Educating for Wisdom
Toward a conservative vision of education

It's time for Kentucky to elect the state board of education

Serving on the Kentucky Board of Education from 2016-2019 was one of the greatest honors of my professional life. But it was emotionally brutal work, especially when it came to a legally dubious end when Gov. Andy Beshear, on his first day in office, fulfilled a frequent campaign promise and fired me and all the other sitting board members for blatantly political reasons. 

Often during my tenure on KBE people asked me why state board members aren't elected by the people (rather than Kentucky's policy of appointment by the governor). I was aware that some states elect some or all of their state board members, but I thought that Kentucky had generally gotten it right in trying to shield the board (and the education system as a whole) from the more brutal elements of partisan politics.

But there we were in 2019, victims of the most ugly partisan powerplay ever inflicted on Kentucky education. In the years that  followed, I've become increasingly convinced that the direct election of state board members is the right way to go. It gives greater transparency to the work of the board and makes the education system more directly accountable to the public. 

The board is already political, but under the current system it functions as the political football of governors and the state legislature. Direct election of board members just makes clearer their political values and commitments.

This year Senator Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) has introduced a bill to make KBE an elected office. In a recent op-ed for Kentucky Today, I argued in favor of the proposal, listed as SB 8. You can read my full argument here.

Usual disclaimer: Opinions on this website are mine alone and do not reflect the views of my employer, organizations with which I am involved, or anyone affiliated.

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