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April 22, 2018

When Barbara Bush Said 'Damn'

By Glenn Mollette

I've always admired Barbara Bush. Like millions of others I was saddened to hear about her declining health and then recent death. Many television tributes and well deserved accolades have been verbalized in recent days. Her beautiful funeral service and all that was said from their Houston Episcopal Church was a tribute to one of America's finest ladies.

I had the opportunity to have my picture taken with the First Lady many years ago. She was speaking at a banquet and my assignment was to do an opening prayer for the occasion. Being on the program afforded me the opportunity to sit close to her while she would later speak. We were meeting under a large tent and it was a breezy day. The flag was occasionally blowing into her face and so I took hold of the end of it and held it during her speech. During the course of her talk she would begin to drive home a point about something bad the democrats were doing or some other issue in which she had strong feelings. To accentuate her point she would preface or add a bit of declarative underscore by using the word damn. Nobody in the political crowd seemed to be bothered by the First Lady's rhetoric and of course I had heard the word before as well. During her speech she used the word three times. After each time she said damn she would stop her speech, pause and look straight at me and say, "Sorry Reverend" and then slowly she would get back into her speech. She did that three times. I think I was her icebreaker or a bit of a punch line that day and it was okay as I smiled with her. She was very kind to me and gracious and very well received by all who were there that day.

A lot has been said in admiration about Barbara Bush. I particularly admired that she told her son Jeb a couple of years ago that there had been enough Bushes in the White House. Of course she loved and supported her son but many of us agreed with her candor.

Jeb Bush did a fine job speaking at his mother's funeral. He gave a beautiful eulogy that would make any parent proud. His question to her about her readiness to face death was touching and is something too many feel uncomfortable talking about. We want someone else to do that for us. Jeb asked her if she was ready to die. Her response was lovely. "I don't want to leave your father but I do love Jesus and believe I am going to a beautiful place."

Barbara Bush lived an incredible life. She and her family are a huge part of American history. Ninety two years is a long time to live but passes so quickly. After this, there is eternity as she and many of us believe.

I didn't vote for Jeb but greatly respect that he loved his mother so much that he talked with her about the nitty gritty things of life - death and the afterlife. With all of their money, history, fame and adoring fans the bottom line at the end of the road came down to a very simple but profound conversation about death and Jesus.

As we all near the end of our lives, we would all be so fortunate to have someone who cares enough about us to be personal, loving and to truly give that much of a damn about us.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.


Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Learn more at www.glennmollette.com Like his facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette

 

April 19, 2018

ATTACK ON PUBLIC EDUCATION?

A day after the state Board of Education ousted Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt, area superintendents say the move bolsters their claims that Kentuckians are in the midst of an attack on public education.

FORMER Ky. Education Commissioner Stephen PruittFORMER Ky. Education Commissioner Stephen PruittPruitt resigned Tuesday with a year and a half left on his contract after the state Board of Education -- which hires and fires the education commissioner -- convened a four-hour special meeting in private.

Before that, however, Pruitt talked with reporters about how he did not want to leave, the Associated Press reported.

The board later appointed Wayne Lewis as interim education commissioner. Lewis, a senior administration official for Gov. Matt Bevin, also worked with former secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner, who was appointed to the state Board of Education on Monday.

Lewis had a hand in drafting Kentucky's charter school law that was passed last year.

The Associated Press reported that Pruitt left the board meeting shortly before his resignation was announced. He told reporters earlier in the day that he would “always stand for public education, wherever I am.”

Scott Lewis, Ohio County Schools superintendent, said he was "obviously disappointed" by the board's action, and described Pruitt's resignation and Lewis' appointment as interim education commissioner as "an orchestrated deal."

"The sad part about that is Dr. Pruitt was a fine leader and a fine man and was doing really good work with our school districts," Scott Lewis said. "He has one agenda and that was what was best for students."

With Wayne Lewis being named in the interim to Pruitt's former post, the Ohio County's superintendent said "charter schools are going to be a big push.

"If charter schools are so great, then take some of the regulations off (public education) and fully fund us and see what the results are," Scott Lewis said.

He said public schools haven't been fully funded for years, and introducing charter schools means even fewer public dollars.

Owensboro Public Schools Superintendent Nick Brake said unfortunately, Pruitt's resignation and Wayne Lewis' appointment further politicizes a position that is supposed to be above politics.

