As H-Ls editorial board correctly suggests, the duplicitous actions of some legislative leaders has tended to undermine the ability of government to function at its most basic level . The ability to debate, compromise, and govern effectively is lost when wasteful knee-jerk reactions to partisan politics undercut that trust.
Proposing solutions to our schools' curriculum and testing issues without the intention of supporting the proposed change violates basic standards of honesty. It is bad faith. Democracy's implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing is breached by such acts of bad faith, and makes us weaker as a state, and less able to address future problems.
This from the Herald-Leader:
Abandoning new standards would hurt Ky. schools
The standards were ushered in by one of the Republican Senate's proudest accomplishments, Senate Bill 1 in 2009.
Two of the Republicans who are trying to torpedo the standards in this session — Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, R-Southgate, and Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown — were sponsors of the 2009 bill that paved the way for Kentucky to become the first to adopt the Common Core.
So what happened?
President Barack Obama embraced the standards after they were initiated through a bipartisan effort of the National Governors Association and state education commissioners. Education Secretary Arne Duncan used federal education grants to incentivize — some would say pressure — states to adopt the standards.
Once the Democratic president was for the standards, some Republicans just reflexively turned against them.
In 2009, one of the main things Stine and other Senate Republicans wanted from SB 1 was a way to directly compare student achievement in Kentucky with that of other states — a sensible goal if we want Kentucky graduates to be competitive and schools to be accountable.
Such comparisons are impossible, though, when every state has different standards and when what's considered academically proficient in one state would be graded deficient in another.
Putting some standardization into the standards was one of the goals behind development of the Common Core, which has been praised and maligned by various interests up and down the political spectrum.
No one will ever come up with learning standards that please everyone. Robust debate on what schools should be teaching is a good thing.
But upending the curriculum, just three years after starting a new statewide testing and accountability system, would be lunacy. That, however, is just what Senate Bill 224 would do, imposing needless disruption on Kentucky's teachers, students and parents who have worked hard to bring on line the system the legislature mandated.
The cost of a replacement system would be $35 million, according to Education Commissioner Terry Holliday — money the state does not have and, which even if it did, would be a huge waste especially when Kentucky schools have gone for years without money to even replace textbooks.
If the new system fails to protect the privacy of student data, as some say, the state should fix that.
But SB 224 would just undermine Kentucky's public schools.
And this from the Courier Journal:
A Backward Bill
With the current legislative session more than halfway over, perhaps the most Kentucky can hope for is it to end with no further damage.
But some lawmakers appear ready to sacrifice the quality of instruction in Kentucky’s public schools, possibly hoping for political gain for themselves or their party — at a time when education experts are stressing the urgency of upgrading public education, especially in the areas of science and mathematics.
Today in Frankfort, the Senate Education Committee plans to take up a last-minute bill to abolish new, more rigorous education standards, developed after years of planning, and force the state to start over with standards more to the liking of some members of the legislature.
And that would include legislators who prefer creationism over evolution, because of religious beliefs, and don’t particularly care for the well-established science of climate change, because it makes burning coal at power plants appear problematic.
Senate Bill 224, filed March 6 — the last day to file new Senate bills — is aimed squarely at the state’s Core Academic Standards, based on the national Common Core standards, as well as the new Next Generation Science Standards.
The standards have drawn widespread support from professional educators and scientists including Lee Todd, the well-respected former president of the University of Kentucky who has told legislators they have no time to waste in upgrading public education to get more students ready for college and careers.
Yesterday, three Kentucky high school students wrote about the need for the standards in an opinion piece for The Courier-Journal.
In 2010, Kentucky became the first of 45 states to adopt the Common Core standards, which create a more rigorous, basic framework local school district use to establish curriculum that apply to English, mathematics and language arts. The Next Generation Science Standards were adopted last year by the state Board of Education to use in upgrading science instruction in public schools.
But some members of the legislature have been increasingly critical of those standards, emboldened by a small but noisy group of critics who have attacked them with claims ranging from false to bizarre. At public hearings opponents have:
• Falsely claimed Common Core, a completely voluntary, state-led initiative is somehow a “federal takeover” of education.Apparently swayed by such claims, a panel of lawmakers voted last year to reject regulations to enact the science standards. Gov. Steve Beshear ordered them enacted anyway through executive order.
• Bitterly objected to the fact that science standards will not add creationism, the religious belief that God or another supreme being created the world.
• Wrongly complained that students are being denied the right to worship God by being taught evolution, the well-established science of development of life on earth.
Sponsors of SB 224 — Republican senators John Schickel, Katie Stine, Paul Hornback and Damon Thayer — would block those standards as well as abolish the Common Core standards.
Today’s hearing is supposed to be for discussion only. Legislators could better serve the state by killing this bill and putting out accurate information about the new standards and why Kentucky needs them.