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.
Kentucky's persistently low-achieving schools would be able to become charter schools to improve performance and test scores under a bill discussed Tuesday in the state Senate Education Committee.
The bill adds charters as a fifth option for what the state now calls "priority schools—schools that persistently get low scores. The current options include re-staffing of teachers, firing the principal, giving the school up to outside management or closing the schools.
Kentucky is one of seven states that doesn't allow for some sort of charter school—public schools that are generally governed independently from local school boards and given flexibility in teaching methods. Past efforts which would have opened charters to schools that weren't persistently low-performing have failed to pass through the General Assembly.
This legislation, Senate Bill 176, offers a different path, because only those schools who qualify as low-achieving could apply for charter status to their local school board.
A new report shows Tennessee with the fastest-improving high school graduation rate in the nation. The Tennessean reports Volunteer State education leaders hope to reach the 90 percent diploma threshold by 2020.
The report shows the Tennessee high school graduation rate has improved by 6.5 percentage points since 2001, with an average annual growth rate of 1.25 points between 2006 and 2010. During that time period, Tennessee improved at nearly double the national rate.
The report is the combined effort of the groups Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center, America’s Promise Alliance, and the Alliance for Excellent Education.
In Tennessee, 80 percent of high school freshman say in school and graduate as seniors. That’s better than the national average of 78.2 percent.
Nationally, 200,000 more students received high school diplomas than in 2006, a trend driven by big gains in African-American and Hispanic graduation rates.
"Worst case, we're looking at $535,000 in lost funding for our district alone," Saylor said. "We don't want to scare anyone. We don't like giving bad news, but if nothing changes, we're like everyone else. Eventually you have to cut jobs."
Kentucky's community and technical colleges around the state will take part in Super Sunday this weekend. Representatives from the schools will visit more than three dozen African-American and Hispanic churches. Following services, an information fair will reach out to prospective students and their parents.
"KCTCS has a strong commitment to diversity and ensuring that every citizen in this state has the educational opportunities that they need to succeed," said Dr. Michael McCall, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. "It's our responsibility to make everyone aware of college, that it is within their reach."
A bill that would create new statewide school safety standards has unanimously passed the House Education Committee and will soon be considered on the floor. The bill's sponsor, Mt. Sterling Democrat Richard Henderson, says he worked with a special task force for months before the start of this legislative session to come up with the plan.
It would require each school to have an emergency plan, have electronically controlled outside doors or a greeter to manage who gets in and to lock classroom doors when practical. the bill also creates a uniform system of numbering all schools' doors and windows, created by a Franklin County school resource officer.
Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton says he recently tested it on more than 150 superintendents and law enforcers and most were able to learn the system in about five minutes.
Six Kentucky's public universities can immediately start construction on more than $300 million in construction or renovation projects, including a $110-million renovation of Lexington's Commonwealth Stadium.
Governor Steve Beshear signed House Bill 7 into law on Thursday.
The bill authorizes bonds and other funds to help build academic buildings, dorms and other necessities at the universities. It assures no public money will be used for the projects.
WKU will receive authorization for $22 million in bonds for a new Honors College and international center.
The Kentucky Board of Education on Wednesday rescued a small southern school district from the brink of closure, voting to allow emergency funds to be used to pay the bills in what members called an unprecedented move by the state.
Under the agreement, the state Department of Education will likely lend the Monticello Independent school district at least $1 million to keep its three schools open until the end of the school year. The interest-free loan will come out of the state's rainy day fund and will have to be repaid within five years, said associate commissioner Hiren Desai.
Desai said without the help, the district would not have been able to make payroll Feb. 28.
"Quite frankly, time is of the essence," Desai told members at a special meeting in Frankfort.