A bill filed by Kentucky Senate president Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) would take away the power of the governor to reorganize the state board of education. The bill would likely prevent future wholesale ousters of board members, like the one carried out by Gov. Andy Beshear.
When Beshear took office, one of his first acts as governor was to dissolve the Kentucky Board of Education. The board’s members were all appointed by Beshear’s political rival, former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Beshear replaced the Bevin-appointees with his own, and now the dueling boards are duking it out in the courts.
The proposal, sponsored by Stivers and three other Republicans, would also require the board to include members of both major political parties. The number of members from each party would be based on their share of registered voters.
The bill would also require equal representation by men and women, “inasmuch as possible,” and require the board to have racial minority representation proportionate to the state’s nonwhite population.
The bill has support from the nonpartisan Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
“One of the goals of Kentucky’s commitments 30 years ago was to insulate education from politics. That commitment served us well and must be maintained,” President and CEO Brigitte Blom Ramsey wrote in an emailed statement.
However, KY 120 United, a left-leaning public education group, blasted Stivers for the proposed change to the governor’s powers.
“If this was not a problem in the previous 4 years, when they absolutely had the power and votes to change it, why start now? It must not have been that big of a problem. This seems like the political equivalent of taking your ball and going home,” the group’s statement reads in part on its Facebook page.
The next step for the bill is to be assigned to a senate committee.