Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Billy N. Chandler, November 3, 1997

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Career

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Partial Transcript: My name is Lee Dew, uh, representing the Community Life Foundation.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler describes his career path through his retirement after six years as the superintendent of the Owensboro School District.

Keywords: Director of community services; Doctorate degrees; Foust Junior High School; Life sciences teachers; Masters degrees; Owensboro Independent School District

Subjects: Assistant school principals; Careers; Education--Kentucky; Owensboro (Ky.); School principals; School superintendents; Schools; University of Kentucky; Western Kentucky University

00:02:23 - Minimum Foundation Program / Integration

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Partial Transcript: So you basically have, have seen the Owensboro Independent School District through a variety of ups and downs, all kinds of times.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the two big issues that were present when he began his tenure with the Owensboro School District: the 1959 Minimum Foundation Program and integration.

Keywords: Desegregation; Estes, Kenneth; Integration; Minimum Foundation Program; Owensboro Independent School District; School closures

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Communities; Education--Kentucky; Owensboro (Ky.); School integration; Students

00:07:32 - Social changes in schools / Special education / Drugs

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Partial Transcript: Beginning teaching in the 1950s as you did and as I did, uh, you've seen a lot of social change within the schools.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the social changes within schools since he began in the 1950s. He mentions increasing special education programs, problems with school children and their families related to drug use, and questions of safety.

Keywords: Changes; Drug use; Foust Junior High School; Gangs; Nineteen fifties; Owensboro Independent School District; Public school systems; School buses; Technology

Subjects: Drugs; Education--Kentucky; Families.; Owensboro (Ky.); Parents; School children; Schools; Social change; Special education; Youth

00:17:53 - Technology in the schools

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Partial Transcript: But you've mentioned another word here that's, that's, uh, one of the great changes that you've seen in, in your, uh, career and that is the impact of technology.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the positives and negatives of the surging technology industry and its presence in public schools.

Keywords: Announcements; Classes; Costs; Planned obsolescence; Resources; Training

Subjects: Education--Kentucky; Money; School children; School superintendents; Teachers; Technological innovations; Technology

00:23:07 - Tax increases for education

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Partial Transcript: In the late fifties the, uh, city of Owensboro voted for not only a tax increase for education but a major bond issue for, for educational construction.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the difficulty in getting the community on board with tax increases and bond issues for the school system.

Keywords: Bond issues; College degrees; Public services; Tax increases; Teachers' salaries; Technical educations; Votes

Subjects: Communities; Education--Kentucky; Money; Owensboro (Ky.); Schools

00:28:13 - Owensboro Community and Technical College

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Partial Transcript: You have played a role in, uh, bringing increased higher education to Owensboro.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about bringing a community college to Owensboro, Kentucky to try to increase the access to higher education at a lower cost for the community.

Keywords: Higher education; Lower costs; Owensboro Community and Technical College; Private colleges; Transfer students; Tuition

Subjects: Communities; Community colleges.; Education, Higher; Education--Kentucky; Owensboro (Ky.)

00:30:48 - Forming the Owensboro Citizens Committee on Higher Education

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about the formation of the Citizens Committee.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler tells the story of how a small group of people came together in a large effort to create the Owensboro Citizens Committee on Higher Education, which effectively resulted in the creation of the community college.

Keywords: Council on higher education; Grassroots movements; Owensboro Citizens Committee on Higher Education; Owensboro Community and Technical College; Owensboro Country Club; Subsidies

Subjects: Communities; Community colleges.; Education, Higher; Education--Kentucky; Groups; Land; Owensboro (Ky.)

00:38:25 - Merging the community college and the technical college

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Partial Transcript: What do you see as the, as the real impact so far of, of the community college?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the increased opportunities for non-traditional students that the community college has brought to the area. He also talks about his desire to merge the community college with the technical college in order to avoid some of the overlap and inconsistencies that are occurring between the two.

Keywords: Certificates; Curriculum; Degrees; Increased opportunities; Non-traditional students; Owensboro Community and Technical College; Technical schools; Tuition

Subjects: Communities; Community colleges.; Education, Higher; Families; Owensboro (Ky.); Students; Technical institutes.

00:44:23 - Teaching life skills in school

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Partial Transcript: The thing that, that, that concerns me is that, it's a--one of the, one of the programs that I initiated only for middle school...

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about how important he thinks it is to provide school children with necessary life skills, and also to help them to find out what they are likely to succeed at in their future and form goals to get them there. He says that we are doing a disservice to those students who just cannot retain academic knowledge by also not providing them with skills to be successful in other ways.

