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


 

 

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

Accountability Changes

Susan Weston has a report over at the Prichard Blog that details recent actions taken by the State Board of Education that will change (and tighten) accountability standards for Kentucky schools.

The changes include additional gap reporting, tightening the monitoring of focus schools relative to graduation rates, strengthening the requirements for AMOs, and an additional reporting element in growth results.

It seems to be a step forward, in that it strengthens existing requirements, keeps some reporting, and adds some higher standards.

The full report and the documents can be found in Susan’s blog.

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