Governor Steve Beshear's task force on Transforming Education in Kentucky convened today at East Jessamine High School to begin their work.
Governor Beshear asked the participants to look at issues to include teacher recruitment and retention, the academic portion of career and technical education, the transition from preschool to K-12, offering college credit in high school, college readiness, technology, and assessing skills that matter to employers, like the ability to analyze and communicate.
In a panel presentation looking for future lessons from the last two decades, the most valuable phrase I heard was "we opened the cage door and the canary wouldn't come out."
That was Joe Kelly's phrase for the puzzle of places where the KERA strategies did not take off. Kelly, a former chair of the Kentucky Board of Education, reminded participants of the intent to provide resources and freedom and ask each school to work out how to produce new, much higher results. Some schools and districts rose to the challenge, but there clearly is an important issue to understand in how some did not--how some canaries "wouldn't come out."
That question is indeed the one that keeps me pushing on the teaching quality agenda. When I blog about professional learning communities, about schools that close gaps, or about balanced assessment and its sunlit vision, I'm always trying to articulate again what equips schools to rise to new standards. I'm always looking for the added element that equips educators--and therefore students--to fly.