- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 21

Kentucky New Era, Hopkinsville, Kentucky on protecting veterans:

Seventy years ago this summer, Congress voted unanimously to create the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, known informally as the GI Bill, to provide veterans returning from World War II with business and home loans and tuition and college housing assistance. Within seven years, an estimated 2 million veterans had used the GI Bill to go to college. In 1947, veterans accounted for nearly half of all students attending college - although before the war, a college education was not seen as a goal the average American could easily achieve. Twelve years after the first GI Bill ended, 7.8 million of the 16 million WWII veterans had used the benefit to attend college or another training program.

The educational investment paid off for the veterans and the country. These Americans grew into the Greatest Generation. They became community leaders, business owners and professionals. They supported their families, served in civic groups, paid taxes and created opportunities for their children.

On the day the bill became law, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “With the signing of this bill a well-rounded program of special veterans’ benefits is nearly completed. It gives emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that the American people do not intend to let them down.”

A good college education can still empower military veterans with new skills and knowledge they need in the transition to civilian life.

Today, one of the greatest threats to the GI Bill is the exploitation of veterans - especially by for-profit colleges and technical schools.

When veterans spend educational benefits at schools that have high loan default rates and low graduation rates, they are denied the promise of a better future for themselves and their families.

America owes a debt to veterans who serve the country honorably - just as we did following WWII.

That’s why we must protect the soundness of the GI Bill by ensuring that benefits are used at legitimate colleges and technical schools.




July 20

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky on new laws:

Compared to some recent legislative sessions, the Kentucky General Assembly accomplished a lot in its session that ended in April.

One of its finest accomplishments was passing a state budget, which is required by law. In past years, lawmakers were unable to pass a budget and special sessions had to be called by Gov. Steve Beshear. We’re glad lawmakers worked in a bipartisan manner this year, saving taxpayers the cost of another special session.

Lawmakers also worked in bipartisan fashion on other issues and passed sound laws that will be beneficial to this state. Those laws went into effect Tuesday.

One of the new laws creates an adult abuse registry so adult care employers know if a prospective hire has a history of substantiated abuse, neglect or exploitation.

This law was well past due. Employers will now have a much more up-to-date system that will allow them background checks in a short period of time.

The law provides more convenience and should flag someone who might otherwise slip through the cracks and pose a threat.

Another law that makes sense is the elimination of the requirement for people to keep paper copies of insurance cards in their vehicle. It’s easy for motorists to simply forget to put their insurance cards in their cars. It will also be helpful to law enforcement and free up the courts now busy with people coming in to provide proof of insurance. An electronic database will keep track of that proof.

The budget also includes more funding for elementary and secondary education. Education is one of the most important responsibilities of state government, and we’re glad more funding was secured.

A law sponsored by state Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, allows students who are refugees or legal immigrants to remain in school until the end of the school year in which they turn 21. This is a good law because many refugee and immigrants in the state aren’t able to start school at the same time as American students.

Another law that has merit is one that broadens the authority of advance practice registered nurses to prescribe medication. This law should help the state address the lack of primary care providers in some parts of the state.

All things considered, these new, common sense laws should be beneficial to Kentuckians.




July 19

The Lexington Herald-Leader on teens learning:

A funny thing happened when a third of Kentucky high schools threw open the classroom doors and invited all students into advanced math, science and English classes. They came in droves and did well.

Young Kentuckians are hungry for rigorous, college-level work - including students who are not usually seen as potentially high achievers, even by themselves. Also, Kentucky high schools have teachers who, with some high-quality training and collaboration, are qualified and able to teach Advanced Placement classes.

We know this because in 2008 Kentucky became one of the first six states to pilot the National Math and Science Initiative’s College Readiness Program. The five-year, $13 million grant was administered by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corp., the nonprofit founded almost 30 years ago by Lee Todd and Kris Kimel to boost Kentucky’s competitiveness. A study last year documented remarkable results, including soaring AP success rates, improved ACT scores, less need for remediation and better grades as college freshmen. Also impressive, if less quantifiable, is the cultural change. The program seeks out low-income and minority students, those least likely to be tapped for gifted or advanced classes.

While there are many elements of success - including Saturday study sessions and financial incentives - the most important, by far, says AdvanceKentucky’s executive director Joanne Lang, is open enrollment. High expectations produce high performance.

Built on The College Board’s AP curriculum, long an indicator of college readiness, the program rewards students who pass the end-of-course AP exam, earning college credit, with $100. Teachers who meet goals also receive financial rewards. The program pays students’ testing fees.

AdvanceKentucky has delivered content-heavy professional development to thousands of Kentucky educators, including teachers in feeder schools. All this for $300 per student in an AP class.

The dramatically higher AP enrollments are holding steady, even after schools graduate from the program and the reward money ends. Some schools are fundraising to pay AP exam fees and keep the program going. Data suggest students benefit just from participating in AP classes. Now that the grant has ended, the challenge is at least two-fold:

? How to imbed high expectations in even more Kentucky schools, especially those that have been timid about challenging their students and teachers.

? How to pay for it.

The legislature has wisely stepped up to partially fill the gap, appropriating $3 million for the program over the current biennium. Despite that and a patchwork or support from many sources, including Berea College, not as many schools will be able to participate as in earlier years.

Kentucky has almost 90,000 high school juniors and seniors. In its first three years, Advance Kentucky enrolled 10,500 students, most in more than one AP class. The ripple effects are raising the sights of younger students and their teachers.

Whether this model will be as effective in other schools remains to be seen. But if any philanthropists would like to help Kentucky catch up in the race for knowledge-based jobs and companies, investing in rigorous math and science instruction for more students looks like a good bet.





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