education

KCTCS

The head of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System has been appointed to a new national board that advocates for the needs of community colleges. 

KCTCS President Jay Box says the board called “Reclaiming America’s Middle Class” promotes the value of community colleges to students, communities, and the economy. He says that’s something often not wellunderstood by policy makers.

"We are the primary provider of workforce education and training in all states, and we realize that the jobs our graduates get are those middle class jobs, the jobs that are so important in our economy," Box told WKU Public Radio.

The board has several priorities, including an expansion of Pell Grants for summer classes. Box says that would help students complete their education quicker and with less cost. 

The board is made up of leaders from the nation’s largest community college systems.  KCTCS has 16 schools and 70 campus locations.

Joe Corcoran

Bowling Green mayor Bruce Wilkerson is adding the title of college president to his resume.

Daymar College announced Wednesday that Wilkerson will lead their campus in Bowling Green.

He’ll continue as the city’s mayor.

The Owensboro-based school’s campus in Warren County had 214 students enrolled last year, and produced 133 graduates.

Wilkerson said he’ll focus on the quality of students, not quantity.

“Numbers aren’t the important part," the Bowling Green Mayor said. "Our focus will be on the individual student and making sure they have the opportunity to meet the goals they’ve set for themselves. We hope that in doing that, the reputation of Daymar will lead us to grow.”

Daymar’s reputation took a hit in 2014 when it was sued by then-Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway for alleged violations of the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

WKU

In an e-mail to faculty and staff late Wednesday afternoon, WKU President Gary Ransdell said Governor Matt Bevin's proposed budget cuts to higher education present a substantial challenge to the university.

Bevin's proposal calls for a 4.5 percent budget cut this fiscal year. That translates to $3.3 million out of WKU's budget by the end of June. Nine percent reductions would go into effect after that.

"There are many details of this plan that are yet to be understood, and with regard to performance funding, those details have yet to be defined," Ransdell said in his message. "So we are a long way from fully knowing how WKU will be impacted by these proposals.  I am confident, however, that WKU will fare well in any measure that is outcome or performance based.

Ransdell says the budget contains at least one bright spot for WKU. Gov. Bevin's budget proposal contains an equity funding appropriation for both WKU and Northern Kentucky University. Ransdell says the appropriation would held "level the playing field for our students who are paying a disproportionate share of their education in comparison to students at other Kentucky universities."

University of Louisville

Gov. Matt Bevin on Thursday withdrew a motion from former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear that would have dismissed a lawsuit accusing Beshear of breaking state law when he did not appoint a single African-American to the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees last year.

Bevin filed pleadings Thursday with the Franklin Circuit Court “expressing his agreement” with the group that filed the lawsuit, according to his office.

Last summer, the West Louisville-based Justice Resource Center asked then-Attorney General Jack Conway to weigh in on whether U of L was out of compliance with the racial minority requirement state law, which requires the board to have a proportional representation of minorities.

Activists said Conway ducked the issue when he released an opinion requiring that Beshear appoint at least one racial minority to the board. The governor appoints 17 of the 20 U of L trustees; by appointing one African-American, Beshear would have brought the total to two.

J. Tyler Franklin/WFPL News)

Two members of the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees publicly withdrew their support for U of L President James Ramsey during the board’s regular meeting today.

In September, all 20 trustees signed a letter affirming their support for Ramsey as the state auditor’s office began an investigation into the relationship between the school and its $1.1 billion nonprofit foundation. Ramsey is the head of both entities, and he is a voting member of the foundation’s board of directors.

Alluding to the numerous scandals that have emerged at the university over the past few months, trustee Steve Campbell interjected early in the meeting to announce he was withdrawing his support for Ramsey.

“Ever since [September], there have been material issues with the university. I’m not going to list them, you all are aware of them,” said Campbell, an adviser at financial firm Lazard Freres & Co. “And as a result, I feel that the circumstances have changed. I am happy to stand alone, and I do so with all due respect.”

WKU

Kentucky state universities have endured regular budget cuts for years, and they’ve offset the losses in part with tuition increases.

A Republican state senator wants to stop the latter.

State Sen. Dan Seum, a Louisville Republican, is proposing a freeze on state universities’ tuition rates. He said state universities have increased their tuition at a rate that outstrips cuts to higher education.

“We cut their budget by $165 million, they increased it on the backs of these kids to the tune of $582 million,” Seum said. “I think the universities have seen these kids as nothing more than a cash cow.”

According to a 2015 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Kentucky has cut higher education spending per-student at the highest rate in the U.S.

At the same time, tuition has increased at Kentucky’s public universities at a clip higher than 45 other states’ higher education systems.

Tuition increases must be approved by the state’s Council on Postsecondary Education. Last year, the board approved a 3 percent hike for the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville. Both schools were granted a 5 percent tuition increase the previous year.

Tuition is only allowed to increase by 8 percent every two years.

Teachers, parents and politicians have long wrestled with the question:

How important is preschool?

A new answer comes in the form of a study — out of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. — that is as clear as it is controversial.

Conway/Overly campaign

Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Jack Conway released his education plan in Louisville Tuesday.

In it, Conway continues his push for more early childhood education programs in the state. His plan aims to expand access to preschoolers in families at 138 percent of the poverty level.

The big question is, though, how the state would pay for that expansion.

Conway said the state can restructure how much of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement money would go toward early childhood education, which currently receives about one-fourth of the funds. State government could vie for more federal support and apply for more grants, too, he said.

