The Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Family Partnership Council met on Sept. 7, where members discussed the characteristics they hope to see in Kentucky’s next education commissioner and their recommendations for changing family engagement around the state.
Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass will step down from his position on Sept. 29. Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) Member Julie Pile asked council members what qualities they hope the KBE will look for in the next commissioner.
Council members said they want a commissioner who values families’ voices and has a heart for education and students.
“I want a commissioner that values the family as his team and uses families, parents and students as a partner,” said council member Melissa Goins.
Council members said they hope the new commissioner will have diverse work experience within education and working within different communities.
“This job is humongous and would be really hard to maintain for a long time unless they have the energy to do so,” said council member Natasha Lucas. “(Kentucky needs) someone who is energetic and has that diverse work experience in their history.”
In addition, council members said they are looking for someone who can be relatable.
“They haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be in the trenches, for lack of a better phrase,” council member Amity Kukla said. “They’re not completely disconnected from what’s actually going on in the schools and in our classrooms.”
Council members also discussed what they hope the new commissioner will prioritize in his or her first year, like the continuation of the listening tours and improving efforts to retain educators.
“I just think there’s a major concern on retaining teachers and how do we retain them and how do we retain effective teachers,” said Kukla. “I just really worry about the future with that.”
Pile concluded the discussion by saying she will bring these concerns and suggestions to the board as they continue to search for a new commissioner.
KBE plans to meet for a special board meeting on Sept. 14. to name the interim commissioner. More details on the search process for a permanent commissioner can be found on the 2023-2024 Commissioner Search webpage.