- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

Oct. 15

The State Journal on universities that are banning nicotine products, including Western Kentucky University:

There are no ifs, ands or butts about it: Hilltoppers looking to make a 2021 New Year’s resolution may want to give up nicotine products.

In an effort to curb student smoking and vaping use, Western Kentucky University announced Monday that it is banning the products on campus starting Jan. 1 - a measure that a majority of state institutions have already adopted.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking causes roughly 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S. - 41,000 of which are caused by secondhand smoke exposure. CDC data indicates that 99% of adult cigarette smokers picked up the habit before age 26 - another reason tobacco control policies should be in place on all college campuses.

In fact, as of 2017, there were 2,082 U.S. campuses with smoke-free measures in place - twice as many as five years prior. Of that number, 1,743 (83.7 are tobacco-free; 1,658 (79.6%) specifically prohibit electronic cigarette usage; and 854 (41%) ban hookah smoking.

WKU will join 31 other higher education institutions across the commonwealth, including Kentucky State University, that promote smoke-free campuses on all property owned, operated, leased, occupied or controlled by the school. In July, Berea College implemented a similar policy. Other nearby colleges that ban tobacco usage are all four campuses of Bluegrass Community and Technical College; the six campuses of Jefferson Community and Technical College; Transylvania University; the University of Kentucky; and the University of Louisville.

We applaud Western Kentucky University for taking steps that will ensure a healthy environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors for years to come. In addition, the institution is also supportive of research related to the negative effects of tobacco use and offers online resources for those who are looking to kick the habit.

We believe all college campuses should be smoke- and vape-free. For smokers looking to quit, the American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday in November. This year’s event is set for Nov. 21. For more information visit cancer.org/smokeout or call 1-800-227-2345.

Online: https://www.state-journal.com/


Oct. 13

The News-Enterprise on a star system being used to rate Kentucky schools:

Kentucky’s new 5-star rating system for schools provides a simple comparison that’s easily understood.

But like most simple explanations, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The ranking is based on results from K-PREP achievement assessments last spring. It provides a mass overview of the entire student population. Quality education and learning is a much more individualized process.

Every child arrives with a different temperament, unique interests and particular learning style. Family background, home stability and the value placed on education by parents are key factors not revealed in the star system. Peer pressure and sense of identity also can be critical factors in learning.

Lots of students succeed in struggling schools and failure occurs in premiere institutions of learning. A high-achiever could be sitting right next to a student who struggles with the same textbook and lesson plans.

Teachers and administrators are different in their abilities, too. Their skills, efforts and training - even when applied effectively and earnestly - won’t always prove to be fruitful with every individual student.

All that’s said to make the point that education is highly individualized process. At various times, society has approached it as a process akin to a factory assembly line or as an experimental laboratory where techniques, methods and styles are tried out in hopes of discovering some elusive outcome.

When it’s your child or grandchild in the mix, you want only the best, not experiments that might not yield an expected outcome. Very few taxpayers are willing or even able to pay for the individualized programming and attention necessary to ensure all schools have 5-star outcomes.

Aiming for the stars is a noble objective and this system will result in parental pressures and priority changes that motivate improvements. It also points out achievement gaps that indicate areas where special efforts are needed to ensure students move forward with their peers.

Ultimately, it’s not the number of stars that matters as much as the shining connections made in the classrooms at the individual student level.

The Department of Education is providing an understandable measure of comparison but it’s based on one snapshot from a single assessment. It’s not the sole yardstick by which to measure performance. Don’t put too much confidence in a high ranking or be too discouraged by a lower one.

Quality education happens every day in local schools. As teachers, aides and administrators map out improvement plans and parents provide support, encouragement and discipline, learning will occur.

Online: http://www.thenewsenterprise.com/


Oct. 9

The Daily Independent on an offer from Gov. Matt Bevin to meet with educators who protested him at a recent event:

Does Gov. Matt Bevin really want to make amends with teachers?

A little genuineness goes a long way.

When educators protested Bevin in Catlettsburg on Saturday (Oct. 5), they were exercising their first-amendment right. They did so peacefully - it’s not like a riot broke out - and within reason.

Bevin, undoubtedly a polarizing figure, had a positive announcement to make from the courthouse steps. He declared Boyd County will receive more than $800,000 in funds for road improvements. Later in Greenup County, he made a similar announcement that involved more than $900,000. He made stops in Greenup, Raceland and later Ashland for the annual Ashland Alliance meeting.

However, perhaps his single-most important action of Saturday’s busy day was extending an invitation to personally meet with protesting teachers. He said, in front of everyone, that they would exchange contact information.

If Bevin truly wants to make a good impression, he’ll follow through on this offer.

Granted, it probably won’t win over these teachers to the point that they’ll vote for him. That bridge may already be burned.

Bevin’s purpose in promising a meeting should not be to obtain their vote or support. It should be to show that he cares.

Does Bevin care about teachers?

Public-school educators likely have a quick, red-faced reaction to that question.

Back in August, Bevin’s administration conducted an investigation that revealed 1,074 teachers violated Kentucky law when they participated in a “sickout”?during this year’s legislation session over pension-benefit concerns.

At the time, Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson said the administration was extending grace and did not issue penalties for the violations.

“Extending grace”?hasn’t been a habit of Bevin’s when it comes to his speech.

Just like with the president, Bevin’s path to unpopularity begins with word choice. Tactful responses to certain sensitive issues would help diminish ill feelings directed at him.

If he truly cares about public educators, he will meet with them. He will hear them. He will listen. Obviously, he doesn’t have to - and likely won’t - agree.

But if he doesn’t follow through on this offer, it will all be perceived as an act.

Online: https://www.dailyindependent.com/


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