Interview with Wade Mountz, July 25, 2001

Project: Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Wade Mountz talks about his education and professional background prior to joining the Prichard Committee. Mountz says that members were carefully selected to serve on the Prichard Committee based on considerations such as geography, gender, and political party affiliation. He talks about how well the committee worked together and respected one another. He talks about Ed Prichard and his personal character. Mountz attributes much of the success of the Prichard Committee to the transparency achieved through open meetings. Mountz talks about his admiration for Prichard, even though he is a moderate Republican and Prichard was a liberal Democrat. He says he was one of very few Republicans on the committee. He quotes a favorite Prichard saying, "from womb to tomb" which referred to the need for comprehensive education. He says partisan politics did not play a major role in committee relationships. Mountz says that improving education was critical to support the state economy since industries such as tobacco farming and coal mining were in decline. He discusses the need for student retention to improve higher education. He talks about the transformation of the committee from an officially appointed group to a citizen movement in 1983. Mountz talks about the need for additional funding to support the projects the committee envisioned. He cites public apathy as a major obstacle to educational reform. He says poorly prepared students and poorly trained teachers posed a major challenge, which led to the committee's second report dealing with elementary and secondary education. Mountz talks about the shift in the committee's focus from higher education to elementary and secondary education due to the perceived need to provide better training for teachers. He discusses the 1989 litigation over educational funding in Kentucky. Mountz talks about the changing public attitudes towards public education in Kentucky. Mountz talks about the legislative process of educational reform, and the role played by the committee in the process. He discusses the role of the judiciary in educational reform. He talks about the sources of funding for the committee's work. Mountz talks about the sources of funding for the committee through the corporate network connections of key supporters of the committee. He talks about the benefits of education in languages and humanities. Mountz discusses the process of brokering solutions played by the committee. Mountz recalls the death of Ed Prichard and the effect it had on the newly reconstituted committee. He discusses the leadership changes after Prichard's death. He discusses the challenges to educational institutions in Kentucky by issues such as poverty and lack of parental support. Mountz asserts that school success depends on parental involvement and refers to studies that support the claim. He says schools are better managed at the local level. He emphasizes the importance of literacy and teacher training for all aspects of education. Mountz talks about the collegial relationships shared by members of the committee at its origins and within its continuing culture. He describes the leadership qualities of Bob Sexton as executive director for the committee.

Interview Accession

2001oh047_pcae005

Interviewee Name

Wade Mountz

Interviewer Name

Catherine Fosl

Interview Date

2001-07-25

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Mountz, Wade Interview by Catherine Fosl. 25 Jul. 2001. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Mountz, W. (2001, July 25). Interview by C. Fosl. Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Mountz, Wade, interview by Catherine Fosl. July 25, 2001, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





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