Kentucky a leader in advancedplacement testing
Parents and state leaders in Kentucky should be commended for helping put more smart power into your state's public schools.
The recent release of the College Board's "AP Report Card to the Nation" showed that your state was among the top four in the United States for passing scores in AP math, science and English among minority students, with a 38.7 percent increase for African-American and Hispanic students.
The report also confirmed that more U.S. students are now taking and passing Advanced Placement (AP) courses than ever before: 17 percent of the class of 2010 passed an AP exam — up from 15.9 percent the year before and 10.8 percent in 2001.
This is worth cheering about. AP students are three times more likely to earn a college degree.
The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) is proud to help fund Advance Kentucky, which accounted for 100 percent of the state's increased passing scores on AP math, science and English exams last year.
More of your students are reaching for the stars and it is paying off. Congratulations to your schools, teachers and students for making this encouraging report card possible.
CEO, National Math and Science InitiativeDallas
I am grew up in Lexington and now live and work in Boston. We are very passionate about our Boston Celtics and exceptionally proud of our multi-talented point guard, Rajon Rondo. I always beam with pride when they mention he played at the University of Kentucky.
A Boston Globe editorial about Celtics legend Bill Russell receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom mentioned Russell's boycott of an exhibition game in Lexington during the days of my youth.
I wasn't aware of this incident, but as I learned from the Herald-Leader a few years ago, there was a concerted effort by the media to not report racial and civil rights issues. I was very proud of Lexington when that series ran and the city had the courage to stand up and admit its past mistakes.
This news provides another opportunity for Lexington to shine. Now would be a good time to make right the past with Russell. Now would be a good time for Lexington to be known more for its character, courage, and 21st century vision than its unfortunate history.
Why not invite Russell back and honor him? Why not have Rondo introduce him to connect the past to the present? (Maybe you could even invite Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith to join in.)
Why not celebrate the connections between the great history of two great basketball programs — UK and the Celtics?
It could be a memorable moment. Will somebody pick up the ball and put it through the rim?
James C. Wallace
Fellow and Senior Research AssociateInstitute on Culture, Religion and World AffairsBoston University
Resolve not weakened
Three years ago I began working with individuals and groups to halt the exorbitant interest rates payday lenders charge Kentuckians.
I joined with AARP, churches, civic groups, victims of payday lending and others to craft a bill that would cap the interest rate of payday loans at 36 percent. I filed legislation every year and failed to get a hearing — until this year.
House Bill 182 was heard in the House Banking and Insurance Committee Wednesday morning, and we presented clear evidence of the debt trap and financial spiral Kentuckians suffer under predatory payday lending.
Studies show that — even with the database previously approved by the General Assembly to track customers' loan frequency and dollar amounts — Kentuckians continue to be victimized by these establishments.
When the Banking and Insurance Committee agreed to hear the bill, I was hopeful that we could persuade legislators about the devastating consequences payday lending inflicts upon their own constituents.
While we had 10 "yes" votes — for which I am very grateful — the bill was defeated by the committee and will not be voted on by the full House.
The outcome is certainly disappointing, but with every failure lessons can be learned. Zig Zigler, the famous motivational speaker and author once said, "Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street."
Wednesday's detour only strengthens my resolve to keep fighting for Kentuckians so they no longer fall victim to the toxic, damaging practice of payday lending.
Rep. Darryl Owens
Not looking out for us
If any doubt exists about whose pocket freshman Sen. Rand Paul is in, his first actions make his allegiances clear.
Rather than stand behind Kentucky families and workers by working to create jobs for the unemployed, Paul has focused on repealing health care reform and haphazardly slashing the federal budget — both of which would kill valuable jobs in the economy and hurt those most in need.
The budget undoubtedly needs to be addressed, but it must not be balanced squarely on the backs of the working middle class. Even Paul's wealthy peers must pay their fair share.
More evidence of Paul's affront to the public good was his proposal to limit Federal Aviation Administration spending to 2008 levels, which would deny air traffic controllers the most modern equipment and force a cut in their salaries.
Air safety is no place to gamble by scrimping on the latest technology, particularly as our skies grow busier all the time.
Perhaps Paul's most egregious action for working families is his support of the National Right to Work Act. He rationalizes this support by asserting that unions use dues to influence politics.
This is no different than big business paying lobbyists to advocate for their interests to politicians. Workers deserve the same voice through their unions. Any Right to Work Act merely masquerades as the right to work for less. Don't be fooled.
