwealth College, which would be an online program that would allow students to complete work at their own pace.

Although Gov.  Steve Beshear’s latest budget proposal cut higher education by 2.5 percent, or $23 million, there were some bright spots for public colleges and universities.

Among his infrastructure and project allocations for higher education, Beshear included more than $3 million ($2 million for each year of the biennium budget for operations and $1.2 million to get the web portal up and running) to help launch the Commonwealth College.

It’s modeled after the Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s program called Learn On Demand. Students could enroll at any time, pay comparable public university costs (those have not yet been determined), and take online learning sections to earn their college degree. All from home. 

It’s estimated there are 700,000 working-age adults (between ages 24-64) who have some college credit but have not completed their degrees.

“For those folks, returning to a college campus for two years, or three years, is unreasonable and unlikely," says Bob King, president of Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education.

Students will be encouraged to take lower level general education courses through the KCTCS Learn On Demand program and then move up when ready, he says.

There will be limited degrees offered at the outset, depending on the state’s needs, King says, adding Kentucky’s public universities have been working with the Chamber of Commerce to determine what jobs will be in demand in the future.

The problem is that Kentucky is not preparing its workforce to meet the state’s demands in the coming years, according to the CPE. In a report passed along to state lawmakers, "experts predict by the year 2020, 56 percent of Kentucky's jobs will require some level of postsecondary education."
But only 20 percent of Kentucky adults have a bachelor's degree or higher, the report says.

If the General Assembly approves funding, the Commonwealth College could be launched in 2015.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Twilight for the conservative era of school reform?

An inconvenient truth is that the grand tradition of using the bully pulpit to push for curriculum reform began with the Reagan administration under his second education secretary, William J. Bennett. Bennett used that bully pulpit to forcefully push for a combination of changes—curriculum reform, accountability, and choice—that he believed could help drive excellence in U.S. schools.
---Kathleen Porter-Magee at the Fordham Institute

Conservative anxiety over conservative/libertarian attacks against Common Core is reaching a crescendo. The moderate conservatives at Fordham, who remember the genesis of national standards, wonder if the end of corporate school reform may be near.

This from Fordham's Common Core Watch:
The funny thing about eras is that it’s hard to know which one you are in until it is coming to an end. As the fighting among conservatives heats up over the Common Core, the era of standards-driven reform that has defined conservative education policy for the past three decades is brought into sharper relief.
Arne Duncan and Bill Bennett

But the approach that President Reagan and his secretary of education Bill Bennett helped set in motion in the 1980s is under increasing assault from a resurgent libertarian movement and the coopting of many of the most popular ideas by a reform-minded Democratic president and his own energetic secretary of education. Is 2014 the year the conservative push for curricular and instructional excellence comes to an end?

Those looking for answers would be wise to track the increasingly acerbic discussion over the Common Core State Standards. What began as a conversation about the quality, content, and rigor of the standards has evolved into an increasingly polarized political debate that is fracturing support for one of the most enduring conservative reforms...

Much of the anti–Common Core ire is aimed at the Obama administration and its activist education secretary, Arne Duncan. Critics believe that by incentivizing CCSS adoption through Race to the Top and by continuing to express public support for the standards, Duncan and his team are essentially usurping control over curriculum and instruction from the states...

This from Chester Finn and Mike Petrilli at Fordham:

Knowledge at the Core

Our slim new book Knowledge at the Core: Don Hirsch, Core Knowledge, and the Future of the Common Core has three large aims. First, it pays tribute to three decades of scholarship and service to American education by E. D. (Don) Hirsch, Jr., author of Cultural Literacy (and three other prescient books on education reform) and founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation. Second, it restates the case for a sequential, content-rich curriculum for America’s elementary and middle schools. Third, it strives to chart a course for the future, a future in which many more schools embrace Hirsch’s Core Knowledge program—or something akin to it—en route to successful attainment of the Common Core State Standards for English language arts/literacy and mathematics.

Five of the essays included in the volume were first presented at a December 2013 conference in Washington, D.C., cohosted by the Fordham Institute and the Manhattan Institute. Video from that event, and a terrific documentary about Don and his contributions to American education, are available on our website at

That day left us hopeful—not a word that often comes to mind amidst the rancorous debates now swirling about education in general and the Common Core in particular. Yet Don himself is, by admission, an unwavering optimist; his enthusiasm is as contagious as his ideas are bracing. So in that spirit, let us make the hopeful case that many more of America’s schools are on the precipice of finally embracing those ideas—and thereby boosting their students’ chances of achieving the lofty goals that the Common Core standards prescribe.

