That the committee can be nimble is a testament to a new way of thinking about school reform, and cause for optimism.
Gone are the days when KERA was untouchable; for fear that to change any part of KERA might push the whole effort down the slippery slope toward ruination. Now KERA is up for a total review by a Democratic governor.
Gone are the days when complaining about the lack of training available to teachers to properly implement KERA's ambitious programs would brand one a dinosaur, or worse. When despite pleas from the field, education leaders held the course and "assumed our educators were already equipped to respond...[when] in reality, they needed more direct and robust support." The Prichard Committee is talking more and more about the vital importance of effective teacher training these days.
Gone are the days of most of us fighting tooth and toenail against Senate Bill 1. It passed unanimously.
And apparently gone are Prichard's reservation about Terry Holliday. In July, the committee lamented that the commissioner pool was "not the level you would expect for one of the top education commissioner posts in the country."
But this week Corbett writes,
[S]tate leadership is now unified on education in a way we have rarely seen. Leaders in both parties and both houses of the legislature backed SB 1, and they and Gov. Steve Beshear intend to see it succeed. Terry Holliday, our new commissioner of education, is off to a great start, as is Bob King, the new president of the Council on Postsecondary Education.
Together, Commissioner Holliday and President King have already launched major collaborations, including a longitudinal student data system to track students' progress from pre-K to college and beyond.
It's is remarkable how much things have changed in such a short time.
And, the newest thing of all may be the short distance between mainstream R's and D's which measures about two inches, if one ignores the extreme fringes, as one should. New teaching standards and a new assessment are in the works. And Corbett thinks,
...these developments offer Kentucky a great opportunity. If we seize the day, working together with great energy in the coming months, we can ensure that our new standards translate into new teaching strength in every classroom and new levels of achievement for all our children.
Not too long ago an interesting thing happened to P-12 education in Kentucky. King, "the lofty" CPE president, started attending "the lowly" Kentucky Board of Education meetings. And he stayed past the first break. Then when interviews were held for education commissioner, he surprised folks by staying some more and, by accounts, he participated fully.
Once Terry Holliday was selected the two leaders began to look holistically at the public education system, and work cooperatively, and launch initiatives, and speak publicly. They unified behind the bully pulpit and the effort appears to be gaining momentum - and some who railed against change now proclaim its liberation.