Senate Education chair frustrated priority education bills are failing to get through House

03/29/2016 03:39 PM

FRANKFORT – As the 2016 legislative session winds down, Senate Education Committee chair Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, is regretful that the House has not taken up a pair of education reform bills which he felt would have moved the state forward.

Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Wilson, would have required school districts to develop and implement a professional growth and effectiveness system based on a statewide framework; prohibit the Kentucky Department of Education from imposing reporting requirements related to the system on local districts; prohibit the system from using student growth data in the system; and require the local school board to adopt guidelines for its superintendent to use in implementing the system.

“That was something that I felt like that would really get us back where we need to be, especially with the Every Student Succeeds Act coming down that’s been passed in Washington and was signed and be implemented this next year,” Wilson said. “It would line our law up with them. It would bring things back to local control.”

Charter school legislation has been another priority for Wilson and his Senate Bill 253, would have established a 5-year charter school pilot project in Fayette and Jefferson counties beginning with the 2017-18 academic year and continuing through the 2021-22 academic year, also failed to come to the floor in the House.

The bill originally called for the establishment of the Kentucky Charter School Commission which would oversee operation of the schools, but a floor amendment by Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, in the Senate chamber called for the local school boards in those counties to oversee the new schools. Something that Wilson was agreeable to.

“You know, if superintendents really investigated it and really looked into it, it really frees their schools from a lot of the regulations and allows them to innovate more than anything else they could do within the state or has been done,” Wilson said.

Wilson believes that many are apprehensive about making bold changes in education but he sees it as a way to turn the tide way from many Kentucky students who are not college and career ready when they graduate from high school.

“We are not training kids to be career ready, they’re just becoming professional test takers and point-getters,” he said.

Wilson plans on filing similar bills next session.


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