Education

Governor Steve Beshear is urging state lawmakers to approve a budget proposal that would raise the income eligibility level for public preschool to 160 percent of the federal poverty rate.

Preschool in Kentucky is currently offered to 4-year-olds whose family income is 150 percent of the federal poverty level or less. Children with developmental delays or disabilities are also eligible. Beshear says more kids need to get an early start in school.

 A twenty thousand dollar gift from AT&T will help to launch a speakers program at the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at WKU.   Gatton Director Tim Gott says the program will benefit students and members of the general public, because the speeches will be held in locations that will allow members of the public and campus community to attend.

WKU

 AT&T is announcing a gift to help launch a speaker series at Western Kentucky University. The series will be an endowed program, created to connect students at the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science with educators, policy makers, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs.  The program will be called the "AT&T Innovation and Leadership Speaker Series."

After several years, a bill allowing charter schools in Kentucky has received a hearing in a House committee. Advocates for and against the measure spent Tuesday debating the merits of the education reform in the capitol. Charter school administrators from other states joined Rep. Brad Montell, the bill’s sponsor, and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president Dave Adkission in support of the bill.

KCTCS

African-American churches across Kentucky are participating in "Super Sunday" events, designed to help increase the college-going rates of minority students. Each of the sixteen colleges in the KCTCS system is partnering with churches in their communities to host college information fairs today for prospective college students and their families.

The Superintendent of Hardin County Schools says the No Child Left Behind waiver given to Kentucky will allow the state to better judge how students are progressing academically. Nannette Johnston told WKU Public Radio that the federal law was an overly simplistic “pass or fail” model. She believes the state’s new system will give schools credit for the success they have in helping individual students.

A proposal to raise Kentucky’s dropout age to 18 years old has passed a major hurdle. The state Senate has approved a bill that allows individual school districts to decide whether to raise the dropout age and requires participating schools to have alternative education programs.

The bill passed overwhelming, 35-2 Wednesday, with two Democratic senators voting against because of the local option. Republican Senator Julie Denton also didn’t like the local option, but she voted in favor of the measure.

Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee have been granted a waiver from federal No Child Left Behind education standards. NCLB has been criticized for setting unreachable goals for education. Kentucky was one of 11 states that applied for the waiver last fall and promised to make other commitments to school reform.

A bill allowing charter schools in Kentucky will get a hearing in the House Education Committee. Chairman Carl Rollins has set Tuesday as the hearing date, but that could change if the deadline for candidates to file to run for General Assembly seats is pushed back again. Rollins still doesn’t support charter schools, but thinks it's time for the bill to be discussed.

Governor Steve Beshear is warming to a modified proposal to raise the high school dropout age. Beshear has long pushed to raise the dropout age to 18. The Senate Education Committee passed a bill today that lets individual school boards opt in to a higher dropout age. It also requires those boards to provide the Kentucky Department of Education with proof that a solid alternative program exists in their districts.

Kentucky’s two largest universities are facing grim futures with more budget cuts planned for the coming years. But the schools' presidents say they can survive.

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and University of Louisville President James Ramsey addressed the Senate Education Committee today.

They did not attempt to talk their way out of proposed 6.4 percent budget cuts. Instead, both men talked highly of their current programs and their ability to survive past budget cuts.

Lawmakers from both parties appear eager to make changes to Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system.

The system puts a heavy emphasis on student test scores. The new system was put in place as state leaders secured millions of dollars in funding from the federal “Race to the Top” program. The Tennessean newspaper reports nearly 20 bills have been filed by lawmakers to alter the evaluation system, despite calls from Governor Bill Haslam to leave it alone for now.

The Indiana House will now consider a bill that would allow creationism to be taught in public school classrooms. The bill—already passed by the state Senate--would allow schools to teach religion-based views on the origin of the universe in science classes, along with teachings on evolution.

Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education is confident the commonwealth will receive a waiver from No Child Left Behind standards. Terry Holliday has been in direct talks with federal officials, and he says a big announcement confirming the waiver is coming next week.

The head of Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education foresees a dire future for higher education if the state can’t correct its budget woes soon. CPE President Robert King told a budget subcommittee today that Governor Steve Beshear’s 6.4 percent budget cut on higher education will definitely mean higher tuition for college students. But another increase won’t be enough to fill the hole created by four years of budget cuts.

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