TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

State News

June 11, 2013

No fireworks yet on science learning standards

CORBIN —

By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

They may have come to contest adoption of new science learning standards for Kentucky public school children, but they didn’t really get the chance. That will come later.

The Interim Joint Committee on Education Monday heard from supporters and critics of the Kentucky Core Academic Standards which have already been adopted for math, English and language arts.

The standards are a requirement of Senate Bill 1, an education reform sponsored and promoted by the Republican state Senate which calls for measuring Kentucky students’ achievement scores against national and international students and to measure college and career readiness.

But the “New Generation Science Standards,” which were approved last week by the Kentucky Board of Education, must first go to the Education Assessment and Accountability Subcommittee (EARS) before making their way before the full Education Committee.

Committee Co-Chair Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, who recently questioned the new science standards in a letter to the editor to The Courier-Journal, seemed to signal at the start of the meeting that Monday wasn’t the time or place for a lot of controversy.

He began the meeting by saying Kentucky has made progress in education since passage of Senate Bill 1 and suggesting those wishing to testify keep their time at the table to a minimum.

Nonetheless, those who came to protest were happy to criticize the already-adopted standards for the other subjects, complaining they were adopted without transparency and were written by the federal government – both contentions vigorously denied by KDE Associate Commissioner Felicia Cummings-Smith.

Richard Innes of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions told the committee the standards were developed “by workgroups in Washington, D.C.” and were not open to public observation.

“I don’t see why anyone in Washington has any business” developing what is taught in Kentucky, Innes told the committee.

Committee Co-Chair Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, a retired teacher, took Innes to task on that contention.

“Those standards were not developed by the federal government,” Graham said, adding their development was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and developed by representatives from the states.

“It’s not coming from the federal government,” Graham said. “That’s really playing to political fears.”

Cummings-Smith, the KDE Associate Commissioner, said Kentucky utilized “our own working group” of Kentucky teachers, business leaders and higher education officials to offer recommendations to a national group which took that information from Kentucky and other states and then wrote the standards.

She told Innes after the meeting that his contention that they were developed in Washington “is just bad information.” That’s not how the standards were developed, “and I’ve got documentation,” which she agreed to provide.

Valerie O’Rear, a parent of three school children from Louisville, anonymously quoted a teacher who claimed he or she was not allowed to speak out against the new standards.

But that was at odds with the testimony by three other teachers: Jennifer Grimm of Mayfield, Melody Stacy of Woodford County and Sherry Simpson of Washington County, all of whom expressed excitement about the new standards, how they are helping students learn and wide acceptance by teachers in their schools.

They had some company in former University of Kentucky President Lee Todd, an engineer by training and education.

He endorsed the new standards – specifically including the science standards which must still come before the committee – as a means to help Kentucky students compete with those across the nation and the world.

The new science standards include one on engineering. Todd said giving students a strong foundation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) “will have a whole new layer of options.” And that can make Kentucky internationally competitive and produce more entrepreneurs, he said.

“I’m OK with recruiting companies to come here,” Todd said. “I’m a whole lot better though with educating Kentucky students who will create new companies.”

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
State News
  • Grimes comes out firing on McConnell

    Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State who is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in this fall’s elections, went after the five-term incumbent in a speech here to a convention of local county officials.

    July 11, 2014

  • Conway, Comer address judge-execs

    It might have been a preview of next year’s Kentucky governor’s election — but county officials here for a convention probably didn’t expect one likely candidate to endorse a potential opponent.

    July 11, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes parade cases

    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes know a good place to look for votes when they see it.

    July 7, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes disagree on contraception case

    Kentucky’s Republican congressman praised Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that corporations may opt out of a requirement to provide employees contraceptive coverage through insurance plans.

    July 1, 2014

  • Beshear sings praises of Affordable Care Act

    Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told a Washington conference Tuesday that Kentucky’s embrace of the Affordable Care Act has been “life-changing” for thousands of Kentucky enrollees and “transformative” for Kentucky.

    June 18, 2014

  • Kentucky actually fares well under new EPA regs

    Kentucky politicians and the coal industry howled about the latest installment of greenhouse gas emission regulations issued last week by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • New EPA C02 regs examined

    Given their complexity and potential impact in coal-dependent states like Kentucky, there’s considerable confusion about new carbon emission regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • State budget officials predict ‘significant shortfall’

    With only 20 days left in the 2014 fiscal year, state budget officials announced Tuesday Kentucky faces an “inevitable” and “significant” revenue shortfall in both the General and Road Funds.

    June 11, 2014

  • Grimes ad blasts Obama for coal policies

    Mitch McConnell is no longer the only U.S. Senate candidate running against Democratic President Barack Obama.

    June 5, 2014

  • Legislative leaders blast carbon regs

    President Barack Obama’s efforts to rein in carbon emissions, blamed by science for changes in the climate, continues to draw harsh criticism from both political parties in Kentucky.

    June 5, 2014