Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Holliday: Restoring K-12 funding to pre-recessionary levels to be sole issue for education community in 2014 legislature

Ed commissioner to lobby for new science standards in 2014 legislature, 
but wants focus on funding

This from the KSBA eNews Service:

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said restoring K-12 funding sources to levels before cuts tied to the national recession is his top priority for the 2014 General Assembly, adding that there are revenue options available to legislators, so “they can’t say there is no new money.”

Appearing on the Lexington WKYT-TV Sunday interview program, Kentucky Newsmakers, Holliday also defended the proposed new science standards that were recently rejected by a legislative panel, saying to start over would cost the state’s taxpayers millions and waste the time of classroom teachers.

He also acknowledged challenges being voiced by Kentucky principals over the new teacher evaluation system, but said teachers deserve a process that gives them feedback to improve their skills.


Asked by WKYT Managing Editor Bill Bryant about lobbying the 2014 legislature for more funds, Holliday said failure to do so would make it impossible for schools to continue to produce gains such as the improved high school graduation and college and career readiness data announced last week.
“We’re probably going to need about $140 million – a very doable number,” the commissioner said. “Our legislators can’t say there’s no new money. The lieutenant governor’s tax reform commission talked about a sales tax on services and on utilities. There’s a lot of support for putting the option of expanded gaming on the ballot with a potential of a half billion dollars in revenues.

“I’m working with all of the education groups across Kentucky on a very simple, clear message: Restore education funding to prerecession levels of 2008-09,” Holliday said.  “I’ve blogged about it, tweeted about it, spoken about it. There won’t be any other issues we’ll be talking about.”

Science standards

One other education issue that will be headed for the 2014 legislative session will be the proposed addition of new science standards to the Kentucky Core Academic Standards, the state’s version of the national Common Core standards that have sparked debates pro and con in Washington, D.C., and a growing number of state capitols.  Holliday says dozens of educators, business people and others across Kentucky spent two-and-a-half years working on the standards – an effort he said shouldn’t be wasted.

“We were basically doing what the General Assembly asked us to do (in passage of Senate Bill 1, the 2009 testing system rewrite),” he said.  “Every time we’ve done the science standards dating back to the 1960s and 1970s, we’ve had this debate about evolution. Now climate change is a new issue that was sticking point for the committee.  When you get to the bottom line, it’s a political issue.

“Certainly a student’s freedom of speech doesn’t stop at schoolhouse door. Students can voice their concerns, and our science teachers have dealt with that for years,” the commissioner said in response to a question from Bryant about whether teachers have flexibility on evolution and creationism. “But for the state to allow or require teaching of creationism or intelligent design, the Supreme Court has ruled that would not be permissible.”

Holliday said he “absolutely” would be lobbying legislators not to pass any bills that would overturn Gov. Steve Beshear’s executive order implementing the science standards over the objections of a legislative review panel.

“Our teachers have worked too hard for the last two-and-a-half years. Now our teachers are working on the next phase of curriculum, instructional materials. Too much work has been done for us to move backward,” he said. “Just to develop new standards would be $3 million to $5 million dollars. What an enormous waste of money for Kentucky citizens. There’s not one science association, no teachers association against the science standards. It would be waste of effort, time and funds to go back.”

Teacher evaluations

Quizzed about complaints from some principals about “confusion” and “concern” regarding the new state teacher evaluation system – PGES (Professional Growth and Effectiveness System) – Holliday acknowledged the process is proving time consuming for administrators. But he quickly affirmed that the new system is owed to classroom teachers.

“The expectations (under PGES) are much clearer than in our existing systems. Currently all 173 school systems have different evaluation systems. Teachers say they don’t get feedback and don’t know how to improve. We need principals to know what good instruction looks like,” Holliday said.
“It’s a time commitment. Principals are extremely busy. It involves between 30 and 50 hours to be up to speed. A lot of it is online they can do conveniently at home or at work,” he said. “(But) to ensure every child in Kentucky learns, we’ve got to have great teachers and great leaders who know what good instruction looks like.”

The full interview is available online here  http://www.wkyt.com/news/kynewsmakers.


Anonymous said...

Why does knowing what good instruction looks like require paying an outside vendor with a marginal product hundreds of dollars for PPGES and PGES training and system upkeep? He can bang the drum all he wants for more money but he needs to stop imposing expenses on schools and districts that will eat up any gains which financial gains which might come through the legislature.

Anonymous said...

PGES teacher observation training took me about 30 hours and it is only one portion of the system. The videos used for the training were terrible, you could hardly see or hear what was going on in large portions of the class segments. The rationalization for scoring was sometimes capricious and slanted toward the training standard objectives. Wasn't worth the money or time.

I think what bugs me is the predisposition that all these different existing teacher evaluation systems didn't work. To be perfectly frank, you can create whatever kind of rubric you want to do an evaluation but the same human flaws/bias which are identified in existing systems will still exist in anyother system. Folks that play favorites, have agendas to remove specific teachers or are just plain indifferent or lazy will still be doing what they do under this new system - they will just have to be spending more time and paying more money.

We are moved to a work load level which simply isn't doable anymore, when we are touting the "convenience" of a task which can be done from home for principals who are already regularly spending 12 hours a day at their school.

Our commissioner has spend much time on the academic components of running a school while turning a blind eye to the constant non-academinc and operational expectations associated with overseeing a building of dozens of employees and hundreds of students. Its like restoring a car and all you do is spend your time and money on the engine but don't do anything with the body, interior, chasy, wheels, paint, electric, etc. Just because you have a super engine doesn't mean the restoration is done.

As a school administrator, I have increasingly found myself counting how many years I have left, in hopes of not having to endure the next unfunded, poorly planned/supported "innovation" from Frankfort.

Anonymous said...

One might argue that the time expectations which continue to increase with each additional responsibility and task that are being placed on principals and the teachers they lead will only result in less effective implementation.

Time is a zero sum game and it is unhealthy to over-invest one's time in career expectations which don't directly align with your day to day institutional values associated with the kids you serve. Program reviews, PGES, ASSIST CIITS, etc usually just ends up taking more time away from your family or your students. It is unhealthy,unethical and unrealistic to expect teachers to sacrifice instructional or personal time in order to provide the Commish documentation that folks are doing their job. You can't run my school or know what's going on in my classroom through an electronic report you recieve in Frankfort.

Anonymous said...

Expanded gambling? I remember when folks were telling us how the lottery was going to solve all of our educational funding problems. What happened to that? Seems sad that we look to quick fix approaches more easily than real broadbased, modernized tax models that address current and future economies.