ADJOURNED

The special session on the sewer pension bill is adjourned — less than 24 hours after it started.

The Kentucky Democratic Party has this to say:

We did it. We defeated Gov. Bevin’s crass attempt at cutting pension benefits in a hastily called special session.

You called your legislators, you signed petitions, and you showed up with teachers, police, firefighters and others to put an end to Governor Bevin’s 2018 temper tantrum. You made your voice heard, and the special session was adjourned within 24 hours.

Now, we have to take this momentum and show up again in November 2019 and give Bevin another loss, this time at the ballot box.

 

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport


 

Another Bad Move from Bevin

Just days after the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the sewer-pension bill hastily passed in the waning hours of the 2018 legislative session violated procedure  and therefore could not be implemented, Governor Matt Bevin gave four hours advance notice of a special legislative session to deal with the pension issue.

The Lexington Herald-Leader has more:

In a surprise move Monday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called a special legislative session to deal with the state’s struggling pension systems. He made the announcement just before 4 p.m. Monday, saying the session would begin four hours later at 8 p.m.

“I am going to use the powers that have been granted to me to call the legislature into special session that will be effective tonight at eight o’clock,” Bevin said in a brief statement. “They will be coming in.”

Some speculate legislative leaders are poised to act on the now defunct sewer bill — this time, following proper procedure and giving the measure the required number of public hearings.

Bevin faces re-election in 2019 and is looking at an array of strong Democratic opponents. Moving on the pension bill is likely a way to bolster his support among his base.

Groups of teachers, who organized protests during pension debates earlier this year are already pledging to be on hand tonight when the legislature begins session.

Due to the incredibly short notice, it is likely lawmakers far from Frankfort will have difficulty making the opening gavel.

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport


 

Unanimous!

In a 7-0 decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court today struck down the “sewer pension bill” passed at the urging of embattled Governor Matt Bevin during the last legislative session.

The plan, which broke the promise made to current and retired teachers and other public employees, was found to be in violation of procedure demanding adequate public notice and a specific number of readings before a vote.

Adam Beam from the AP has more:

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law that made changes to the state’s struggling public pension system eight months after it prompted thousands of teachers to protest, closing schools across the state.

In April, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed a law that moved all new teacher hires into a hybrid pension plan. The law also restricted how teachers used sick days to calculate their retirement benefits and changed how the state pays off its pension debt.

Facing a tight deadline, state lawmakers introduced and passed the bill in one day near the end of the 2018 legislative session. The bill moved so quickly that a copy was not available for the public to read until the day after lawmakers had voted on it.

Teachers were outraged, thousands marched on the Capitol and schools in more than 30 districts closed. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued, arguing the legislature violated the state Constitution by not voting on the proposal three times over three separate days. Bevin argued lawmakers did not need to do that because they had substituted the bill for an unrelated one that already had the required votes.

MORE>

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport


 

KBE Rubber Stamps Lewis’ Failed Agenda

The Kentucky Board of Education recently unanimously backed an education policy agenda presented by current Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis. The agenda includes several ideas that have been met with mixed results at best in other states.

WDRB.com has more:

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis and the Kentucky Board of Education will push for charter school funding, allowing superintendents to hire principals and giving school districts greater flexibility in hiring and firing teachers when the General Assembly convenes in January.

 

 

The items related to hiring principals and hiring/firing teachers cut into a bedrock element of the Kentucky Education Reform Act — Site-Based Decision-Making. These councils, made up of teachers and parents, exert school-level local control over budgeting and operations.

Meanwhile, the charter funding issue could lead to negative impacts for local school funding. A few examples from Tennessee, a state demographically similar to Kentucky, highlight the potential challenges.

First, despite years of charter schools, Tennessee isn’t really making earth-shaking gains in terms of student achievement:

Maybe we are closing achievement gaps? Again, no.

Back in 2013, Tennessee students eligible for free/reduced lunch had an average NAEP reading score of 256 and scored 20 points below the non-eligible students. Now, that average score is 252 (four points worse) and 19 points below. For 4th grade, there’s a similar story, with free/reduced lunch eligible students scoring 25 points below their non-eligible peers this year. Four years ago, it was 26 points.

We’re not moving the needle. Our most vulnerable students continue to be left behind. Meanwhile, we hear nice words from top policymakers and see little actual result in terms of tangible improved investment in schools or any meaningful upgrade in teacher pay. Our testing system has yet to be proven.

Then, there’s the financial impact to districts, as illustrated by a study of Metro Nashville Public Schools:

Even if the Nashville School board approves no new charter applications, more than 5,000 additional charter seats — costing $45 million a year — will come into existence by fall 2019 under current agreements. Yet charter operators still are seeking to create another 13 schools that would drain another $75 million a year from the school system.

To put it in perspective: This spring, MNPS is proposing to grow its annual operating budget from $790 million to $813 million — a $23 million increase. Not coincidentally, the budget plan contemplates about $23 million in additional cash outlays for charter schools.

In other words: Every dime of new revenue growth is going to charters, leaving little or nothing for traditional schools. The math is dizzying and troubling.

In other words, Kentucky’s Board of Education would do well to dig into the details and press pause on the Wayne Lewis agenda. Results in Tennessee and elsewhere indicate what he’s selling won’t buy much that matters.

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport


 

 

Bevin Bashes Teachers

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is again bashing teachers and the largest association representing them, the KEA, instead of taking responsibility for his own failures as Governor.

Here’s more from the Courier-Journal:

Bevin said on WKCT Radio, of Bowling Green, that his budget proposals have fully funded Kentucky’s pension systems but that his efforts to save the pensions have been muddled by the teachers’ union.

And a response from KEA:

“It’s true that the last two state budgets approved by the legislature funded the pension system.  But remember, the Governor vetoed the 2018-2020 budget, which included the pension funding appropriations for which he’s now taking credit. The provisions of his ironically titled “Keeping the Promise” proposal from last fall and SB1(2018) speak for themselves; KEA didn’t create those documents, the Governor and legislators sympathetic to his cause did. Those proposals created the “discord” to which he refers.  All state employees, including educators, are also taxpayers.  Every participant in any of Kentucky’s public pension systems pays twice: once as a direct, personal mandatory contribution to their individual account and again as a taxpayer …  So yes, KEA and other advocacy groups believe state employees and public school educator voices should be heard on policy issues that will affect the pension benefits they earn and pay for.”

The fact that Kentucky teachers and other public employees consistently pay into a system as both employees and taxpayers seems lost on Bevin. That those who pay into the system and are promised a return would want to have a say in any changes clearly is an affront to the paternalistic Bevin who seems to want to say, “Don’t worry, I’ll manage it… ”

Fortunately, educators and others are speaking up and speaking out. Most everyone agrees the pension system needs an element of reform — and that reform should be carried out in a transparent manner that is fair to all parties to the system.

MORE on the pension situation.

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport


 

JCTA to Picket Today

From the Courier-Journal:

The Jefferson County Teachers Association is urging its members to wear red and picket outside school district headquarters Tuesday afternoon ahead of a special meeting the school board is holding to discuss union negotiations.

The Jefferson County Board of Education is meeting at 4 p.m. at the Van Hoose Education Center, 3332 Newburg Road, to “discuss contract negotiation strategies.” Portions of the meeting will be in closed session, as union negotiation strategies are allowed to be discussed behind closed doors. Such meetings are not unusual during union negotiations.

“We’re asking members to attend the special-called meeting to show their concern about getting a fair contract with salaries and benefits,” said JCTA President Brent McKim.

Union leaders are concerned as teacher salary step increases have been frozen pending new contract negotiations.

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport


 

 

Commissioner Pruitt

The Kentucky Board of Education has come to terms with Stephen Pruitt and he will become the next Commissioner of Education.

Here’s the press release:

Today, the Kentucky Board of Education officially named Stephen L. Pruitt as the sixth Kentucky Commissioner of Education. Pruitt is currently senior vice president at Achieve, Inc., an independent,
nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization, where he has served since 2010.
Following a five-month search process, the board extended an offer of employment to Pruitt last month and directed Board Chair Roger Marcum to negotiate a contract.
At today’s meeting, the board ratified Pruitt’s contract. It calls for him to be paid $240,000 annually over the course of the 4-year contract.
“The Commonwealth has a rich history of and commitment to improving the lives of its children through public education. I am honored to serve as Kentucky’s next commissioner of education and be able to continue that tradition,” Pruitt said after signing the contract. “I am excited to work alongside Kentucky’s educators and education shareholders to support our students, so they can graduate college/career-ready, realize success in their postsecondary endeavors,
get good jobs and help Kentucky prosper.”
In addition to working at Achieve, Dr. Pruitt’s prior experience includes chief of staff, associate state superintendent, director of academic standards, and science and mathematics program manager with the Georgia Department of Education; and high school chemistry teacher in Fayetteville and Tyrone, Georgia. He earned a
bachelor’s degree from North Georgia College and State University; a master’s from the University of West Georgia and a Doctorate of Philosophy from Auburn University.
Pruitt is a native of Talmo, Georgia. He and his wife have two children, a son in college and a daughter who is a high school junior and will be attending public school in Kentucky once the family relocates.
Dr. Pruitt’s first official day on the job will be Friday, October 16.

