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Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson announced that the Cabinet’s Office of Inspector General has completed the investigation into whether Kentucky teachers engaged in an illegal work stoppage, also known as a “sick out,” during the 2019 session of the General Assembly. The investigation found that 1,074 teachers did violate Kentucky law, which clearly prohibits work stoppages.

KRS 336.050(2) gives the Cabinet the discretion to prosecute and assess civil penalties of up to $1,000 per person, per day of work stoppage on any violation of a labor law in the state of Kentucky. Dickerson noted that while no penalties will be assessed for violations in this specific instance, this investigation was necessary to ensure that public schools remain open during the upcoming school year and that similar work stoppages do not occur in the future.

“Kentucky law clearly prohibits public-sector employees from engaging in work stoppages that many teachers engaged in during the early months of 2019,” noted Dickerson. “Those teachers who participated in this concerted effort were in clear violation of the law, as noted by the Kentucky Education Association and recently affirmed by a federal court.”

In a clear and decisive victory for the Cabinet, United States District Judge Danny Reeves acknowledged that the Labor Cabinet had every right to investigate public school teachers for their conduct. “Kentucky statutes explicitly grant the Labor Cabinet the authority to prosecute and assess civil penalties against public employees, which includes public-school teachers who may have violated KRS Chapter 336,” Reeves stated. “Students are expected to attend classes. If they fail to do so without a valid excuse, their absence is duly-noted and appropriate action is taken. But the teachers at the center of this controversy expect[ed] different treatment.” A full copy of the Court’s Order can be found here.

“It is important to note what the Court explicitly stated,” added Dickerson. “Citizens of the Commonwealth have a strong and continuing interest in public schools remaining open during the school year. The purpose of the Cabinet’s investigation was to undertake a thorough investigation into conduct by some public school teachers and ensure that work stoppages do not happen again so that public schools will be able to fulfill their mission to educate the children of Kentucky. The Cabinet remains dedicated to that mission and will continue to monitor any future ‘sick outs’ closely for further violations of Kentucky labor law.”

“Let it be clearly understood that the grace extended in this instance will not be extended for future such proven violations,” said Dickerson. “The public cannot tolerate another illegal work stoppage in our schools. It is important for public school teachers to understand the level of seriousness that, by law, the Labor Cabinet must and will give to any future work stoppages. We dedicate ourselves to students and parents across the Commonwealth to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and that our schools will remain open.”

Photo: NBPTS Website

Kentucky recently celebrated the 18 newly certified and 101 newly renewed National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) who continue to improve their teaching for the students of the Commonwealth. With 3,292 NBCTs, Kentucky ranks 6th in the nation for the percentage of teachers who are Board-certified (8%) and 9th in the nation for the total number of Board-certified teachers.

This small class of newly Board-certified teachers represents the last to be certified in the 2.0 version. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has just completed a transition to a more flexible and accommodating process that can be completed in one to three years while maintaining high and rigorous standards. Kentucky currently has nearly 1,000 teachers that are candidates in the new certification process, placing Kentucky fifth nationally for the total number of candidates, and as one of the top states in the nation in terms of percentage of teachers that are candidates.

Kentucky has consistently ranked in the top ten nationally for the number of Board-certified teachers. James Adams, Executive Director of the Education Professional Standards Board, described board certification as, “the highest credential in the teaching profession.” Adams added, “The progress that Kentucky continues to make towards the legislative goal of having at least one NBCT in every school is something to celebrate. This innovative goal is important for our students.”

At the February 23 event Hal Heiner, Secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet presented the NBCTs with a proclamation from Governor Bevin proclaiming the day “National Board Certified Teacher Day” in the Commonwealth. “I’m pleased to be presenting this proclamation on behalf of Governor Bevin,” said Secretary Heiner.  “These newly board certified teachers are among Kentucky’s most dedicated educators, providing the highest level of learning for the students of our Commonwealth –  our future workforce. To achieve this certification, these teachers spent more than 400 hours preparing, planning and analyzing their practice. I applaud them for their steadfast dedication.”

“Achieving National Board Certification is not only a great personal achievement, it also shows our teachers’ strong commitment to their profession and to improving teaching and learning for all Kentucky’s students,” said Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt. “I am incredibly proud of our teachers and the work they do across this Commonwealth every day to ensure each one of our students is given an opportunity to reach high levels of achievement that will prepare them to face tomorrow’s challenges.” Commissioner Pruitt presented each NBCT with an official pin from the National Board at the event.

The Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky Education Association, and the Education Professional Standards Board have worked collaboratively with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards for three years as a site in the Network to Transform Teaching funded by the U.S. Department of Education Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant. “Towards the aspiration of supporting every student to learn from accomplished, Board-certified teachers, partners in the Network to Transform Teaching are developing and scaling innovative approaches that strengthen the career trajectory for every teacher,” said Joe Doctor, chief operating officer of the National Board, “Kentucky is a leader in that effort, as it capitalizes on the expertise of Board-certified teachers to lead this work and engages a broad cross-section of stakeholders to ensure coherence for teacher support.”

Three of the new NBCTs are the first in their schools or district. DeAnna Miller, Fulton Independent Supervisor of Instruction, says of the district’s first Board-certified teacher, “Jennifer Caldwell has been a leader for both students and teachers in our district for many years. She shows us what good instruction looks like on a daily basis and is the perfect mentor for other teachers to follow on this distinctive professional pathway.”

