Kentucky editorial roundup
Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:
The State-Journal on challenges in recruiting and retaining teachers:
Decked out in new outfits and loaded down with school supplies, many students across Kentucky will be heading back to the classroom over the next two weeks to a critical teacher shortage, state education officials warn.
Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis announced late last week that the state has launched a recruitment campaign in order to fill the nearly 5,000 positions listed on the Kentucky Educator Placement Service website since the beginning of the year. More than 1,000 vacancies have been posted in the past 30 days.
According to the Kentucky Department of Education, in a two-year period between the 2014-15 and 2016-17 school years, the number of open teacher positions increased by more than 2,600. Education leaders worry public schools will have to depend on substitute teachers or less than qualified candidates, not just when school resumes this year but also in the future.
Franklin County Schools Superintendent Mark Kopp told The State Journal in January the district was having difficulty securing substitutes when teachers are absent. In fact, FCS data shows that in September alone, 84 classrooms were left without a teacher when substitutes signed up to work but never showed — forcing school administrators to step in and watch those classes.
State officials claim the state teacher shortage is the result of educators leaving the field and fewer college students pursuing education degrees. The Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education reports that over the past five years there was a 13.2% decline in baccalaureate education degrees.
But those aren’t the only factors. The problematic pension system, politics, low pay and frequent testing are also contributors.
In recent years teachers have been made to feel unappreciated, including in public comments by Gov. Matt Bevin. Just last week, in an informal We Asked feature in The State Journal, two of the four Frankfort residents we talked to listed the teaching profession as the most underrated job in this community.
With school resuming, now is the perfect time to show our teachers how much they are valued. After all, it is not the latest and greatest technology or teaching methods that make a school — it is the people. And our children deserve the best.
The Bowling Green Daily News on a Kentucky senator’s vote against federal legislation to reauthorize money for the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund:
The passage Tuesday (July 23) of a bill to reauthorize the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund was a no-brainer.
The measure ensures victims and first responders of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that the fund never runs out of money.
On that fateful day, more than 400 first responders were killed, and since then more than 2,000 first responders and victims have died from diseases and health problems stemming from exposure to toxic materials that were present in the debris. Another 50,000 people and first responders have been diagnosed with 9/11-related issues, including cancer.
These numbers show how imperative it was to pass this most important piece of legislation.
Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office said the costs to pay the outstanding claims and future claims would be $10.2 billion over the next decade.
While this is a lot of money, consider how much benefit this fund will be to those who have been battling illnesses from 9/11. This compensation fund has the real potential to prolong the lives of people who are sick and hopefully help others overcome their illnesses.
While we commend the 97 senators who voted to reauthorize this fund, we were somewhat troubled by the dissenting votes of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
This newspaper has proudly endorsed Paul for senator on two occasions and has no regrets whatsoever in doing so. We think Paul has done a solid job as the state’s junior U.S. senator and has a voting record we mostly agree with.
We are thankful for Paul’s deep concern about our enormous deficit. He is on target in that we shouldn’t be giving money to countries that don’t like us very much and he is right to try to rein in a lot of wasteful spending in this country. He has made some good attempts to bring the issue of having increased spending balanced by budget cuts elsewhere before the U.S. Senate.
While we have tremendous respect for the senator, we simply disagree with his vote on this bill. We believe supporting the 9/11 compensation fund was simply the only option.
The budget deal reached last week between President Donald Trump and congressional leaders doesn’t even come close to offsetting spending increases, either by spending cuts elsewhere or revenue increases.
We think Paul would’ve been better advised to focus his fiscal convictions on the budget deal rather than the 9/11 fund. The same can be said of Lee.
Having said that, we are very happy that this much-needed 9/11 legislation was passed and signed into law by Trump.
The News-Enterprise on a jailer who has reached across the political aisle and saved his county money:
Elected officials, regardless of their party affiliations, are in place to represent residents and voters of their cities, counties, states and nation.
How often have we been disappointed by our elected officials, who so often place a tight grip on party allegiance in making their decisions? Too many to count.
It’s refreshing Hardin County has a Democrat as jailer who sees part of his duty as representing Hardin County regardless of what party they align with. In the process, he’s won the praise of leading Republicans serving in county government.
Josh Lindblom, in less than seven months on the job, is showing political veterans you represent all people, not just the party of choice.
A frugal approach to the money-sucking Hardin County Detention Center has netted positive results in a short time as Lindblom, who is holding elected office for the first time, has taken a fresh approach to cost-saving measures.
One of the areas is use of Securus Technologies, an American prison technology company which provides phone, messaging and video call technologies to jails, prisons and treatment centers. He renegotiated the jail’s contract with Securus and the expected windfall is an initial revenue of about $500,000 for a year.
He also secured a $150,000 grant from Securus for re-signing to upgrade equipment around the jail.
At a facility where recent years accounted for a deficit of about $2 million annually, all cost savings is a big deal. One that knocks off about 25 percent of a deficit is a grand slam winner.
Hardin County Deputy Judge-Executive Daniel London applauded Lindblom’s efforts, saying, “He can make a penny birth a dollar. He is that conservative.”
Judge-Executive Harry Berry offered similar praise and talks about his positive working relationship with Lindblom.
Magistrate Fred Clem, among others, went on social media to share news of the jailer’s achievements and offer his praise.
Many of us, regardless of party affiliation, could learn a lesson from what Lindblom has accomplished less than a year in his tenure as jailer.