Graphic that reads: Superintendent Webcast May 10, 2022.

Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass met with school district leaders on Tuesday for the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) May Superintendents Webcast, where they discussed Kentuckians’ new vision for public education, United We Learn, and how those districts will play a role in reimagining the future of learning in the Commonwealth.

“Since coming into this position almost 18 months ago, I’ve seen so many positive efforts underway in Kentucky that support this new direction,” Glass said.

In developing the plan, Glass felt it was important to hear directly from Kentuckians about what they wanted for their schools and children. So KDE held statewide conversations, where the department asked local communities to reimagine what schools should look like.

The virtual listening sessions reached over 1,200 people, and afterward, a diverse group of stakeholders was formed called the Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education. Based on those conversations, the group developed a report on the current and future state of education in the Commonwealth.

“Our existing structure in education and our focus on the acquisition of content knowledge is no longer sufficient for the fast-moving, automated and globally interconnected world that we already live in,” Glass said.

Paying homage to Kentucky’s motto – United We Stand, Divided We Fall – the United We Learn vision was born.

“Much of the important work in bringing about this vision happens in our local communities,” Glass said. “It happens in classrooms, it happens in one-on-one interactions with Kentucky’s students, and our team at KDE will be supporting those efforts. But ultimately, it comes down to what happens in your schools. …

“This is going to be an emerging and evolving process. Understand that much of this is in development and formation, and we don’t have all the answers to everything yet and that’s OK. What I think is most important is that we just engage with the effort and that we work to bring about the directions Kentuckians told us they wanted for the future of education in the state.”

The United We Learn vision built by Kentuckians builds around three central themes: creating a more vibrant experience for every student, encouraging innovation in schools and finding genuine ways to collaborate with local communities.

“Much like the Commonwealth, our education system is truly at its strongest when we’re working together, pulling in the same direction and when we’re learning together,” Glass said.

Community involvement is a critical component of the United We Learn Vision, and Glass called on the superintendents to find ways to involve their whole communities to contribute to student success.

“This involves bringing community members into decision-making for districts and schools, and it could take the form of mentorships, internships, relationship-building and any number of other partnerships,” he said.

Currently, Kentucky districts that are serving as Local Laboratories of Learning (L3s) are showing the way on how to deeply involve communities, as well as students, in decision-making, and designing educational programs and new assessment and accountability systems.

 More information on the department’s United We Learn vision is available on the United We Learn webpage.

Going forward, Glass said the monthly Superintendents Webcast will be restructured to allow for more dialogue between district leaders and KDE staff.

Legislative Update

With the 2022 legislative session complete, Brian Perry, KDE’s director of government relations, met with superintendents to discuss the department’s non-regulatory guidance for the 2022 session.

KDE has released an overview guidance document that covers education-related bills enacted during the session, as well as guidance on Senate Bill (SB) 1. Guidance on SB 8 and House Bill (HB) 678 will be available soon, Perry said.

All guidance will be available on the KDE District/School Support webpage.

In other business, superintendents:

  • Heard KDE announcements, including information on a partnership with the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence through its Kentucky Collaborative for Families and Schools. The agencies hope to encourage intentional family engagement through the Family Friendly certification. Kentucky is one of 12 states to receive the Statewide Family Engagement Center grant from the U.S. Department of Education to provide comprehensive support for systemic and effective family engagement policies. To apply, complete the Family Friendly Schools application on behalf of a school. Applications are reviewed monthly and scored by a subcommittee of the Kentucky Collaborative for Families and Schools Advisory Council.
  • Received updates on the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) from Meredith Brewer, KDE’s director of education policy. The KBE currently is accepting nominations for the Johnnie Grissom Award for Innovation in Special Education. This award is given in the spring of each year to a Kentuckian or a Kentucky organization to honor outstanding dedication to improving achievement for students with disabilities. Nominations must be submitted by May 13. The next regular meeting of the KBE will be June 8.

Received updates on a new certification platform from KDE’s Office of Educator Licensure and Effectiveness.