Says we need to focus on kids, not adult excuses
Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday recently discussed the state’s performance on closing achievement gaps in a rather clear and unequivocal way.
Says the commissioner:
“My biggest concern is that we tend to focus on the adults rather than the children. When looking at implementing practices that we know will close achievement gaps, we tend to focus on the reasons the adults are not able to implement the practices, rather than focusing on what the children need. I hope that we can do both, but we need to first focus on the children!”
Union leaders, are you listening?
Local school boards, superintendents, principals and SBDM, are you listening?
The commissioner also cites a recent report from the ‘Commissioner’s Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps Council.’ I’m not impressed by the recommendations, as they look exactly like the “same old, same old” platitudes I’ve been hearing since KERA was enacted in 1990.
Read those recommendations below and see if you agree.
• Recommendation #1: Provide information about the overall academic and social status of Kentucky schools and districts in a format that is useful and accessible to the general public.
• Recommendation #2: Ensure that all students, regardless of race, gender, ethnic background, disability or socioeconomic status, have access to a rigorous curriculum and get the support necessary to be successful in a rigorous curriculum.
• Recommendation #3: Create an environment of high expectations, with administrators, teachers and staff taking ownership for meeting the needs of all students.
This hasn’t worked in 20 years, bringing to mind the Joe Brothers comment I often find myself thinking about:
“I came on the local (school) board in 1987. What you just said to me is no different than what I heard in 1987. So why should I be hopeful?”
(Kentucky Board of Education Chair Joe Brothers’ reaction to proposals to fix Kentucky’s continuing education problems during the October 2009 meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education)
We need some really fresh thinking to shock the adults in the system into really doing something that works for disadvantaged kids. The commissioner’s council didn’t deliver.
Still, on the overall note – focus on the kids, not the adults – the commissioner and I are exactly on the same page.