• Gov. Ernie Fletcher
Improving Kentucky’s schools will be a key ingredient in making the Bluegrass State economically competitive and prosperous, Gov. Ernie Fletcher said in his third State of the State Address.
Longer School Year: The first-term governor proposed to add three days to the school year and make high school curriculum and graduation requirements more challenging as part of his Get Competitive Kentucky initiative.
“When we’re looking at improving the rigor of high schools, … additional school days are necessary,” the Republican said at a news conference the day after his Jan. 9 speech.
Other education initiatives under the economic-competitiveness agenda include raising teacher pay and increasing spending on preschool programs. The governor also promised to finance a new Web-based tool that would track student performance in order, he said, to “identify a student that needs intervention before it’s too late.”
Mr. Fletcher did not say how much those initiatives would cost, but he planned to unveil spending details in a Jan. 17 budget address to the legislature, said Jodi Whitaker, a spokeswoman for the governor.
Intelligent Design: Also in his State of the State speech, the governor endorsed teaching about “intelligent design,” which suggests an unnamed creator played a role in the biological diversity now on Earth. Mr. Fletcher did not say whether such instruction should occur in science or other classes.
Last month, a federal judge ruled that the teaching of intelligent design in public school science classes was an unconstitutional endorsement of a religious view. (“Possible Road Map Seen in Dover Case,” Jan. 4, 2006.)
Gov. Fletcher said the United States was founded on unalienable rights provided by the Creator, a tenet that ought to give Kentucky teachers the right to teach about the concept that an overwhelming majority of scientists reject.
“What is wrong with teaching intelligent design in our schools?” he said in the Jan. 9 address to the legislature. “Under [state law], our school districts have that freedom, and I encourage them to do so.”