All donning their black AP Advocate scarves, six Anderson County High School students (accompanied by AP US History teacher Lauren Koeller, Anderson County High School Principal Chris Glass, Director of Curriculum Bobby Murphy, and Superintendent Sheila Mitchell) traveled to the Capitol yesterday to be a voice for Advanced Placement (AP) education. Our students were grateful to have extended one-on-one time during the early portion of the day with Kentucky Senator Adrienne Southworth, a short visit with Kentucky Representative James Tipton, and a Q & A with Aaron Thompson, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. During their time, the students took the opportunity to advocate for the future of the AP program in the Commonwealth, particularly for those families who are struggling to afford the cost of the AP test at the end of the school year.
Because of the financial struggle of so many families across the state due to the pandemic, Kentucky lawmakers have generously funded much of the AP program testing for our students, taking the cost of tests from $96/test down to $10/test and keeping those tests free for students who qualify for free or reduced lunch. In years past, the Anderson County Board has covered a portion of those exams (taking the cost for our students from $96 to $65 per test). This year, the board has graciously agreed to cover the final $10 for each test, meaning that all students, regardless of financial situation, have educational equity in access to those exams at zero cost to our families.
Yesterday, our students joined with AP Advocates from ten other high schools from across the state to thank lawmakers for their generous support and to ask that they consider continued funding for AP exams, including an additional $400,000 of funding which would allow all students in the state of Kentucky to take AP exams at no cost, opening up doors for so many additional students. Our student representatives conducted themselves with poise, grace, and confidence when they used their collective voice to speak to their state representatives. They saw firsthand that they were making a difference for their own lives and for the lives of future AP students in the state.
To end the day, the AP students were greeted by Governor Andy Beshear, who kindly took the time out of his day to spend time with the students: he listened to them speak and applauded them for their advocacy, even noting that the unified voice they lifted that day at the Capitol was a powerful one coming from “one of the most special generations we have ever seen.” After speaking with students about the bright future he sees for Kentucky in terms of industry and education, Gov. Beshear concluded with a comment to all students in the Commonwealth—a message that resonates particularly powerfully because of the challenges we have faced over the past two years: “this is our time and what’s so exciting is that it’s your time.”
That message of possibility is also one heralded by Anderson County Schools. In addition to career and technical courses offered at Trailblazer Early College and Career Academy as well as our partnership with Bluegrass Community and Technical College to offer dual credit classes to our students, Anderson County Schools currently offer 19 AP classes as part of the high school curriculum. Each one of those programs represents the opportunity for our students to graduate one step closer to their future career. Superintendent Sheila Mitchell added, “Seeing our student leaders advocating for their education and the education of their peers as well as sharing how they encourage their peers to participate in challenging, rigorous, high-level thinking and discussions is part of what makes this process so important and so special.”