Ky. gets praise for education reforms as it prepares to ask for federal money and a waiver

08/24/2011 06:21 PM

LOUISVILLE — Kentucky’s recent education reforms should help the state’s case as it seeks U.S. Department of Education grant money and an exemption from the No Child Left Behind Act, one federal official said.

Dennis Bega, a senior policy adviser to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, told Pure Politics that Kentucky has shown a willingness to try new education approaches by being the first state to adopt new core curriculum standards for math and reading.

Bega was in Louisville on Tuesday night to speak to a new education-focused Kentucky group, called Kentucky Leads the Nation. The non-partisan group includes superintendents, teachers, legislators and other policy makers.

Kentucky education officials are considering whether to seek money through a third round of the federal “Race to the Top” competition. The third round is open to Kentucky and nine other states who were finalists in the first two round of the competitions but didn’t not qualify for up to $400 million per state last year.

These 10 states would be battling for a share of $200 million.

Kentucky also could seek a share of $500 million available to all 50 states for early childhood education funding.

And next month, the U.S. Education Department will release guidelines for getting a waiver for portions of No Child Left Behind. Bega said states could get such waivers for several requirements that turned out to be “less effective than we had hoped.”

Kentucky leaders, including Gov. Steve Beshear, were the first in the nation to signal an interest in getting a waiver.

In the interview with Pure Politics, Bega praised Kentucky’s education reforms, first mentioning the KERA reforms in the 1990s and then Kentucky’s adoption of core content standards in 2009.

-Reporting and video production by Kenny Colston

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