On Thursday, Kentucky’s Senate Education Committee moved forward with a sweeping bill that could change many aspects of Kentucky’s education system.
Referring to this year’s Senate Bill 1 as “Phase II” of the 2009 legislation that instituted education reform, Senate Education Committee Chair Mike Wilson pushed the measure through his committee on a party line vote.
Among its many provisions, the legislation proposes a review process for local and state academic standards. Four committees are established to review state standards and assessments along with 12 advisory panels. The committees would then make recommendations to a panel composed of three members appointed by the governor, three state senators appointed by the Senate President and three House members appointed by the House Speaker.
An amendment to the bill adds the Commissioner of Education as an ex officio member to the panel. The commissioner would also be given the responsibility to present the panel’s draft recommendations to the House and Senate Education Committees. The Kentucky Board of Education would hear the final recommendations.
Concerns were raised that giving legislators such a large role in shaping standards and assessments could politicize education. Wilson rebutted the claim saying that we live in a democratic republic and legislators are sent To Frankfort to represent taxpayers. If passed, SB 1 would trigger a review process beginning in fiscal year 2017-2018 and occur every six years after that.
Other provisions of the bill that were discussed in the committee including replacing program reviews with letters of assurance. A school’s principal, site based council, and superintendent would sign a letter of assurance about arts and humanities, practical living, writing and social studies courses. SB 1 also returns teacher evaluations to local school districts.
Prior to voting on the measure, Wilson assured the committee that SB 1 worked in concert with the new federal education policies signed into law in December.
While not every aspect of the bill was discussed before the committee, SB 1 was advanced by a 9-3 vote. The measure now awaits action by the full Senate.