Robbie Fletcher becomes Kentucky education commissioner after Senate confirmation.

KY. — According to test scores, Kentucky's education system is still rebounding from pandemic-era failures. Veteran school administrator Robbie Fletcher was confirmed by the state Senate on Monday to become the state's next education commissioner.  

Fletcher was confirmed three days after testifying before the Senate Education Committee about his education priorities and management style. He underlined that schools must provide a safe, nurturing, and quality education. Fletcher told the Senate panel, “There's no greater honor, trust, and responsibility than when someone tells you: ‘I'm going to send my child to your school.’”  

The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Fletcher 36-1 on Monday, the penultimate day of the legislative term. After a decade as Lawrence County schools superintendent in eastern Kentucky, Fletcher will become education commissioner. He was a math and science teacher before becoming an associate principal and principal.  

“I know that Dr. Fletcher is not one to fall back from a challenge, and I think that there is no doubt that the current state of education in the commonwealth of Kentucky presents such a challenge,” Republican state Sen. Phillip Wheeler said I believe the Kentucky State Board of Education appointed the right person at the right time.  

Fletcher was appointed by the state education board last month but needed Senate approval. On July 1, Fletcher will start his new position. Jason Glass, his predecessor, led schools through the COVID-19 outbreak and clashed with GOP lawmakers. Last fall, Kentucky children' statewide test results showed some improvement, especially in elementary schools, but more work remained to return to pre-pandemic levels.  

Test findings showed that elementary to high school pupils were still suffering in fundamental courses after the COVID-19 virtual learning shift. Nationally, academic achievement was low, requiring substantial efforts in Kentucky and elsewhere to help pupils overcome pandemic learning hurdles.  

After Glass resigned last year, Robin Fields Kinney has served as Kentucky education commissioner interim. GOP members slammed Glass over the state education department's LGBTQ+ policies.  

After his committee appearance last week, a reporter asked Fletcher about a broad GOP-passed law last year that prohibits transgender youth from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity and allows teachers to refuse to use their pronouns. “No matter what their background, no matter what their decisions, my goal will be to love all children,” he said.  

Republican legislators who supported his confirmation Monday praised Fletcher's Senate committee hearing, when he pledged to engage with Congress. He also called lawmakers' two-year state spending proposal the “best budget for education” he has seen.  

He said he will vote against a constitutional amendment GOP lawmakers put on this year's general election ballot to let voters determine whether taxpayer money can go to private or charter schools. If passed, lawmakers could pay private or charter schools using public dollars.  

“I am not for taking public funds and putting them into a private school,” Fletcher added. “I've told Senate members that. If this becomes law, we must honor it as public servants.”  

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