Friday, October 30, 2009

Collaboration is the Key

During these difficult budget times, it is apparent that we will not be able to continue doing everything we previously have done at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). As a result, I am asking staff to look closely at revising our mission statement and to review the work they are doing to ensure we are aligning the work and the budget to the key strategic goals of high student performance, high-quality teachers and administrators, supportive environments, and high-performing schools and districts.

As a result, we will be abandoning some work that we have done in the past due to budget constraints and decisions made based on priorities. The simple fact is that we have about 60 percent of staff we had in the ‘90s, and we have seen significant budget reductions in operations. As we make these decisions, we are working closely with key partners throughout the state to ensure we do not completely abandon important support for existing programs. That is the theme of this blog – COLLABORATION.

I have been amazed at the level of collaboration in Kentucky. When we have called for representatives on key committees such as those for Race to the Top and Senate Bill 1, our partners have responded to the call. As I present to key committees of the General Assembly, I have been impressed with the level of knowledge of our legislators with regard to education reform. We have many legislators who are former principals, teachers and superintendents. Several teachers who are currently in the profession also serve in the legislature.

One area of collaboration that I have been very surprised to find is that of postsecondary education. I can assure you that this collaboration does not happen in all states. From his position as president of the Council on Postsecondary Education, Robert King has established a clear vision of a pipeline for early childhood, P-12 and postsecondary education that will ensure Kentucky has a bright economic future.

It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. King and to visit college campuses. I have visited with teams of educators at UK, NKU, WKU, EKU and Pikeville. I met with most of the deans, provosts and chief academic officers to discuss our vision for professional development and support for teachers and principals. I have seen firsthand how the colleges, through their outreach programs, are currently supporting P-12 education in Kentucky.

I truly believe that this collaboration will position Kentucky in a strong role as a leader in national education reform. However, the most important impact will eventually be on our children. As we work hand-in-hand with our colleges, we will improve the levels of support for children, teachers, administrators and our communities. I am proud to be a part of this work!

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