Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed an executive order Friday establishing the Kentucky Charter Schools Advisory Council to help implement Kentucky’s new law allowing public charter schools for the first time.
The order also realigns key education boards, councils and committees to get “greater coordination of efforts across the education system,” state education officials said in a statement.
“The historic charter school legislation passed during this year’s General Assembly session represents a truly momentous step forward in providing quality choices for Kentucky’s most vulnerable students,” Bevin said. “This advisory council will play a vital role in ensuring the success of this exciting new educational option. Public charter schools will create the promise of real opportunity for young people and their families where hope does not currently exist.”
The Charter Schools Advisory Council will serve as a resource to the Kentucky Board of Education. Members will include three members of the Kentucky Board of Education, a parent, an attorney with education law expertise, a person with a business or finance background and two people with education policy expertise.
Both Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt and Kentucky Board of Education Chairman Bill Twyman said they welcomed the new state board advisers and look forward to working with them.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us in the coming months and years, and is critical that we have a state board of education dedicated to improving education for all Kentucky students,” Pruitt said.
Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, said that “upon initial review, the intent of the executive order appears to be better aligning education policy bodies around the state’s goals for education and workforce, which is good move.”
Ramsey said bringing on expertise to ensure strong and effective charter implementation is also a good move if it helps advise the Kentucky Board of Education and contributes to stronger student improvement.
Ramsey said her group is in the process of more thoroughly reviewing the order to better understand how the changes in membership on key boards will affect ongoing policymaking in K-12 education and in postsecondary education, and how reorganization of the Education Professional Standards Board will impact issues related to the teaching workforce.
Brad Hughes, a spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association, said his group wants to make sure the order does not bypass the process set up by the charter school law for applications to be acted on by local boards and the mayors of Lexington and Louisville. Hughes said the Association “is concerned and disappointed about the removal of a school board member” from the Education Professional Standards Board. “We believe that an elected local board member provided an important and valuable voice and insight into the EPSB decision making.”
The education reform bill, Senate Bill 1, passed during the 2017 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, set up a framework for the state’s new school accountability system and future academic standards, the statement said. The Kentucky Board of Education has the responsibility of disseminating regulations for that new system and the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Kentucky’s state plan, which includes its redesigned accountability system, is due to the U.S. Department of Education in September 2018.
The changes to the Kentucky Board of Education include providing four non-voting, non-member advisers in an effort to enhance alignment of education decision making on all levels. The new advisers will include a member of the Council on Postsecondary Education; a member of the Education Professional Standards Board; a member of the School Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability Council; and a member of the Charter Schools Advisory Council. The order also said that for future appointments to the state board of education, guidelines for the board’s composition will be enhanced with requirements for experience in education and business leadership and that one member be a parent of a public school student.
The Education Professional Standards Board establishes standards and requirements for licensing educators, and establishes standards for and approves Kentucky’s educator preparation programs. The changes resulting from the order include increasing the diversity of board members’ experience and expertise, and ensuring greater coordination among the Education Professional Standards Board and other education boards and commissions.
“Increased expertise on Kentucky’s boards and councils will help ensure that Kentucky’s new accountability system results in improved education outcomes for students,” Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner said in the statement. “Through this realignment, we are appointing members and advisors who will serve in dual capacities on various boards. These dual members and advisors will enhance the flow of communication between boards.”