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Trump, who promised to revive coal, keeps naming natural gas advocates for key cabinet positions

Is President-elect Trump leaving coal out of future despite promises to coal country?

Even though President-elect Donald Trump has promised to revive the coal industry, his selections for three key cabinet positions all favor natural gas, the main cause of coal's decline, Curtis Tate reports for McClatchy Newspapers. That could spell bad news for people in struggling coal communities, especially in Appalachia, where Trump won handily largely on the strength of his pro-coal stance. "Trump won handily in coal-producing regions that have been hardest-hit by the transition from coal to natural gas, especially those in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania," Tate notes.

Trump has tabbed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for energy secretary. Tate notes that all three oppose President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, "which would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by a third by 2030, primarily by taking aim at coal-fired power plants. But all three men have been big promoters of the production of natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, and the resulting abundance of cheap natural gas has displaced a large volume of coal in the nation’s power sector."

"Pruitt, one of the first state attorneys general to take the Obama administration to court over the Clean Power Plan, testified before a House of Representatives subcommittee earlier this year that natural gas had done more to cut carbon emissions than any federal regulation," Tate notes. "Tillerson projected that global demand for natural gas would rise by 65 percent from 2010 to 2040, diminishing the importance of coal worldwide."

"Perry, who was governor of Texas from 2001 to 2015, oversaw a massive shift from coal to natural gas that’s still occurring," Tate writes. "In 2010, the two fossil fuels generated about an equal amount of the state’s electricity. By 2015, natural gas fueled 48 percent of Texas power, while coal had slipped to 28 percent, according to the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas." (Read more)

Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 12/15/2016 09:41:00 AM

Our Christmas Perspective Changes Throughout Life

By Glenn Mollette

I was saddened when I saw the report of a group of little children hiding in a basement in Aleppo, Syria. Sadly this is where most of Aleppo's remaining children are located. They are holding on to life, hopefully another day.

Many of us grew up loving the Santa Claus story and honestly I'm still holding on just a little bit. I don't have a big list for him. However, most of what I'm hoping for is really out of Santa's league.

Santa Claus is good for fun and games. I asked Santa for some games when I was a kid and received a Password game and a game called Mystic Skull. Those were fun games. I also asked Santa for a plastic bowling ball set. I got up on Christmas morning very early and it wasn't under the tree. My mother went to the hall closet and pulled out this big box and said, "Santa told me to put it in here until you got up from bed." I accepted that story as only a six or seven year old would do."

Christmas lists change with age. What I hoped for at five became very different throughout the years. I had wish lists pertaining to career, children and other aspirations. Today I'm so very happy to simply enjoy health, trips to the grocery store and a warm house. Amazingly what makes me happy today is far more complicated than when I was preparing my toy lists for Santa.

I once asked for a $29 white electric guitar for Christmas. My hard working coalmining daddy and mom were able to buy that for me. I was so happy. It seemed like I had just gotten everything in the world for Christmas. A few days later one of my relatives was visiting in our home and he was admiring my white electric guitar. He didn't make a lot of money but admired my gift and later commented that it was hard to buy many Christmas gifts on $20 a week. I felt a little bad about my beautiful guitar and sad for him. This was back in the day when decent money was $125 a week. Looking back I can now see more clearly that his perspective was that of a struggling adult.

I enjoyed that feel of being a little child. I didn't worry about healthcare. I didn't worry about having food to eat or paying all the bills. I didn't worry about sickness or life's longevity. I was free to enjoy the child's perspective of Christmas. Today as adults we are hammered with the harsh realities of life. We deal with the daily grind of life that includes all the pains of having enough money and enough health to enjoy Christmas. We have other family members who we agonize with and relate to in their struggles.

We also have national concerns. We are blessed in America where so much of what we enjoy is almost a miracle every day. With all that we see and hear about in Syria and so many other troubled places in the world surely to just sleep and live in peace has to mean everything to all of us. I think this is something we grow into in America. The news tonight about little children hiding in a basement in Aleppo fearing for their lives was heartbreaking. They hold onto hope of their lives being spared and maybe a better day. However, a night of peace and rest is almost inconceivable to them.

Whatever you have this Christmas in America cherish and respect it. Thank God for everything you have. The perspective of everything we have changes throughout life from a five year old child to someone barely holding on to life in a nursing home or a family huddled together in a basement in Aleppo.

Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author of eleven books.
He is read in all fifty states. Visit
Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Like his facebook page at



This is one of the shoplifting suspects arrested this week. See details on Arrest report by Wade Queen.


'Shoplifters of the world ...

Unite and take over...

Shoplifters of the world ...

Hand it over ...

Hand it over...

Hand it over...'

.......................... lyrics by band THE SMITHS (1987).

 The Smiths - Shoplifters Of The World Unite (Official Music Video)

Lawrence County law enforcement is warning local businesses to be on a much higher state of alert, as there has been in recent weeks a huge spike in shoplifting arrest cases throughout the Louisa area.

In the last 5 weeks (since November 1), out of the 60 people arrested in Lawrence County, 20 have been arrested for shoplifting, including 3 for felony shoplifting charges of theft of over $500 to $10,000 in merchandise.

That means exactly one-third arrest cases recently are for local retail theft.

The theft suspects are made up of a mixture of local residents, as well suspects from out of town (and out of state as well).

And the shoplifting epidemic is even worse out beyond Lawrence County, especially in West Virginia, with the worst being in the Huntington and Charleston areas.


And what exacerbates the shoplift theft cases into super bad levels in West Virginia is the state has way much more lenient shoplifting laws than those of Kentucky.

In West Virginia, you do not get arrested for your first two shoplifting detainment, no matter the dollar amount value of the merchandise that was stolen; you are given citations to appear in court.  For example there last week a male suspect caught at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville stealing nearly $1,100 in merchandise at a Macy's store, was not arrested. Instead, he was given a citation summons because it was his first shoplifting charge.

In Kentucky, that would be automatically a felony arrest, even if it would be a suspect's first shoplifting arrest case in this state.

The irony is if you are caught a third time shoplifting in West Virginia, no matter the amount, no matter how small, even if it is for $1 candy bar, it is automatically a felony charge.

Here are the laws as they are written as they relate to spectrum of shoplifting offenses in West Virginia:

(a) A person commits the offense of shoplifting if, with intent to appropriate merchandise without paying the merchant’s stated price for the merchandise, such person, alone or in concert with another person, knowingly:

(1) Conceals the merchandise upon his or her person or in another manner; or

(2) Removes or causes the removal of merchandise from the mercantile establishment or beyond the last station for payment; or

(3) Alters, transfers or removes any price marking affixed to the merchandise; or

(4) Transfers the merchandise from one container to another; or

(5) Causes the cash register or other sales recording device to reflect less than the merchant’s stated price for the merchandise; or

(6) Removes a shopping cart from the premises of the mercantile establishment; or

(7) Repudiates a card-not-present credit or debit transaction after having taken delivery of merchandise ordered from the merchant and does not return the merchandise or attempt to make other arrangements with the vendor.

(b) A person also commits the offense of shoplifting if such person, alone or in concert with another person, knowingly and with intent obtains an exchange or refund or attempts to obtain an exchange or refund for merchandise which has not been purchased from the mercantile establishment.

§61-3A-2. Evidence.

(a) Evidence of stated price or ownership of merchandise may include, but is not limited to:

(1) The actual merchandise alleged to have been shoplifted; or

(2) The unaltered content of the price tag or marking from such merchandise; or

(3) Properly identified photographs of such merchandise.

(b) Any merchant may testify at a trial as to the stated price or ownership of merchandise, as well as to other matters pertaining to the case.

§61-3A-3. Penalties.

A person convicted of shoplifting shall be punished as follows:

(a) First offense conviction. — Upon a first shoplifting conviction:

(1) When the value of the merchandise is less than or equal to five hundred dollars, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than two hundred fifty dollars.

(2) When the value of the merchandise exceeds five hundred dollars, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, and such fine shall not be suspended, or the person shall be confined in jail not more than sixty days, or both.

(b) Second offense conviction. — Upon a second shoplifting conviction:

(1) When the value of the merchandise is less than or equal to five hundred dollars, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, and such fine shall not be suspended, or the person shall be confined in jail not more than six months or both.

(2) When the value of the merchandise exceeds five hundred dollars, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars and shall be confined in jail for not less than six months nor more than one year.

(c) Third offense conviction. — Upon a third or subsequent shoplifting conviction, regardless of the value of the merchandise, the person is guilty of a felony and shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars nor more than five thousand dollars, and shall be imprisoned in the penitentiary for not less than one year nor more than ten years. At least one year shall actually be spent in confinement and not subject to probation: Provided, That an order for home detention by the court pursuant to the provisions of article eleven-b, chapter sixty-two of this code may be used as an alternative sentence to the incarceration required by this subsection.

(d) Mandatory penalty. — In addition to the fines and imprisonment imposed by this section, in all cases of conviction for the offense of shoplifting, the court shall order the defendant to pay a penalty to the mercantile establishment involved in the amount of fifty dollars, or double the value of the merchandise involved, whichever is higher. The mercantile establishment shall be entitled to collect such mandatory penalty as in the case of a civil judgment. This penalty shall be in addition to the mercantile establishment’s rights to recover the stolen merchandise.

(e) In determining the number of prior shoplifting convictions for purposes of imposing punishment under this section, the court shall disregard all such convictions occurring more than seven years prior to the shoplifting offense in question.

§61-3A-4. Shoplifting constitutes breach of peace; detention.

An act of shoplifting as defined herein, is hereby declared to constitute a breach of peace and any owner of merchandise, his agent or employee, or any law-enforcement officer who has reasonable ground to believe that a person has committed shoplifting, may detain such person in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time not to exceed thirty minutes, for the purpose of investigating whether or not such person has committed or attempted to commit shoplifting. Such reasonable detention shall not constitute an arrest nor shall it render the owner of merchandise, his agent or employee, liable to the person detained.

§61-3A-4a. Criminal offenses involving theft detection shielding devices; detention.

(a) As used in this section:

(1) “Theft detection device” means any tag or other device that is used to prevent or detect theft and that is attached to merchandise held for resale by a merchant or to property of a merchant.

(2) “Theft detection device remover” means any tool or device specifically designed or manufactured to be used to remove a theft detection device from merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant.

(3) “Theft detection shielding device” means any laminated or coated bag or device designed to shield merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant from being detected by an electronic or magnetic theft alarm sensor.

(b) A person commits unlawful distribution of a theft detection shielding device when he or she knowingly manufactures, sells, offers to sell or distribute any theft detection shielding device.

(c) A person commits unlawful possession of a theft detection shielding device when he or she knowingly possesses any theft detection shielding device with the intent to commit theft or retail theft.

(d) A person commits unlawful possession of a theft detection shielding device remover when he or she knowingly possesses any theft detection device remover with the intent to use such tool to remove any theft detection device from any merchandise without the permission of the merchant or person owning or holding said merchandise.

(e) A person commits unlawful use of a theft detection shielding device or a theft detection shielding remover when he or she uses or attempts to use either device while committing a violation of this article.

(f) A person commits unlawful removal of a theft detection device when he or she intentionally removes any theft detection device by the use of manual force or by any tool or device, which is not specifically designed or manufactured to remove theft detection devices, from merchandise prior to purchase.

(g) Any person convicted for violating the provisions of subsections (b), (c), (d) or (e) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be confined in a county or regional jail facility for not less than thirty days nor more than one year, and fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars.

(h) Any person convicted of violating the provisions of subsection (f) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, and such fine shall not be suspended, or the person shall be confined in the county or regional jail not more than sixty days, or both.

(i) The activation of an anti-shoplifting or inventory control device as a result of a person exiting the establishment or a protected area within the establishment shall constitute reasonable cause for the detention of the person so exiting by the owner or operator or the establishment or by an agent or employee of the owner or operator, provided sufficient notice has been posted to advise the patrons that such a device is being utilized. Each such detention shall be made only in a reasonable manner and only for a reasonable period of time sufficient for any inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the activation of the device or for the recovery of goods.

(j) Such taking into custody and detention by a law-enforcement officer, merchant, or merchant’s employee, if done in compliance with all the requirements of this section, does not render such law-enforcement officer, merchant, or merchant’s employee criminally or civilly liable for false arrest, false imprisonment, or unlawful detention.

§61-3A-5. Civil liability.

(a) General rule. — Any person who commits any of the acts described in section one of this article shall be civilly liable:

(1) To restore the merchandise to the mercantile establishment; and

(2) If such merchandise is not recoverable or is damaged, for actual damages, including the value of the merchandise involved in the shoplifting; and

(3) For other actual damages arising from the incident, not including the loss of time or loss of wages incurred by the mercantile establishment or any merchant in connection with the apprehension and processing of the suspect; and

(4) In all cases, for a penalty to be paid to the mercantile establishment in the amount of fifty dollars or double the value of the merchandise, whichever is higher.

