Terry Holliday named winner of 2021 Karem Award for Excellence in Education Policy during June KBE meeting

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Picture of a smiling man in a suit holding a trophy.
Terry Holliday, Kentucky’s fifth commissioner of education from 2009 to 2015, was named as the 2021 recipient of the Karem Award for Excellence in Education Policy during the Kentucky Board of Education’s regular meeting on June 2. In his nomination, Holliday was praised for leading the efforts on several significant policy improvements to curriculum standards and for overseeing new policies regarding school improvement throughout his career in education.
Photo by Toni Konz Tatman, May 25, 2021

The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) named Terry Holliday as the 2021 recipient of the Karem Award for Excellence in Education Policy during its regular meeting on June 2. Holliday, who served as Kentucky’s fifth commissioner of education from 2009 to 2015, is the chair of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The award, which is named for former KBE member David Karem, recognizes a Kentucky policymaker, education leader or citizen who has made notable state-level contributions to the improvement of Kentucky’s public education system.

David Cook, the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) director of innovation, nominated Holliday for leading the efforts on several significant policy improvements to curriculum standards and for overseeing new policies regarding school improvement throughout his career in education. Cook also praised Holliday’s efforts to establish the Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Program in Kentucky a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Without his foresight, Kentucky would have found itself in the same boat as most every other state in the country in the spring of 2020. Those states who had to begin remote learning in 2020 with no previous experience,” said Cook.

As Kentucky’s commissioner of education in 2010, Holliday was concerned about the amount of instructional time lost in Kentucky school districts due to inclement weather and health issues. At the time, it was normal practice to shorten the school year by “cancelling” those missed days, causing students in district with a large number of missed days to be provided less instruction.

Holliday brought an innovative solution to the Kentucky General Assembly. He recommended providing those districts with the option to conduct school using remote learning options. In 2011, House Bill 427 created the NTI program, which grew from two districts in the first year to 83 districts during the 2019-2020, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic closed school buildings in all 171 districts in Kentucky, KDE was able to quickly approve emergency NTI applications for the remainder of the spring 2019-2020 school year and subsequently, the 2021-2022 school year.

“The quick reaction Kentucky had to the pandemic would not have been possible had it not been for Dr. Holliday’s foresight and efforts in 2010,” said Cook.

Karem served on the KBE from 2009 through 2016 and again from December 2019 through April 2020. He served for 33 years in the Kentucky State Senate and as chairman of the Senate Education Committee. During his tenure in the Kentucky General Assembly, Karem championed the passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) and led the efforts for the 4% school tax levy by school districts.

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