Politicians react to state education chief’s resignation

Published 2:48 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2023

“One down, one to go,” tweeted Attorney General Daniel Cameron on Monday after news of Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass’ resignation.

Cameron, who is running for governor against Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear, joined several Republicans in celebrating Glass’ departure.

Glass has been a controversial figure in Kentucky politics since the 2023 General Assembly, when he defended KDE’s guidelines on addressing transgender students by their preferred pronouns in front of a panel of legislators.

KDE had posted guidelines on its website recommending that districts adopt policies to honor the preferred pronouns of students, regardless of their biological sex.

During questioning, Glass said that if a school district chose to adopt this policy, and a teacher wasn’t willing to abide by its rules, then they should look for another job.

Ever since, Republicans have called for his resignation. One Republican gubernatorial candidate, Kelly Craft, even made it a cornerstone of her unsuccessful primary campaign.

When Glass was announced as a finalist for the Baltimore County schools superintendent job, Craft said that “the parents and teachers and children are going to own the schools, not bureaucracy.”

“Commissioner Glass got my message. I didn’t have to fire him,” she said at her final campaign stop.

Glass was not chosen for that position, but announced Monday he would instead be leaving for Western Michigan University, where he will serve as associate vice president of

teaching and learning.

Tuesday, he held a news conference in Frankfort to explain his move.

“Of course, my decision to leave was part of the political situation in Kentucky,” Glass said.

“I do not wish to be part of implementing the dangerous and unconstitutional anti-LGBTQIA law that the Legislature passed this last session. So it is time for me to move on.”

Glass is referring to Senate Bill 150, which prevents school districts from establishing policies requiring school employees to use students’ preferred pronouns, among other provisions.

He added that his dilemma is becoming more common for other education chiefs across the country. Glass will officially step down Sept. 29.

“I want to thank Commissioner Glass for his service to Kentucky,” Beshear said. “I will call on the Kentucky Board of Education to conduct a national search to find the right person to fill this important role and continue to move our education system forward for children across the commonwealth.”

Glass’ replacement will oversee Kentucky’s K-12 system, including over 635,000 students, as well as serve as superintendent of the Kentucky Schools for the Blind and the Deaf and 53 area technology centers.

KBE Chair Lu Young said that when Glass was chosen by the board as commissioner in 2020, he was operating at a “very turbulent time in the world.”

“He led deftly through the challenges of the pandemic and two major natural disasters while, at the same time, galvanizing support across schools and communities around a bold new vision for learning and teaching in the commonwealth,” Young said in a statement.

Kentucky Republicans sang a different, more celebratory tune.

“Andy Beshear’s Education commissioner told teachers that if they expressed concern about radical gender ideology, they needed to find another job,” Cameron said in a statement.

“That wasn’t the right answer. The right answer is for Jason Glass and Andy Beshear to find other jobs. Today’s news brings us halfway toward that goal, and I’m ready to help Andy Beshear find another job this November.”

House Speaker Pro Tem David Meade, R-Stanford, joined in.

“After telling teachers they can leave the classroom if they don’t want to follow the administration’s radical rules, it appears the commissioner of education finally recognizes how out of step he is with Kentuckians and is following his own advice,” Meade said.

The Republican Party of Kentucky tweeted a video Monday rehashing the comments that eventually led to Glass’ resignation.

KBE will hold a special meeting in mid-August to discuss next steps.