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


 

Hope Street Group Touts First Year Success

The Hope Street Group, a national non-partisan, non-profit organization that sponsored its first year of Kentucky Teacher Fellows in 2013-14, has released the results of a survey indicating the first year of the program was a success.

From the press release:

An independent evaluation conducted by Policy Studies Associates, Inc. determined that the first year of the Hope Street Group Kentucky State Teacher Fellows Program provided teachers with “a diverse, unique and transferable set of tools, training and resources” and that Kentucky education leaders “valued the data reported to them and acknowledged the important role Hope Street Group played and can play to support teachers’ participation in the policy process.”

With milestones including engaging over 20 percent of Kentucky’s K‑12 teachers and informing the implementation of the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) and the Kentucky Core Academic Standards, education experts and program participants interviewed deemed the program “an overwhelming success.”

“What happened in Kentucky over the past year was impressive. The fellows we selected clearly understood their charge, embraced the task in front of them and ultimately gave our partners a real-time glimpse into classrooms to see what the reforms they have worked so hard to implement look like in practice,” said Dan Cruce, Hope Street Group’s Vice President of Education.

Now in its second year, the program continues with 21 outstanding Kentucky teachers. The fellowship empowers its participants to collect feedback and solutions from thousands of teachers to inform decision-making at state and district levels. Partners for this work include the Kentucky Department of Education, the Kentucky Education Association and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

“KEA applauds Hope Street Group’s self-examination and desire to become even better at helping promote teacher participation in the issues facing public schools today,” said Mary Ann Blankenship, Executive Director of the Kentucky Education Association.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” said teacher fellow Sarah Yost, an English Language Arts Lead Teacher for Jefferson County Public Schools. “After my work with Hope Street Group, I feel more empowered and better respected as an educator. It makes me feel like I can effect real change without leaving the classroom, and my leadership has inspired others to do the same.”

The evaluation also recommended areas for improvement, including expanding and refocusing aspects of fellow training and creating an explicit strategy to leverage online network tools. With the assistance of partners such as 270 Strategies and Purpose, Hope Street Group is actively addressing these aspects of its program and enacted a number of recommended changes last month at its summer teacher fellow convening.

Hope Street Group is currently beginning the second year of its Kentucky State Teacher Fellows Program and launching the first year of its Hawaii State Teacher Fellows Program. Additional work is underway to expand the program to up to four additional states in 2015.

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

 

Blankenship: Professional Pay Needed for Teachers

Over at Education Week, Prichard Committee Executive Director Stu Silberman interviewed Kentucky Education Association Executive Director Mary Ann Blankenship.

Among the highlights, Blankenship noted that teacher pay in Kentucky has remained essentially flat over the past 5 years, with some teachers actually seeing less take home pay now than they did then.

She also noted that funding cuts in recent years have meant teachers are spending more and more of their own money on school resources.

Like Silberman and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, Blankenship is challenging Kentucky policy makers to put schools first in the 2014 legislative session. Not only do teachers need professional pay, the schools where they teach need adequate resources.  With less state funding, those two essentials are becoming more and more difficult to provide.

Blankenship noted that Kentucky continues to make significant gains in education achievement and that teachers have been very responsive to a fast-changing education environment in light of the move to Common Core.

But, with all those challenges, the reality of lower pay and fewer resources will eventually take a toll.  Kentucky must act now to reverse that cycle — policy makers must ensure better, smarter pay and adequate resources for schools in order to ensure that progress is not slowed.

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