Kentucky sends sweeping school realignment bill to Gov.
(Ky.) Lawmakers moved bills to the governor that would gradually repeal and replace the Common Core State Standards, require new Bible literacy courses and put new restrictions on student athletes suspected of having a concussion.
The Legislature, however, rejected a measure that would have imposed requirements on public schools and universities to ensure campus bathrooms would only be used by “persons based on their biological sex.”
Although Kentucky was the first state in the nation to formally adopt Common Core, the standards have stood out as an anomaly in the largely Republican state.
SB 1, by state Sen. Mark Wilson, R-Bowling Green, would require that the academic standards be reviewed and updated every six years. As proposed, an advisory group made up of educators from both K-12 and universities would recommend changes, after getting public input.
The same legislation would also give districts more control over teacher evaluations and how to intervene with low-performing schools. If signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin, a local school board—and not the state—would decide whether a support team should be assigned to help a struggling district and how that support should be carried out.
Finally, the bill calls for the creation of a new school accountability system that would evaluate schools on five broad categories: student proficiency, closing of the achievement gap, how ready students are to transition to the next grade, student growth and opportunity and access.
Bevin is expected to sign the bill.
With their session set to close on Thursday, lawmakers were busy through the end of last week putting final touches on bills heading to the governor.
Less certain is how the governor will respond to House Bill 128 by Rep. DJ Johnson, R-Owensboro, which would require the state board to develop administrative regulations for elective social studies courses on the Bible.
Although many public schools already offer courses in Biblical studies, supporters say the bill would impose uniformity and clarity as to what is offered. The author said the bill requires Bible classes to maintain “religious neutrality” and to accommodate “diverse religious views.”
One issue that the governor will not have to deal with is use of school bathrooms by transgender students.
Although the GOP controls for the first time both houses of the Legislature, lawmakers turned down a bill that would have required public schools as well as all other state and local governments to require that bathrooms be used only by persons based on their biological sex.
The measure, offered by Rep. Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro, failed almost simultaneously with actions in the North Carolina state house to repeal a similar mandate after stirring a national controversy.
Critics, which included Gov. Bevin, said the bill is unneeded because it address a problem that doesn’t exist in Kentucky.
Bevin is expected to sign a measure that would require students provide a doctor's written consent to their coach before being allowed to practice or play after a concussion.
The bill says that without a doctor's written consent, a coach would be prohibited from letting a student athlete to return to play if a health care provider determined that a concussion had occurred.