- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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Dec. 7

The Lexington Herald-Leader on Gov. Matt Bevin and the University of Louisville legal fight:

Rather than risk the University of Louisville’s accreditation - and perhaps the accreditation of Kentucky’s other public universities - Gov. Matt Bevin should drop his legal appeal, appoint five new Republican trustees and walk away from this unnecessary fight before inflicting further damage.

Bevin’s response to U of L being placed on probation by its accrediting agency was stunningly divorced from reality.

His office tweeted a statement saying, “U of L’s accreditation is not at risk, nor will it ever be at risk because of any action taken by Gov. Bevin. Anyone who argues otherwise does not have U of L’s best interest at heart.”

In fact, U of L’s accreditation is at risk; probation, which follows a warning issued in August, is the last step before accreditation is revoked.

The action by U of L’s accrediting agency stems entirely from Bevin’s decisions earlier this year to interfere in ways that violated state law and longstanding standards that universities should be independent from direct political influence.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled to that effect last summer and Bevin is appealing.

All along, the governor and his general counsel M. Stephen Pitt have scoffed at warnings about accrediting violations, as if Bevin is exempt from the rules that apply to others.

Bevin’s state of denial puts U of L in a pickle.

The university must demonstrate to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that it’s no longer out of compliance with the agency’s standards, but U of L can’t do that as long as Bevin insists that the governor has the unilateral power to disband a university board, unseat all its members without cause, appoint new members and directly involve himself in decisions about who will be president.

Bevin is expected to ask the legislature, which will be firmly in Republican hands, to ratify the powers he claims to possess. If lawmakers agree, questions could be raised about the independence of all of Kentucky’s public universities, forcing them to defend their accreditation.

This is all just an enormous waste of energy and resources, especially considering that Bevin could, like governors before him, have helped bring about the changes he wants at U of L without violating Kentucky laws or standards of higher-education governance.

And he still can. The governor appoints 17 of U of L’s 20 trustees, and the terms of five of the 17 gubernatorial appointees have expired.

One of Bevin’s valid complaints about the U of L board is that it was out of compliance with a state law requiring racial diversity and political party balance. Bevin should use those five openings to appoint more blacks and Republicans to the board. And then declare victory.

Even if he eventually wins in the Supreme Court - a long-shot, based on the court’s ruling in a higher-education funding case earlier this year - it would be a dubious victory if it costs U of L its accreditation, thus costing students their financial aid, among other negative effects.

The U of L board that was reinstated by the circuit court is in the process of recruiting a new president, scrutinizing the university’s opaque charitable foundation and dealing with other longstanding problems.

U of L was a mess when Bevin became governor. No doubt about that. He should now stop making the situation worse.

Online:

http://www.kentucky.com

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Dec. 11

The Courier-Journal on Louisville’s Lamar Jackson winning the Heisman:

Louisville, it’s the home of the Kentucky Derby, the greatest two minutes in sports. It is the hometown of Muhammad Ali and Paul Hornung, two of the greatest athletes their sports have ever seen.

Now add this name to Louisville’s list of great athletes: Lamar Jackson.

The city has stocked NBA rosters with stars for decades, from the likes of Darrell “Dr. Dunkenstein” Griffith and Wes Unseld to Alan Houston and Rajon Rondo. Its namesake university was the launching pad for star quarterbacks Johnny Unitas and Teddy Bridgewater.

It was where three-time Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Mary T. Meagher, “Madame Butterfly,” learned to fly in the pool. And don’t forget golfer Bobby Nichols who defeated the likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.

Needless to say, it takes a lot to impress us around here.

The Courier-Journal congratulates yet another athlete bringing great pride to our city, University of Louisville’s star quarterback, who on Saturday became the program’s first Heisman Trophy winner.

Jackson has made this city proud both with his dazzling play and the way he has represented Louisville, his university and the sport of college football while in the spotlight, and we can think of no player who better exemplifies the type of excellence this city expects from athletes who call it home.

The college sophomore shattered expectations and broke records as he kept the Cardinals in playoff contention for much of the season, ultimately setting up a date with LSU in the Citrus Bowl. All the while, he racked up mind-boggling numbers on the field. He has led Louisville to a nation-leading 45.3 points per game, and his 51 total touchdowns (30 passing, 21 rushing) are more than any player’s single-season haul in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference, a league whose current members claim 24 national championships and eight previous Heisman Trophy winners.

To put those numbers in perspective, his 3,390 passing yards are about two Hail Marys from 2 miles’ worth of offense and his 1,538 yards rushing are worth almost another mile. Who knows just how much farther he’d have run if he hadn’t hit the back of the end zone so many times?

Whether Jackson becomes only the second two-time Heisman Trophy winner is yet to be seen, but we’re certain he’ll continue making this city, the commonwealth and the University of Louisville and its many fans proud.

And it might be time to be scouting out a building around town to hang a banner touting “Lamar’s Louisville.”

Online:

http://www.courier-journal.com

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Dec. 11

The Bowling Green Daily News on proposed legislation to give more power to school superintendents:

School councils have served the schools and students in Kentucky well since being formed after the 1990 enactment of the Kentucky Education Reform Act, and we don’t see any reason to change that now.

State Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, thinks differently.

Schickel has introduced legislation that would shift some decision-making powers from school councils to superintendents.

Currently, site-based decision making councils are school councils made up of parents and teachers and a school administrator. When KERA was passed, the councils were a key part of the education reform law. The Kentucky Department of Education describes the councils as a way to “promote shared leadership among those who are close to the students.”

Schickel argues that his bill would give accountability back to the superintendents and the school board.

He makes the argument that superintendents aren’t given the tools they need and as a result we have a dysfunctional system that’s not accountable to the public.

Under the proposed law, superintendents could set school policy, determine the parameters of a school’s funding, decide which textbooks and materials are available, decide on student service programs provided at the school and fill principal vacancies. It also would require superintendents to consult with principals and school councils and requires principals to develop wellness policies in their schools.

While we applaud Schickel for taking an interest in how schools are run, we simply disagree with what he is proposing. We believe superintendents are given the proper tools that they need and are already accountable to the taxpayers.

Quite honestly, this legislation comes across as somewhat of a power grab that isn’t necessary at all.

We are fortunate in Bowling Green and Warren County to have two very capable school superintendents in Bowling Green Independent School District Superintendent Gary Fields and Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton.

While we respect both men and the hard work they do for their school systems on a daily basis, they both clearly have differing opinions on the legislation.

Clayton believes superintendents need more authority and that the proposed bill would allow the district and school leaders who work the closest with the students to have the ability to make school-level management choices.

Clayton, who does say that his overall experience working with school councils has been positive, believes the bill could help in giving superintendents the authority to step in when schools are in trouble.

While we respect Clayton’s opinion, we disagree.

Fields’ view is more aligned with our opinion. He believes school councils should stay in place. Fields participated in hiring a new principal for Parker-Bennett-Curry Elementary School last summer with the school’s council and believed it was very effective and that he had the appropriate amount of input in the hiring process.

Fields says the peril of leaving the decision up to the one superintendent is that he or she could make a bad decision that neglects the voices of parents and teachers.

That has the potential of putting a lot of pressure on a superintendent were they to make a bad decision, which is all the more reason to stick with school councils having greater impact on decisions.

Again, there is no slight intended for Schickel or Clayton. We just believe that school councils have proven effective since KERA and that their input over schools should stay as is.

Online:

http://www.bgdailynews.com

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