Is it possible Gov. Steve Beshear was not informed about inequitable treatment of students and parents from the 16 other Eastern Kentucky coal-producing counties in former governor Gov. Paul Patton's scholarship project?
Did Beshear know that Patton's $4.3 million coal-severance pilot program advances the University of Pikeville almost exclusively to the disadvantage of students and their families in the following coal producing counties: Boyd, Breathitt, Clay, Elliott, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Menifee, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pulaski and Whitley?
Why is Lincoln Memorial University, a Tennessee school, receiving Kentucky coal-severance scholarship money and 16 coal-producing counties aren't? Why is Lindsey Wilson College receiving coal severance scholarship money when it isn't even located in a coal-producing county?
The answer is simple. Both have satellite programs in the designated nine-county coal-severance scholarship area.
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Once you scrape away the subterfuge, you see clearly that Patton, president of the University of Pikeville, has used their names for political coverage and to help mask the fact that his university received the lion's share of the scholarship money while small satellite operations will receive the scraps.
Doesn't the pilot project cause parents who live in the other 16 Eastern Kentucky coal-producing counties to ask where the $4,000 or so scholarship is for my son or daughter to attend college?
Why did Patton use Alice Lloyd College's name when the president of that college said he didn't want the project, didn't agree with it and never saw the proposal until after the fact? Now students entering Alice Lloyd from Perry County, right next door, are discriminated against. Why would Alice Lloyd want to be a part of the proposal anyway? It requires its students to work to receive free tuition. Not a bad idea at all.
Why was University of the Cumberlands promised to be a part of Patton's project and excluded? Why was Eastern Kentucky University at Corbin and Manchester excluded? Why was Union College promised and then excluded?
There are two easy answers. Too many schools included would decrease the amount Pikeville would otherwise receive. What's more, I assume neither legislative representatives where the schools are located — Senate President David Williams nor Sen. Robert Stivers — are favorites of the Democrats.
I hate these politics. They are hurting and discriminating against the students and their families in coal-producing counties. Done in the darkness of night, there was no transparency to Patton's project. It was like pulling teeth to get a copy of it, and once we got a copy we found we had been excluded.
As one peels the layers of subterfuge away, one sees it is clearly designed to aid Pikeville at almost the exclusion of every other institution. Pikeville essentially becomes a de facto state university.
Now the satellite community colleges and satellite campuses can tell students to take their first 60 hours there and stay on for the next 60 hours at the University of Pikeville. They are essentially now four-year colleges for the next two years. In Patton's words, "the scholarship would in effect bring tuition cost down to what they would expend at comprehensive universities."
Patton knows Pikeville will likely continue to receive the funds and become part of his legacy as he fluffs his feathers and prances like a peacock.
Congratulations, Patton and the counties whose citizens will benefit from the newest scholarship fund coming from the daily grind of coal miners rather than from the hard work of the college's president pounding the pavement to raise assistance from the private sector.
In reality, all of the students in the 25 Eastern Kentucky coal-producing counties are being discriminated against because the pilot project essentially dictates which college they can attend. Their freedom to choose is severely limited to Pikeville or a Pikeville satellite.
I simply feel terrible for the students. So I say congratulations to those students who will receive the scholarships and my condolences to those who will not.