It’s that time of the legislative session when politics turns devise and sometimes nasty. In haste to beat the Crossover Day axe, committees are rushing through bills that often contain ill-advised measures with the expectation that the Rules Committee will stop the bad bill. Two examples come to mind. Wednesday afternoon the House Education Committee passed HB 864 by an 8-7 vote.
The bill expands by four the number of non-profit, bachelor’s degree granting, and accredited (not necessarily by SACS or other regional accrediting agency) PRIVATE schools that can participate in move on when ready and dual enrollment. The author of the bill, David Casas of Gwinnett County, estimated the costs of adding the four institutions would be $2-4 Million dollars (his estimate). The issue is that one of the institutions is Luther Rice Seminary—David Casas is on the Board of Luther Rice Seminary. “Don’t worry, it won’t go anywhere,” is more of a hope than a reality. The House Education Committee is not alone. On Wednesday afternoon the Senate Education and Youth Committee gave a DO PASS to Sen. William Ligon’s SB 355 which was originally the competition bill to SB 364, the TKES/LKES/Testing rewrite bill. Sen. Ligon altered the bill at the suggestion of Chairman Tippins and eliminated the references to changes in TKES/LKES/Testing but left in place the very dangerous provision allowing parents to opt out of state tests in a hold harmless fashion.
If this bill is adopted in its present form parents will be able to opt out of any and all state tests with no consequences for their children. It is my opinion that if you give parents such authority, they will opt out of state tests in droves and the integrity of the state testing program will be significantly compromised. “Don’t worry, it won’t go anywhere,” is more of a hope than a reality. There is no telling what else will happen between now and adjournment on Monday, February 29, Crossover Day