Rethinking reading

Commence with this key Hirsch insight: Teaching knowledge is teaching reading—and reading will never be mastered beyond the “decoding” stage without a solid foundation of knowledge. Children cannot be truly literate without knowing about the world—about history, science, art, music, literature, civics, geography, and more. This is not a value statement about what students “should” study; rather, it reflects decades of cognitive science and reading research.

Once children learn to decode the words on a page, greater literacy is attained only through greater knowledge. Reading comprehension, and thus learning by reading, depends on knowing something about the content of the passage at hand. If a fifth grader knows a lot about baseball, for example, she will comprehend complex stories about baseball at a high level. But if she doesn’t know a lot about the ocean, she will struggle to comprehend anything beyond simple, introductory books about marine life. The only way to help children become strong readers, regardless of topic, is to equip them with a large store of general knowledge—to help them learn something about everything. And that means implementing a well-designed, sequential, content-rich curriculum, especially in the early grades.

Yet most American primary schools have been marching in the opposite direction: treating reading as a “skill” and pushing off history, science, art, and music “until later.” As Ruth Wattenberg, the former editor of the AFT’s American Educator magazine, explains in her essay, the elementary-school curriculum has been a content-free wasteland for decades, one that grew even more barren in the No Child Left Behind era. Is it any wonder that, even as national assessment data have shown decent gains in math achievement in recent years (at least in the early grades), reading outcomes remain dismal? Although some relatively small gains have been made (most likely due to Reading First’s spread of phonics-based decoding instruction), high-school scores have been flat for decades.

Bad news. But there’s some encouraging news, too. In his essay, based on focus groups that he conducted with teachers, Steve Farkas explains that elementary teachers welcome the notion of a knowledge-rich curriculum. Indeed, they take for granted that it’s valuable. They may have been taught otherwise in ed school, but they’re not philosophically opposed; most aren’t even aware of the ideological battles waged between “progressives” and “traditionalists” within the halls of academe. Building students’ knowledge is, to most teachers, simply common sense—and they’d like to do more of it. But first, the misguided progressive ideas shaping schools need to be more widely recognized, as Manhattan Institute scholar Sol Stern writes in his trenchant essay.

Another bit of good news: the single greatest force currently shaping American education—the new Common Core standards, now in place in forty-five states—explicitly endorses Hirsch’s ideas and calls for the kind of curriculum that he favors:
While the Standards make references to some particular forms of content, including mythology, foundational U.S. documents, and Shakespeare, they do not—indeed, cannot— enumerate all or even most of the content that students should learn. The Standards must therefore be complemented by a well-developed, content-rich curriculum consistent with the expectations laid out in this document.” —Common Core State Standards
Says Robert Pondiscio, executive director of the advocacy group CitizenshipFirst, those are “the most important fifty-seven words in education reform since the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983.”
But they are, alas, just words on a page. They’re not hard to decode—but how many people grasp their content? How many states and school districts will heed their call?
Though fundamentally an optimist, Don Hirsch does not yet observe much heeding. In his keynote address to the December conference, included in our book as the essay “Sustaining the American Experiment,” he expresses his worry:
District preparations for the Common Core in language arts are looking like district preparations for No Child Left Behind, with lots of how-to processes, under new names, but with no emphasis on systematically imparting facts—which are still considered “mere.”
That’s precisely what Wattenberg found when she examined textbooks, basal readers, and state websites that are supposedly “Common Core aligned.” They do, indeed, pay attention to the skills demanded by the standards, even to the challenge to assign “appropriately complex texts.” But in almost every case, they ignore (or never even understand) the charge to put in place a content-rich curriculum so that students can actually read these more challenging texts with understanding.

And while most rank-and-file teachers have no ideological bone to pick with content knowledge, many of their supervisors and administrators still hold fast to the false dichotomies and faulty notions that Hirsch has debunked for years. Just weeks ago, Carmen FariƱa, the new chancellor of the New York City Public Schools, displayed her own misunderstanding of the role that knowledge plays in education: “It’s always been something I’ve believed in—we learn facts maybe to take tests, but we learn thinking to get on in life.” (As if one can fruitfully think if one doesn’t know anything.) In his keynote, Don said, “The effectiveness of the Common Core standards will depend on the adequacy of the ideas held by those who try to put them into effect.” Indeed...

