education

WKU

The longest-serving professor at Western Kentucky University has passed away.

Mary Ellen Miller taught English at the school for 54 years. She died over the weekend in Bowling Green at the age of 83.

She had been recuperating at Greenwood Rehabilitation Center after suffering a fall.

A post on the WKU English Department’s Facebook page said Miller’s death “is an enormous loss for the English Department, WKU, our region, and the arts community”.

Bruce Parsons, KVEC

Student teams from across the coalfields of eastern Kentucky came together at the Knott County Sportsplex, bringing with them drones that they themselves had built. It was time for the climax of this year-long project. A basketball court had been separated with nets, and padded gates marked a circuit course for the little flying machines.

Seth Hatfield was one of dozens thumbing the joysticks on a remote control, and making last minute adjustments to four colorful propellers on top of a machine that had taken a full school year of teamwork to build. It was time for the drone race.


Western Kentucky University

The estate of a longtime Western Kentucky University supporter is pledging a $10 million endowment for student scholarships.

Annual investment earnings from the endowment will be added to the Jerry E. Baker Student Scholarship Fund, which was initially created by a direct bequest by Baker, who passed away last June.

Baker was a businessman, philanthropist, and founder of the Baker Arboretum and Downing Museum in Warren County.

The new scholarship fund will provide support to WKU students who major or minor in music, dance, theatre, art, or horticulture.

WKU

The Western Kentucky University Finance and Budget Committee has agreed to send the full Board of Regents a proposed spending plan that increases student tuition and fees, as well as employee salaries.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 would increase undergraduate tuition by four-percent, and add $50 to the online course fee assessed to full-time students.

Ryland Barton

Louisville’s practice of busing students around the city to try and create more diverse schools is under fire again as Kentucky education officials consider whether to take over management of the district.

Jefferson County Public Schools’ Student Assignment Plan lets students apply to groups of schools based on their address. In a massive state audit of JCPS released last week, interim education commissioner Wayne Lewis said the Student Assignment Plan negatively impacts minority students and that it “serves some, but not all students.”

Rhonda J. Miller

The president of Western Kentucky University unveiled phase two of the school’s budget cuts on Thursday. WKU President Timothy Caboni says this second round of cuts will result in $14 million in savings. The two rounds of budget cuts amount to $27 million.

The second round of cuts includes 10 filled staff positions and the elimination of 20 vacant positions. Of those 20, 12 are faculty and eight are staff.  The specific positions will be announced in about week, after employees are notified.

Creative Commons

Decades before the Kentucky Board of Education forced out former Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt two years before his contract was up, the legislature passed a massive overhaul of the state education system, including measures to try and shield Kentucky’s top education official from political influence.

Before the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act in 1990, Kentucky’s top education official was called the superintendent of public instruction, a position that was elected through a statewide vote every four years — the same years that the governor and other statewide officials were elected.


As the wave of teacher walkouts moves to Arizona and Colorado this week, an NPR/Ipsos poll shows strong support among Americans for improving teachers' pay and for their right to strike.

Creative Commons

After a shakeup of Kentucky’s Board of Education last week, conservative groups are pushing for the state to intervene in the management of Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district.

Wayne Lewis, the interim commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, is expected to release an extensive 14-month audit of the district soon. The audit could include recommendations the state assume control of the district’s operations.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

The Kentucky Board of Education has voted to accept the resignation of Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt.

Wayne Lewis was named the interim commissioner with a salary of $150,000.

Pruitt has been commissioner since September 2015. Bevin said Tuesday before the board's vote he was unhappy with the state's recent decline in test scores but said the decision to keep Pruitt was up to the board.

Kara Lofton, WVPB

When Oklahoma teacher Sally Salmons saw momentum building toward teacher protests in her state, she immediately reached out to family ties and educators in West Virginia. She said teacher walkouts in the Mountain State provided her and colleagues across the state with the courage they needed to take a stand.

“We looked at West Virginia and said, ‘Now’s the time to get on it.’ I think it gave us confidence to really, finally cross that line,” she said.


J. Tyler Franklin

As one of its final acts of this year’s legislative session, the Republican-led Kentucky House of Representatives passed a resolution formally condemning Gov. Matt Bevin for saying that teachers neglected students by attending protests in Frankfort on Friday, leading to child abuse.

The reprimand came after Democrats and several Republican statehouse leaders demanded an apology from Bevin for the remarks.

Ryland Barton

After thousands of teachers traveled to Frankfort on Friday to protest, Gov. Matt Bevin said that somewhere in Kentucky children were sexually assaulted or ingested poison because they were left unattended.

Bevin made the comments to several reporters early Friday evening, hours after the Republican-led legislature overrode his vetoes of the state budget and tax reform bills amid noisy protests from teachers.

Patrice McCrary Facebook

A Warren County teacher is joining thousands of her colleagues from across Kentucky at the state Capitol Friday.  Busloads of educators arrived in Frankfort to continue their activism, exercised many times throughout this year's General Assembly.

Lawmakers increased funding for K-12 education and restored cuts to school bus transportation in the next state budget.  Governor Bevin vetoed the spending plan, and educators will rally in hopes of convincing lawmakers to override the governor’s veto.

Ryland Barton, Kentucky Public Radio

Teachers from across Kentucky are planning to travel to Frankfort on Friday to rally for better funding for schools. Educators are protesting Governor Matt Bevin’s vetoes of bills that impact schools and communities.

Some school districts are closing so teachers can attend the Frankfort rally on April 13 while others, like Bowling Green, are holding regular classes and sending delegations of teachers.

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