education

Rhonda J Miller

Schools in Kentucky, and across the nation, are making it a priority to develop a 21st Century workforce trained in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. That skilled workforce is necessary for careers in the competitive global market.

Simpson County schools are making a commitment to science and technology with a hands-on ‘maker space.’

The robots are humming along on tabletop landscapes. Everything is made out of Legos at a robotics camp at a former school bus garage turned into the Franklin-Simpson Exploratorium.

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner outlined his vision for broad education reform in the commonwealth, including providing at least some form of post-secondary education for everyone, improving outdated area technology centers, reconsidering the traditional school day and investing in career counseling.

Heiner delivered his remarks at Murray State University’s annual Harry M. Sparks Distinguished Lecture Series Tuesday evening in Wrather Auditorium. In attendance were local educators, state legislators and city and county officials.

Citing the rapid pace of development of smartphones and computer chips, and Amazon’s ‘Kiva’ robots replacing human labor in distribution centers, Heiner said the ‘world of work’ is changing fast.

Thomas Galvez/Creative Commons

Public schools would be in a financial pinch if Congressional Republicans are successful in changing the way Medicaid is funded.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Act requires public schools pay for health care services for students with disabilities — including services like school nurses, speech and mental health therapists. Kentucky schools received $34 million in 2015 toward those costs. Over half of the funds came from Medicaid — the rest came from the state.

That money could be in jeopardy if the American Health Care Act – also referred to as Trumpcare – is revived. The GOP plan proposes cutting $839 billion in Medicaid spending to states over 10 years.

Creative Commons

A controversial bill that would change the way local school districts assign students to schools is running out of time as lawmakers close in on the final four working days of the General Assembly.

The bill would give priority to students who live closest to schools — and would likely mean the end of Louisville’s anti-segregation program designed to mingle students from different races, backgrounds and parts of town in the same schools.

The measure passed the state House of Representatives two weeks ago, but it hasn’t yet had a hearing in the Senate Education Committee, which is the next step in the legislative process.

The Henderson County school system is preparing to begin random drug-testing. 

Starting in the 2017-18 school year, middle and high school students who participate in extra-curricular activities and those applying for a parking permit will be subject to the testing. 

Band Director Adam Thomas says he hopes the new policy will be a deterrent. 

"If they're at a party or something like that and somebody offers them something, we really hope they will say 'What if this is the week I get drawn in the random testing and we've got the big game on Friday or state marching band on Saturday? I don't want to miss out on that because I made one poor decision.'"

Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Senate Tuesday confirmed Betsy DeVos as President Trump’s education secretary, 51-50. The vice president had to cast an unprecedented tie-breaking vote, after hearings that became fodder for Saturday Night Live; after angry constituents swamped Senate offices with 1.5 million calls a day; after two Republican senators defected; and Democrats held the floor overnight in protest.

The 59-year-old philanthropist and activist from Michigan takes over the leadership and management of a federal bureaucracy with 4,400 employees and a $68 billion annual budget.

Now, the question is: How much will actually change for the nation’s 50 million public school students and 20 million college students?

Adam Hatcher

It’s business as usual at Warren County’s International High School despite the news of President Trump’s travel ban.

Trump issued an executive order last week temporarily banning travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries. Gateway to Educational Opportunities, or GEO, is an International school that is home to students from 25 different countries. More than half of those students are refugees.

Principal Mike Stevenson said students have been surprisingly quiet about the travel ban and they arrived at school Monday and treated it like any other day. Stevens is conscious of the effect the ban could have on international students and their relatives, but says he hasn’t felt the need to address the student body.

Wikimedia Commons

When Kentucky lawmakers return to Frankfort next week, they’re expected to take up charter school legislation.

Republican leaders are confident that some form of charter school enabling legislation will pass this session. But now, the debate has shifted to whether to permit the schools across the state or just in Lexington and Louisville.

A Divided Majority?

Kentucky is one of only seven states in the nation without charter schools, and most people predict that will change this year. But earlier this week at a meeting of Greater Louisville Inc., the Louisville area’s chamber of commerce, House Speaker Jeff Hoover tapped the brakes slightly on a statewide charter school bill.

Bloomberg/Getty Images

A key Senate committee today voted to approve the nomination of Betsy DeVos, a school choice activist and billionaire Republican donor, to be Secretary of Education, despite fierce objections of Senate Democrats, teachers' unions and others. There's much speculation as to exactly how she might carry out President Trump's stated priority of increasing school choice.

A significant clue comes from the American Federation for Children, the advocacy organization DeVos chaired until she was nominated. AFC supports both publicly funded charter schools and even more so, "private school choice" — publicly sponsored programs that give families money to spend on tuition at private schools.

Creative Commons

Kentucky is one of seven states in the U.S. that doesn’t allow charter schools. But the General Assembly is likely to soon approve a bill that would make the organizations a reality in the Bluegrass.

Lawmakers will return next week to consider the measure. So what exactly are charter schools, and are they effective?

Supporters have pushed to open Kentucky up to charter schools for years, but opponents, most notably the state teacher’s union, successfully lobbied to keep the policy from passing enabling legislation into law.

During a legislative hearing last year, Education and Workforce Development Secretary Hal Heiner gave an impassioned speech in favor of charters, calling out the Kentucky Educators Association for opposing them.

Mark Humphrey/AP

Recent high school graduates in Tennessee are already allowed to attend community college at no cost. Now Gov. Bill Haslam is looking to expand the year-old program to provide free community college educations to adults, as well.

Haslam, a Republican who's been in office since 2011, made his pitch at Monday night's State of the State address. Afterwards, he tweeted, "Let's be the Tennessee we can be."

The pitch was well-received by members of both parties, as the governor pushes toward his goal of helping Tennessee have 55 percent of its 6.6 million citizens hold a post-secondary degree or certificate by the year 2025.

Flickr/Creative Commons/U.S. Department of Education

The birthday cutoff for kindergarten in Kentucky is moving up two months. 

Children must be five years old on or before August 1 of this year in order to enter kindergarten for the 2017-18 school year.  The previous cutoff was October 1. 

Bowling Green Schools Superintendent Gary Fields says the change won’t affect that many students.

"I think this is an acknowledgement that many parents were not opting to start their children in kindergarten if their sons or daughters were born in August and September," Fields told WKU Public Radio.  "As an example, in the Bowling Green schools, we currently have 312 kindergarteners, and this law would have impacted ten of those students."

The General Assembly changed state law to implement the earlier cutoff based on the premise that younger students may not be ready for kindergarten and may not get off to a successful start.

Thinkstock

Hal Heiner, secretary of the state’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said a new free college tuition program would help people who have exited the labor force get back to work.

Gov. Matt Bevin created the program by executive order last week after vetoing a similar measure during this year’s legislative session.

The scholarship would be the “last dollar in” for students seeking two-year degrees at schools in Kentucky, paying for the rest of tuition and fee expenses not covered by federal financial aid.

Daymar to Refund $1.2 Million to Former Kentucky Students

Dec 15, 2016
Daymar Colleges Group

Kentucky's attorney general says thousands of former Daymar College students will begin receiving restitution checks totaling $1.2 million.

Attorney General Andy Beshear said Wednesday the payments will go to nearly 3,500 former students of Daymar's Kentucky campuses and online programs. The payments are being issued by the claims administrator appointed to handle the case.

Adam Hatcher

Students at Kentucky’s first international high school are preparing to finish their first semester. Gateway to Educational Opportunities International is located on Warren Central High School’s campus in Bowling Green.

About 65 percent of the school’s 180 students are refugees. Assistant Principal Adam Hatcher said some students know four or five languages, with most able to speak at least rudimentary English.

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