Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Pursuit of Excellence: Principles to Guide Kentucky's Future Postsecondary Success

The Prichard Committee today released a report outlining the the key elements of the Committee's work in postsecondary education going forward, as well as establishing guiding principles for ensuring Kentucky reaches its education, economic, workforce, and civic potential.
The full report can be found via the Committee's web-site here, The Pursuit of Excellence: Principles to Guide Kentucky's Future Postsecondary Success
Below is the full text of the Prichard Committee's statement released today:
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Providing a framework for a productive discussion on the future of postsecondary education in Kentucky is the goal of a series of guiding principles developed by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

“The Pursuit of Excellence: Principles to Guide Kentucky’s Future Postsecondary Success” provides a focus for the committee’s return to an area of advocacy that served as its foundation in the early 1980s.

The citizens’ organization was known at the time as the Prichard Committee on Higher Education in Kentucky’s Future. Its 1981 report, In Pursuit of Excellence, noted that “despite a tendency of people to become pessimistic about the value of institutions, (they) still look to education as the road to a better life and as the source of information and talent needed to solve problems.”

That remains true today as Kentucky faces issues of access, affordability, accountability and the relative value of achieving success through postsecondary education, the committee said.

In encouraging parents, students, business and community leaders, institutions and policymakers to participate in a discussion to ensure Kentucky builds and maintains an educated citizenry and a talented workforce, the Prichard Committee issued guiding principles that focus on access, affordability and quality:
  • Access – High-quality postsecondary educational opportunities in Kentucky should be inclusive of all students, and Kentucky should ensure that all students are prepared for, have knowledge of, and are encouraged to pursue opportunities through postsecondary education pathways.
  • Affordability – High-quality postsecondary education in Kentucky should be affordable to all students who want to benefit from and pursue such opportunities.
  • Quality - To ensure the highest quality postsecondary education system and student outcomes, Kentucky should focus resources on and measure institutional performance in improving the lives of students and the public at large.
“In the current fiscal and political climate, investments in postsecondary education – both funding and strategies to achieve public goals – must remain a public policy priority,” the committee concluded. “Abundant research and the reality of the lives of countless Kentuckians make clear that greater educational attainment does, indeed, represent the path to a larger life for individuals and the state as a whole.”

“The Prichard Committee has focused on increasing the quality of P-12 education for more than 30 years. With more students than ever becoming ready for college and career, it’s critical to ensure our entire education system presents a seamless web of opportunity for all Kentuckians,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee.  “Renewing focus on access to affordable, high-quality postsecondary education will support efforts to ensure Kentucky has an educated citizenry and talented workforce.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

African American Suspensions: Cause for Sorrow

| By Susan Perkins Weston | 

Both suspensions and in-school removals take students out of their regular classes as a consequence for behavior. The chart above does not mean that every African American student was suspended last year. It does come close to meaning that for every African American student who was not suspended, another African American student was suspended more than once.

So far, what I’ve got on this is sorrow.

Sorrow for the students who separated from their classmates, removed from their school’s broad welcome in the simplest and most visible way imaginable.

Sorrow for the students who watch those separations, puzzling over what it means, puzzling over whether they should learn something general about an “us” or about a “them” from the pattern of who gets sent away.

Sorrow for the educators who decide on the separations, whether they had better options or not, whether they are still searching for other ways to work with the students or settled into despair.

Sorrow for the families, whether they think a particular exclusion just or unjust, whether they are giving the children the best preparation to avoid this kind of consequence or not.

Sorrow for connections not made, relationships not flourishing, potential not growing at its fullest possible speed.

Sorrow for all of us, because these students should be strong, secure, and settling into confident membership in our communities, and we somehow have not come close to making what should be into what happens here now.

I wish I had deep insight into how this happens in schools and classrooms.  I wish I had bold ideas for how to make it different.  I've been looking at these numbers since last October, without finding that kind of clarity.  Sorrow is what I've got, so I'll speak that, and welcome all thoughts on how we can do better.

Below: sharply contrasting data for three other groups of students: