A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Commentary: Citizen voices are key to COVID-19 response in education and beyond

By Natalie McCutchen, Annette Hines, and Spandana Pavuluri Prichard Committee volunteers Add to Kentucky’s groundswell of education influencers some innovative, if earnest, laypeople. We are part of a citizen research team of school stakeholders. We call ourselves the “Intergen 9”, and we comprise three parents, three teachers, and three students representing eight districts across the Commonwealth,...

Fayette County Public Schools encourages teachers, families to monitor students’ state of mind

Given the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and distance learning, Fayette County Public Schools encourages staff and families to be especially aware of their students’ state of mind. “There’s an added concern. One, the stress of having to manage school in a different way,” said Shericka Smith, district coordinator of Extended School Services, Social Work, and Mental Health Services. “But...

Kentucky by Heart: In-person school is best, but we must have the resolve to do it safely and right

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist From my perspective as a teacher, getting Kentucky’s elementary/secondary young people back into physical classrooms in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is important and for many reasons. Obviously, students need to learn and grow mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally, and for most—a live classroom setting works best. And as any experienced teacher...

Teachers are confused, concerned and fearful as they contemplate the new school year amid pandemic

Perhaps unlike any previous school year, teachers are looking to 2020-21 with dread. On top of their fears about the coronavirus, there is confusion about just what they’re getting into. “As I talk to educators across the state there is a great deal of concern, fear and confusion surrounding the reopening of schools,” Kentucky Education Association President Eddie Campbell told the legislature’s...

Inspired by teachers at Mercer County, NKU’s Emmy Souder aims to make impact through education

By Chloe Smith Northern Kentucky University In addition to juggling a hectic schedule of classes, practices and games, Northern Kentucky University women’s basketball player Emmy Souder has worked diligently to gain the experience needed to actualize her dream of becoming a teacher. The junior forward is a middle school education major, focusing in both mathematics and special education, and has...

Tom Haggard: As a result of COVID-19 pandemic, afterschool community is more essential than ever

When and how students learn has taken on new meaning since the pandemic hit. The shift to remote learning was so swift that many school districts are still working to address the needs of the students who don’t have access to the internet or the necessary tools to complete their schoolwork. In time, this will get fixed. But in the near term, the digital divide is real and putting our most vulnerable...

Fayette County Board of Education votes to participate in opioid litigation to recoup damages

Members of the Fayette County Board of Education voted unanimously on Monday to join other school districts across the nation in a multi-district litigation to recoup damages inflicted by the opioid epidemic, citing “significant damages… including expenditures of public funds to address the impact of this epidemic on students, teachers, other staff, and the taxpayers of this district.” Since...

UK Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development agents partnering with teachers on ‘home work’

By Carol Lea Spence University of Kentucky Schools may be shuttered, but instruction goes on, albeit in a nontraditional way. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development agents, who have worked closely with teachers in their classrooms, have shifted their traditional classroom enrichment programming to provide classes with projects and tools for remote, nontraditional instruction. Mackenzie...

Beshear unveils ‘Education First’ budget ending 14 years of cuts; funds health, pensions, social workers

Gov. Andy Beshear outlined his first budget to lawmakers on Tuesday prioritizing education, health care and protecting our children, underlining his belief that a budget is a statement of values. “It is a budget that not only ends years of painful cuts, it also makes a major investment in public education, fully funds expanded Medicaid, makes a historic investment in protecting our children, directs...

Jim Waters: Fix state’s retirement systems; one idea: no more sick day accumulation to spike pensions

Legislators campaigning to hold on to their seats may be jittery about dealing with controversial pension reform, but the problems plaguing the state’s retirement systems don’t hibernate just because there’s an election. Despite record amounts of funding in recent years, the ailing Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) is saddled with $14.5 billion worth of liabilities, remains under 60% funded...

Governor Beshear supports teachers’ rights, rescinds former Labor Cabinet stance on ‘sickouts’

Gov. Andy Beshear Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced he reversed the prior administration’s decision that teachers violated state law when participating in “sickouts” protesting anti-public education policies. Gov. Beshear said, following an investigation last year by the former Labor Cabinet, nearly 1,000 teachers were wrongly accused of violating state labor laws and threatened with civil...

Al Cross: Start of new governorship always leans to theatrics, but — really — it’s a new day in Frankfort

The start of a new governorship necessarily involves theatrics, which help signify the importance of a historic event, establish comity after an election and signal the shift from politics to governing. But theatrics can have meaning that signals the substance and the politics to come. Tuesday’s inauguration of Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman had all those things. It repeatedly...

New report indicates retirement security is critical for Commonwealth to hire quality teachers

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Defined benefit pensions are a major factor for recruiting and retaining new teachers in the Commonwealth, and according to new research by the National Institute on Retirement Security, more than 96% of teachers say whittling away pensions would drastically affect the state’s ability to attract new teachers to the profession. Laura Adams is a fourth-generation...

Task force of educators wraps up 4-days of meetings on developing quality curriculum for schools

A task force of educators convened by Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis and led by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) completed four days of meetings aimed at improving the process of developing quality curriculum for Kentucky’s public schools that are directly aligned to the state’s academic standards. The task force – comprised of superintendents, district curriculum leads, principals,...

Labor secretary says 1,074 teachers violated the law during ‘sickouts’ but will not face fines, this time

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Kentucky Labor Secretary David Dickerson announced Friday that no fines will be levied against teachers for protesting pension legislation considered during the 2019 General Assembly that resulted in at least 10 districts being forced to cancel classes due to teacher shortages.
 
The “sickouts” hit Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest district with...

Commentary: Fayette Co. Schools failing to improve student performance despite spending, tax increases

By Dan Rose and Ron Vissing Special to KyForward The Fayette County public school system (FCPS) is failing to improve student performance despite years of higher spending and taxes. Yet the system continues to increase taxes and spending every year with no accountability to taxpayers or the public at large. Again, for 2019-20, FCPS has indicated it intends to take advantage of the automatic 4 percent...

Fayette County Public Schools seeks presenters for Innovations for Learning Conference in June

Fayette County Public Schools is looking for innovative teachers, administrators, and education professionals who love learning to present at the 2019 Innovations for Learning Conference, set for June 7 at Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington. IFL is a free, one-day event that promotes the use of innovative instructional strategies that engage students to improve learning, with an emphasis on...

Grimes accepting nominations for 2019 Kentucky Outstanding Civic Education Leadership Award

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Wednesday that her office is accepting nominations for the 2019 Kentucky Outstanding Civic Education Leadership Award. The award recognizes teachers, school administrators, legislators and community leaders who have made significant contributions toward promoting civic learning to teach students the importance of being engaged citizens. “Throughout...

Teacher Appreciation Week: A teacher remembers those who mattered most — and you should too

By Chris Wright Ludlow High School In recently reflecting on my time as a student in a public K-12 school, I have been reminded of so many caring and compassionate teachers that laid the foundation for my life beyond the walls of Ludlow Independent Schools. I have had a long and successful educational career, one that will culminate when I complete the coursework phase of my doctoral degree and begin...

Dorsey Ridley: A perspective on what happened in legislature last week, overturning vetoes and more

Legislators returned to Frankfort on Friday and Saturday for the final two days of session — and we were not alone. Teachers and retirees were back at the Capitol, dressed in their red shirts, rallying for public education. As with all my sessions in Frankfort, I was a strong advocate for our public schools and for all those in education who have dedicated their careers and lives to our students....