Category Archives: Frankfort Focus

FRANKFORT – As students return to school, it is worth noting that some of Kentucky’s most successful academic programs have already wrapped up their work.

Several of these got their start in the 1980s, and they have since given thousands of our brightest middle and high school students a chance to come together in a college setting during the summer and learn in ways that extend beyond the traditional classroom while giving the students an early taste of life after high school.

The Governor’s Scholars Program (GSP) is perhaps the most well-known of these.  It began in 1983 and has since served a little more than 30,000 students.  About 1,100 soon-to-be high school seniors take part for five weeks each summer, traveling – at no cost to them – to one of several campuses across the commonwealth.

There are no grades or exams; instead, the students take part in immersive activities that cover everything from architecture to the visual arts.

One of the program’s original goals was to keep more of these gifted students in Kentucky after high school, and regular surveys indicate this has largely been accomplished.  Almost three-fourths of the Governor’s Scholars in 2015, for example, stayed here for college, and 81 percent of all alumni with a known address are still living here in Kentucky.

Four years after Governor’s Scholars began, what is now known as The Kentucky Center Governor’s School for the Arts was created.  This program has since served more than 5,000 students, giving them a chance to learn and practice in such areas as drama; vocal and instrumental music; dance; creating writing; and musical theater.

The newest Governor’s school began five years ago and is centered on tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.  Several dozen students take part each year to learn how to turn ideas into products and services, and they gain insight from those who have founded or support start-up companies.

There are two other long-standing academic programs active during the summer, but they are geared toward younger teenagers and Western Kentucky University hosts both.  Those are the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) and the Summer Camp for Academically Talented Middle School Students (SCATS).

In addition to these summer programs, Kentucky is also home to two specialty high schools that are putting a select group of high school juniors and seniors in a college setting during the school year.

WKU’s Gatton Academy has been called the nation’s best high school several times by Newsweek, while the Craft Academy, a similar school based at Morehead State University, opened three years ago this month.

Taken together, these programs play an important role when it comes to challenging our best and brightest throughout the year.  It’s a relatively small investment, but it is one that will pay dividends for decades to come.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other matter affecting the state, please let me know.  My email is Rick.Rand@lrc.ky.gov, or you can leave a message for me or for any legislator by calling 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.

Let me end by saying I hope all students – from preschool to post graduate – have a great school year, and I want to thank the teachers, school staffs and family members who are giving these students the tools they need to succeed.

FRANKFORT – Regardless of the subject, it seems we always want to know how we stack up. It happens on the playing field and in places like the classroom.  It also takes place among the states as they try to gain any kind of competitive edge. Each year, an annual publication known as “State Rankings” gives… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – One of the most difficult challenges fighting the war against illegal drug use is that when we begin making progress on one front, the battlefield invariably changes. We’ve seen that happen time and again over the past two decades.  Those “fronts” have ranged from meth and synthetic drugs to heroin and abuse of… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – Late last Thursday, nearly 400,000 Kentuckians who have health insurance through the Medicaid expansion program got some welcome news when Governor Bevin’s administration announced it was restoring their dental and vision benefits, which had been removed without notice at the start of this month. The administration, as you may recall, decided to take away… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – This year’s legislative session may have seemed like it was just about public-pension reform and budget-related matters, but the General Assembly approved a considerable number of other laws as well.  Since most take effect 90 days after the final gavel, barring an emergency or specific enactment date, that means nearly all of them became… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – To get a better understanding of the size of Kentucky’s state budget, it may help to compare it to revenues earned by Fortune 500 companies.  In that scenario, we’d be about 83rd this year, putting us ahead of Coca-Cola and American Express but a little behind Facebook and Best Buy. Our budget for the… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – While the calendar tells us that summer technically began about two weeks ago, the truth is that it feels like the season is halfway over by the Fourth of July, since that is roughly the mid-point between school years. Our country’s “birthday,” of course, is one of the first history lessons our students learn.  We… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – For those of us who opposed this year’s public-pension bill, the court ruling that struck it down last Wednesday was cause for celebration.  It also re-affirmed something even more important: The people of Kentucky should never be shut out of the legislative process. Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd’s opinion is just the latest… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – We may not think of mid-summer as tax season, but it’s something to keep in mind as an array of major changes in the state tax code is just days away from officially becoming law. As you may recall, the General Assembly quickly approved – over strong objections by many of my colleagues and… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – The Eighth Commandment may call on us not to steal, but the unfortunate reality is that there have always been those who don’t hesitate to rob others.  In today’s electronic age, when the thief doesn’t even have to be in the same country as his victim to commit a crime, that has become easier… Continue Reading

Paid for by Rick Rand for State Representative, Regina Rand, Treasurer