Kentucky Lawmakers Propose Rebooting State Education Standards

Published February 8, 2016

Kentucky lawmakers are proposing to reform the state’s education standards.

A similar effort was made by legislators in 2009, resulting in the adoption of Common Core State Standards, a national initiative popularized by the Obama administration through its Race to the Top grants program.

State Sen. Mike Wilson (R-Warren), the sponsor of the reform bill, says he wants to put Kentuckians back in control of the state’s education standards.

“There’s been all this brouhaha about it, and our goal is to say, ‘Look, what we’re going to do is we’re going to take control of our own standards and not be adopting other people’s standards from over here,'” Wilson said. “Our goal is to take control of our standards by utilizing our own practitioners, our own teachers, our own higher-ed folks, and not have some kind of national standards that everybody claims that the federal government put together.”

A Fresh Start?

Richard Innes, an education analyst with the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, says it is important for the public to maintain a healthy skepticism of legislative efforts to change education standards.

“The new bill appears to be aiming at … forcing our Department of Education and the Board of Education to use Kentucky folks to put together the new standards.” Innes said. “Now, does that guarantee that those folks won’t turn right around and rubber-stamp the existing Common Core? That’s a very big concern right now.”

Fixing Past Mistakes, Maybe

In 2009, as a result of a bill similar to Wilson’s, Kentucky became the first state to adopt the national Common Core standards.

“That 2009 bill specified that the work was going to be done by teachers, college professors, and stakeholders in Kentucky.” Innes said. “At the time, the Common Core State Standards were just in their infancy when the bill was passed in early 2009.”

 Innes says lawmakers should learn from their past mistakes.

“What happened was kind of a perversion of the law, where we ended up adopting standards that were created outside of Kentucky by workgroups put together by governors and the school chiefs’ organizations, which, in fact, did not include a single Kentuckian on any workgroup that worked on the standards,” Innes said.

Second Chances

Innes says he hopes lawmakers get it right this time.

“This new bill is, in a way, a recognition that we didn’t get what we were supposed to get back in 2009,” Innes said.

Andrea Dillon ([email protected]) writes from Holly Springs, North Carolina.