The Kentucky Department of Education will begin preparing to implement new science standards in the next school year.
The standards revise science education in general, but have drawn controversy for expanding on evolution and climate change. A General Assembly committee rejected the standards this week but Governor Steve Beshear said he will use his powers to enact them anyway.
Dr. Tom Tretter at the University of Louisville worked on the standards. He’s also helping teachers implement the new lessons. He says even though they haven’t cleared all the legislative hurdles, the state feels it’s best to begin training teachers.
“Given that we feel like its best case and most prudent to go ahead and move forward under the initial assumption at least that we’re going to be working with these Next Generation Science Standards or something that might look just like them," said Dr. Tretter.
Kentucky is among the states providing less per-student funding for public education than they did before the recession.
The Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report Thursday highlighting education spending over the last few years. The report shows Kentucky’s funding per-student is around 10 percent lower than what it was in 2008.
Jason Bailey is the organization’s Kentucky representative, and was also on the governor’s Blue Ribbon Tax Commission. He says it’s up to state lawmakers to find new revenue and they can start by acting on some of the tax reforms recommended by the panel.
“The reality is that the budget that lawmakers will make during the legislative session will be as bad or worse than the current budget unless we come up with more revenue.”
The center reports only 20 states have boosted education funding through new tax laws since the recession.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says he will override a legislative committee’s decision to reject new science standards for public school students.
The Kentucky Board of Education already approved the Next Generation Science Standards this year, but they were subject to legislative review. The regulation review committee shot down the new standards 5-1 Wednesday, following public criticism that they included teachings on evolution and climate change.
Committee co-chair Senator Ernie Harris rejected the standards, calling them inferior to Kentucky’s current standards.
“I probably got 100 comments from people around the state to find these regs deficient, and I think I got may three or four in support of the regs," Sen. Harris said.
By law, the governor can override these types of legislative decisions. Beshear says he’s disappointed in the committee’s decision and will move forward with implementation anyway.
A legislative subcommittee is expected to weigh in on the state's new science education standards on Wednesday.
The Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Annex to either approve or reject the standards that have proven especially controversial in Kentucky.
Robert Bevins, president of Kentuckians for Science Education, said rejection of the new standards would be a horrible embarrassment for the state. Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation, said the standards should not be approved because they neglect basic science knowledge in favor of some of the hottest new theories.
The standards, developed through a consortium of states with input from educators and scientists across the nation, were adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education in June.
A report from a pair of bi-partisan former budget and policy officials says the Indiana Department of Education botched the implementation of the new “A to F” grading system for schools.
According to the report, former Indiana schools superintendent Tony Bennett didn’t properly prepare for the different ways schools in the Hoosier State are organized, and was left to make last-minute changes to grading formulas right before the rankings were released to the public.
The Courier-Journal reports that Indiana teachers and administrators had complained ahead of last year’s release of the rankings, which they said wouldn’t accurately reflect the quality of work taking place in schools.
In addition, an Associated Press reporter obtained e-mails showing Bennett ordered his staff to find ways to inflate grades for a charter school he had been touting and whose founder had contributed to his campaign.
Kevin's profile of WKU-Glasgow's Samantha Johnson, one of a growing number of non-traditional students across the nation.
Glasgow resident and full-time college student Samantha Johnson could serve as “exhibit A” of a growing trend being seen throughout America’s colleges and university campuses.
When Johnson enters a classroom at WKU-G, as the campus is known, she brings with her a lifetime of experiences that the average 18 to 22 year old lacks.
Johnson is a 45-year-old single-mother who knows what it’s like to brave the job market with only a high school diploma. She has raised two sons, experienced divorce, and survived a bout with cancer.
After all that, a 100-level psychology class looked like a piece of cake.
Non-traditional is Now the Norm
More than ever before, the face of the average U.S. college student looks more and more “non-traditional.” According to U.S. Education Department data, only 29% of the country’s 18 million undergraduates are what’s known as “traditional students”—those who graduated from high school and then enrolled full-time in four-year public or nonprofit colleges or universities.
Nearly one million undergraduates were at least 25, and nearly half a million were in their 30s or older.
Gov. Bill Haslam is continuing to push an initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with at least a two-year college degree or certificate.
The governor is scheduled to talk more about the "Drive to 55" plan at an event in Nashville on Wednesday.
He announced the initiative in his State of the State address earlier this year and has been working on it over the past months. He is expected to more clearly define the state's challenges on Wednesday, as well as give an update on its progress.
Currently, 32 percent of Tennesseans have a two-year degree or higher, and Haslam's goal is to raise that number to 55 percent by 2025.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is calling the next legislative session a “make or break year” for the state’s public school system.
“I think we’ve hit the wall for increasing student performance and without some reinvestment in public education I think kids are going to lose out.”
Holliday is asking state lawmakers to restore per student funding to their 2009 levels during biennium budget discussions next year. He also says state grant funding needs to be restored. That will mean committing nearly $270 million dollars more to education for the next two years.
Holliday says the General Assembly can accomplish this through tax reforms and approving expanded gaming, two issues that have not made headway in the recent past.
Education will be competing with state pension and healthcare issues among the other state agencies that have seen cuts to their budgets.
Governor Beshear is announcing a major Race to the Top educational grant to several Kentucky school district cooperatives. The governor will be joined by state education commissioner Terry Holliday, the leaders of several educational co-ops, the Hart County Schools superintendent, and other education leaders.
A news release issued by the Governor’s office said Beshear will announce in Shelby County Monday morning $41 million in Race to the Top grant money to be shared by Kentucky school district co-ops.
Those groups include the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative, which includes districts across south-central Kentucky, and the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, a consortium of school districts in north-central Kentucky.
Twenty-two districts from those two co-ops joined in an application and were awarded one of the nation’s two largest District-Race to the Top grants.
Race to the Top is a federal education program created to spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K through 12 education.