Voting along strict party lines, the Kentucky Senate has approved a bill that would allow persistently low-performing public schools to become charter schools.
Under the legislation, school officials would submit applications to the local board of education to turn a school into a charter, the board of education would decide whether to allow them to become a charter school. A two-thirds majority vote by the school board would decide whether a school would become a charter school.
"I believe that we need to give everybody a great education here," said state Sen. Mike Wilson, a Republican from Bowling Green, the bill's sponsor.
"Otherwise, I would not have agreed to serve as the chair of the Senate Education Committee I have a passion for education, to see our kids educated properly."
Opponents of a Vanderbilt University policy banning discrimination in student groups want to enact a law to strip the private school of its police powers if it doesn't change its ways.
The bill sponsored by Sen. Mae Beaver of Mt. Juliet and fellow Republican Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon was the subject of competing press conferences at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville on Tuesday.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last year vetoed a bill to do away with Vanderbilt's "all comers" policy, which requires student groups at the school to allow any interested students to join and run for office. Religious groups argue the policy forces them to accept students who don't share their beliefs.
Haslam said he disagrees with Vanderbilt's policy, but opposes targeting a private institution.
The Tennessee House will consider creating an entirely new panel for authorizing charter schools at the state level. It’s part of a compromise set to be heard in an education committee Tuesday.
The original bill is a direct response to the repeated rejection of Great Hearts Academies by Metro Schools last year. It gives the state board of education power to OK charter schools and oversee them.
But the state board has concerns about possibly taking on the job of managing privately-run, publicly financed schools. Rep. Mark White says he now hopes to create a completely separate board appointed by the governor and speakers of the House and Senate.
“Now with this panel, this will be something that shows we’re serious about this. We want good charter applications to come to this state, but we’re going to do it right,” said Rep. White.
Kentucky's First Lady says new technology is offering young people new ways to access reading materials. Jane Beshear kicked off the 2013 Literacy Celebration Week Monday at WKU by speaking to an education class about the impact of reading on college readiness.
Mrs. Beshear says it doesn't matter if young people read books the old-fashioned way, or if they use an mobile electronic reader.
"I don't care how they read, as long as they read. We're in the technology age, so that's as engaging as anything. So if that's what it takes to get them involved, then I'm all for it."
After her visit to WKU, the Kentucky First Lady then toured the Housing Authority of Bowling Green to talk about how literacy growth can be incorporated into after-school programs.
Donald W. Zacharias, who spent six years as president of Western Kentucky University and then led Mississippi State University, has died of complications from multiple sclerosis, Mississippi State said Sunday. He was 77.
He died late Saturday night, said daughter-in-law Sarah Zacharias of Boulder, Colo.
Zacharias was born in Salem, Ind., and taught at Indiana University and the University of Texas, where he moved into administration. He became WKU's sixth president in 1979 and served until Aug. 31, 1985, before going to Mississippi State.
The state Senator shepherding Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s school voucher bill through the legislature says it doesn’t go nearly far enough. He says he will offer an amendment making many more students eligible to have their private school tuition paid with public money.
With proposed restrictions limiting vouchers to poor students attending struggling schools, Senator Brian Kelsey says just 3.5 percent of Tennessee students would qualify. And only a fraction of those would take the offer.
“After we do all this heavy lifting to work on this bill this year, if we end up with only two-thousandths of one percent of students being helped by it, I will be sorely disappointed,” said Sen. Kelsey.
Kelsey has yet to outline his amendment and says he will discuss it with the governor, who earlier this week said he likes his voucher bill the way it is.
The Kentucky Department of Education has appointed a state manager for the Monticello Independent school district.
The agency said in a statement Wednesday that 29-year-old veteran educator James Hamm would begin his duties immediately. Hamm was originally assigned to the district late last year by Department of Education as an education recovery leader.
That move came when the Kentucky Board of Education placed the district under state assistance in December, after an audit showed failures in governance, finance and personnel operations at the district.
The Board approved a state takeover this month after further analysis showed the district was on the brink of closure due to its poor financial state.
The presidents of Kentucky's public universities have signed a letter urging the state's U.S. senators to help overhaul the immigration system.
The letter, dated Tuesday and addressed to Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, said American universities educate some of the world's top international students only to see some of them leave under current immigration policies and work for competing companies abroad.
"Kentucky cannot afford to wait to fix our immigration system," the letter stated. "As we send away highly skilled workers trained at Kentucky and other American universities, competing international economies are welcoming these scientists and engineers."
The letter calls for a bipartisan solution to ensure these graduates have a clear path to a green card.