For right, Common Core fight prelude to bigger agenda

This from Politico:
National advocacy groups powered by the Koch brothers and other conservative megadonors have found a new cause ripe with political promise: the fight to bring down the Common Core academic standards.
David and Charles Koch
The groups are stoking populist anger over the standards — then working to channel that energy into a bold campaign to undercut public schools, weaken teachers unions and push the federal government out of education policy.

The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in 45 states plus the District of Columbia, are meant to guide rich and rigorous instruction in math and language arts. They have substantial bipartisan support. But they have also drawn sharp bipartisan criticism as Big Government overreach.

What started as a ragtag opposition led by a handful of angry moms is now a sophisticated national movement supported by top donors and strategists on the right. Conservative groups say their involvement already has paid dividends in the form of new members and troves of email addresses.
But that’s just the start.

A draft action plan by the advocacy group FreedomWorks lays out the effort as a series of stepping stones: First, mobilize to strike down the Common Core. Then push to expand school choice by offering parents tax credits or vouchers to help pay tuition at private and religious schools. Next, rally the troops to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Then it’s on to eliminating teacher tenure.

“This is going to be a huge campaign,” said Whitney Neal, the group’s director of grass-roots activism. She plans to kick it off within weeks with a series of videos that will “connect the dots” between killing Common Core and enacting other conservative priorities.

The campaign will build to a march on Washington this summer, perhaps in partnership with radio host Glenn Beck. “This is definitely an institutional priority for us in 2014,” she said. “We’re putting a lot of time and resources into it.”

Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, is pressing similar themes in town hall meetings across the country.

A key battleground: Missouri, where conservatives are pushing to get measures promoting vouchers and ending teacher tenure on the fall ballot. Increasingly, the issues are being linked to Common Core.
Concerned Women for America held a conference outside Kansas City, Mo., this weekend that opened with denunciations of Common Core and built to an address by state Sen. Ed Emery, a voucher proponent who has compared the current public education system with slavery because it traps students in government-run schools. Concerned Women, which is part of a Koch-backed network of conservative organizations, will hold additional seminars across the state this month.

The libertarian Show-Me Institute in St. Louis is also fighting Common Core — and sponsoring policy breakfasts in both St. Louis and Kansas City this month on the virtues of expanding school choice. Meanwhile, the institute’s president, retired investment manager Rex Sinquefield, has poured $850,000 of his personal fortune into promoting the ballot measure to end tenure. Missouri will also host a two-day conference devoted to attacking Common Core at the end of the month.

Supporters of the Common Core standards have plenty of resources to fight back. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent $170 million to develop and promote the standards. The Obama administration has pushed them hard. Big Labor and Big Business both back them.

Still, supporters have struggled to counter the critics. They have had trouble even understanding the contours of the smoldering opposition.

“We don’t know who’s funding the other side, and to what purpose,” said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, a nonprofit that helped write the standards. “It’s really murky.”

Such dark suspicions tickle Sean Fieler, the hedge fund manager who chairs the American Principles Project, another conservative think tank on the front lines of Common Core opposition.

“I wish the money stream were more murky here,” Fieler said. At least at APP, he said, “most of the funding is from me.” Fieler, a prominent social conservative who has spent big in the past to fight gay marriage, said he has directed his organization to spend $500,000 organizing the Common Core opposition and connecting it to his think tank’s long-standing drive for school choice.

“The grass-roots support for this is stronger than for anything else we work on,” Fieler said. “This is an issue with great political promise.”

That same political calculation is evident in FreedomWorks’ draft plan for an Educational Freedom Campaign. Picking up the mantle of parental rights “casts a passionate and caring light on our activists — different from the image currently portrayed by media,” the draft states. The campaign also offers a rare chance to attract new members from outside the tea party — “especially minority communities.”

Already, the strategy is paying off. FreedomWorks started the year in contact with a few dozen stalwart foes of the standards; it now holds weekly strategy sessions with more than 200. “Common Core is bringing in people who are brand-new to activism. They’re coming out of the woodwork,” Neal said. “That’s huge for us.”

Americans for Prosperity’s state chapters also report membership growing because of the issue, even in states like Texas that have not adopted the standards.

“It’s been exhilarating” to watch momentum gather and allies come aboard, Fieler said. “I would characterize this as a tipping point.”

The opposition movement is even starting to draw in conservative Christian groups that in the past have mostly focused on promoting home schooling.

