Friday, July 22, 2011

Follow-Up on Transforming Education in Kentucky

The last few weeks have seen exciting developments. As a reminder, Governor Steve Beshear established a “Transforming Education in Kentucky” task force in the fall of 2009. For more information on the task force and the final report, go to http://tek.ky.gov. While there were a number of recommendations, over the past few weeks we have seen follow-up activity on two recommendations.

1. As recommended by the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education, Kentucky’s education policy leaders should reorganize the Early Childhood Development Authority, renaming it the Early Childhood Advisory Council; create a system of support for students at all levels of kindergarten-readiness, including parent education and learning; and create common developmentally appropriate school readiness standards and instruments.

Recently, Governor Beshear held a press conference to announce the selection of Terry Tolan (former president and CEO of the United Way of Kentucky) to lead the Early Childhood Advisory Council. The first action for the council is to submit an Early Learning Challenge Grant application as part of the Race to the Top federal initiative. The grant application will build on the excellent work that has already been done by the early childhood task force.

Key implications for school districts are the establishment of school readiness standards, a common instrument for measuring school readiness, uniform standards (rating system) for all child care providers and a K-3 Program Review to ensure that schools are ready for children. The grant application is due in mid-October, with announcement of funding coming in late November or early December. Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia have filed intentions to apply for the $500 million available. Kentucky is eligible for up to $60 million. It is anticipated that 5-10 states will receive awards.

A second recommendation dealt with career and technical education in Kentucky schools.

2. The Governor should establish a steering committee to include the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and other external partners representing local district CTE staff, Office of Career and Technical Education (OCTE) field staff, CPE, Educational Professional Standards Board (EPSB), KDE and workforce leaders to develop a comprehensive statewide plan for implementing secondary Career & Technical Education with an emphasis on innovation, integration of core academics, 21st-century skills, project-based learning and the establishment of full-time CTE programs. The steering committee’s plan should include a new delivery system that integrates and elevates the two offices in KDE and OCTE currently delivering CTE. The plan should be submitted to the legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Education no later than October 1, 2011, for implementing legislation to be adopted by the 2012 General Assembly.

Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Joe Meyer and I have named the steering committee members, and the first meeting was held. For more information on the activities of the committee, see notes from the meeting at http://tek.ky.gov. Several work groups are meeting in order to delve deeper into details. These groups are studying professional development, Carl Perkins funding, sector strategy, curriculum and operations. School districts should stay informed of the recommendations that will come from these work groups to the steering committee.

With both of these activities, the collaboration has been exceptional. It is very apparent that Kentucky is working “together” to improve the future for our children.

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