Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Keeping up with the Legislature

Not me so much. But Susan Weston has been keeping tabs over at Prichard. Check out:

Tonight's KBE/CPE/ESPB meeting at KCTCS to approve common core standards.

By the way, I asked KDE how they would proceed, given that they board won't have a final copy of the standards in hand. Spokeswoman Lisa Gross said,
We have the latest draft of the standards, and according to CCSSO and NGA, the final version will be available in March. The Kentucky Board of Education is approving the replacement of standards in the Program of Studies with the draft version, contingent on the final form. The board can re-open the regulation related to the standards when they become final, if it sees a need to do so.

At the meeting of the KBE, CPE and EPSB Wednesday night, the board chairs will sign a resolution directing their respective agencies to implement the provisional standards and re-open the process when they are final, if needed.

We don’t expect that the standards will change dramatically from the current draft to the final. And, by signing on to this project last summer, Kentucky agreed to implement the standards – we could not change them, no matter their final form. We can only add to them with our state-specific standards.

Also at Prichard:
High school math strands in the core standards
Math for each grade in the common standards
Research in the common core (Wow!)
Literature in the common core (Yay!)
Common core and historic reading
K-12 standards draft!

House Bill 322 which would change how principals are selected.

Since 1990, Kentucky law has called for school councils to select principals, with the big debate being over the role of the superintendent in deciding who could be considered for the job.

[Yesterday's] committee vote was on language that would let the superintendent submit three names to the council and give the council three weeks to choose between them.

The present law is a far cry from the olden days when superintendents ruled all. I remember the "interview" for my first principalship at Ryland Heights in Kenton County. It took place in the superintendent's office and consisted of Superintendent Bert Bennett picking up a set of keys and throwing them to me. He said, "Get your ass over to Ryland and clean that place up." The interview went very well and I got the job.

Enrollment surge, transfer woes for KCTCS
[L]egislation to smooth the way for students to move from two-year to move to
four-year schools has hit a snag. After the bill breezed through the House, concerns have surfaced in the Senate over proposed rules on transfers and degree requirements. For example, Shirley Willihnganze at the University of Louisville is quoted as anticipating "trouble with a number of accrediting agencies that require more hours than that for a degree."

The Hearld-Leader says,
Legislators also continue to work with university leaders on a bill aimed at easing the transfer between community and technical colleges and four-year universities.

The legislation would establish a framework so basic requirements for degrees would be consistent.

But University of Louisville Provost Shirley Willihnganz told the university's trustees Thursday some faculty are upset that one of the provisions in the bill says undergraduate degree programs should require no more than 120 credit hours.

"The problem there is that that gets us in trouble with a number of accrediting
agencies that require more hours than that for a degree," she said. "There are little things like that in the bill that, I think, are well-intentioned, but really don't reflect what a university has to do to prepare students for certain fields."

Faculty also are concerned that the bill could transfer some decision-making power about programs from their hands to those of lawmakers, Willihnganz said.

House Bill 160, sponsored by Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, passed the state House unanimously on Jan. 21. It is now pending in the Senate.

Higher education leaders are hopeful the issues can be ironed out, Willihnganz said.
Since the Felner debacle, I haven't been motivated to say this once; but Willihnganz is correct. And I hear that every provost in the state has signed on to a small set of suggested changes as well. If it weren't for such broad concern, legislators would probably not be listening. Rep Rollins rejected some suggestions for amendment when the bill was in the House. But persistent issues affecting educational quality are now being heard by the Senate.

In addition to the concern over the legislature lowering the number of hours required by certain programs, HB 160 in its original form, would waive certain course prerequisites and automatically grant admission to upper division bachelors degree programs in some cases.

This was cause for concern among faculty at EKU, which has a strong record of accepting transfer credits from KCTCS as the Higher Ed bill of 1997 envisioned. The faculty senate sent a resolution to the General Assembly (Sen. Day voting in the affirmative) urging another look at the bill. We can't advance higher education by lowering standards and waiving admission criteria.

The amendments suggested by the provosts and CPE maintain the central effect of HB 160 to ease transferrability between programs but remove those elements that would have unintentionally lowered standards.

This should be a small snag. Fix the bill Pass the bill.

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