Thursday, July 14, 2011

KY Chamber session gets some things right about education

I was on the road when the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce held its annual conference, but a post in the chamber’s blog concerning an education discussion is worth a look.

It was a three-way panel with former US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, international education consultant Sir Michael Barber, and Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday.

Some points:

Spellings says business people must act as “the point of the spear” in fighting for education reform in order to develop a qualified workforce that meets the demands of a new economy. Both parents and business leaders should demand higher expectations from students and, most importantly, teachers and administrators.

She also said Kentucky had room for improvement in identifying and retaining effective teachers and removing ineffective teachers. She didn’t like the lack of charter schools and noted the disappointing achievement gap between white and minority students.

Barber said, “Any system that wants to make progress has to stop feeling sorry for itself and take responsibility for its own future.” He also pointed out, “Spending money alone won’t fix the system.”

Holliday admitted that a third of our kids are not graduating from high school. He also pointed to another shocking fact: “A meager four counties are graduating the vast majority of our state’s college-ready students.” That means the vast majority of Kentucky’s 174 school systems are not meeting this very important goal.

Clearly, there is much work to be done.

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