"Kentuckians should demand that the candidates for governor, Fletcher and Democrat Steve Beshear, spell out how they plan to pump up education and get progress rolling again."Early on in the Erwin mess I e-mailed Jody Whitaker, Governor Fletcher's press secretary, to test Fletcher's concern over the way the board of education was handling the selection process. No response.
So I waited.
About a week before Barbara Erwin's exodus, I sent a Steve Beshear staffer a bunch of information and asked if the candidate would go on the record with his opinion of what was going on. Nothing.
Maybe I'm politically naive. I can understand Fletcher's reluctance to say much, but I don't mistake his silence for wisdom. I just don't understand why Beshear didn't jump on this issue with both feet. But it seems neither candidate wants to criticize the board, or lead on the issues. I just don't see evidence to the contrary.
But don't miss H-L's real message. What they are really asking is - Where are you?
It must also be said that during the Erwin mess, it was impossible to find an organization in the educational establishment that expressed concerns over what most (if not all) must surely have thought was a train wreck about to happen. Did I miss it? Where were the statements of concern from the KEA, KASA, KSBA, KASC...EIEIO....
True: It's a courageous choice to raise concerns about a person who is about to become "your boss." This is particularly true with one who has a track record of "house cleaning;" perhaps even vindictiveness. It forces one to choose between self-interest and the children's best interest.
Only the Prichard Committee got close to saying something's very wrong here.
I'm one who believes that leadership works best when it is both supported AND challenged from below. Leadership needs our support, but it also needs our best advice, even our considered doubts. There are ways to deliver that message respectfully. But it still requires courage.
H-L says, "That big whoosh you hear is the air rushing out of education reform."
- Fletcher has little to show after 3 1/2 years
- Kentucky is not attracting quality candidates for our top jobs
- Kentucky has lost its commitment and determination
- Partisan impotence in the legislature is killing reform
- There are legitimate questions about this board of education's ability to become effective
- The Ky board should continue a national search
- Interim candidates (for Commish & CPE) should not be candidates for the permanent position
- "Fletcher needs to explain how he would reverse the backsliding of his first term, and Beshear needs to spell out how he'd do better."
In the end, if they are right -the education establishment needs to help lead us out. It also shares some of the blame for not making a stronger case in our local communities; a case that would support - but also challenge - our General Assembly to keep education as THE TOP PRIORITY for Kentucky's future economic and social well-being.
That requires a lot of people speaking up. And that requires leadership at every level.
This from the Herald-Leader.