Friday, April 22, 2011

Ending to begin

My youngest child has told me the substance of the last question on the last page of the last Kentucky Core Content Test he will ever take--and I like the substance of his answer.   (I'll be good and not repeat what he told me while testing is still underway.)

He'll be in the class of 2012, the group we originally set out to make proficient as measured by the KIRIS assessment.  Next fall, we'll know how close we got to delivering for that group in reading, mathematics, science, social studies, and on-demand writing.  For the class of 2014, our target group since the 1999 start of CATS testing, we'll never know which of those goals we hit or missed.

For the coming classes, Kentucky has committed to higher standards, and our future assessments will be even more demanding. That's a good thing, and a hard thing worth the effort it's going to take.

And yet, for me, it is the moment of generational transition.  From the day the 1990 Senate Education Committee marked up HB 940, later known as the Kentucky Education Reform Act, I've known this work was about my children.  I read about KERA the next day, sitting in a Louisville hotel room, with a baby daughter in my arms, a toddler daughter playing a few feet away, and plans to spend the next day hunting for a home in Danville.

That chapter closed yesterday, as my Joe finished his last open-response answer and turned the page.

Naturally, new chapters open all the time.  From Facebook,  I know that Beau and I have at least three new "grand-students"on the way, and my neighborhood has launched a small baby-boom in the last couple of years.  For their futures and thousands of others of precious Kentucky children, our new push to college-and-career-ready standards, preferably measured by challenging new multi-state assessments, will be essential.  If anything, I've got more energy for the struggle now than I had when mothering was an immediate, minute-to-minute part of my life.   I plan to be right in the middle of the fray, working to make the new goals reality.

And yet, though every mother knows the transitions are coming, I doubt any mom has figured out how to take the major milestones in stride.  For two decades, I've been able to take in my hopes for all children and for my own three in a single glance.  Now I've got to learn to adjust my vision for two separate tasks.  It took me several days to get used to bifocal glasses, and this new way of thinking seems likely to take me substantially longer to absorb.


  1. So poignant, Susan! So glad you plan on keeping on with your incredible work after your own youngest child graduates. (But you may want to be sure those aforementioned bifocals are also rose-colored!)

  2. It is tough, Susan, feeling "connected" after your own children bow out of the K-12 education arena. Having entered the teaching field when my own were in high school, I found myself questioning what my sources would be to keep me in the loop with following generations as both of mine crossed the graduation stage. My advice to you would be to find classrooms to visit and students to listen to. As you and I know, primary sources are the best. :)


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