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A History of Education in Kentucky

A History of Education in Kentucky

William E. Ellis
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 546
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  • Book Info
    A History of Education in Kentucky
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-2984-6
    Subjects: History, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Map of Kentucky Counties
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  5. Part 1. 1775 to the Beginning of the Civil War

    • Chapter 1 Tragedies, Blunders, and Promises: Creating a Public School System
      (pp. 3-36)

      Settlers brought great hopes with them across the Appalachian Mountains and down the Ohio River into the “Kentucke” country. While efforts were made to develop schools, children, if they had literate parents, received a modicum of education at home. First settled by European Americans from the American colonies during the tumultuous 1770s, when the fate of independence was still in doubt, Harrodsburg and Boonesborough were the first new “western” settlements. Those who championed education faced daunting odds. The institution of slavery and an incongruous, undemocratic land-distribution system combined to further complicate their pursuit.¹

      Much has been written about the early...

    • Chapter 2 The Early History of Higher Education
      (pp. 37-62)

      War and rumors of war, funding difficulties, reticent and sometimes rebellious students, underpaid and overworked faculty, sectarian strife, helpful as well as meddling alumni and supporters, and feckless and sometimes downright hostile legislators and governors are all problems we are familiar with today in higher education. Yet the same could be said for the earliest days of higher education in Kentucky.

      One of the most provocative books about the early history of the commonwealth probed the history of ideas in the frontier environment in the early Republic. Niels Henry Sonne, inLiberal Kentucky, 1780–1828,published in 1939, described the...

  6. Part 2. The Civil War to 1900

    • Chapter 3 Elementary and Secondary Education
      (pp. 65-107)

      From 1860 and the election to the presidency of native son Abraham Lincoln, to 1900 and the turmoil surrounding the assassination of William Goebel, Kentuckians faced increasing challenges. The Commonwealth of Kentucky, based on its population, its economy, and its location, declined from being one of the major states in the Union to being one of the poorest, bypassed by many of the important changes of the latter nineteenth century. White and black Kentuckians struggled with the social, political, and economic issues that accompanied the end of slavery. Many people sought to improve education at all levels in the state....

    • Chapter 4 Higher Education in an Age of Flux
      (pp. 108-142)

      On August 7, 1869, Professor Joseph Winlock, director of the Harvard College Observatory, trained what was said to be the third-best telescope on a college campus into the heavens. With this twenty-five-hundred-dollar device, Winlock and a cadre of Harvard professors and scientists from the U.S. Coastal Survey gazed into the heavens and took eighty-five timed photographs as a total eclipse of the sun took place. “Eight minutes before the total phase the usual phenomena of distraction among birds of the air and cattle occurred,” a newspaper reported. “When the sunlight commenced to become dim, a large number of citizens rushed...

  7. Part 3. 1900 to 1941

    • Chapter 5 Elementary and Secondary Education from the Progressive Era to World War II
      (pp. 145-220)

      In the latter decades of the nineteenth century, the United States continued its chaotic, almost irrepressible, growth, becoming the industrial leader of the world and creating enormous wealth. With massive immigration and completion of the westward movement, the United States blossomed into a world power. Victory in the Spanish-American War, the spoils of war, and the annexation of Hawaii—all in the last decade of the nineteenth century—catapulted America toward the beginning of an American empire. The twentieth century became the “American Century.”¹

      The period from the 1890s to 1920 is often called the Progressive Era, for good reason....

    • Chapter 6 Higher Education in the New Century
      (pp. 221-268)

      At the turn of the twentieth century, Kentuckians were influenced, indeed had been impacted for much of their history, by educational experiences beyond the classroom. In the broadest sense, education is “intergenerational, with adults teaching children.” Acculturation is the process whereby a person is incorporated into the larger group, absorbing the culture of his or her surroundings from birth.¹

      Outside of the normal school setting, whether elementary, secondary, or college, there were opportunities to learn for the willing and able. After the Civil War print media became more available with the development of cheaper printing methods. While there had always...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
  8. Part 4. World War II to the Mid-1980s

    • Chapter 7 Elementary and Secondary Education from World War II to the Threshold of Major Reform
      (pp. 271-334)

      From the beginning of World War II, elementary and secondary education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky struggled to keep up with national trends. Casting its lot with the South after the Civil War handicapped the state educationally, particularly in “following the color line.” As throughout Kentucky’s educational history, there were, from time to time, moments of reform followed by regression.

      In 1941 the United States, its first peacetime draft already in place, had been supplying war material to those fighting the Axis Powers for several years. Yet, even with more and more men in the armed forces and war production...

    • Chapter 8 Higher Education
      (pp. 335-400)

      Most Americans heard about the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor in the afternoon of Sunday, December 7, 1941, while listening to the radio. That’s how future governor Louie B. Nunn found out, while he was a student at Bowling Green Business College. Eastern senior ROTC student Ken Perry was lying in bed recovering from a broken leg suffered in the Morehead football game when he heard the broadcast. “My first reaction was, they can’t be that stupid,” he recalled. “I think everybody’s reaction was the same. We all thought we’d end up in Europe.” Across America the next day, most...

  9. Epilogue Whither Education in Kentucky?
    (pp. 401-424)

    Education in Kentucky in the latter decades of the twentieth century could not help but change, owing to the forces both within the state and beyond that pushed for reform. Momentum built in the mid-1980s during the Collins administration, with the legislation of 1985 seemingly answering the cries of many for improvement in public school funding. The governor and most of the members of the General Assembly desired to improve Kentucky’s public schools, particularly those in the poorer school districts. Although the Minimum Foundation Program had pumped some funds into these districts, mostly in the mountains and rural-oriented counties of...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 425-490)
  11. Index
    (pp. 491-516)