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A History of Education in Kentucky

by William E. Ellis

Availablecloth$50.00x 978-0-8131-2977-8
Topics in Kentucky History
546 pages  Pubdate: 06/17/2011  6.125 x 9.25  22 b&w photos

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Kentucky is nationally renowned for horses, bourbon, rich natural resources, and unfortunately, hindered by a deficient educational system. Though its reputation is not always justified, in national rankings for grades K-12 and higher education, Kentucky consistently ranks among the lowest states in education funding, literacy, and student achievement.

In A History of Education in Kentucky, William E. Ellis illuminates the successes and failures of public and private education in the commonwealth since its settlement. Ellis demonstrates how political leaders in the nineteenth century created a culture that devalued public education and refused to adequately fund it. He also analyzes efforts by teachers and policy makers to enact vital reforms and establish adequate, equal education, and discusses ongoing battles related to religious instruction, integration, and the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA).

A History of Education in Kentucky
is the only up-to-date, single-volume history of education in the commonwealth. Offering more than mere policy analysis, this comprehensive work tells the story of passionate students, teachers, and leaders who have worked for progress from the 1770s to the present day. Despite the prevailing pessimism about education in Kentucky, Ellis acknowledges signs of a vibrant educational atmosphere in the state. By advocating a better understanding of the past, Ellis looks to the future and challenges Kentuckians to avoid historic failures and build on their successes.

William E. Ellis, Foundation Professor Emeritus at Eastern Kentucky University, is the author of several books, including The Kentucky River and A History of Eastern Kentucky University. In 1999, he received the Governor’s Award for his book Robert Worth Bingham and the Southern Mystique. He lives in Richmond, Kentucky.

This book is a tour-de-force. The writing sparks with verve and fire. No course on the history of Kentucky, or on the history of education taught in Kentucky, should be without it. -- William J. Morison, author of The University of Louisville

Ellis is especially well placed to write a history of education in Kentucky, because he lived so much of the modern part of that story. His research was thorough, and his insights keen. -- David Hawpe, former editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal

Education is the key to Kentucky’s future. In this fine study, Ellis tells us what has been done. But he also tells us that much remains to be done. Are Kentuckians willing to make the sustained effort that is needed? That is the question that we need to answer. -- Lowell Harrison, coauthor of A New History of Kentucky

Supplemented by published scholarship, oral history interviews, and personal experiences as a Kentucky educator, Professor William Ellis has provided a valuable history of the achievements and challenges connected with the Commonwealth’s schools and colleges from 1770 to the 21st century. A thoughtful, scholarly narrative with informed commentary, this study provides a long-needed, thorough and perceptive understanding of the history of Kentucky education. -- John A. Hardin, author of Fifty Years of Segregation: Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1904–1954

This book should be required reading for any public policy maker who wants to make a positive contribution to the continuing pursuit of educational excellence in the Commonwealth. I was entertained and enlightened. -- Paul E. Patton, President of Pikeville College and former Governor of Kentucky

A History of Education in Kentucky, the only up-to-date, single-volume history of education in the Commonwealth, illuminates the successes and failures of public and private education since the settlement of Kentucky. -- Sentinel-Echo

A History of Education in Kentucky is a comprehensive guide to the history of Kentucky schools, delving into the social, economic, and political factors that shaped their development. Ellis's volume is a needed addition to literature on Kentucky's history, providing a valuable account of events and decisions in Kentucky education, but also serving as an important resource for future educators and administrators. -- Kentucky Retired Teacher Association News

This book will long be the definitive account of education at all levels in the commonwealth. -- Bowling Green Daily News

It is all here--a vast look at Kentucky's public and provate education since the state began. -- Kentucky Libraries

"For those interested in our state's educational past or concerned about its future, Ellis' book gives insight and clarity to some of our schools' problems but also points to a brighter future." -- Kentucky Monthly

Ellis's work is both detailed and insightful. He draws on exceptional research skill and makes good use of primary resources, archival photos, and numerous historians to support his arguments and points of view. -- Journal of Appalachian Studies

Winner of the Kentucky History Award

Kentuckians will thank the eminent scholars who urged Professor William E. Ellis to expand his proposed project on higher education into a wide-ranging study of all levels of private and public schooling in the commonwealth. His book, A History of Education in Kentucky, is a comprehensive, lively, realistic, and wise analysis of Kentucky education from pioneer days to the present... This book is a valuable text for educational leaders and reformers as they confront an unfinished task. Its rich catalogue of heroes, reformers, visionaries, and scoundrels offers a lively tapestry that will entertain and inform any reader interested in the social history of Kentucky education. -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

A History of Education in Kentucky is a superb one-volume synthesis of hundreds of sources. This book would be a greata addition to any library catering to education programs or Appalachian history. -- Southern Historian

A History of Education in Kentucky is one of the biggest new contributions to the social history of Kentucky in recent years. Historian William Ellis has written an outstanding summary of the history of education in Kentucky from 1775 to the mid-1980s. This new volume will not only sevre as a a major addition to the published history of the state, but it will be of great assistance to any Kentucky family historians who are curious about what type of education might have been available to their ancestors from the earliest days up to the present. A History of Education in Kentucky is highly recommended. -- Kentucky Ancestors

The author synthesizes a wide range of sources--state, regional, and educational histories as well as primary documents and oral histories--to develop an ambitious historical examination of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education in the Bluegrass State. -- Journal of Southern History

[. . .] Not only does the book point to the good and bad associated with education in Kentucky over the last two centuries, but it also addresses a perceived lack of attention to education in Kentucky historiography. By offering a dedicated discussion to education in Kentucky from the 1770s to the present and by showing where this development fits in national trends, Ellis increases the awareness of the historical problems that need to be addressed, while celebrating the achievements of specific individuals and institutions at all levels of education. Completing these goals is no easy task.

[. . .] Ellis's discussion of the teaching of evolution in Kentucky classrooms is balanced, sensitive, and well‐articulated. Both conservative and liberal politicians can learn a great deal from this measured approach founded on personal experience in opposing the inclusion of "creationism" in the science curriculum on academic grounds; the overriding message being,
let teachers teach.

[. . .] A History of Education in Kentucky adds something new to the historiography of Kentucky. With its argument over the need for consistent, long‐term funding for education at all levels, it provides lessons that those currently in charge of education reform in the state would do well to take notice of. -- H-Kentucky

[. . .] Not only does the book point to the good and bad associated with education in Kentucky over the last two centuries, but it also addresses a perceived lack of attention to education in Kentucky historiography. By offering a dedicated discussion to education in Kentucky from the 1770s to the present and by showing where this development fits in national trends, Ellis increases the awareness of the historical problems
that need to be addressed, while celebrating the achievements of specific individuals and institutions at all levels of education.

[. . .] A History of Education in Kentucky adds something new to the historiography of Kentucky. With its argument over the need for consistent, long-term funding for education at all levels, it provides lessons that those currently in charge of education reform in the state would do well to take notice of. -- H-Net Reviews