Kindergarten Students Could Soon Be Screened For School Readiness

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has contracted with a private company to implement a kindergarten screener program, but the state still needs to approve the regulatory to require all public schools to screen incoming students.

If approved this summer, the screening would help teachers determine how prepared students are before entering school by assessing their skills on a group or individual basis.

KDE anticipates all public schools would be required to screen their kindergarten students beginning the 2013-2014 school year and the state is currently asking for districts to volunteer to pilot the screener next year. Continue reading “Kindergarten Students Could Soon Be Screened For School Readiness”

Growing Up Gay in Appalachia: Whit Forrester, Defining Fairness

The thought of growing up gay in rural Eastern Kentucky would make many Louisvillians cringe. But how much of that reaction is rooted in stereotypes we hold about rural Kentucky? Whit Forrester spent some of his childhood in Leburn, Kentucky—a town in Knott County, with a population of around eight hundred people. Whit says when people hear he’s from Appalachia, “they’re like barefoot, pregnant, in a trailer… and you know how to change a propane tank.”

Whit spoke with WFPL’s Phillip M. Bailey and Laura Ellis about growing up gay in Appalachia.

The audio portion of this conversation contains descriptions of situations that may make some listeners uncomfortable and may not be appropriate for younger listeners.

Audio MP3

On Labels

"I think that there's a strength, and sometimes also a weakness, in immediately identifying into a categorization, whether it is one that you've chosen yourself or one that society's given you. So sometimes when people are like, 'How would you describe yourself?' I can rattle off, 'Oh, I'm a queer, Scotch-Irish, Appalachian individual, cisgendered…' you know, I have all the words to sort of line up who I am, if that's what we're getting at. But sometimes it seems like you can close down a conversation that would have been more open before that.

When we're using just those identity words, a lot of times that's like a shortcut around a conversation. I would rather be like, this is what I enjoy doing sexually, and this is how I identify gender-wise, and these are my experiences. It becomes a conversation. And I think that's kind of what we need. "

On Class Divisions within the LGBTQ Community

"People who are closer to power feel like they can actually get it. So when you're talking about a straight-acting white guy who wants to lobby for gay issues, it's going to be his gay issues. So marriage. Sure. Why not. But simultaneously, hunger is a gay issue. Domestic violence is a gay issue. You can go down the line. Everything is a gay issue.

And that's kind of where I think that a lot of the white activist community kind of messes up, is that those folks–people who are identifying as white–they can't be leaders. I don't think that they should be the ones calling shots, or doing this community organizing. Which doesn't mean that you just run out and find a person of color, or find a queer street kid, and be like, 'You're a leader now! Hop on up, let's show you how to do this.' But I do think that that needs to be really centralized in the conversation, that your best intentions are just basically paving the road to hell."

On Activism

"People are in these various level of activism, whether it's lobbying, working in non-profit sectors, working in bike collectives, teaching young trans kids how to make a dress out of a sheet. All those are necessary components of what we're building. And I think that another issue is that we don't really know what we're building. We're just trying to build something different. 

Again, people with great intentions want to know what to do. They want to do something. We have this idea of what activism looks like. For me,  what's been really important in my own development and my own support structures have been cooperative institutions. A lot of times I wish that there were more conversations about that, so that folks weren't just given the opportunity to give money or go to fundraisers, but there were places to put your body. Whether it's like at the local volunteer co-op… something. Not your money. Your body."

Yarmuth’s Mother Rescued From Flood Waters

The mother of U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., was rescued from a vehicle in a rising creek in east Louisville, according to his office.

The National Weather Service had issued a flash flood warning Tuesday morning and several roads in downtown and nearby the University of Louisville were closed. Edna Yarmuth, 85, was found in her car off Brownsboro Road after a three car accident. She was rescued by firefighters who pulled her from the vehicle, which had gone into the creek.

From Yarmuth’s office:

“Our mother is doing fine after today’s accident. Thankfully she was wearing her seat belt and has only minor injuries. She is in good spirits and will be home soon.

We want to thank the Harrods Creek, Worthington, and St. Matthews fire departments, as well as Metro Police and EMS, for their exceptional rescue efforts. We also want to thank all those at University Hospital, who are providing my mother with expert care.”

Surreal Play Introduces Kids to Magritte

Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte was known for his playful use of mystery–men in overcoats and bowler hats floating, an apple or a boulder suspended in mid-air. Sometimes silly, always evocative, he captured the imagination of art lovers of all ages.

Alley Theater for Young Audiences will finish a run of Barry Kornhauser’s “This Is Not a Pipe Dream,” a play that introduces the painter as a child chafing under his skeptical father’s rule, this weekend in the Speed Art Museum Auditorium.

Artistic director Dana Hope says Magritte has a unique appeal for younger audiences.