Brake said more than 90 percent of Kentucky students will attend public schools, and it's worth noting about half those students live in poverty. State officials can't lose focus on the transformative nature of public schools for all children, he said, by just focusing on a narrow percentage who could potentially attend charter schools.

Brake also mirrored Scott Lewis' sentiments that he has enjoyed working with and respects Pruitt.

"He has been a class act," Brake said. "He (has been) competent, professional and an outstanding educator."

Even though Brake said the circumstances under which Pruitt resigned were "heavy handed," he is open-minded and looks forward to working with Wayne Lewis.

Matt Robbins, Daviess County Public Schools superintendent, also said he is disappointed in not only Pruitt's resignation, but the manner with which it took place.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Pruitt's exit was precipitated when Bevin used expiring terms to replace most of the state Board of Education. His appointments included two of his former top aides: Heiner and Amanda Stamper, his former communications director, and five others.

"(Tuesday) there were seven new board members sworn in as new Kentucky School Board members, and on the same day they are sworn in, they also dismiss the top educator in the state," Robbins said. "It would be hard for me to understand how they could have so much information and knowledge by which to take such action."

Robbins said this is not the way business should be conducted.

He said on a personal and professional level, Pruitt's resignation "is a huge loss for us."

"I found him to be very intelligent, very approachable," he said.

Muhlenberg County Schools Superintendent Robby Davis said in an email that he is disappointed with Pruitt's resignation and how it unfolded.

"Commissioner Pruitt has always been approachable and in tune with what is going on with our students in schools," Davis said, and that students' best interest were in mind when Pruitt made decisions.

Davis said the resignation makes him wonder what's next for public education.

Shannon Lindsey, the interim superintendent for McLean County Schools, said she was "devastated, along with all the surrounding counties" because of this change in education commissioners, especially because Pruitt has always been supportive of the district.

She said Pruitt came to visit McLean County Schools, interacted with students, and even video chatted with faculty on the district's opening day.

"He took time our for even the small districts, and that meant a lot to us," she said.

Kyle Estes, superintendent for Hancock County Schools, said he and others in similar positions have been saying for some time that public education is under attack, and that situation surrounding Pruitt's resignation deepens that belief.

Estes said Pruitt had positive reviews with those he worked with in the Department of Education and superintendents across the commonwealth.

"Now, we have completely put a halt to what seemed to be progress, and there is a lot of uncertainty," Estes said. "These are uncertain times."

He said a lot of eyes will now be upon the Kentucky Board of Education and the new commissioner.

"There will be a lot of skepticism and hopefully they can overcome that," he said.

By Bobbie Hayse
The Messenger-Inquirer

 

Lawrence County Schools will be in session on Friday, April 13th, Graduation day unchanged...

Fletcher said this morning that Graduation is still set for Friday, May 18th.  The last day of school for students will be Monday, May 21st.  Fletcher said this morning that Graduation is still set for Friday, May 18th. The last day of school for students will be Monday, May 21st.

"Dr. Mark...

We will be sending a delegation of teachers to Frankfort to represent Lawrence County. On behalf of the staff members of our district, we sincerely thank the people of our community for their support, and we ask for continued support in days to come. We truly feel that this support is not only for us, but for all the students of Lawrence County. We also thank Senator Ray Jones, Representative Jill York, and all those that attended the rally on Wednesday evening.


To be clear, educators across the Commonwealth are not asking for “more.” When it comes to our retirement, we have asked only to keep what we were promised when we "signed on" to be educators.

Also, pay raises were never a topic for discussion during these rallies. When it comes to budgets, educators have asked state legislators to fund what we have had in the past. As it stands now, if the Governor’s budget bill veto is over-ridden, then our budgets will not include professional development (teacher training) funds, textbook funds, and would include cuts in other areas.

Also, we would have minimal increases in SEEK funding and FRYSC funding. If the Governor’s veto stands, then we potentially could lose more money in areas such as transportation, pre-school, FRYSC, etc.

In short, we are being asked to choose between bad and worse when it comes to the current budget bill and potential other options. Also, if the additional costs of classified employee retirement are not “phased-in,” then Lawrence County Schools will have to find $301,000 in our budget for 2018-2019 school year. The decisions of the Governor and some state legislators are forcing these costs to local boards of education and to the local tax payer.

Graduation is still set for Friday, May 18th. The last day of school for students will be Monday, May 21st.

Thank you for checking!

(SEE ADDITIONAL STORY FROM EDUCATORS SOON)

Robbie L. Fletcher, EdD
Superintendent, Lawrence County Schools