(b) Costs and attorneys’ fees. — A merchant who is a prevailing party under this section is entitled to costs.

(c) Effect of conviction. — A conviction for the offense of theft by shoplifting is not a prerequisite to the maintenance of a civil action authorized by this section. However, a merchant who has recovered the penalty prescribed by section three of this article is not entitled to recover the penalty imposed by this section.

(d) Right to demand payment. — The fact that a mercantile establishment may bring an action against an individual as provided in this section does not limit the right of such establishment to demand, orally or in writing, that a person who is liable for damages or a penalty under this section remit said damages or penalty prior to the commencement of any legal action.

§61-3A-6. Definitions.

(a) “Conceal” means to hide, hold or carry merchandise so that, although there may be some notice of its presence, it is not visible through ordinary observation.

(b) “Merchant” means an owner or operator of any mercantile establishment, and includes the merchant’s employees, servants, security agents or other agents.

(c) “Mercantile establishment” means any place where merchandise is displayed, held or offered for sale, either at retail or wholesale.”Mercantile establishment” does not include adjoining parking lots or adjoining areas of common use with other establishments.

(d) “Merchandise” means any goods, foodstuffs, wares or personal property, or any part or portion thereof of any type or description displayed, held or offered for sale, or a shopping cart.

(e) “Value of the merchandise” means the merchant’s stated price of the merchandise, or, in the event of altering, transferring or removing a price marking or causing a cash register or other sales device to reflect less than the retail value of the merchandise, as defined in section one, of this article, the difference between the merchant’s stated price of the merchandise and the altered price.

Here are the laws as they are written as they relate to the various levels of shoplifting offenses in Kentucky:

433.234 Shoplifting - (1) Willful concealment of unpurchased merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment on the premises of such store shall be prima facie evidence of an intent to deprive the owner of his property without paying the purchase price therefor.

(2) All city and county law enforcement agencies shall cause to be made a photograph, a set of fingerprints and a general descriptive report of all persons except juveniles arrested for theft through an act of shoplifting. If convicted, two (2) copies of each item shall be forwarded within thirty (30) days to the Department of State Police of the Justice Cabinet.

433.236 Detention and arrest of shoplifting suspect.

(1) A peace officer, security agent of a mercantile establishment, merchant or merchant’s employee who has probable cause for believing that goods held for sale by the merchant have been unlawfully taken by a person may take the person into custody and detain him in a reasonable manner for a reasonable length of time, on the premises of the mercantile establishment or off the premises of the mercantile establishment, if the persons enumerated in this section are in fresh pursuit, for any or all of the following purposes:

(a) To request identification;

(b) To verify such identification;

(c) To make reasonable inquiry as to whether such person has in his possession unpurchased merchandise, and to make reasonable investigation of the ownership of such merchandise;

(d) To recover or attempt to recover goods taken from the mercantile establishment by such person, or by others accompanying him;

(e) To inform a peace officer or law enforcement agency of the detention of the person and to surrender the person to the custody of a peace officer, and in the case of a minor, to inform the parents, guardian, or other person having custody of that minor of his detention, in addition to surrendering the minor to the custody of a peace officer.

(2) The recovery of goods taken from the mercantile establishment by the person detained or by others shall not limit the right of the persons named in subsection (1) of this section to detain such person for peace officers or otherwise accomplish the purposes of subsection (1).

(3) Any peace officer may arrest without warrant any person he has probable cause for believing has committed larceny in retail or wholesale establishments.

Kentucky law punishes shoplifting under the general category of “theft by unlawful taking or disposition.” Theft applies to anyone who takes the property of another with intent to deprive the owner of the property or its value. The act of concealing unpurchased goods in a store can be used as rebuttable evidence that the individual intended to deprive the owner of the goods without paying the purchase price.

Criminal penalties for shoplifting become progressively more serious as the dollar value of the stolen goods increases. Criminal and civil penalties for shoplifting are described below.

Kentucky Criminal Shoplifting Penalties




Theft of goods valued at under $500

Class A misdemeanor

Jail time of up to 12 months; fines up to $500

Theft of goods valued at $500 to $10,000; theft of items used to manufacture methamphetamine or theft of a firearm

Class D felony

Jail time between one and five years; fines up to the greater of double the gain from the offense or $10,000  

Theft of goods valued at $10,000 or more

Class C felony

Jail time between one and five years; fines up to the greater of double the gain from the offense or $10,000  

In Kentucky, shoplifters (or the parents or legal guardians of unemancipated minor shoplifters) can be sued in civil court by victimized shoplifters for actual damages, a penalty in the amount of the retail value of the merchandise, up to $500, and an additional penalty between $100 and $250. 