However, Conway said eliminating government waste would be the major source of funding.

“Potentially we could maybe double the funding for early childhood education in the first budget, and that is something that I am going to shoot to do,” he said during a news conference at the main public library in downtown Louisville.

Flickr/Creative Commons/my_southborough

Kentucky inmates earned dramatically fewer GED diplomas since the test switched in January 2014 from a paper-based test to a more rigorous version taken on a computer, according to the state Department of Corrections.

In the 2013 fiscal year — the last full year the previous test was given — Kentucky prison and jail inmates earned 1,135 GED diplomas. In the 2015 fiscal year ending in June, 126 GED diplomas were awarded to Kentucky inmates.

The 89 percent decline means that fewer inmates have been awarded “educational good time,” which reduces prison sentences by 90 days for each inmate who earns a diploma.

The department declined a request for an interview. But in an email response to questions posed by Kentucky Public Radio, the department said that it had responded to recent changes to the test “with frustration.”

Kentucky LRC

The appointment of Kentucky’s top education official would be subject to state Senate confirmation under a bill pre-filed last week in the General Assembly.

State Rep. Kenny Imes, a Murray Republican, said he’s seeking to add accountability to the state’s education department.

“I think the public should have the right to have a voice in who is running our education system in Kentucky, along with their elected representatives,” he said. “The state by constitution is charged with providing the public education, and as such I just don’t think it ought to be totally run by KEA or any specific group.”

A spokesman for the Kentucky Education Association did not return an email request for comment on Monday.

The Kentucky education commissioner is appointed by the state Board of Education, which is appointed by the governor. Under current law, the Senate confirms the governor’s appointments to the education board, according to information provided by the Legislative Research Commission.

Last weekend, the state Board of Education interviewed a dozen candidates for the education commissioner post. The person chosen will replace the retiring Terry Holliday, the state education commissioner since 2009.

WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell informed faculty and staff Tuesday afternoon that Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Gordon Emslie is stepping down from his administrative roles and returning to teaching.

An email sent by President Ransdell said Emslie will take a sabbatical and teach in the WKU Physics and Astronomy department beginning in January.

Dr. David Lee will take over as Provost and VP of Academic Affairs Monday. Lee, currently the Dean of the Potter College of Arts and Letters, will serve a two-year appointment, with a search for a successor beginning next summer.

Dr. Emslie has served five years as Provost and VP of Academic Affairs.

“I support Gordon’s decision and offer my sincere appreciation to him for his loyal and dedicated service,” said WKU President Gary A. Ransdell.  “I have appreciated his sound financial acumen, tenacious support of the faculty and his teamwork with our colleagues on the Administrative Council."

Warrick County Schools Start Year with 48 New Teachers

Aug 10, 2015

Warrick County, Indiana schools filled 48 teaching positions this year. The district about 30 miles northwest of Owensboro, Kentucky is now fully staffed for the first day of school on Aug. 12.  

Warrick County Schools Superintendent Brad Schneider said 19 of the 48 were resignations, with some teachers likely leaving because of changes in public education, such as the emphasis on high-stakes testing.

“In my opinion, that pendulum has swung way too far and those test scores now seem to be dictating everything we do," said Schnieder. "As educators we know that’s not what’s best for kids. They also need to know problem solving skills. They need to know how to work with others, resolve problems, think outside the box, be creative.” 

Schneider said one concern in Indiana is the elimination of a salary scale, which guaranteed incremental raises for teachers.

Rob Canning, WKMS

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King says Kentucky’s recent strides in economic recovery have not been reflected in its funding for higher education.

The CPE was at Murray State University Tuesday evening as part of its series of town hall debates to gather input on the new five-year strategic initiative plan.

An audience of about 100 educators, business leaders and local and state government officials were present for the forum in MSU's Freed Curd Auditorium.

One of the key challenges outlined in King's presentation was finding alternative funding.

State Funding

Since the 2008 recession, Kentucky colleges have had to cut budgets and raise tuition in light of reduced state appropriations. Although some state experts say the Commonwealth is now on an economic upswing, King says colleges are still struggling to maintain quality programs with reduced funding levels.

The Anderson County Adult Education Center is empty on a Thursday afternoon, except for a receptionist, a teacher and the director.

Two years ago, every table in the small classroom might be filled, said Jerry Shaw, the center’s director.

He’d have trouble just walking across the room.

“Every age group, every stage of the test. There were days where it was slow, but that was unusual. Now the days that are slow are the usual,” Shaw said.

The situation is playing out across the state.

The number of Kentuckians passing the General Educational Development test, or GED, has dropped by 85 percent in the last two years, according to the state’s adult education program.

During the 2013 fiscal year, 8,890 students earned GED diplomas.

The current fiscal year ends this month. So far the state has issued only 1,351 diplomas.

Lance Dennee/WKMS

The results are in from a biennial survey that asks Kentucky teachers about the state of teaching and learning in the commonwealth.

A record 89.3 percent of certified educators responded to the voluntary Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Survey, administered by the New Teacher Center.

Overall, the survey shows teachers are more positive than two years ago, with 87.9 percent of teachers calling their school a good place to work and learn. That’s compared to 85.2 percent in 2013.

Some of the topics included in the survey are time, school leadership, teacher leadership, facilities and resources, professional development, community engagement and student conduct.

“Time” was the least positive category in the survey, though it, too, showed improvement over 2013’s survey. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they feel there's enough instructional time to meet the needs of all students. That's up from 68.6 percent in 2013.

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