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Sweeping Public Education Bill Nears Passage In Ky Legislature

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An omnibus bill that would overhaul the state’s education system and gradually remove Common Core standards from Kentucky classrooms is nearing final passage in the General Assembly.

The bill would change the way students are tested, use teachers to create new education standards and replace school self-evaluations called program reviews.

Sen. Mike Wilson is a Republican from Bowling Green and the bill’s sponsor.

“We have an incredible opportunity here, ladies and gentlemen, to return control back to our state from the federal government as well back to our local districts,” Wilson said during a House Committee on Education.

Senate Bill 1 passed out of the committee without any changes from the version passed out of the Senate earlier this session.

The legislation would create a process to review academic standards every six years, starting in the 2017-18 school year.

The policy would include several levels of input from the public, teachers and lawmakers providing recommendations that would eventually go to the state board of education.

“What a bill is, especially this bill, is a skeleton,” Wilson said. “And what will be filled out in regulations and the accountability system that the commissioner is already working on will determine how that is all done.”

Local school districts would also get more say in how to get low performing schools back on track under the bill.

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence applauded the bill’s passage out of committee.

“We are pleased that the House Education Committee expressed support for SB1’s overall focus on student achievement and closing achievement gaps,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Prichard Committee executive director. “The Committee still believes that SB1 would be strengthened by the addition of an explicitly stated ambitious goal, expressed by the General Assembly to guide the Commonwealth in moving from the middle of education rankings nationally to the top tier of all states in this generation.”

The bill now heads to the House floor where it will be considered for final passage.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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