Kentucky’s top education leader said he’s leaving his job, and the state, because he didn’t want to enforce the new “dangerous and unconstitutional” Senate Bill 150 that critics have called an anti-LGBTQ measure.
“It is time for me to move on,” Education Commissioner Jason Glass told reporters Tuesday.
Glass announced Monday that he was resigning and would leave his job September 29 to become an associate vice-president at Western Michigan University.
Although the Kentucky Department of Education had taken politically motivated criticism lately, Glass said the agency had remained independent and stood for the best interests of students and the education system.
GOP lawmakers and politicians have urged his ouster this year over KDE’s inclusive LGBTQ stances.
The strife with lawmakers came to a tipping point in the 2023 General Assembly when Glass stood by a previous statement that teachers who would not follow a district’s policy to use a student’s preferred pronoun might want to find another place to work. He told a committee that politicians were the one introducing politics into schools, not his office.
Glass said Tuesday he knew his job could get political. He said it was becoming a common exit story for education chiefs around the country, including the last few in Kentucky.
He said he was “wide-eyed” knowing that “this sort of thing was a possibility,” referring to political rancor.
Glass was appointed commissioner in 2020 by the state. He said another factor in his leaving was the new law requiring the state Senate to confirm future Commissioners of Education.
He said the vitriol stems from the current gubernatorial campaign.
Glass praised Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate against Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, as a decent human being. But Glass said he had been an independent education commissioner. Cameron had criticized Glass.
Glass said hyper-partisan politics have been increasingly injected into education policy decisions.
Senate Bill 150 banned puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries for kids under 18, bans lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation, prevents transgender students from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, and stops school districts from requiring teachers to use a students pronouns if they don’t align with their sex assigned at birth.
Glass said he was concerned about the future of education given the partisan divide.
He said it is resulting in educator turnover.
Policy makers are making it hard, Glass said. “It’s starting to show.”
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