- Participants included students, parents, teachers, support staff, several Kentucky legislators and other members of the Commonwealth’s education community.
- Due to technical difficulties, the department will provide another opportunity for Louisville’s education community to provide input. As of April 6, the makeup date tentatively is scheduled for May 11.
By Jacob Perkins
Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass’ virtual listening tour kicked off April 6 with nearly 100 stakeholders ready to share their input on long-term aspirations for the Commonwealth’s education system.
“The beginning of learning anything meaningful starts with one simple thing: curiosity,” Glass said. “So when it comes to redesigning our education system, our attention should focus first on igniting curiosity in a meaningful and authentic way.”
The session was held in partnership with the Greater Louisville Educational Cooperative and the University of Kentucky College of Education and featured breakout rooms facilitated by Kentucky high school students and staff from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).
Each breakout room focused on several key areas, including teaching, learning, engagement, mental health, testing, equity, civics and career and technical education.
After a welcome from Glass, participants broke into 12 breakout rooms to have more intimate discussions on the state’s education system.
One of the more consistent themes throughout the conversations was the need for equity in public education. Groups felt hiring and retaining more teachers of color could result in higher student success because students succeed at higher rates when they have a teacher who looks like them.
Another way to ensure equity is by addressing the digital divide in public education, the groups said. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for students and families to communicate electronically with teachers, and many students in the state still lack the tools to do so.
Many of the breakout sessions agreed that going forward, an emphasis needs to be placed on providing mental health supports for students and staff, as well as building a stronger pathway for parents to provide feedback and input on their students’ learning.
Providing an open, ongoing dialogue will empower families, which ultimately empowers students, the groups said.
The department will protect anonymity on all feedback received and will use the input provided to shape its future plans.
There are eight more stops on the Commissioner’s Virtual Listening Tour, with the next coming April 8. In order to participate, you must register for at least one of the sessions. The meetings will not be live-streamed on the KDE Media Portal.
Upcoming Dates and Times:
- April 8, 6-7:30 p.m. CT: West Kentucky Educational Cooperative (Murray)
- April 15, 6-7:30 p.m. CT: Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (Bowling Green)
- April 20, 6-7:30 p.m. ET: Southeast/South-Central Educational Cooperative (Richmond)
- April 22, 6-7:30 p.m. ET: Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative (Lexington)
- April 27, 6-7:30 p.m. ET: Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Education Services (Cold Springs)
- April 29, 6-7:30 p.m. ET: Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (Shelbyville)
- May 4, 6-7:30 p.m. ET: Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (Hazard)
- May 6, 6-7:30 p.m. ET: Kentucky Educational Development Cooperative (Ashland)
“Our goal is to hold conversations across the Commonwealth and to gather together the aspirations of Kentuckians about the future of education in the Bluegrass state,” Glass said. “We are not here to sell you on what I think we should do as commissioner, what the staff at the Kentucky Department of Education thinks or what the state board of education thinks. These meetings are not to push an agenda from the governor or from our legislators.
“Rather, our goal is to hear, and most importantly, listen. And from that, we will build a future direction based on the voices of Kentuckians and publish that in a report for everyone to see.”
Interested individuals may apply to join a statewide coalition on the current and future state of Kentucky public education. The coalition will meet five times throughout June and July to create a summary of the stories and voices heard from the various communities during the listening tour.
KDE also will offer training for individuals who are interested in learning how to conduct an empathy interview and interviewing one or more students, families or educators from their community. The training will be an hour-long virtual call and it will take about an hour to interview someone.
Those interested in applying for the statewide coalition and/or conducting empathy interviews may register using this Google Form.
Due to technical difficulties, the department will provide another opportunity for Louisville’s education community to provide input. As of April 6, the makeup date tentatively is scheduled for May 11.
For questions about the Commissioner’s Virtual Listening Tour, email KDElisteningtour@education.ky.gov.