The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), with knowledge of the dubiously reformed Kentucky Board of Education, is running an online survey supposedly to find out what the public thinks will be important qualities in the new education commissioner.
But, just like earlier SurveyMonkeys the department ran during the reviews of various academic area education standards, this new survey doesn’t really look for what the public and the students of Kentucky need. Instead, in an effort that reminds me of the often-abused Delphi Technique for manipulating the public, the commissioner SurveyMonkey seems shaped to collect what the department and the board want to hear.
Even worse, some of the questions in the commissioner survey provide interesting clues that the intent is to find a rubber stamping, go-along, get-along non-leader to be the next commissioner. Click the “Read more” link and I’ll explain.
Part 2 in the survey asks:
2. As the Kentucky Board of Education conducts the search for the next commissioner, how important are the following characteristics…
The first couple of characteristics such as grading the importance of having an education background, encouraging transparency and communicating effectively are worthwhile. But, respondents next are asked to grade these items:
Articulates a clear vision aligned with that of KDE and uses that vision as a filter to help prioritize her/his time and energy
Speaks up when actions of the team don’t align with the vision, mission and core values of KDE
Promotes and hires employees who are aligned with the vision, mission and core values of KDE
There you have it. These questions are not looking for someone to lead the KDE, perhaps in new directions when needed. The people creating this survey seem mostly interested in someone who will continue the good old status quo of what the department is already doing.
Equally troubling, the job of setting the vision and mission of the KDE should belong to the Kentucky Legislature and the Kentucky Board of Education, not to staffers working inside the bureaucracy. But, the tenor of the questions above recognize what really has been the status quo for years – the department tail wagging both the commissioner and the state board.
This isn’t the stuff of leadership.
This is an attitude of the status quo.
As in the past, I won’t participate in this manipulative, Delphi-like nonsense. I will send in a separate letter to KDE, instead. Below are some of my current thoughts about what Kentucky really needs in an education commissioner, and I would be happy to listen if you have some more.
What Kentucky’s Education Commissioner should be Like:
- Provides solid evidence from previous experience of leadership potential
- Demonstrated ability to listen to all sides with skin thick enough to try to work through complaints
- Totally committed to transparency, including fiscal transparency and fixing the MUNIS financial accounting system’s long-running problems.
- Understands the difference between quality and low-quality research and how to explain it to laymen while not being fooled into chasing education fads pushed by the low-quality stuff
- Understands and will implement high-quality, standards-based education systems that really work, including understanding that real standards must include performance standards in addition to academic standards so there are no questions about how good a performance is good enough so that curriculum writers, teachers and test creators and scorers are all on the same page
- Committed to and has demonstrated ability to eliminate achievement gaps
- Understands and will implement truly high-quality assessments that will be tightly monitored to prevent score inflation over time
- Has solid proposals to improve Kentucky’s school accountability program
- Committed to creating a solid chain of accountability in school governance including making rational and needed changes to SBDM
- Completely conversant with the scientific methods of teaching reading with demonstrated ability to improve reading with better professional development and supports such as Mississippi has implemented
- Committed to improving math instruction in Kentucky including commitment to add Algebra II back to high school graduation requirements
- Committed to improving education in Jefferson County and unwilling to just let the district slide away from its current close watch by the department
You can send a letter, too. Kentucky Department of Education, 300 Sower Blvd. Frankfort, KY 40601 should get it there. I’d do this to arrive by the time the SurveyMonkey closes out on February 6, 2020.