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport

High School Scores Rising

The Prichard Blog has the story on improving high school scores and an analysis of the results at all levels.

Here’s a key excerpt:

In Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning system, overall scores are the quickest summary of results for a public school, district, or the entire state. An overall score combines multiple measures to calculate a single number on a 0 to 100 scale that sums up student and program performance.

For our state as a whole, the high school overall score rose 1.5 points from 2014 to 2015, but the elementary and middle overall scores declined.

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport

 

JCPS and Teacher Compensation

An analysis of teacher compensation I did for Nashville included Louisville and four other districts. The districts were chosen because they were demographically similar to Nashville.

So, how does Louisville’s teacher compensation stack up to 5 other urban districts with a similar profile?

Here are the numbers:

                                  Start                    10                          20                      TOP

MNPS                     $42,082                $44,536                 $54,800              $55,757

Louisville              $41,756                $53,759                 $69,514                $70,636

Charlotte               $37,946               $46,008                $53,954                $58,525

Austin                     $46,401               $48,837                $55,477                 $70,751

Atlanta                   $44,312               $54,167                 $62,075                 $66,467

Denver                   $38,765              $47,136                 $53,838*

*Denver has a teacher compensation system known as ProComp and the highest step is 13. Teachers in Denver earn the base pay indicated plus are eligible for incentives and base pay increases based on professional development, advanced degrees, and measures of student outcomes.

Based on these numbers, Louisville offers competitive starting pay and long-term earnings there are among the best — outpacing even the much-larger city of Atlanta.

A more comprehensive analysis might include additional cities and factors such as cost of living. Of course, the cost to live in Louisville is less than Atlanta or Denver — but including cities such as Memphis, Indianapolis, and Columbus might yield even more useful information.

That said, JCPS appears to be doing well by its teachers in terms of pay.

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport

 

Seeking a Commissioner

With the retirement of Commissioner Terry Holliday, Kentucky finds itself searching for a new Commissioner of Education.  Here’s the official job posting:

The Kentucky Board of Education invites applications and nominations for the position of Commissioner of Education. The Commissioner reports to the 11-member Kentucky Board of Education and leads the Kentucky Department of Education in providing resources and guidance to Kentucky’s public schools and districts as they implement the Commonwealth’s P-12 education requirements. The department also serves as the Commonwealth’s liaison for federal education requirements and funding opportunities. Located in Frankfort, Kentucky, the department has approximately 1,100 full-time employees (includes the Kentucky School for the Deaf, Kentucky School for the Blind, Kentucky Department of Education Frankfort-based employees, Office of Career and Technical Education Frankfort-based central office staff and 53 area technical centers).

The board is seeking an individual who shares its commitment to putting the needs and interests of students first and foremost and preparing them for success in their education, career and citizenship. Partnering with educators to collectively deliver on this promise presents the selected person the chance to apply innovative approaches in order to move students beyond college- and career-readiness toward global competency. The individual also must pursue difficult issues with a firmness of purpose, exhibit respect of others, show consistency and depth of thought, and present a deep appreciation and respect for diversity and inclusion.
The successful candidate must provide leadership that assists the board in developing the vision, strategy and objectives to advance the Commonwealth’s priorities of rigorous standards–based education. Further, the commissioner must build consensus among constituency groups such as legislative, business, community and school leaders.
An advanced degree is required. The successful candidate must have experience in leading complex organizations as well as a deep commitment to reaching proficiency in teaching and learning for all Kentucky schools.
Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. is assisting the Kentucky Board of Education in the search. Initial screening of applications will begin immediately and will continue until an appointment is made. For best consideration, submit your materials by July 17, 2015. Individuals who wish to nominate a candidate should submit a letter of nomination including contact information for the nominee. Application materials should include a letter addressing how the candidate’s experiences match the position requirements, a curriculum vitae or resume and five references. Submission of materials as PDF attachments is strongly encouraged. Confidential inquiries, nominations and application materials should be directed to:
Jan Greenwood, Betty Turner Asher, Partners
Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc.
42 Business Centre Drive, Suite 206
Miramar Beach, Florida 32550
Phone: 850-650-2277 / Fax: 850-650-2272
Email: jangreenwood@greenwoodsearch.com
Email: bettyasher@greenwoodsearch.com
Email: shelleyfeather@greenwoodsearch.com
To see the posting at the Department’s site, click here.
For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport