Senator Dolores Gresham
Chairman, Senate Education Committee
Preview / Special Session on Education
January 5, 2010 -- The General Assembly will reconvene the regular 2010 session of the 106th General Assembly on January 12. Legislators will then adjourn at the call of the Governor to allow the General Assembly to meet in a Special (Extraordinary) Session on Education also set to begin on that date. It will be the 57th Extraordinary Session in
The governor called the Special Session after recognizing that
The state must adopt legislation to conform to the Race to the Top requirements by January 19, 2010, to qualify for priority status for receiving the funds. Priority is given to states that have already adopted an innovative and cohesive plan to improve education. Such action could enable
The General Assembly is expected to consider the K-12 reform proposals first, followed by proposed changes to higher education in
Some of the legislative topics expected to be debated regarding compliance with Race to the Top requirements include:
- Requiring the use of teacher effect data in teacher and principal evaluations
- Requiring tenure decisions to be based in part on teacher evaluations
- Requiring annual teacher evaluations
- Establishing a statewide recovery district for failing schools and school systems
Expect the legislation to focus on changing the way
On the issue of providing help for failing schools, expect the legislative focus to be on early intervention. If a school is low-performing, the state would be ready to take action sooner. Several years ago, the legislature changed accountability measures to put
Another area that could be addressed is the effectiveness of any statewide efforts to enhance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
On improving high school graduation rates, the legislature will consider proposals to place more emphasis on preparing students for college. This includes preparing students for community college and technical schools, in addition to the state's four-year higher education institutions. Some lawmakers favor greater utilization of the state's two-year colleges as a preferred point of entry for incoming freshman. Similarly, the General Assembly will likely consider making it easier to transfer credits between institutions to make post-secondary work flexible enough to meet the needs of more graduating seniors.
On higher education, the General Assembly will look at a proposal to tie some funding to performance, which would be measured by the amount of students who complete their degree program. Among other higher education issues proposed are changing the credit transferring process to establish a statewide transfer agreement between all two- and four year colleges and universities; eliminating remedial education in four-year institutions, and allowing students to dual-enroll in two and four-year institutions. The goal is to direct more students to post-secondary work that fits their academic and workplace needs. The plan would include streamlining and simplifying the process to transfer, enroll, or dual-enroll.
The governor also broadened the call for the General Assembly to immediately suspend a new law in the Special Session which requires certain construction subcontractors and independent contractors to carry workers' compensation insurance on themselves due to unintended consequences. That law, Public Chapter 1041, took effect on December 31.
A Joint Workers Compensation Committee heard testimony on the unintended effects of the new law in
The proposal most likely to be considered would immediately suspend the new requirements that sole proprietors and partners engaged in the construction industry carry workers' compensation coverage on themselves until February 28, 2011. In the meantime, lawmakers will discuss alternative ways to address gaps in coverage for workers in companies of all sizes in the various construction fields.
Recommendations for alternatives have been collected from consumers and affected industries and are being examined. Those recommendations could be studied and taken up in the 2011 legislative session.