Saturday, September 14, 2013

What's Next For Kentucky's New Science Standards?

This from WFPL:
Kentucky’s new science standards could face more legislative opposition, but educators are expected to convene as early as this month to begin training for implementation for the 2014-2015 school year.
The Next Generation Science Standards that were approved by the Kentucky Board of Education this year revise science education in general, but have drawn controversy for expanding on evolution and climate change.

Some claim the standards are inferior to Kentucky's current science standards, but many in the science and education communities have backed the them, saying they're needed to prepare students for college and career.

The General Assembly's Administrative Regulation Review Committee rejected the standards in a 5-1 vote this week, but Gov. Steve Beshear said he will use his powers to enact them anyway.
Officials with the Kentucky Department of Education say the state will develop Leadership Networks made up of representatives from each school district. These individuals will be responsible for taking what they learn back to their districts to teach others.

At the same time, the regulation allowing the new science standards could still be heard in a "subject committee," likely Kentucky’s Interim Joint Education Committee that's made up of 40 state lawmakers, said Donna Little with Kentucky's Legislative Research Commission.

This subject committee could decide whether to approve the standards or not. If rejected there, Beshear would have to override that decision too and send a letter stating his intention to do so, she said.

“If the governor takes six months to send the letter, the regulation would not go into effect for six months. If he sends it the next day it would go into effect the next day," said Little.

But Kentucky's education system is not waiting for that to happen.

The University of Louisville's Dr. Tom Tretter offered feedback during the standards' creation and is a member of one of the Leadership Networks. He says Kentucky needs to begin training now for the next school year and if, for some reason, the standards are rejected, there won' t likely be monumental changes made.

“We feel like it's best case and most prudent to go ahead and move forward under the initial assumption at least that we’re going to be working with these Next Generation Science Standards or something that might look just like them," he said.

Tretter says it'll be a challenge to implement the standards and said the Leadership Networks will allow educators to discuss and change how they are implemented.

KDE officials say the networks are similar to ones created when it trained for implementing the Common Core standards in math and English language arts.

"That’s where the real work comes into play in my mind and that’s what we want to start to tackle with these leadership teams," he said.


Anonymous said...

I do not want the Baptists, Methodists, or the conservative Catholics (You know, the ones who teach at private schools and say gay marriage threatens liberty) to determine what will be taught to my children at a public, supposedly secular school. I will support Governor Steve Beshear in any way possible to sideline religious zealotry disguised as "conservative thought."

Thank you, Dr. Day, for making us aware of what is going in education. I feel I'm informed thanks to this important discussion board.

Anonymous said...

You know what is so ridiculous - the sense of urgency as though science teachers across Kentucky are either teaching falsehoods, antequated curriculum or nothing at all. This elitist attitude that the public (like teachers) and even this review committee can not be trusted with this type of decision and those in power must basically override the vetting process for the larger good which only those learned leaders can determine.

Governor Bashear has about as much expertise and experience with science curriculum as he does brain surgery. What is the point of even having a review system if the governor can just override their determination? Why even bother with soliciting public opinion or expert development of any element which the state so determines to be within its domain of control. What next, Governor determing the proper catch limit for bass, the best material for state trooper uniforms or maybe the proper warming temperatures for buffet food?

KY Teacher said...

What is the point of even having a review system if the governor can just override their determination?

What's the point of having a Department of Education and reviews by science education experts if a legislative committee who doesn't know anything about science can just overrule them? Do you think the Legislature itself is capable of writing new educational standards? Do you really believe those five people who voted against the standards are well versed in scientific thought? Do you really?

The process went off the rails here: the Governor did the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above post, but I'm glad Governor Beshear stepped forward. The commenter is correct: Beshear knows nothing about science standards, but with one stroke he is took away the right of fundamentalist Christians to determine what will be taught in our schools. The Governor is to be commended for this action.

As we have seen from the activities of Martin Cothran and his Family Foundation, religious zealotry is eager to undermine secular education.

Richard Day said...

I read recently (in Ed Week I think) that Kentucky is unusual among states for even having a legislative review committee. In nearly all states the legislature passes the law and the state board and department of educations write regs and implement the law. The Kentucky process invites political intervention.

Anonymous said...

Invites political intervention?!?!?I get the sense that we crossed that bridge for good or bad a long, long time ago (I would say more toward the later though). Whether good intentioned or politically self serving, legislator have been monkeying around with KY education for a couple of centuries now - and it generally seems to come down to money and at best lip service about the importance of education.

If they cared about education and the state, they would have moved ahead with tax reform focused on current and future conditions, not of the last century. Instead, they continue to shift expense to locals while maintaining control over expectations. Pretty darn political as it gets.