I don’t think there is much doubt about who is in charge of public school education in Kentucky. It certainly isn’t parents, and it isn’t local school boards (who lost almost all authority for school operations under KERA). It isn’t even legislators, who are supposed to be in ultimate control according to the landmark 1989 Kentucky Supreme Court decision that led to KERA.
It is our educators.
Teachers dominate local school councils, which are now the ultimate local arbiters of what goes on in schools (local school boards lost this power with KERA).
Teachers dominate the legislature through their union. Teachers say “Jump,” and the Kentucky House just asks, “How High?” Any legislative action the teachers don’t want is impossible.
And, teachers and other professional educators (who almost always start out as teachers) dominate state-level groups that control public education activities such as setting testing standards, setting teaching standards, and setting just about everything else, too.
A very recent example of this is the Assessment and Accountability Task Force (which everyone is calling the CATS Task Force), which the Kentucky Department of Education set up to recommend changes to the CATS assessments. Educators dominate the panel (Find the list of members and their affiliations here).
In fact, to be more specific, K to 12 educators and their close fellow travelers like Bob Sexton of the Prichard Committee dominate the panel. Only two representatives from the state’s postsecondary system are involved, and neither has recent classroom experience in our colleges. Business and industry’s only representation is by two chamber of commerce people. There are a number of legislators, but the ones from the House are unlikely to do anything teachers don’t want.
So, once again, K to 12 teachers are in control.
But, is this a good idea? Do K to 12 teachers really know what kids need to succeed in the new economy? How could they know that, as very few have ever been outside of a classroom for anything other than a part-time summer job. In fact, do K to 12 teachers really know what kids need to go on to postsecondary education?
For an answer to that, check this out: