education

flickr/Emory Maiden

Schools in Kentucky and across the nation are in limbo as COVID-19 makes it impossible, so far, for educators to determine whether there will be in-personclasses in the fall.

However, one thing is certain: Kentucky is looking for a new commissioner of education to guide the state’s 172 school districts through these uncertain times. 

The Kentucky Department of Education has the job description for its commissioner posted on its website. In this time of a pandemic, the description is perhaps understated. It offers “an exciting and challenging leadership opportunity to make a differencefor more than 648,000 public school students in the state.”


WKU

The president of Western Kentucky University says the school will host students back on campus this fall.

The university suspended in-person classes and sent most students home from on-campus housing midway through the current spring semester as part of its COVID-19 response plan.

Speaking with the school's staff senate this week, WKU President Timothy Caboni said, while the school does plan to resume in-person instruction, any return to the hill will take place based on meeting benchmarks from the federal and state government, as well as the Centers for Disease Control.

WPLN News

The Tennessee Education Savings Account law — Gov. Bill Lee’s school voucher initiative — was declared unconstitutional on Monday evening by a Nashville chancellor.

At the center of the lawsuit, brought by Davidson and Shelby counties against the Tennessee Department of Education, was the interpretation of the state constitution’s Home Rule Amendment. The plaintiffs claimed that the school voucher law was unconstitutional because it singled out two counties without their consent.

Chris Wood, an attorney for the plaintiffs, celebrated the decision.

Ileana Gaynor

Schools across Kentucky are shut down for the remainder of the academic year because of COVID-19, and most students are adapting to virtual learning.

But students who were already struggling, or have English as a second or third language, are at-risk for falling behind. 

Educators in Owensboro Public Schools, like teachers across the nation, are increasing communication to keep at-risk students engaged.

Estes Elementary in Owensboro, which has students in preschool through 5th grade, has about 100 "English Learners." Those students are dealing with the combined challenges of language and the loss of in-person instruction in the classroom.


WKU

A new report shows Kentucky is on pace to meet a goal of having at least 60% percent of the state’s working age population with a postsecondary degree by 2030.

Figures released this week by the Council on Postsecondary Education show nearly 47% of Kentucky adults have a credential from a college or university. That's a 4.5% increase since 2014.

Virtually all of that growth came from short-term certificates awarded by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. The number of degrees awarded by the state’s four-year schools was essentially flat.

CPE President Aaron Thompson says the state needs to get more KCTCS graduates to continue their education.


Daniel Brown

In a school year when almost everything is different due to the impact of the coronavirus, Kentucky students who take Advanced Placement courses to earn college credit have one more new experience facing them. 

The College Board is allowing students to take AP exams this year from home, on a computer, a tablet or a mobile phone.

Students will log in for a specific AP subject exam, on the same day, at the same time nationwide. 

Owensboro High School English teacher Daniel Brown has about 130 students in several courses, with about 60 of those in his AP Literature and Composition classes.

With no in-person classes in Kentucky for the remainder of the academic year, Brown said he and his AP students are making the most of technology to prepare for the AP Literature exam on May 13.


Jae Foley FB

High school seniors in Kentucky are now facing the reality there won’t be prom, graduation ceremonies, and other rites of passage this year because of the coronavirus. 

Governor Andy Beshear canceled the remainder of the school year to in-person learning and other activities this week. 

Jae Foley, a senior at Bowling Green High School, says there’s one particular event she was looking forward to the most.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky has surpassed 3,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and says the state is still likely in the “plateau” of the pandemic.

Beshear announced 102 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 3,050. He also reported 6 new deaths, for a total of 154.

The number is far lower than Sunday’s record high 273 cases, but Beshear said today’s number is likely higher due to some labs that process results being closed over the weekend.

For many young people, sheltering at home means missing milestones and public recognition of their achievements. This is especially true for seniors graduating from high school and college.

Kendall Smith, a high school senior who lives in Tallahassee, Fla., says her school has many traditions leading up to graduation. But this year things are very different.

Newton Parrish Elementary

With all schools in Kentucky shut down during the pandemic, one elementary school in Owensboro is a good example of how educators are developingnew procedures to get lessons to students. 

All of the 560 students at Newton Parrish Elementary get 10 days of printed lessons at a time. That’s to make sure even students who don’t have internet at home can keep up with their schoolwork.

Principal Steve Bratcher said after teachers prepare their lessons, instructional assistants copy them and place them in each classroom.

“And at that point, the teachers come back to school and put the first and last name on baggies, we bought Ziplock baggies, two-gallon baggies, and the teachers place those in the conference room, once they have everything bagged up, ready to go,” said Bratcher.

When schools closed in Fall Creek, Wis., because of the coronavirus, the district staff got an unusual message. Don't worry for now about assignments or quizzes, Superintendent Joe Sanfelippo told them. Instead, "I want you to call people. And I want you to ask them two questions: How are you doing? And do you need anything?"

Liz Schlemmer

The Kentucky state senate voted Wednesday night to confirm all but one of Gov. Andy Beshear’s 11 appointees for the Kentucky State Board of Education.

Senators voted not to confirm board chair David Karem, a former state lawmaker, and main driver behind the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990. Under state law, appointees who are not confirmed cannot serve again for two years, so Beshear will have to find a replacement.

The state board of education has been a stage for political battles in recent years. When Beshear took office in December 2019, one of his first acts as governor was to dissolve the board of education, which was filled with members appointed by his predecessor, former Gov. Matt Bevin. He then reformed the board with all new members, who are still currently serving. The Senate had until Wednesday, the last day of session, to confirm Beshear’s appointments.

Beckett Gilmore

With the coronavirus forcing schools across Kentucky, and the nation, to shut down, educators are being pushed into new territory.

A husband and wife, both teachers in Owensboro Public Schools, are expanding the boundaries of the classroom to keep students engaged while they’re learning at home. Sarah and Joshua Sullivan are among thousands of teachers across the U.S. who are creating the new reality for education in this unusual time.

When it became clear that Owensboro Public Schools would close down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, sixth grade social studies teacher Joshua Sullivan said educators leaped into action. 

The school district actually set up Google Classroom to have special NTI classes,” said Sullivan, who teaches at Owensboro Middle School. 


Education leaders in Kentucky say any high school senior who was on track to graduate in May will still do so, despite the lengthy period of school closures brought on by the coronavirus.

The Kentucky Education Department's Education Continuation Task Force has been meeting to discuss how high school graduation requirements will be met for the Class of 2020. 

Local school districts have the option of waiving any additional graduation requirements beyond the 22 credits required by the state.  School systems could also choose to eliminate elective requirements and lower the number of required credits to 15.

Mason Stone FB

The coronavirus is making a lot of students anxious to see the pandemic, and home quarantines, come to an end. High school seniors, especially, are missing out on some rites of passage. 

The Class of 2020 has unwantedly become the Class of COVID-19. Eighteen-year-old Kallie Wood attends Bowling Green High School.  She realizes there will be no sports, prom, or senior trip to New York City.

“We were looking forward to going and seeing all the sights in New York," Wood told WKU Public Radio. "I’ve never been to New York so I was looking forward to it, and I was looking forward to spending one last trip with my friends and teachers.”


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