“It’s so out there. I think kids’ minds are open to that coolness,” says Hope. “I think when an adult looks at Magritte’s work you have to take a moment and think, what is this all about? But a child just accepts it.” Continue reading “Surreal Play Introduces Kids to Magritte”

NIH Conference Begins in Louisville Wednesday

Hundreds of entrepreneurs, researchers and small business owners from across the country will be in Louisville starting tomorrow for a conference focusing on research into health and life sciences.

The National Institutes of Health provides more than $700 million for small businesses to do research and this conference at the downtown Marriott will feature workshops for start-up companies to learn the funding process and access those funds.

University of Louisville Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation Dr. Bill Pierce says the conference will give the university an opportunity to showcase its facilities.

“We are offering tours of some of our laboratories. We’ll have them go to see the Nucleus Research Park, which is coming up out of the ground at the old Haymarket. And we’re telling them this is a great place to be,” he said.

Conference speakers include U of L President James Ramsey, Gov. Steve Beshear and officials from the National Institutes of Health.

The annual NIH Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer conference runs through Friday.

(Information for this story came from the Associated Press)

U of L Students Displaced by Fire Have Temporary Housing, Classes Resume After 4 pm

A dozen University of Louisville students were displaced by a fire in their residence hall after lighting struck the building early Tuesday, but officials say the building can house the students in other rooms until a more permanent solution is found.

Providence, the privately-run student housing complex located near U of L’s Belknap Campus, caught fire but no students were injured, officials said. Nearly two dozen students were affected and Providence officials said half of the displaced students had renters insurance.

The Red Cross responded to the incident and provided assistance, said U of L President James Ramsey. Continue reading “U of L Students Displaced by Fire Have Temporary Housing, Classes Resume After 4 pm”

Indiana Democrats Launch Attack Highlighting Mourdock’s Website Scrub

Indiana Democrats have launched an online campaign criticizing Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock for scrubbing his campaign website of certain information.

After beating longtime Senator Dick Lugar in the GOP primary, Mourdock began clearing his website of links that showed him opposing the auto bailout and supporting budget cuts that would affect entitlement programs. It also scrubbed the site of any criticisms of Lugar before May 8 and his announcement speech entering the race.

Indiana Democratic Party spokesman Ben Ray says Mourdock is trying to hide his record and his relationship to the Tea Party.

“We’re even talking about endorsements disappearing. Eric Erickson, who is the publisher of, his endorsement is gone. Herman Cain’s endorsement is gone. And so really I think what we’re seeing is Richard Mourdock attempting to wholly reinvent himself for the general electorate and we’re not going to let that happen.”

Continue reading “Indiana Democrats Launch Attack Highlighting Mourdock’s Website Scrub”

Beshear Creates Coal Scholarship Program

Governor Steve Beshear has created a program lawmakers could not. The governor has released four million dollars to be given as scholarships to Eastern Kentucky college students.

Lawmakers wrestled with several scholarship proposals during the last legislative session, but an agreement was never passed.

“Kentuckians recognize the importance of completing a college degree, and more and more people are pursuing higher education,” says Beshear in a release. “That’s a good sign. But the cost of attending school can be prohibitive. I’m proud that we’ve found a way to make sure more students can continue their studies. These coal severance fund scholarships will surely help more of our students to achieve their goal of a college degree.”

To qualify for the scholarships, students must be from any of the following counties: Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin or Pike. They must also be juniors, seniors or nontraditional students in schools in those counties, including: the University of Pikeville, Alice Lloyd College or satellite campuses of Morehead State University, Lindsey Wilson, UPIKE or Lincoln Memorial. Continue reading “Beshear Creates Coal Scholarship Program”

State Will Open Louisville Area to Medicaid Competition, Burch Pushes for Delay

A Kentucky lawmaker says implementation of a federal mandate to allow private companies to compete for Medicaid contracts in Louisville could be delayed.

Currently, Medicaid in Louisville and the surrounding area is managed by the private company Passport Health Plan. But the federal government has ordered Kentucky to open the area to competition. And the company United Healthcare is already attempting to muscle into the region.

It’s also widely believed that the state’s other three managed care operators–CoventryCares, Kentucky Spirit and WellCare–would also want to bid for the Louisville region contracts

But today, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced they would extend Passport’s contract to the end of this year and start accepting other bids for services in 2013 and beyond. Continue reading “State Will Open Louisville Area to Medicaid Competition, Burch Pushes for Delay”

JCPS Board Moves Student Assignment Discussions Forward

The Jefferson County Board of Education will iron out changes to the district’s student assignment plan Tuesday night and district leaders may soon adopt a plan that could mean shorter bus rides and less diversity for elementary school students.

The JCPS board adopted a plan for elementary schools earlier this year using recommendations from student assignment expert UCLA professor Dr. Gary Orfield. The plan recognizes already existing pockets of diversity throughout the district and uses new criteria for determine adequate diversity in schools. Continue reading “JCPS Board Moves Student Assignment Discussions Forward”