What are the state education board’s priorities for the 2019 General Assembly?

Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis will push for several controversial initiatives in the 2019 General Assembly in addition to a funding mechanism for charter schools.

The priorities, released at Wednesday’s Kentucky Board of Education meeting, include:

Intervention at grade three for students who fail to meet a state-determined minimum standard for reading ability, including being retained for an additional year. Kids with disabilities, English language learners, and students who had been retained previously would be exempt, Lewis said.

The focus would not be on retention but on intervention and on additional resources so that “very, very, very few kids are actually retained.”

Providing the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Board of Education with additional options and authority for managing school district insolvency.

Providing district and school administrators with the flexibility to set education policy, to control administrative decision making, and to attract and retain high quality teachers including paying, incentivizing, and rewarding teachers based on effectiveness, as defined or determined at the local level.

Ensuring that every student has access to high quality, effective teachers, and while protecting staff members’ rights to due process, permits administrators to remove ineffective staff from schools as necessary to benefit students.

Taking the authority to select principals away from school councils and returning it to local district superintendents. Legislation would ensure that school-based decision making councils play an advisory role in principal selection.

In exchange for greater performance, providing schools and districts the state status of “district of innovation” with a blanket waiver from statutes and regulations similar to the blanket waiver provided to public charter schools.

Increasing parental voices on school councils by changing the composition of councils such that parents of students attending the school have at least as many voting council seats as teachers. And possibly adding a community member to the school councils.

Providing a funding mechanism to permit federal, state and local public education funding to follow children to the public charter school of their parents’ choosing.

Board Vice Chair Milton Seymore emphasized that charter schools are a “parents choice,” and the state board could not assign children to charter schools. Lewis reiterated that not a single dollar would go to charter schools unless parents enrolled children in them.