Parents who teach their children at home aren’t directly affected by the new standards but fear they will face pressure to follow them when most textbooks, not to mention the SAT, are aligned to Common Core. Homeschoolers also sense an opportunity to grow their ranks by fanning anger at the public education system.

New York teachers turn on Common Core

This from Politico:
The board of the New York state teachers union this weekend unanimously withdrew its support for the Common Core standards as they have been implemented — a major blow for Common Core advocates who have been touting support from teachers as proof that the standards will succeed in classrooms nationwide.

“We’ll have to be the first to say it’s failed,” said Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers.
Iannuzzi said he has talked with union leaders in other states who may follow suit. “We’ve been in conversations where we’re all saying our members don’t see this going down a path that improves teaching and learning. We’re struggling with how to deal with it,” he said.

The board also unanimously voted no confidence in New York Education Commissioner John King Jr. and urged the state’s Board of Regents to remove him from office.

The move on Common Core put the New York union at odds with the national teachers unions, which have steadfastly promoted the new academic standards for math and language arts instruction, now rolling out in classrooms nationwide.

Amid fierce and growing opposition to the standards — fanned by conservative political organizations — promoters of Common Core have counted on teachers to be their best ambassadors and to reassure parents and students that the guidelines will lead to more thoughtful, rigorous instruction.

Now, one of the biggest groups of educators in the country is on record saying it’s not working.

The NYSUT, which represents about 600,000 teachers, retired teachers and school professionals — and accounts for 15 percent of national teacher union membershipis demanding “major course corrections” before it can consider supporting the standards again.

It wants more time for teachers to review the Common Core lessons the state has been promoting, and it’s demanding more input on whether they are grade-appropriate. Parents and teachers have complained that the standards push the youngest kids too fast, demanding so much work from kindergarteners that there’s little time for the play that’s deemed essential for young children’s development. On the other end of the scale, they have complained that the high-school math trajectory laid out by the Common Core leaves out key math concepts and does not push top students to take calculus.

The union is also demanding that all questions on the new Common Core exams be released so teachers can review them and use them to shape instruction.

Students across New York performed miserably on the first round of Common Core exams, given last spring. The NYSUT is insisting on a three-year moratorium on the high-stakes consequences attached to the exams; the union argues that no teachers should lose their jobs and no students should lose their chance at graduation because of poor performance on the tests during a transition period.

Iannuzzi said the union still believes “the potential is there” for the standards to succeed, but said that won’t happen unless the state brings everything to a halt and effectively starts from scratch.

In response, Commissioner King issued a statement suggesting flexibility; he said he would work with the legislature, governor and Board of Regents to “make necessary adjustments and modifications to the implementation of the Common Core.” But he did not back away from his staunch support of the guidelines, saying that “now is not the time to weaken standards for teaching and learning.” The statement, issued jointly with Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, continued: “Our students are counting on us to help them develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life. The higher standards the Common Core sets will help them do just that.”

The Common Core standards are a central plank in President Barack Obama’s education agenda.
They were developed by nonprofits and organizations representing states, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but have been heavily promoted by the White House and by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Parents of diabetic Lexington boy push for state law to allow school staff to administer insulin

This from the Herald-Leader:
Ed Gibson leaves work four or more times a week to go to Cassidy Elementary School to give his son Henry, 7, insulin shots.

Gibson, a commercial real estate appraiser in Lexington, said he is more than willing to take care of his boy. But he is frustrated that Kentucky regulations and law do not allow school staff other than licensed health professionals to give Henry his insulin, even if the staff has training.

Henry Gibson
With Type 1 diabetes, Henry's body does not produce insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy, according to the American Diabetes Association website.

Fayette County Public Schools, like many other Kentucky school districts, is short on school nurses. The part-time nurse at Cassidy typically gives Henry one injection each day after lunch, his parents say. The second-grader usually ends up needing more.

"The frustrating part about it is that there is a teacher's aide at the school who raised a child with Type 1 diabetes. She's more qualified than we are to care for somebody with diabetes," Gibson said.

Also, "Henry's primary baby sitter, who has given Henry hundreds of shots, is right there (working) in the after-school program" and often works as a substitute teacher, Gibson said. But staff members who are trained or have offered to get training so they could give Henry a shot are not allowed by Kentucky law to give him an injection at school.

House Bill 98, sponsored by state Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, would change the situation for Henry and others, his parents said. HB 98 and Senate Bill 30, introduced by Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, would allow school staff who aren't licensed health care professionals — but who have been trained by a health care professional — to administer or help a student self-administer insulin. The current law allows school staff to administer glucagon, which is emergency medication for someone with diabetes who is unconscious from a severe insulin reaction.

