Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

I recently had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Education Committee about the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics and the Next-Generation Science Standards, adopted in our state and collectively known as the Kentucky Core Academic Standards.

The hearing was on Senate Bill 224, which would abandon the standards and the work of the past four years in favor of new, yet to be written standards. I appreciated the chance to once again publicly address the misinformation and many of the misconceptions about the standards that those in opposition have been sharing. Joining me against SB224 were Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and Stephanie Winkler, president of the Kentucky Education Association. Three of our state board members and countless other education advocates were in the audience. I was proud to represent them and the majority of Kentuckians in favor of doing what is right for our children and staying with the Kentucky Core Academic Standards. Below is a copy of my testimony.

Testimony to Senate Education Committee on SB 224

Commissioner Terry Holliday

March 13, 2014

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to speak against SB 224 and for Kentucky educators and students.

In 2009, the Kentucky General Assembly recognized that too many students were graduating from high school and entering postsecondary education unprepared to be successful in college level courses. Too many students had to take remedial courses in college which placed a financial strain on students and parents and decreased the likelihood of the students successfully completing a two- or four-year degree. The lack of college readiness, if not addressed, would have a negative impact on the Kentucky economy.

The General Assembly then passed Senate Bill 1 (2009) without dissent. This legislation required the Council on Postsecondary Education, Education Professional Standards Board, and the Kentucky Department of Education to work collaboratively to develop college ready standards, accountability systems, assessment systems, and professional support for educators to implement the new systems. Kentucky educators responded and led the nation in completing this work. The work was done through hundreds of thousands of hours where educators acted collaboratively to complete the requirements of Senate Bill 1. The work was completed without any increase in state funds. As a matter of fact, during the last four years there has been a significant reduction in funds for textbooks, instructional resources, professional learning, student interventions, and basic student funding.

I speak out today to support Kentucky educators and the Kentucky Core Academic Standards. Senate Bill 224 would undermine the hard work and dedication of Kentucky educators. Senate Bill 224 would demoralize Kentucky educators. Senate Bill 224 would discard all of the hours and efforts of Kentucky educators and basically tell them to start over and do it again. Senate Bill 224 would derail the significant improvements that Kentucky has made in increasing graduation and college readiness rates.

Finally, Senate Bill 224 would be an extravagant waste of tax payer money. Kentucky educators were able to implement new standards, assessment, accountability, and professional support through redirection of state dollars and the support of numerous foundations. To replicate this process would require, at a minimum, $35 million in additional state dollars. I would not anticipate that school districts would invest their local funds to replicate a process they have already completed and I know for certain that external dollars will not be available to support a replication of effort. Let me be clear. Senate Bill 224 is an unfunded mandate of at least $35 million.

I strongly encourage you to support Kentucky educators and students in the work they have already accomplished.