Thursday, December 01, 2011

Silberman Goes One to One

"I think we're going to get to a point
where we have to say 'enough is enough'
on the reductions for our kids...
We have to figure out new revenue streams
...just to bring us back to where we were.

-- Stu Silberman

New Prichard Committee honcho Stu Silberman sat down with Bill Goodman on KET last week. Among other topics, he took on funding.

Silberman is the former superintendent of Daviess County and Fayette County Public Schools, and has recently been named the executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. He grew up
in Long Island, NY attended college at U T Chattanooga and taught chemistry and physics in Chattanooga before becoming the Daviess Co Supt for 9 years. He became Fayette's County's 5th Superintendent in a 3 year period and completed 7 years of a ten year commitment before retiring. He brought with him what he called his mantra, "It's about Kids."He shares his views on Kentucky education and what would he like to accomplish in his new post.


"We wouldn't be where we are today ...if it wasn't for the Prichard Committee"

"the umbrella of poverty covers the achievement gap"

"We have to figure out a way to support teachers in [closing the achievement gap]"

Funding is definitely an issue.

"As much as our governor and our legislators have tried to protect[schools] in the reductions, schools have been hit hard." The base has stayed the same but the supports around our teachers and our kids ...are eroding away."

We're going to pay the price for lack of funding in preschool.

Kentucky has had no textbooks money for 3 years.

"At some point in the near future, we're going to have to take another look at the SEEK Formula. The SEEK Formula really did its job to bring some equity to funding across our state, and its gotten to a point where we are going to have to revisit that.  However, I think the bigger issue is the adequacy issue."

"The SEEK Formula does a pretty good job of assuring there's equity, but if there's no money to go around the places that don't have a local tax base really get hurt the hardest."


Anonymous said...

"We have to figure out a way to support teachers?" Really?! Did he really say that?! He certainly didn't do it in his 7 years at FCPS! The man continues to talk out of both sides of his mouth, and half the time it's lies.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry. There is something wrong with Mr. Silberman. The end never justifies the means. Never.

Anonymous said...

Enough is enough! Failed leadership in Fayette County Public Schools did not give Mr. Silberman the standing to lead the Prichard Committee.

Anonymous said...

And he dared to say the umbrella of poverty covers the achievement gap? He always told teachers "that is just an excuse" to mention a child's economic background. What a hypocrite! Hope Prichard finds out what they really have soon.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, Mr. Silberman is an example of the Peter Principle.In attaining the highest seat at Prichard, he has reached his highest level of incompetence. Working in higher education, as I do, most of my colleagues felt Stu's sole path to acclaim was the result of grooming teachers to prepare students for standardized tests. This was not sustantive educational change; this was not the work of a reformer. He merely followed the principles of Stanley Kaplan.

Yet, Mr. Silberman had the ingredients for instant success in Lexington. The "It's about Kids" mantra was eagerly swallowed up by the public, and he was able to convince FCPS parents, even though Stu never thinks in historical terms, that he was the first redeemer. Add the the support of the newspaper, the Chamber of Commerce, and most recently, the words of support from the blog editor who, in fairness, admitted Stu's shortcomings, Stu became the most "effective superintendent" FCPS had ever had.

Where Silberman missed the boat, and where he continues to miss the boat, is in not holding parents --the individuals with whom FCPS students, and most Kentucky kids, spend most of their day, to the high standards to which he held his teachers. While at FCPS, parents could do as they please, and Stu told each parent what s/he wanted to hear. Many promising teachers and experienced ones left the school system as a result.

Having experienced the self-promoting former EKU president Dr. Bob Kustra, with whom Stu has much in common, I think I can safely say that we can live through Stu at Prichard. And at Prichard, he is less likely to be sued.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the future doesn't look much brighter with Tom Shelton in charge.

Anonymous said...

To 10:14

I was Stu's biggest critic, but I felt that Dr. Shelton might be better. Explain why you think things won't get better, please.

Skip Kifer said...

As I showed you Richard, funding was not equalized so Silberman is wrong to say "SEEK ... really did its job:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Herald Leader, or anyone else at Prichard, knows (or cares) Stu was wrong about SEEK funding. It is amazing this man has the following he does. Does this somehow betray the level of ignorance in Kentucky?

Richard Day said...

If you cite somebody’s study, but the researcher’s conclusions were wrong, did you tell a lie?

If you answered “No,” then you’ve got to let Stu Silberman off the hook for his claim that KERA substantially equalized school funding in Kentucky.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s right.

What Silberman is referring to in Bill Hoyt’s Evaluation of KERA where he said, “The reforms instituted through KERA have dramatically changed the financing of education in Kentucky. Prior to KERA, Kentucky had seen large increases in educational spending and significant state involvement in attempts to equalize spending with spending increases of the order of those in KERA. Perhaps the most dramatic impact of KERA has been its effect on equalizing spending throughout the state.”


This is the part all of the pro-public school folks quote, including me. We tend to forget the next part where Hoyt acknowledges.

“While spending does still vary among districts, this variation no longer bears any relationship to the traditional determinants of educational spending with decentralized educational financing, local income and property wealth. Now districts with low incomes or little property value per student are just as likely to have high educational spending as are wealthy districts.”

It is this variance in spending that Skip Kifer documents – and there’s every reason to believe it’s getting worse. Kifer says, “I do not see the equity in funding. In fact, spreads, a measure of inequity, may have increased.”


Surely, the legislature’s historical tendency toward brief periods of attention to educational funding, followed by longer periods of neglect, has contributed to the widening inequities. It has also affected the overall adequacy of school funding.

What I find interesting is Silberman’s focus on adequacy.

Adequacy is the element that can more easily generate political support from wealthier districts; like Fayette County where Council for Better Education President Tom Shelton is now Superintendent. When equity is the focus, wealthier districts always feel like “their money” is being given to poorer districts.