The Associated Press reports that Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has (finally) announced seven appointments to the Kentucky Board of Education. Five of the seven nominees are new faces to the board, while only two individuals are being held over for second terms.
The most remarkable and disturbing consequence of the new appointments is that the current chairman of the Kentucky Board of Education, Wilburn “Joe” Brothers, was not reappointed. Failure to reappoint Brothers could lead to sharp changes in the board’s direction at a very critical time.
Brothers has become a strong proponent of making real change in the state’s education system. Those changes include increasing educator accountability to meet demands from both the state and the federal government for higher performing educational programs.
Those changes also include Brothers’ strong supporting position on implementing Senate Bill 1 from the 2009 Regular Legislative Session. This bill mandates extensive changes to the state’s education standards as well as the assessment and accountability program.
Removing Brothers at this time could have serious consequences for all of these important issues. At the very least, it will force a change in leadership at a critical time.
It remains to be seen whether the newly constituted board, absent Brothers, will continue to push real educational improvement.
Will this new board return to the policies of earlier years when the Kentucky Board of Education largely functioned as a rubber stamp for whatever the state’s professional educators wanted? The Associated Press report indicates that all five of the new appointees have education-related employment histories. Two are either present or past school system employees. One works for a community college. Two others currently perform as education counselors/advisors. Will this group, which comes totally from within the education community, be willing to continue the charge towards more education accountability that Brothers started?
We will be watching the new board as it gets on line. Hopefully, the new members will come to understand, as Joe Brothers did, that the board’s primary responsibility is to represent the needs of the children of Kentucky rather than the needs of the adults who work in our education complex.