Tuesday, April 05, 2011

On Kentucky Education

The state constitution expresses the will of the people. It requires the legislature to provide schools that meet the goals of the state. What are those goals? ...and has the state provided those schools for its citizens?

In early days, when the state's goals were low (readin', writin/ and 'rithmetic), some children had access to good schools, while most had access to some kind of schooling - but a good education was not equally available to all. There was nothing so important as access to the best teachers. Where one lived mattered. Wealth mattered. Gender mattered. Race mattered.

We hear a lot about what Kentucky's school system is supposed to produce.

In the end, Kentucky's citizens will have the schools its legislature builds. We know how to build them for 1950, and we'd better find out how to build them for the 21st century. But in the end, the state and its citizens will get what we pay for - provided the system is efficiently operated; as is also required by the constitution.


Anonymous said...

"Wealth mattered." Why the use of the past tense? Even the most casual observer knows that when it comes to talking education, wealth does matter in the in Kentucky, and it always will. ALWAYS.

I've long sensed the discomfort of leading Kentucky educators and theorists, many of whom live in neighborhoods similar to Anchorage, who clearly don't want to discuss the issue of wealth and social class and its relation to education, especially when their texts or their blogs are supposed to upbeat and empowering. This all goes back to America's discomfort speaking about social class.

In fact, few Kentucky educators ever really want to dwell on the fact of why Kentucky's highest rated school is in Anchorage, Kentucky. Yes, they know the numbers of students there who are not minorities, who are not on free lunch, but they never discuss the homes in which the Anchorage students live, the places Ancorage students go on vacation.

But that's fine. Let the other Kentucky schools think they aren't working as hard as Anchorage. Continue to tell Kemtucky's teachers and students that one can get a first class education in a community that does not value it. Continue to look for ways to improve test scores and student achievment without tackling poverty.

In the end, this educator knows that there will always be smart students who will do well in culturally deprived areas of the Commonwealth, but it is foolish to think that good teaching, outcome based education, scrimmage tests, daily ORQs, differentiated learning, and the abolition of "unnecessary" handwriting will ever trump poverty.

So march on Anchorage Independent! And to the education czars in our state: keep manipulating those tests, keep crunching those numbers so that we appear far away from the bottom states of South Carolina and Arkansas.

Richard Day said...

I used past tense because the "early days" of Kentucky schooling are, in fact, in the past.

We seem to agree: money mattered.

...as did gender and race. Why is that?

As for today, yes, money still matters. Money clearly removes any number of obstacles for citizens seeking an educated and therefore, productive community, where their children can grow to become an active part. Whether in Anchorage or Visalia: all kids need good teachers.

A stronger early investment in good schools for all kids, might have allowed the state to maintain the prominence it once enjoyed - up to the civil war...or thereabouts. Chief Justice Stephens wondered aloud, 'How many geniuses were [wasted] in the mountains... because they didn't have access to good teachers?'

The problem was that "all" did not really mean all - and everybody knew it.

Like every Kentucky community, the poor could have used a helpful start...and they needed a government - and worse, they needed a disproportionate share of assistance to become sustainable.

Thanks for mentioning the new state test, (mandated by the legislature but not paid for) which is presently under construction. It's a good time for KDE to hear your point. I hope you'll share your perspective directly.

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

After reading this, it would be interesting to know if the parents of Anchorage Independent actually feel they have worked hard for the schools they have.