Early learning is a bridge that helps kids get somewhere
The first few years of a child's life are critical and a lack of quality care and education often creates lifelong disadvantages. That's why Mira Ball ("Kentucky should recommit to children, restore funding for early care programs," Jan. 3) rightly challenges state leaders to make better budget decisions on early learning.
Washington's doing no better than Frankfort. Take the Early Learning Challenge Grants, an ambitious federal commitment to early education originally proposed by the president at $10 billion. Congress funded it at $550 million. Expecting nationwide change for 5 cents on the dollar is at best foolish, at worse disingenuous.
Congress is considering legislation (S470 in the Senate and HR3322 in the House) to make the federal government a stronger early education partner. It sets high standards, backed with funding for teacher training, parent engagement and supportive services to help kids meet those standards. And it would better integrate early education with K-3, so kids reach kindergarten ready to learn.
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The cost? Full nationwide implementation for a year costs about the same as the infamous "bridge to nowhere." Surely, committed leaders can at least find the same money for such a commonsense investment as they found for a nonsensical pet project.
Sadly, not one member of Kentucky's congressional delegation, Democrat or Republican, has co-sponsored this proposal. If Kentucky's kids are going to do better, politicians in both Washington and Frankfort must stop pointing fingers, so we can start solving problems.
Vice President and Counsel, Children's Policy and Strategy, First Focus
Welcome to new publisher
I recently discovered through the Key News Journal (Central Kentucky's newspaper for the black community) that Rufus Friday, publisher of the Lexington Herald-Leader, is African-American. I am disappointed that the black community of Lexington has been so silent about Friday's post. I am certain some in high positions were aware of his appointment and his background. Yet there was no public welcome for him to my knowledge.
Friday is one of only nine African-American publishers out of more than 1,400 newspapers in the entire United States. That is something about which we as fellow African-American Lexingtonians should be exceedingly proud. We don't hesitate to gripe and complain when we perceive that we are not getting a fair deal; yet, we fail to celebrate a highly commendable achievement such as Friday's.
I hope, with a new publisher, we will see changes in the Herald-Leader that fairly reflect the entire citizenry and diversity of Lexington and surrounding areas. I wish Friday a belated welcome and much future success. May God bless and keep you in his care.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo's congressional redistricting plan is textbook gerrymandering. True, it eliminates "the fishhook" from the 1st District but creates three long, skinny peninsulas in the 2nd, 4th and 6th districts.
Kentucky is blessed with six competitive districts. Only one district has been held for more than the last 10 years by any one party. Stumbo would change that. His plan would make our 6th District more Democratic and less Republican, while doing the reverse in the 2nd and 4th, pretty much creating three safe seats for incumbents.
A problem in today's politics is too many districts that are "safe" for one party or the other. The result: A Congress more partisan than ever. Districts such as these make our representatives more likely to play to their bases to avoid primary challenges. Those in competitive districts are more responsive to citizens and the country's needs and less likely to play politics on every issue.
Sen. Damon Thayer's proposed map is more aligned to our current map and less skewed than Stumbo's. An independent review based on the last election shows Rep. Ben Chandler would have beaten Andy Barr by over 7,000 votes under Stumbo's plan, taking a competitive district into much safer territory. Thayer's plan would have given Barr a 500-vote victory (given the exact same turnout). While in this case the result would have been different, it still would be an extremely close vote and competitive district.
Tell your legislator "no to gerrymandering."
Defending Lu Young
It is both troubling and telling that the Herald-Leader would reprint a story from the New York Times regarding Jessamine County Schools superintendent Lu Young taking a professional trip to Australia without even making the effort to contact her for a response. Given that her office is located almost 15 minutes from the Herald-Leader building, I suppose it was just too much to ask.
If someone from the newspaper had done even minimal homework, he or she would have discovered the following facts that were either obscured, missing from or misrepresented by the article: Young was invited to go on the trip by the American Association of School Administrators, not by Pearson; at the time of the trip, she did not serve on the committee selecting Kentucky's testing vendor, and neither she nor anyone else knew that she would be asked to serve several months later; she never had a conversation with anyone promoting Pearson's selection as the testing vendor; none of the other 12 members of the testing review committee even knew that she had been on the trip months before; when she agreed to serve on the committee she had no way of even knowing that Pearson would submit a bid.
The reprinting of a convoluted hatchet job in an effort to make this appear to be something it is not is reprehensible. The Herald-Leader owes its community a more professional treatment of this story.
V. Wayne Young
Kentucky Association of School Administrators
Romans, hoops and bread
I picked up the paper this morning (Jan. 1) and what did I see splashed all over the front page? University of Kentucky basketball.
Funny, I thought the front page and section were supposed to be world and national news. You've got a sports section and you even have a Big Blue Sunday section. That's where sports articles belong, not on the front page. And folks wonder why Kentucky always ranks pretty close to the bottom in any national survey that means anything, income, education, domestic abuse — oops, sorry, that last one we rank pretty close to the top.
When the Roman Empire was going down the tubes, they held more and bigger games in the Coliseum, throwing loaves of bread to the audience before the games began, hoping to distract them from just how badly things were going for the Empire. I believe it was called "Bread and Circuses" and that seems to be what is happening today in our state and country, just without the bread.
Maybe try putting your emphasis on just what an educated populace can do for Kentucky. Lee Todd was useless as the UK president in that respect, but the new guy seems to have his priorities straight — education first. After all, it's a university, and education is what a university is supposed to be about, not sports.
Playhouse defies contract
I read the letter "Playhouse solution" from James F. Wisniewski of Lexington. I take strong exception to his statement "I live in Andover Forest, and it might surprise people to learn that my neighbors support the family and their playhouse, not the board or the management company." While I will take as true that he does, in fact, live in Andover Forest, I strongly resent his stating that the people of Andover Forest support the family and not our board. I don't think he is any more a spokesman for the neighborhood residents than I am. I speak only for myself but I have spoken with many others who absolutely support our board.
Some simple facts: All residents of Andover Forest knowingly and voluntarily signed the association agreement when we purchased our homes. A method to appeal any variance is available to all of us before we take any action, a process the Veloudis family chose to ignore. What standard will the next family choose to ignore? Are chain link fences next? Maybe someone will choose to go natural rather than maintain their lawn? Oh, wait, a chicken coop or an outhouse?
Do they want a real solution or just "their" solution? When faced with building a playhouse for my twin two-year-old grandchildren, I chose to build it in the basement. I don't push my unauthorized choices onto my neighbors.
Krugman's con job
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's column, "European economic woes depressing democracy, reform," on Dec. 13 was like most of Krugman's words, not worth much.
It did sound the alarm about the financial and potential political crisis in Europe and its spillover to this side of the pond, but all readers of such dry copy about European economics know those dummies have borrowed and spent their way to ruin.
What the Noble Prize-winning economist Krugman can not do is offer a plan to the Europeans to fix their problems. He cannot do this for us either. Krugman belongs to that gang of con artists called Keynesian economists.
Instead of wasting ink on the likes of Krugman, why don't you look around Kentucky and find an economics professor who understands free markets, a sound currency and government's fundamental inability to build sound strong economies?
Then perhaps he or she will offer some good advice. Leave Ivy League idealists alone.