Pretrial diversion programs are available to certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes. If an accused completes the program-mandated requirements, which may include community service and making restitution to the victim, the criminal charges will be dropped.

When a diversion program is not an option, the accused may be able to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor assigned to the case, who has discretion to show leniency in appropriate situations. A prosecutor may, but does not have to, offer a reduced sentence or a reduced charge, in exchange for a guilty plea.

By Glenn Mollette

It's easy to get tired of the same routine. We bring out the same old Christmas tree, same decorations and with almost the same holiday schedule. For good or bad though, Christmas is rarely exactly the same each year. Every Christmas brings a change.

Rarely will you celebrate Christmas with all the same people every year. Consider yourself very fortunate if you do. In many households someone will be missing. Sadly, the missing person is often someone who has been lost in death. Human life is frail and not much is required to eliminate us from living.

The human body is awesome but disease, old age and unfortunate events can take us out of this world easily. Your Christmas celebration may not be impacted this year but if you live long enough you will eventually celebrate the season without parents, siblings, a spouse or even a child. We don't like to think about such loss and grief but every Christmas brings an empty chair or a reason to experience grief.

The people of Christmas are God's greatest gift to us. Our health and our family and friends are the best of life. Take time this Christmas to enjoy the people in your life. Hug on them, love them and be very kind to them. You may not have them next year and you'll be glad you cherished them. Or, you may be the one missing next Christmas. Hopefully everyone will sit around the table and talk about what a kind and loving person you were...or maybe they won't. Don't take the chance; turn up your kindness, love and thoughtfulness this year.

You don't have to shower people with gifts. Gifts are nice and it helps the economy but most people just need a little love and a few kind words. A little affirmation and appreciation always go a long way. Make a list of people you need to call, send a kind email to or visit in person.

My wife and I love going to see a lady in our town. She is 95 years old and still very independent. She is a greeter at her church, gardens and drives wherever she wants to go. She visits people in the nursing home who are 15 - 20 years younger. She is an easy person to visit because she always inspires us and makes us laugh. She is always kind, never grumpy and has a sweet spirit about life. She exercises every day and eats her vegetables. She is our mentor and we want to be just like her. Therefore, be kind, eliminate grumpiness and be sweeter. People might want to come and spend a little time with you. We always take her a little something when we go to see her like a poinsettia or something simple. You would think we had taken her a bar of gold or diamonds because she is always so appreciative and grateful.

We need people in our lives because life is not that exciting staring at walls for 24 hours a day. This is what happens to people in nursing homes so often.

Every Christmas has problems. Life is filled with problems. Mary and Joseph had lots of problems their first Christmas. No room in the Inn, taxes to pay, an unplanned pregnancy, and eventual threats from King Herod which caused them to flee into Egypt for safety. People all over the planet will deal with problems this Christmas. What is your problem this Christmas? How are you going to deal with it and move forward? Sometimes there is no answer to life's problems except to work over or around them. Whatever your problem is this year, please try to not allow it to mess up your Christmas.

Finally this Christmas try to take a new look at the person of Christmas - a little baby. Whatever your religious spin in life is you can't feel too ill about the baby of Christmas. Years before Jesus' birth it was told that a babe would be born in Bethlehem and the government would rest upon his shoulders. He would be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father and the prince of peace. If you see or experience nothing else about Christmas this year hopefully one descriptive word about the baby will penetrate your life and that is peace. Also, be further blessed with a lot of routine.

Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author of eleven books.
He is read in all fifty states. Visit

By Brad Hughes
Kentucky School Boards Association

Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt said that he believes charter schools are in Kentucky’s immediate future, and that “definitions” spelled out in any law coming out of the 2017 General Assembly will be critically important.

He also said Kentucky will take advantage of a U.S. Department of Education (USED) decision last week to give states more time to craft school accountability systems that match the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In addition to taking more time to “get it right,” the commissioner said he wants to explore including a locally crafted progress measure into the system now being developed by collaborating advisory panels working with Kentucky Department of Education staff.