Under the proposed legislation, the individual administering or helping students self-administer the insulin must complete a program consistent with training programs developed by the American Diabetes Association.
The decision to administer the insulin to students would be voluntary for school staff, and parents would have to sign a waiver, Damron said. HB 98, was approved Thursday in Frankfort by the House Health and Welfare Committee and could go to the state House of Representatives on Monday for a vote.

Allowing trained school staff to administer insulin "is a law in about 35 other states," Damron said last week. "It's not meant to replace a school nurse; it's meant to supplement the protection of children."

Administering insulin at school is at issue in a pending federal lawsuit in Lexington that was filed in 2009 against the Scott County Board of Education by the family of a child identified only as R.K.

R.K. initially was not permitted to attend his neighborhood school, Eastern Elementary, which lacked a full-time nurse, and was assigned to Anne Mason Elementary, another school in Scott County, which had a full-time nurse who could give him insulin, according to court documents. The lawsuit alleges that the decision to assign R.K. to the non-neighborhood school constituted discrimination.

"Not all kids with Type 1 diabetes necessarily need assistance from a licensed nurse," said Justin Gilbert, the attorney representing R.K.'s family. "Some can self-administer insulin. Others just need help from a trained lay person. We are troubled by the notion that kids with diabetes must be segregated to certain schools having a nurse."

Attorneys for the Scott County School Board did not return a message last week. But in court documents, they said the school board did not discriminate against R.K. Additionally, the documents filed on behalf of the school board said Scott County schools did not train employees who weren't nurses to monitor the student's blood sugar and administer insulin because that could violate Kentucky regulations.

The federal case "is an example of what we are trying to prevent with this bill,' said Stewart Perry, past national chairman of the American Diabetes Association and the association's current state advocacy volunteer leader.

Perry said he had heard complaints that children in Kentucky with diabetes are being home-schooled or, like R.K., transferred because trained school staff can't give them insulin.

Even in cases in which students can give themselves insulin shots, they have problems in Kentucky schools, Perry said. The American Diabetes Association has received complaints that students with diabetes are being denied the opportunity to play sports, become cheerleaders and go on field trips, he said, because licensed nurses are not available during those events. Stewart said that in 20 years of working with the American Diabetes Association on a national level, he had not heard of one situation "of anybody being injured, anybody being killed or anything happening" because a school staff member without a health care license had given insulin.

"The American Diabetes Association believes that every school should have a school nurse," said Perry. "But even if there is a school nurse, we need trained unlicensed personnel to augment that school nurse."
Fayette County Superintendent Tom Shelton said he thought the legislation was a positive move. "Anything that we are able to do toward the health needs of our students is certainly welcome news, " he said.

Fayette County can afford only part-time nurses at schools, the superintendent said. The district has an interim contract with the Lexington- Fayette County Health Department to provide school nurses that the district is funding entirely. "We are reviewing proposals for a new model program to begin next school year," Shelton said.

A fiscal note attached to HB 98 said there would be no cost to the state if the bill were enacted. The Kentucky Department of Education projected there could be a "small fiscal impact" on school districts if they paid to train school staff, the note said. Damron said the cost would be less than $1,000 for each school district, which he said was less than hiring a school nurse.

There are an estimated 2,564 students identified with diabetes in the public schools, the fiscal note said. But Perry said the numbers could be higher.

Meanwhile, Henry is learning to give himself insulin injections and to count the carbohydrates in his food, but he can't do that alone at school yet, his father and mother, Jennifer Allen Gibson, said.

"The way the blood-sugar levels fluctuate, Henry could need shots much more often than just at lunch," when he typically receives one from the school nurse, Ed Gibson said. "He could need it in the morning; he almost always needs one in the afternoon after an afternoon snack."

During the day, the school staff texts Ed Gibson about Henry's blood-sugar levels and tells Gibson what Henry is having for a snack so the father can decide whether he needs to go to school to give Henry an injection.

"The situation is OK for me because I'm relatively close to school," said Gibson. And, because he is self-employed, Gibson said, he can work evenings and weekends to make up the time he loses during the day. But Gibson said he knew other parents have a harder time leaving work at unscheduled times.

Henry's mother said she thought allowing school staff to be trained to administer insulin could bring increased and consistent care across the state.

"It's simply people that are going to be willing to help out for the good of the kids," Jennifer Gibson said.

Read more here: