State Journal: 'At large' in Kentucky

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments


But in Kentucky, where school governance frequently is described as politicized and where school jobs are among the prize plums of patronage networks in some areas, school-board election procedures are a very big deal indeed.

Under current law, the five members of each school district's board are elected separately from smaller sub-districts.

The problem with that system, say reform advocates, is that it encourages members to think only about the interests of their own sub-districts.

As a result, they argue, many board decisions are made on the basis of "log-rolling" deals in which a benefit to one area--a new school, for example--can win approval only if accompanied by a little largess for at least two other areas.

Reformers argue that at-large elections will encourage selection of candidates who are committed to the interests of the district as a whole, and who are more concerned with educational improvements than with handing out school jobs.

Under the proposal, the at-large requirement would apply to all but the largest two school districts in the state--those of Fayette (Lexington) and Jefferson (Louisville) counties.


The state school-board and administrators' groups have strongly opposed the change, however, arguing that only the wealthy will be able to wage costly districtwide campaigns.

Moreover, critics warn, in some cases the effect of at-large elections will be to hand complete control of the schools to the county-based political machines known traditionally as "the courthouse crowd."

While acknowledging the validity of some of those concerns, reform advocates insist that opponents of at-large elections are most concerned with protecting their own turf.

"The job interest is the predominant one," said Robert F. Sexton, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

The two sides had been working on a compromise, under which two members would be elected on an at-large basis, in addition to the five chosen by sub-districts.

Somewhat unexpectedly, however, the House education committee voted recently to drop the at-large requirement entirely. But Mr. Sexton predicted that the compromise would be in the final version of the bill.--hd

Vol. 09, Issue 27

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories

Viewed

Emailed

Recommended

Commented

Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >