Stands in the way of progress in Kentucky’s schools
Echoes BIPPS concerns
Bob King, President of Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education, attended his last meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education on Wednesday, and, setting aside his prepared remarks, he wound up delivering a retirement call to arms, calling for major revisions to Kentucky’s education laws. These laws, generally referred to as “KERA,” which comes from the initials of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, create a unique school governance system in Kentucky built around the concept of School Based Decision Making (SBDM). It is a highly controversial approach not used statewide anywhere else in the nation. And, it’s an approach the Bluegrass Institute strongly criticizes (see here and here for example).
Dr. King certainly pulled no punches about education problems in the state, beginning with a strong statement about the currently troubled Jefferson County Public School District (JCPS), saying:
“There is no question in my mind that the children in Jefferson County are not being served adequately by the school system.”
He then stated that KERA prevents essential accountability in Kentucky’s schools, saying that it won’t really matter who is superintendent in JCPS because red tape from KERA undermines any attempts at effective leadership. King stated that under KERA:
“The reality is that the superintendent can’t hire the principals. The principals frankly don’t hire the teachers.”
King pointed out that students statewide are paying the price, stating:
“We see that our students, while they saw some gains in the early days of KERA, those gains have frankly flattened out. For nearly the last decade there has been very…little measurable improvement in performance of our young people.”
He added more to his discussion on student impacts, citing continuing achievement gaps and saying:
“We see it in higher education that still a significant number of kids coming to our institutions are inadequately prepared to do credit-bearing work.”
Coming from the head of Kentucky’s 2- and 4-year public postsecondary education system, that is a dramatic – and clearly well-informed – comment indeed.
Returning to his concerns about JCPS, King added:
“The decision of the commissioner to exercise the authority that he has under KERA to…the words that get used is…take over the district, is the only way right now that you can get around these obstacles that prevent any kind of significant accountability.”
Basically, King indicated that without state management, restrictions in KERA will prevent any superintendent in Jefferson County from being able to make the changes so badly needed.
So far, the media has only presented snippets from King’s speech, but here at BIPPS we think the citizens of Kentucky all deserve access, so just click on the YouTube link below to hear the entire set of comments. Then, make sure your legislators get to hear this, as well.