LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — After spending 31 years in a public school classroom, Becky Pringle has serious concerns about House Bill 9, and others like Kentucky’s charter school bill, which passed through the state House of Representatives on Tuesday.
“We know that schemes like vouchers and charters are designed to take money out of our public schools,” she said. “We cannot siphon money away from our public schools because our students are the ones who suffer,” she continued.
Mrs. Pringle, now serving as President of the National Education Association, visited Lexington’s Frederick Douglass High School on Wednesday, where she toured the school’s facilities and learned more about its programs and curriculum. FDHS is part of the Academies of Lexington career pathways program, which offers students hands-on, practical training in fields they could potentially choose for a college major or a career.
“What I love about schools that have programs like career pathways is that they are meeting the students where they are. They are discovering the passion of their students and they are nurturing that passion,” Pringle said.
Pringle added that experiential learning is always best, and it also allows a student to decide if a certain career path is not in his/her best interest. Pringle believes it’s good to know that before embarking on college or the professional world.
Pringle became the NEA President two years ago, just as COVID-19 was beginning to spread across the nation. She is well aware that post-pandemic issues inside school can be just as problematic as issues that had to be taken on during the height of the pandemic.
“They need more educators, they need more supports staff, they need more mental health social workers and counselors, nurses because the kids are coming back to us with greater needs,” she said.
Pringle was asked about FDHS specifically in relation to other schools she has visited. She chose not to compare it to any other but did say that the programs offered here, ideally, would be available to students everywhere, including the science labs, and advanced placement courses. But she does have concern that funding everywhere could become an issue if the charter school bill passes through the senate and ultimately becomes law.
“Public education is the foundation of our democracy because it’s about doing good for every kid,” she stated.