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April 19, 2018


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!


Robbie L. Fletcher, EdD
Superintendent, Lawrence County Schools

APRIL 11, 2018



By Glenn Mollette

Many years ago my two sons and I took a few days and traveled to Southern California. We enjoyed seeing some sights in Los Angeles and San Diego. It's was one of those fun things we did I'll always remember.

One thing not so fun was our decision to cross the border into Tijuana, Mexico. We had never been to Mexico and thought it would be interesting to visit and then we could say we had been there. We drove to a parking lot just on the border and left our car and took a designated walkway path that led us right into Mexico. We were greeted by lots of taxi drivers who offered us a ride. We climbed into a cab and got our ears full on into the town of Tijuana. The taxi driver was full of expletives about what Tijuana was all about which was mostly drunkenness and prostitution. It felt like the taxi ride from hell. I was embarrassed for our family and was glad when we could get out of the car.

I felt like we had stepped into a scum hole. There was nothing really worth seeing in Tijuana and every other building was a loud bar with lots of men on the street begging us to come in to see the prostitutes. We probably survived our visit maybe an hour hoping to see something worth seeing before we finally found a taxi to take us back to the border. The driver on the way back laughed and said, "We have nothing here worth seeing or losing. We are not like the United States. We have nothing to lose." When we got out of the taxi there was a long line of people waiting to get through customs back into the United States. What took only a minute to cross into Mexico took us almost two hours that day to get back into our country. We were so glad to cross back into California.

I don't have anything against Mexico. There are lots of beautiful vacation spots and lovely people in that country. I eat breakfast at a place in our town operated by wonderful people from Mexico. However, the taxi driver was right in one point of his comparison between Mexico and America. We are worth something and have plenty to lose in this country.

A friend of mine just moved from a Texas border community and was irritated because someone from Mexico came across the border and stole his motorcycle. "I'll never see it again," He said. He also told about families he knew close to the border who would never let their children play outside alone. "Those families are terrified of their children being kidnapped and taken across the border. They know if that happens they will never see their children again."

Utilize our national guard on the border. Drugs are flowing into our nation from Mexico. People are still crossing illegally. We need to protect our people. Our borders should be crossed legally and people should abide in our country legally. America is worth protecting.

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

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