Editorial Roundup: Kentucky

Bowling Green Daily News. July 16, 2021.

Editorial: Be all-in on early childhood education

The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds us of one vital lesson that might seem obvious and mundane on its face, but must not be taken for granted: “All of a child’s early experiences – whether at home, in child care or in other preschool settings – are educational.”

Children, whether we recognize the simple fact or not, are constantly learning.

Everything we understand about early brain development and social-emotional outcomes teaches us that children who start school ready to learn are set up to achieve more academically. In the long term, we know academic success is linked to better social, economic and health outcomes.

That is why it is a grave mistake to focus only on the education children receive beginning in kindergarten. Again, as the American Academy of Pediatrics tells us, doing so is to “ignore the science of early development and to deny the importance of early experiences.”

This is why we were glad to read the news about U.S. Bank partnering with the United Way of Southern Kentucky to bring a new Born Learning trail to Ephram White Park.

Wrapping around the park’s playground, the trail invites parents to embrace everyday learning opportunities with their young children, using signs to guide them through educational exercises and painted letters from the alphabet that litter the playground’s surface.

The trail at Ephram White Park is United Way’s seventh, and it plans to add others in the future – including some outside Warren County.

In Kentucky, we know that only about half of the students who enter kindergarten in a given year do so with the adaptive, cognitive, motor, communication and social-emotional skills they need to succeed.

Data from Kentucky Youth Advocates shows that percentage hasn’t budged much since 2013.

There’s no doubt the generosity and efforts of local stakeholders, like U.S. Bank and the United Way, can go a long way to addressing this problem.

However, the factors that influence a child’s lack of kindergarten readiness are largely due to entrenched, stubborn sociological problems. Children who grow up in poverty, experience the foster care system or who endure abuse from their caregivers – what experts call “adverse childhood experiences” – all play a pivotal role in a child’s readiness for school.

Until we are prepared to reckon with these sociological demons together – rather than just depending upon the good works of others – we have no hope of addressing this problem.

If you agree, consider contacting your local state senator and state representative to express your support for investments in early childhood education. The way we see it, we can either invest in our children now, or pay the price later.

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Frankort State Journal. July 19, 2021.

Editorial: City, county must determine KCDC expectations

With the recent resignations of all three city-appointed board members in the past two months, the only remaining members of the six-person Kentucky Capital Development Corp. (KCDC) board are county appointees.

Heather Worthington, a managing partner at Chili’s, became the latest member to quit the board on Friday.

“Due to the current situation in my career and the complex issues facing KCDC, I don’t believe I am able to be an effective member of this board,” she wrote in her resignation to Mayor Layne Wilkerson.

Worthington’s exit comes on the heels of Zachary Horn’s resignation earlier this month. Horn, a partner at local law firm Kirkland, Cain & Horn, said time constraints and other obligations were the reasons he resigned. Former board chair Houston Barber, superintendent of Frankfort Independent Schools, announced he was leaving the KCDC board in June. The organization, which promotes economic development in the capital city and Franklin County, has faced a drastic cut in funding from both local government entities. Fiscal court slashed its contribution by $15,000 for the second straight year and the city commission cut its KCDC funding by $30,000.

Three mayoral appointments and three appointments from the Franklin County judge-executive make up the KCDC board.

The three remaining KCDC board members — local attorney and board chair Clay Patrick, Topy America Inc. executive Sam Amburgey as well as realtor and longtime member Danny Willis — were all appointed by the judge-executive.

Wilkerson now has to come up with three representatives to fill the KCDC vacancies. But instead of looking at the situation from a negative perspective, the mayor has chosen to look on the bright side.

“Now is the time, coming out of a pandemic and with new leadership in place — it’s as good as any to revisit what our goals are and what our vision is to make sure we’re all working in lockstep,” he said.

We agree. Now is as good a time as any to determine what the city and county expect from KCDC and vice versa.

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