Terry Holliday

Terry Holliday

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday this week urged Congress to reauthorize the law governing public education in the United States by providing for a state-led, systemic approach that supports teachers and leaders.

Holliday appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) at a hearing titled “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Supporting Teachers and Leaders.”

Congress is considering reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The law was due for reauthorization in 2007.

In his testimony today, Commissioner Holliday said the success of public education is directly related to the quality of teachers in every classroom and leaders in every building. To adequately address teacher and leader development, Holliday said, a systemic approach is needed.

“We cannot look at trying to ‘fix’ one part of the system without looking at addressing the entire system. This means we must address teacher and leader preparation programs, recruitment of teachers and leaders into the profession, professional development, evaluation, retention and working conditions.” 

As an example, Holliday cited Kentucky’s work to:
• improve teacher and leader preparation programs
• ease induction for beginning teachers through an internship program
• establish best practice guidelines for professional development and provide 24/7 online access to high-quality professional development
• implement a teacher and leader evaluation system focused on continuous professional growth and an improvement in student learning
• increase retention by strengthening leadership through a biennial working conditions survey
• provide multiple career pathways for teachers to become leaders without giving up the ability to teach

The commissioner told the panel that in order to succeed, this work must be done WITH, not TO teachers and leaders, and without the review or approval of the U.S. Department of Education.

“In Kentucky we have built a successful system because it was done by Kentuckians. It was our teachers, our school leaders and our community that decided what worked best for us.”

Holliday told lawmakers that a reauthorized ESEA should give states the flexibility to use federal funds more effectively to develop and implement state systems.

Through a state-led, systemic approach, Holliday said, “We will remain committed to ensure that all students are taught by and all schools are led by excellent educators.”

A video recording of the hearing, is available here.  Commissioner Holliday’s remarks run from 40:43 to 45:37.