Paul may have ridden the Tea Party wave into office, but his priorities are at odds with most Kentucky working families.
Emery W. Caywood
Blame the coach
University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari has been quoted as saying, "We're stuck in not enough toughness, not enough togetherness, not enough passion for playing, not enough of that will to win, fight."
The truth is that he gambled and lost on the Enes Kanter recruitment. The team is left without a power forward or center.
Don't blame the players on this team. Coach Cal needs to know that most fans don't care how many players he is able to put into the National Basketball Association, although he said the greatest thing that ever happened in Kentucky basketball was putting five players in the NBA at one time.
We do care about winning National Collegiate Athletic Association championships.
If we are going to hear every year we are too young and inexperienced to win in close games, maybe we need to change from recruiting "one and done" players who care less about Cats basketball, and more about how quickly they can get to the NBA.
UK priorities twisted
I graduated decades ago from the University of Kentucky. I occasionally get mailings from the university seeking my membership in alumni associations, possible hints that I might like to donate money.
Quite a while ago, I decided the president and board running the university did not have my priorities.
The latest fiasco with the athletics department, giving Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart that huge raise and contract extension, has relieved my mind and conscience.
I am morally secure in refusing to send even one dime to that school. They obviously have plenty of money to throw down the toilet.
And the Coal Lodge? The toilet water will run black with coal dust, except when it turns rust red. They clearly don't need one cent of my money.
I do feel sorry for the students, paying out the nose for the poor decisions made in the boardroom.
H. Stephen Midkiff
Puzzling union demand
Leaving aside the ridiculous notion of increasing government obligations during a time of financial crisis for all government levels, does anyone else see something fundamentally wrong with requiring a city to provide health insurance for its retirees dependent children?
Does it leap off the page to anyone else out there that there's something very off about a significant amount of your pensioners retiring at an age young enough to still have dependent children?
Yes, times have changed, and people do have second marriages, postpone child raising, etc.
But it still just seems totally off kilter to plan on a pool of retirees being in an age group associated with child rearing.
Since I'm not a Lexington citizen, I would just ignore the issue and leave Lexingtonians to their own self-destruction if they wished it. But if this turkey of a bill passes, no doubt it will eventually fall on the backs of all Kentucky taxpayers, as well as pressure the General Assembly to extend the benefit to other areas.
Conflicts of interest
Regarding the legislation to make Kentucky a "sanctuary state" in order to ignore clean air and water regulations.
In fairness to all Kentuckians, any member of the state legislature who has worked for a coal company, has been wined and dined by coal company lobbyists, or received coal company money for their campaign should not participate in this vote.
Legislators who have not visited the coal regions and the Kentuckians who live there should not vote either.
If the interest of people, not the coal lobby, is truly the goal of the legislators, abstaining from this vote will be the way to prove it.
Two legislative acts
The Good: Thank you to Rep. Susan Westrom, who resisted a reminder of a campaign contribution to get her vote. She has my vote any time.
The Bad: Sen. Brandon Smith who apparently has been living on a different planet for an extended period of time and is cited in the Herald-Leader as saying: "If cities can ignore federal law to protect illegal immigrants, then why can't Kentucky do it for coal companies?"
Will someone who already has a list please respond? I have other things to do today and probably would miss one around reason No. 68. And my vote? Don't even ask.
John C. Wolff, Jr.
Drink up for coal
Maybe lawmakers could add to coal bills: "Any person living near a coal mine can bring some of their tap water to Frankfort and the governor and everyone who voted for the bill will drink a glass, no matter how it smells or tastes."
Then we can see what they really think of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Water Act.
Joel Pett's cartoon equating the Save the Mountains rally to the Egyptian protest in Tahrir Square was really quite funny and simply ludicrous.
A small group of white-bread liberals (lots of uniformity with little taste or flavor) cannot be compared to the hundreds of thousands demanding freedom from a dictator.
At least the white breads get a chance at the polls occasionally and seem to lose more often than not and therefore depend on the federal fiats and courts to get their way.
Joel Pett's Feb. 13 cartoon sparked a memory from 60 years ago when I attended a military school with many students from Latin America.
Following a coup by a junta, I approached a Latino friend with the not-very-brilliant comment: "I see that another of your South American countries has had a revolution."
Not bothered by my Yanqui confusion of nationalities, he had a ready answer: "Why not? Revolutions are much cheaper than elections!"
J. Eric Schonblom