Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Nunn suggests more discipline, TV in schools

By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Nunn on Monday released an education platform heavy on discipline and technology.

The first part would be based on mandatory "codes of conduct" for all involved - parents as well as students and teachers. The technology plan envisions greater use of interactive television to broaden course offerings and ensure a qualified teacher for every class.

Nunn and his father, former Gov. Louie B. Nunn, who figured prominently in a news conference at the Capitol, said strictly enforced codes of conduct are the key to curing the "social ills" too often plaguing schools.

"Until the social ills are cured, we can have school but we cannot teach," said the elder Nunn, who was in office from 1967 to 1971.

Kentucky has model codes of conduct for teachers and students. A code for parents would be a new wrinkle. "Until we get the parents back into the school system, I think we're going to have trouble," Louie Nunn said.

What if a parent refuses to sign? "They don't have to send their child to public school. If they don't want to sign the code, they don't have to," the elder Nunn said.

Steve Nunn said he was suggesting "no demands ... which will be offensive to any concerned parent, a dedicated teacher or a properly behaved student."

Among other things, his proposed code for parents and guardians would require meetings at least every six weeks with teachers or counselors to ascertain a child's academic progress and whether there was drug or gang involvement. Steve Nunn said code violations would result in delinquency and related charges but the General Assembly would have to set penalties.

A small number of schools have parent-student contracts that cover topics such as drugs, tardiness and homework, said Brad Hughes of the Kentucky School Boards Association.

"But this would be breaking new ground if the intent is to prevent a child from enrolling if the parent declined" to sign, Hughes said. "What an administrative nightmare, although I suppose it could create some new avenues of communication between parents and schools."

As for technology, Steve Nunn said Kentucky Educational Television will be able by 2004 to beam into every classroom in the state's 1,271 school buildings.

He said every student could have access to a master teacher and to advanced courses. He said it affords "the opportunity for education to be like the air we breathe - everywhere."

Steve Nunn said the cost was not clear. "It may cost as much as $10 million, but it's insignificant" if it accomplishes a lofty purpose, he said.

Also Monday, two other Republican candidates - Rebecca Jackson and Ernie Fletcher - campaigned in eastern Kentucky. A fourth, Virgil Moore of Leitchfield, could not be reached.

Jackson was meeting with community leaders and touring factories and businesses in the Ashland area, spokeswoman Diane Curtis said. Jackson was also out meeting area residents. Robbie Rudolph, Jackson's running mate, was fund raising in Louisville.

Fletcher campaigned in Pike County, including a scheduled stop at Pikeville Methodist Hospital to tour a heart facility and talk about health care.

Democratic candidates were to be featured in a forum on Kentucky Educational Television.

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