“The key to schools of excellence, raising achievement scores and creating a culture of high expectations that ensures future success for ALL kids is building leadership and teacher capacity,” said Henry Webb, Superintendent of Floyd County, who celebrated four new NBCTs at the event. “An accomplished teacher in every classroom in America should be our goal for our KIDS, and I am convinced that the National Board Teacher Certification program is an outstanding process to ensure we meet this goal!”

“Teachers are the power behind National Board Certification. The standards, assessments, and organization are run by teachers and for teachers,” said Holly Bloodworth, NBCT, President of the Kentucky NBCT Network. Bloodworth led the reciting of the Five Core Propositions, the foundation of Board-certification, considered the education profession’s Hippocratic Oath at the ceremony.

National Board Certification is voluntary and open to all teachers who have three years of classroom experience and a baccalaureate degree. National Board Certification is available in 25 certificate areas from preschool through twelfth grade.

Kentucky has strong statewide support for National Board Certification. NBCTs are entitled to an annual $2,000 salary bonus for the life of their certificate. Upon successful completion of Board certification, Kentucky teachers currently holding a Rank II certificate are eligible to apply for Rank I.

Meghann Clem Mattingly, a health and wellness teacher at Cane Run Elementary School, has been awarded the Excellence in Classroom and Educational Leadership (ExCEL) Award. Representatives from Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and from the award sponsors — LG&E KU and WHAS11 — honored the teacher last week during a ceremony at the school.

“Visiting Ms. Clem Mattingly’s classroom is a relaxing and rewarding experience,” said Cane Run Principal Kimberly Coslow. “Her creative teaching techniques enhance classroom learning, and she fosters academic success through mindful movement, self-regulation and focused attention, all through the lens of compassion.”

A leader with the Compassionate Schools Project (CSP) Professional Learning Community, she frequently collaborates with the University of Virginia’s CSP project director as well as the District’s CSP resource teacher and the school’s physical education teachers to ensure the unique CSP curriculum is implemented with fidelity. She has been featured in numerous national media outlets advocating for the project, including National Public Radio and the Christian Science Monitor.

“Meghann is a force to be dealt with,” said Heather Watson, a counselor with JCPS. “She exudes positive energy and calmness throughout the building. She is the compassionate vision of what we need to have in place for our students to thrive in life.”

In addition, she is a strong advocate for the school, serving as a member of the Site Based Decision Making Council, the Instructional Leadership Team and the Interview Committee, and regularly meeting with guests and community leaders about the CSP and its impact on her students. She is also the school lead for the American Heart Association fundraising initiative.

As an ExCEL Award winner, Clem Mattingly will receive a $1,000 instructional grant from LG&E KU.

Caroline King, an Audubon Traditional Elementary School kindergarten teacher, is the second recipient of the Excellence in Classroom and Educational Leadership (ExCEL) Award for 2017. Representatives from Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and from the award sponsors — LG&E KU and WHAS11 — honored the teacher last week during a ceremony at the school.

“Ms. King is a wonderful kindergarten teacher who models integrity, respect, creativity and accountability,” Audubon Principal Tiffany Marshall said. “She is a leader in the building who supports the students inside and outside of the classroom.  Students know they have to learn and are willing to be challenged to reach their potential.”

Ms. King is active in the Audubon community beyond the classroom.  In addition to serving as kindergarten team leader, she supports the school technology team; provides schoolwide professional developments throughout the year; and attends math and reading professional development sessions from the district and other math organizations to continually improve and become an even better teacher.

And she has earned accolades for her work, winning the JCPS School of Innovation Design Competition from the Louisville Reach Academy in 2014, and being voted ‘Best Presentation’ at the Indiana Southeast University Student Conference in 2012.

“Ms. King has a passion for teaching and helping students realize their full potential by creating a safe and engaging learning environment that inspires students to excel,” said Audubon counselor Robin Divine. “Her positive attitude and enthusiasm for learning enhances the Audubon Traditional School environment.”

As an ExCEL Award winner, King will receive a $1,000 instructional grant from LG&E KU.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 Kentucky Outstanding Civic Education Leadership Award, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced today. The award recognizes teachers, school administrators, legislators and community leaders who have made significant contributions toward promoting civic learning to teach students the importance of being engaged citizens.

“The young Kentuckians I meet every day give me hope that our Commonwealth will have a bright future,” said Grimes. “In my life, I was privileged to have mentors who inspired me to serve and be engaged – just like these young people. The Outstanding Civic Education Leadership Award is a way to recognize those people who dedicate their time, energy, and are committed to the success of Kentucky’s youth, our future leaders.”

The award winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize to be used to further his or her civic learning initiatives. One finalist will be selected from each Kentucky High School Athletic Association region and each will receive a $250 award. The award winner and the finalists will be recognized during the KHSAA Boy’s Sweet 16 Basketball Tournament in Lexington.

Corey Yates, an educator at Elizabethtown High School, received the 2016 Kentucky Outstanding Civic Education Leadership Award. Yates leads his students in civic learning initiatives such as presenting community improvement proposals to the city council, mock trial, and a learning experience on the penal code at a local detention center. He received a $1,000 award to be used for resources and equipment to continue his efforts.

The Outstanding Civic Education Leadership Award is part of Grimes’ continued efforts to improve civic engagement in Kentucky. She recently released the findings of the 2016 Kentucky Civic Health Index, the second installment of the report during her tenure. Now, Grimes is traveling across Kentucky stressing the need for increased engagement, bridging participation gaps, and restoring trust in public institutions such as government and media, which the Index shows as areas for improvement.

Application/Nomination forms and additional information about the award are available online. The Office of the Secretary of State sponsors this award with the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Kentucky Department of Education.

The deadline for nominations and submissions is March 3.