The Kentucky Department of Education will begin preparing to implement new science standards in the next school year.
The standards revise science education in general, but have drawn controversy for expanding on evolution and climate change. A General Assembly committee rejected the standards this week but Governor Steve Beshear said he will use his powers to enact them anyway.
Dr. Tom Tretter at the University of Louisville worked on the standards. He’s also helping teachers implement the new lessons. He says even though they haven’t cleared all the legislative hurdles, the state feels it’s best to begin training teachers.
“Given that we feel like its 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," said Dr. Tretter.
Kentucky is among the states providing less per-student funding for public education than they did before the recession.
The Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report Thursday highlighting education spending over the last few years. The report shows Kentucky’s funding per-student is around 10 percent lower than what it was in 2008.
Jason Bailey is the organization’s Kentucky representative, and was also on the governor’s Blue Ribbon Tax Commission. He says it’s up to state lawmakers to find new revenue and they can start by acting on some of the tax reforms recommended by the panel.
“The reality is that the budget that lawmakers will make during the legislative session will be as bad or worse than the current budget unless we come up with more revenue.”
The center reports only 20 states have boosted education funding through new tax laws since the recession.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says he will override a legislative committee’s decision to reject new science standards for public school students.
The Kentucky Board of Education already approved the Next Generation Science Standards this year, but they were subject to legislative review. The regulation review committee shot down the new standards 5-1 Wednesday, following public criticism that they included teachings on evolution and climate change.
Committee co-chair Senator Ernie Harris rejected the standards, calling them inferior to Kentucky’s current standards.
“I probably got 100 comments from people around the state to find these regs deficient, and I think I got may three or four in support of the regs," Sen. Harris said.
By law, the governor can override these types of legislative decisions. Beshear says he’s disappointed in the committee’s decision and will move forward with implementation anyway.
A legislative subcommittee is expected to weigh in on the state's new science education standards on Wednesday.
The Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Annex to either approve or reject the standards that have proven especially controversial in Kentucky.
Robert Bevins, president of Kentuckians for Science Education, said rejection of the new standards would be a horrible embarrassment for the state. Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation, said the standards should not be approved because they neglect basic science knowledge in favor of some of the hottest new theories.
The standards, developed through a consortium of states with input from educators and scientists across the nation, were adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education in June.
A report from a pair of bi-partisan former budget and policy officials says the Indiana Department of Education botched the implementation of the new “A to F” grading system for schools.
According to the report, former Indiana schools superintendent Tony Bennett didn’t properly prepare for the different ways schools in the Hoosier State are organized, and was left to make last-minute changes to grading formulas right before the rankings were released to the public.
The Courier-Journal reports that Indiana teachers and administrators had complained ahead of last year’s release of the rankings, which they said wouldn’t accurately reflect the quality of work taking place in schools.
In addition, an Associated Press reporter obtained e-mails showing Bennett ordered his staff to find ways to inflate grades for a charter school he had been touting and whose founder had contributed to his campaign.