As I prepared for the transition to the Commissioner of Education position in Kentucky, I called numerous stakeholders in the state. I asked about the key issues around education in Kentucky, and I specifically asked about issues with the Kentucky Department of Education.
Over the course of a few weeks, I was able to talk with more than 30 superintendents and another 25 key leaders of organizations that interact with KDE. While there were many positive comments about education initiatives in Kentucky, there were many challenges listed. While there were many positive comments about staff at KDE, there were also some concerns about communication and customer service.
For the first few months on the job, I have attempted to get to many parts of the Commonwealth. I have enjoyed meeting with superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, business leaders, legislators and students. I have utilized technology through Twitter, Facebook and this blog to communicate with stakeholders. I will continue this approach of visibility, communication and listening. I also will begin to utilize other technology to communicate with key stakeholders.
Over the next few weeks KDE staff will assist me in developing webinars that will target superintendents, principals and teachers. These webinars will focus on key strategies that are a part of Senate Bill 1 and the numerous federal initiatives that are funding education reform. We will look for two-way communication. We will present some information; however, we are more interested in gathering feedback from these key stakeholder groups. Through surveys and open-ended response questions, we will gain feedback on reform strategies from these key stakeholders.
I recently learned that the Commissioner’s Teacher Advisory Council was no longer meeting. I asked KDE staff to revitalize this important group. I have Superintendent, Parent, and Principal Advisory Councils; however, I need to hear from one of the most important groups -- classroom teachers. Another important group that we will be listening to is the students. At the recent Graduate Kentucky Summit, First Lady Jane Beshear conducted a focus group with students. What our students said that they needed from adults to ensure success was very revealing. KDE will be working to develop channels for student communication that will include focus groups, surveys and technology methods.
Finally, we will be launching an initiative to document customer service standards at KDE. Our standards are similar to what many organizations have. Customers should expect a response, within 24 hours, that is accurate and delivered in a professional manner. We will be surveying those “customers” who call, e-mail or write the department. We will then analyze the data by office to determine how well we are meeting customer service requirements. While KDE will always have a regulatory nature, we also must have a service standard for citizens, parents and schools who contact the department.
Public education is everyone’s business. Communication and suggestions are always welcome. Thank you for reading this blog and caring about the children of Kentucky.