Friday, October 23, 2009

Transforming Education in Kentucky

It was my honor to accompany Governor Steve Beshear and Secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Helen Mountjoy on a ten-city tour across Kentucky this week. The governor utilized this time to conduct press conferences and town hall meetings. The content of the governor’s speech focused on several key areas:
· Kentucky is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Rose case, where Kentucky said that failure of our education system was not an option.
· Kentucky has made progress during the last 20 years as measured by numerous academic measures.
· We have many excellent initiatives going on in education in Kentucky (Early Childhood Task Force, Graduate Kentucky, Senate Bill 1 and Race to the Top, to name but a few examples).
· It is time to refocus our energy and align our work around what the citizens of Kentucky expect from their education system.

Gov. Beshear has appointed a task force comprised of 30-plus individuals representing all areas of the state and various stakeholder groups. I am honored to serve with the governor as co-chair of the task force. We hope to begin meetings in November or early December. The first several months will be focused on fact-finding about all the excellent programs that already exist and challenges that we are facing.

The governor was very clear that we are in a difficult period of budget for the next two years, and we should not expect new dollars for new initiatives. However, we should not let funding be a stumbling block. Now is the time to prepare for the future and be poised, ready with recommendations by November 2010 in time for the 2011 legislative session.

Several key agenda items were mentioned by Gov. Beshear during his speeches. Increasing early childhood education opportunities, increasing opportunities for students to get college credit while in high school, increasing the rigor of our career and technical programs so they are seen as options of first choice, and decreasing dropouts and increasing graduation rates were among those specific items that the governor requested the task force to review.

Of utmost importance will be listening to parents, teachers, administrators, students and community members. The task force will schedule additional town hall meetings to hear from all of these groups on how best to transform public education so that all of the children in Kentucky graduate and are prepared for success in the 21st century.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Holiday,
    I attended your October 27 presentation to KDE's Teaching and Learning Division. As a director and consultant with KY's early childhood Regional Training Centers I was amazed and horrified at the data. I left there with " a sense of urgency" about my Pd work with preschool administrator, teachers and staff. I agree with you we must do something transformational. I also want to mention please do not forget our youngest learners. Ky serves "at risk" ( income based) children and children with disablities and developmental delays. This is the beginning of the " achievement gap." I recently visited a preschool program in an "inner city" school where preschooler were choosing their time to do literacy activities. That was a powerful observation to me. What I asked made this happen. I knew it was the teacher and staff. I was " a proud mama" as she had attended a graduate course literacy academy with a project I directed. My wish is that every preschooler in the commonwealth could have this similar experience. As I sat there that day in October I said to myself, "at this moment there is no achievement gap". Please let me know how I can help you with the transformatlon.