Editor’s Note: This is the last of a series of columns that were published throughout July highlighting the experiences of different members of the Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education and the work that will take place moving forward.
Earlier this year I was asked to participate in the Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education (KCAE). As an individual who has been involved in Kentucky’s educational system for nearly 30 years, I welcomed this invitation.
Trying to understand how we can make our delivery of educational programming and curriculum more effective is always at the core of advancing education. This initiative allowed the participants to collaborate with the goal of developing a unified approach in improving the educational systems and processes in Kentucky.
The coalition was championed by Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass. The participants were many and allowed for a diverse discussion of where Kentucky is and where we want Kentucky to be in the future. While Kentucky has made many strides since the revamping of public education in 1990 via the Kentucky Education Reform Act, there is still much room for improvement.
KCAE offered those in education – and many from outside education – to candidly discuss strengths and weaknesses and to define a pathway for ongoing improvement through the establishment of profiles. In times past, we always catered to students as a collective group instead of addressing their individual strengths and gifts. Teaching to the middle often left many students behind and disadvantaged gifted students, who sometimes where not challenged enough.
Today, the focus is on individualized learning so that each student has a learning plan that expands upon their strengths and eliminates or minimizes their weaknesses. This has forced educators to re-evaluate how we approach teaching in a world that is rapidly changing.
The goal of this exercise was to establish core profiles that demonstrate what students, teachers, families and community members want and need from our schools. When we unify and work together to address these needs, we are advancing educational opportunities for students which then allows them, at the end of their public school experience, to be college, career or life ready.
The experience was fascinating. Only by understanding our colleagues’ views on education can we obtain an understanding of our likenesses and our differences. Misunderstanding leads to conflict and impairs our ability to move forward with a specific direction. The establishment of agreed upon profiles for student success allowed the group to establish a foundation to build upon for principled improvement in education based on a holistic buy-in from the education community, as well as the community at large and families.
The work of the coalition is not finished. The end goal is to develop some core principles that we can use moving forward. I think this work is on point and should be ongoing.
While the work of the coalition will end, it should be noted that we will have to make adaptations moving forward, so I am hopeful that some mechanism will allow the work accomplished to be measured, reviewed and adapted.
It has truly been an honor to participate in this important work. I look forward to the completion of our work – for now. As indicated, bringing people together from across the Commonwealth with the energy, knowledge and enthusiasm to make Kentucky education better is key. Only though this type of collaboration will we be able to move forward with a unified purpose.
Rep. C. Ed Massey represents the 66th District in the Kentucky House of Representatives, where he has served since 2019. He is a member of the Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education.