Keywords: Aptitude tests; Budgeting; Directions; Future goals; Interests; Job applications; Programs; School board; Standard of living; Test scores

Subjects: Education; Employment; High schools; Life skills; Owensboro (Ky.); School children; Teachers

00:50:39 - Teaching basic and practical skills at community college

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Partial Transcript: Let me diverge here for just a second.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the role of Owensboro Community College in providing employable students with the appropriate basic skills that are desired by employers.

Keywords: Basic skills; Business and industry; Communications; Employees; Owensboro Community and Technical College; Teamwork; Training; Writing

Subjects: Community colleges; Education; Owensboro (Ky.); Schools; Technology

00:58:08 - School choice movement

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Partial Transcript: You used a word here that sends a, a whole other train of thought in motion, uh, and that is tolerance.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the "free choice," or school choice, movement and the inequality that he thinks it recreates.

Keywords: Free choice movement; Republicans; Socioeconomics; Tolerance; Voucher systems

Subjects: Education; Owensboro (Ky.); Private schools; Public schools; Religion; Schools

01:02:50 - Home schooling

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Partial Transcript: I want to mention one other thing if I could.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses the concerns he has with home schooling children.

Keywords: Child welfare; Socialization; Special needs; Standard requirements

Subjects: Children; Education; Home schooling.; Parents

01:06:53 - Censorship

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Partial Transcript: The Independent schools have been remarkably free from censorship cases.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler briefly comments about how the Owensboro Independent School District seems to have not had many issues with censorship of books or curriculum.

Keywords: Books; County districts; Owensboro Independent School District

Subjects: Censorship; Curriculum planning; Education; Owensboro (Ky.); Parents; Schools

01:09:27 - Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA)

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Partial Transcript: This business of involving parents in, in these decisions or--and these discussions, brings up then the Kentucky Education Reform Act, or KERA, as it's popularly called, and site-based decision making, site-based, uh, parental involvement in schools.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler critiques the site-based councils required by the Kentucky Education Reform Act. He explains how he believes they are not representative of all parties and that the training is not complete enough to be making such large decisions about curriculum and policies.

Keywords: Administrators; Advisory councils; Conflicts; Dress codes; Elections; Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA); Parental involvement; School boards; Site based councils; Tax payers; Training

Subjects: Curriculum planning; Education--Kentucky; Kentucky. Education Reform Act (1990); Parents; School principals; School superintendents.; Teachers

01:22:05 - School merger controversy and critiques

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Partial Transcript: Let me, uh--(coughs)--change gears again here and ask another question that is, is politically a loaded question.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about multiple problems with a potential school merger between the county and independent districts. He talks about tax issues and negative impact on disadvantaged students.

Keywords: City-county merger controversy; Consolidated schools; Disadvantaged students; Emotions; Government cooperation; Independent schools; Preschools; School mergers; Taxes; Teacher-pupil ratios; Teacher-student ratios

Subjects: African American school children; Children; Daviess County (Ky.); Education; Owensboro (Ky.); Parents; Race; Students

01:35:28 - Leaders in Owensboro

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Partial Transcript: Let's, uh, let's wrap this up with one more question.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler speaks about some of the people he considers to be leaders of Owensboro in education, business and industry, politics, and behind-the-scenes.

Keywords: Adkisson, David; Blandford, Donald; Davis, Burton; Elmer, Bill; Hager family; Holbrook, Morton; Integration; Miller, J.R.; Monuments; Owensboro Area Museum

Subjects: Communities; Education; Heroes; Leadership; Owensboro (Ky.); Texas Gas Transmission Corporation

01:44:37 - Messenger-Inquirer newspaper

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Partial Transcript: Why has the, the Messenger had such a, uh, mixed reputation in town?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the reputation of the Messenger newspaper.

Keywords: Endorsing candidates; Hager family; Merger controversy; Messenger-Inquirer; Reporters; Reputations

Subjects: News; Newspapers; Owensboro (Ky.)

01:47:27 - Texas gas Transmission Corporation / RiverPark Center

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Partial Transcript: And the, the changes that have taken place in this community with the, the movement of Texas Gas management out and the decline of the General Electric Company has made quite a hole.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the improvements that the Texas Gas Corporation brought to the community and how his own children are benefiting from it today.

Keywords: Cultural activities; Philanthropy; RiverPark Center

Subjects: Children; Communities; Money; Owensboro (Ky.); Texas Gas Transmission Corporation