Charter schools

In a wide-ranging, 70-minute give-and-take with the KSBA Board of Directors in Louisville Friday, Pruitt reaffirmed his position that, if charter schools are allowed in Kentucky, the first stop in a selection process of candidates should be the local board of education.

pruitt charter

“You should be ready. I think they are coming. There’s a lot of momentum (for charter school legislation in the GOP-controlled legislature in 2017),” he said. “In a state like Kentucky, we’ve got to figure out what we mean by ‘charters.’ The definition of charters in most states would not fit here, because we are very local- control here.

“I’ve seen some really good things happen with charters and some really bad things,” said Pruitt, who oversaw regulation of charter schools when he worked with the Georgia Department of Education. “That doesn’t mean I’m out banging the gong for charters. It just means this is not new to me.”

The commissioner, who crafted the framework of last week’s day-long Kentucky Board of Education work session on how charter schools function elsewhere in the country, repeated a prediction he made at the conclusion of that meeting: a critical unknown is what entities will “authorize” charters.

“I’ve said all along that I believe it needs to start with local boards,” Pruitt said. “I believe that local boards need to have, depending on your perspective, the right of first approval or the right of first refusal. I think it has to start with you guys with an appeals process involved.

“I think the idea of authorizers is going to be a really big point in the legislation,” he said. “Who is it that grants the charter? Is it going to be the local board? Is it going to be the state board? Are they going to create a whole new board for charters? In other states, there is a whole host of people who can authorize – universities, mayors. If there are going to be multiple authorizers, there either needs to be somebody who regulates the authorizers or the law has to be pretty clear this is the how you get (a charter) and what happens if you lose one. Whoever authorizes has to have the courage to withdraw the charter. That’s going to be tough.”

Asked by a KSBA board member why charter schools should be freed from regulations that would still be required of regular public schools, Pruitt said districts already can seek waivers from many rules.

“The key tenets of charters are already here in Kentucky. What regulations are there that we don’t already have (opportunities for districts to request relief from)? You could come to me today with certain things that are on the books and say, ‘Can we do things a different way?’” the commissioner said.

“My thing is that I don’t want charter schools to become such a discussion topic that we lose sight of why we should be talking about charters or releasing regulations for public school districts. The issue is that we have kids in our schools who are not being taught. We have to put the kids first,” he said.

Accountability system

Pruitt expressed extreme pleasure that USED announced last week that states would be given more time to complete adoption of accountability systems to mirror requirements of the ESSA law that replaces the No Child Left Behind federal statute.

Currently, KDE has myriad panels dissecting Kentucky’s existing Unbridled Learning system. The original target of having a draft out for public review in November didn’t happen. So Pruitt welcomed the Washington, D.C. decision.

“Basically we were at a point a few weeks ago when we really had to make a decision on whether either we take more time – and in my opinion, have a better chance of getting it right – or we just throw it out together and put it out. I admit I just sort of rolled the dice. If they had come out and said we didn’t get more time, we wouldn’t have made the deadline and would have been deficient,” he said. “We decided we were going to extend our deadline no matter what USED did. They’ve pushed the timeline back. We can actually see that it is about quality and not the timeline.”

In the midst of the process of developing a new accountability system, Pruitt said he’s become “very interested” in a new idea that was broached recently.

“What if we allowed a local measure in what we call ‘Big A accountability’? Districts could have a strategic plan in which you said, ‘Hey our middle school math isn’t good enough. Over the next three years, we’re going to do these things.’ And that is something you would contribute to the accountability system instead of it coming from Frankfort,” he said. “If you wanted to do something special with the arts, that was really meaningful toward a child’s experience, it would give you that opportunity to do that.”

“We’ve got a real job ahead of us in helping people understand that the days of ‘If it’s not tested, it’s not taught’ have got to end,” Pruitt said. “Every day, we have conversations about ‘Big A accountability versus Little A accountability.’ In other words, what are things districts are going to get a rating on versus what are the things we’re going to report out but are not part of that rating? And how do you make the ‘Little A’ matter? But we can’t keep on saying, ‘Well, yeah, arts are important. We promise. They really are. But we not going to teach it in elementary school because we’ve got to teach reading.’ We’ve got to start thinking that way,” the commissioner said.

In addition to having a Local School Board Member Advisory Panel, Pruitt meets regularly during the year with the KSBA board. Friday’s meeting was part of the association’s Winter Symposium professional development conference for district leaders.