Attorney General Jack Conway (D) of Kentucky, who is running for governor of the state, has announced a new education plan that calls for more spending on early childhood education, delivering broadband internet into all state schools, and putting parents and teachers in the position of reviewing the state's Common Core standards.
"A good education is the gateway to a good-paying job, a better workforce and a stronger economy," he said.
The Courier-Journal's Joseph Gerth writes that Conway discussed the contrasts between his Republican opponent Matt Bevin and himself. Bevin has stated that early childhood education programs do not work and stated during a primary debate on Kentucky Educational Television that a report has shown that Head Start's children are not retaining any benefits they receive beyond age 9.
"If we're putting out kids into the workforce at the age of 9, I say giddy-up let's give 'em some more Head Start and lets expand it down to 4 years old, but in the meantime if we're not getting what we want from the program, let's rethink those hundreds of billions of dollars that we're pumping in."
Bevin added that he believes early childhood education is important, but the current system is not doing an effective job. Conway shared some ideas he thinks will get the job done, including expanding public preschool to 3- and 4-year-olds whose parents earn up to 200% of the poverty level, by the time his term ends. He does not yet know how much this program will cost, but he believes if the expanded programs can be housed in existing schools, if waste can be cut, and if additional federal dollars are available, it can be affordable.
Conway reminded his audience that about a quarter of Kentucky's tobacco settlement goes to early childhood education and could be restructured in a way that could add to funding for schools.
Conway said that he and Rep. Sannie Overly (D-Paris), who will be his running mate, are passionate about improving public education at all levels. He continued by saying that a solid education is "the gateway to a good-paying job, an improved workforce, and a stronger economy for the middle-class," according to WHAS-TV.
Included in his outline for education improvement for his state are a desire to realign community and technical college programs to fit the needs of employers in the area, reports Charles Gazaway of WAVE-TV. Conway also wants to make sure that students are gaining the necessary skills to obtain well-paying jobs. He added to the list the importance of making education more affordable.
"This plan reflects ideas we garnered from teachers, parents, students, education leaders and businesses all across Kentucky," said Conway.
Matt Bevins wants to channel dollars directly to families, to be used for charter schools, home schooling, or public schooling. Bevin also wants local school boards and staff to have more control.
The Pathways to Learning, Achievement, and New Opportunities (PLAN), reports Don Weber of MYCN2, is another of Conway's ideas to prepare high school students for life after graduation.
"The PLAN program will be available for high school junior and seniors and will centralize and distribute information to students who are interested in learning about regional economic opportunities, industry sectors which are growing in their area, and the best options available for higher education," Conway said.
The attorney general wants to create an "earn while you learn" apprenticeship program that would allow students to acquire hands-on, paid occupational experience, while at the same time receiving classroom instruction. The connection of students with companies will be a win-win for both and for the state, Conway says.