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Gary Houchens
Bowling Green, KY
I am a former teacher, principal, and district administrator now serving as Professor of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research at Western Kentucky University. In 2016 Governor Matt Bevin appointed me to the Kentucky Board of Education for a 4-year term of service.
Recent Activity
Today the Kentucky Board of Education heard first reading on a proposed revision to the state's social studies standards (access a pdf version of the standards at the end of this post). This was a long-overdue process, but has been accelerated under the mandates of Senate Bill 1 (2017) which... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2018 at School Leader
Recently my colleagues and I in Western Kentucky University's Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research attended an event in San Diego as part of our Wallace Foundation grant-funded initiative to rethink school principal training for the 21st century. The event was hosted by the educational leadership department at San... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2018 at School Leader
Today, after a vigorous discussion, the Kentucky Board of Education unanimously approved revisions to the regulations governing high school graduation requirements. I want to take some time here to explain these new requirements and my vote of support, since some provisions of the regulation have generated concern or even opposition.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2018 at School Leader
Ted Dintersmith's new book, What School Could Be, profiles dozens of schools across the United States that are engaging students in rich, real-world learning, and contrasts their experiences with the vast majority of other schools. Dintersmith calls on schools to innovate in ways that closely parallel some of my own... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2018 at School Leader
Today I was pleased to join other members of the Kentucky Board of Education in unanimously dismissing the scheduled appeals hearing requested by the Jefferson County Public Schools to contest the recommendation of state management by Interim Commissioner Wayne Lewis. Dr. Lewis, Superintendent Marty Pollio, and JCPS Chair Diane Porter... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2018 at School Leader
Thanks, Judy. I am proud of my degrees also, and of all those who earn them. By state mandate, districts will continue to reward teachers who advance their education with graduate degrees, and graduate degrees will continue to be required for additional certifications like administration. The only change is that teachers will no longer be forced to earn them if doing so does not make sense for them or fit with their career plans.
All good points. Every research study and methodology has its limitations. My own review of this research leads me to the conclusion that we just can't say with confidence that the Master's degree does, in fact, have a measurable impact on student learning. And therefore it shouldn't be a mandated requirement, no matter what other positive benefits advanced degrees may bring.
I don't believe the task force has considered Option 6 at this point. I don't believe the state requires a master's for Option 6. Rather, I think that's just the way universities typically package such programs. With the change in the Rank 2 requirement I wouldn't be surprised if universities rethink that approach.
The same EPSB task force that recommended waiving the Rank 2 requirement has also recommended removing the requirement that one must have a master's degree for admission to a principal certification program. I'm hopeful that will be approved in coming months. This will allow universities to offer principal certification as either a Rank 2 or Rank 1 option (or cert only).
One of the recommendations the committee is expected to make to EPSB is to remove the Master's requirement for admission to principal certification programs (a return to the same policy we had before 2013). I support that change also. Many outstanding administrators earned their principal licensure at the master's level, and that sets them up to continue toward additional certifications at the Rank I or doctoral level. I believe that change will broaden the pool of potential principal candidates, which will be beneficial to districts.
I've seen a lot of concerned and angry responses in social media to yesterday's decision by the Education Professionals Standards Board (EPSB) to drop the long-standing requirement that Kentucky teachers earn a master's degree (or equivalent) by their tenth year of service. There seems to be some confusion and misinformation... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2018 at School Leader
When I was first appointed to the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) in 2016, I mused on the irony. As a professor of education administration, I was accustomed to telling my students (all aspiring school principals) to pay little attention to education policy or the workings of the state legislature... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2018 at School Leader
Leo, I really appreciate your thoughtful comment here. You are right that Montessori and classical education are different in significant ways. But I think there's more compatibility here than meets the eye. For example, I think the Montessori curriculum is a lot more specific than people sometimes realize (though perhaps not as comprehensive as classical tends to be), and while children move at their own pace in Montessori, I think there's an implicit assumption that most children will eventually master a specific body of knowledge and skills. So I think it's possible to substitute the classical curriculum for the Montessori curriculum but still utilize features of Montessori like student choice, long work times, and flexible pacing. At any rate, I'd love to see more experiments in this approach, both in homeschool and traditional school settings.
Beverly, I'm not sure how your comment relates to the post above, but I'm always eager to engage in discussion on charter schools. First, I would agree with you that choice is not a panacea. We should have more choices because it works, it is fair, and it's more consistent with how we deliver other highly personal public services. Please see more about how charter schools work, and the argument for school choice, here:
On Monday, Kentucky's Interim Commissioner for Education Wayne Lewis issued the results of a management audit of the Jefferson County Public Schools, along with his recommendation that the district be placed under state management. Since then I have received many calls, texts, and emails from citizens expressing their opinions about... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2018 at School Leader
The Kentucky General Assembly just wrapped up its most contentious legislative session in modern history, marked by ferocious public debates about state employee pension reform and education spending. Public school teachers flexed their enormous political muscles and forced a compromise pension bill that left the system largely intact for current... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2018 at School Leader
Glenn, much of what you say here is simply not true under Kentucky law. Charters in KY will have to take and serve all students, including those with disabilities. Lotteries will ensure that charter schools cannot be selective in who they admit. And charters must abide by the exact same accountability framework as traditional public schools. Read more here:
Public domain image of students greeting President Obama during a visit to Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School in New Orleans. As Kentucky tries to figure out what to do about charter schools, one concern I keep hearing is that charters open the door to for-profit entities to make money... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2018 at School Leader
Georgi, Dr. Pruitt supported charter schools for Kentucky. For me, school choice is not about privatization. It's about giving low-income families additional options, which is something affluent families already enjoy. I believe we can do that and still have great public schools. See my other posts on this blog for more information as to why I am a school choice supporter and public school advocate.
Lynn, I cannot speak for other Board members. Whatever they might have said elsewhere or on other occasions, I was the only vote against this agreement.
As a member of the Kentucky Board of Education I went to Frankfort today to support Dr. Stephen Pruitt. I earnestly hoped that he could continue in his role as Commissioner of Education. Sadly, the meeting concluded with an agreement between Dr. Pruitt and the Board for his resignation. I... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2018 at School Leader
One of the many things I love about my work is the chance to partner with colleagues from across Western Kentucky University and beyond on a variety of projects. The fruit of one of those collaborations was recently published in the NASSP Bulletin, peer-reviewed research journal of the National Association... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2018 at School Leader
Richard, schools have always had to supplement with fundraising, and charter schools are no exception. For more on the argument for charters, and especially on the argument that they "drain money" from traditional public schools, see this post and the embedded links:
The image above is from the website of East End Preparatory Academy, a successful Nashville charter school serving high numbers of low-income minority students. Kentucky charters may provide similar opportunities for some our most vulnerable students. In 2017, the legislature passed a law making Kentucky the 44th state to allow... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2018 at School Leader
If such were the "government's plan" then it failed spectacularly since charter students were denied the chance to bring their education dollars with them to a new school and education spending was actually expanded.