Republican Senate President David Williams rarely misses a chance to criticize Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, especially on education issues.
The two are facing off in the fall governor’s race.
Williams latest criticism of Beshear is for a request he made for an exemption to the federal No Child Left Behind law.
In his request [supported by KSBA and KASS] with Kentucky’s Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, Beshear asked the U.S. Department of Education to exempt the state from the testing accountability portions of the federal law. Instead, Beshear wants Kentucky’s own system to be used when the state is graded under NCLB standards.
But Williams called the request a “farce,” because the state has yet to fully develop it’s own accountability system after scrapping the previous system. Because a system is not yet in place, Williams accused Beshear of playing politics with education.Williams did not mention that a quickly growing number of states are following Beshear's leadership on the issue: Idaho, South Dakota, now Tennessee and more to come....stay tuned.
But Williams claims, "Gov Beshear is attempting to cover up his very dismal record..."
That record not only includes repeated efforts (nine) to spare Kentucky education from the kinds of deep cuts that other state's children have had to endure, but netted Beshear the title "America’s Greatest Education Governor" from the NEA Sunday. The annual award recognizes governors who have made “major, state-level strides” to improve public schools. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said Beshear has shown unwavering support for students and educators.
But Williams is going to criticize Beshear no matter what he does. Williams knows very well [wasn't he the sponsor of Senate Bill 1?] that the state's new assessment system is still in development. Many of the national standards are set and more are in development. But there's no particular problem assoicated with figuring out how one's accountability system will work, before the actual test is complete. Beshear is seeking the kind of state control Republicans say they support, unless of course, it's an election year.
Williams also claims that Beshear is against "the sort of interventions we know are necessary to improve education in the state." He included two examples: Beshear's opposition to Williams's neighborhood school bill which would resegregate schools in Louisville, much as is occurring in Wake County, NC, and voluntary charter schools. I support limited use of charter schools but would never go so far as to claim they are a cure for anything beyond a few site-specific cases where long-term efforts have not produced results. Citing charters as a broad solution for Kentucky schools is simply not supported by evidence. But Williams knows that in politics, one need not always be correct if what one says confirms a constituency's biases.
Holliday deferred when asked about Williams comments, saying he wasn’t a politician. But the commissioner said he doesn’t believe Kentucky is at any disadvantage in its request, despite not having its own standards set in stone yet.
Instead, Holliday said Kentucky’s push is similar to other states who want standards set at the state level.