Monday, January 29, 2018

Teacher Learning Cuts Likely to Stall Gap Reduction and Learning Growth

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

Kentucky’s students need:

  • High levels of knowledge, skill, and constructive character traits to be ready for full participation in their communities and the economy.
  • Improving results for every group and quicker, deeper improvement for the student groups that have historically been served poorly in our schools.

To meet those needs, Kentucky’s teachers must implement:

  • Sustained, thoughtful innovation, built over repeating cycles of finding promising approaches, trying them out in classroom work, checking results, and refining the approaches to keep moving students forward.
  • Career-long exploration and adaptation, rather than one-time adjustments, both because this work is a pathbreaking effort to change learning in ways no state has ever fully achieved and because each new class of students arrives with new strengths and challenges that cannot be fully served by repeating what worked for last year's pupils.

Kentucky’s next budget, if it follows the Governor’s recommendations, will:

  • Wipe out nearly every line item in the state budget that supports educators' work on those innovations. The chart below identifies the teacher growth initiative being abandoned. 
  • Weaken overall funding so much that schools will find it far harder to provide teachers with the blocks of collaborative time they need to plan innovations, check results, and revise plans to make results stronger in the next round of instruction.

If teaching were rote labor, those cuts might not matter. If a diligent person could do the work just by following a list of instructions consistently, these reductions might be survivable. Teaching is the opposite. Teaching is supporting young minds, with varied gifts and diverse experiences, as they reach for understanding of a vast universe. Equipping the next generation requires constant study, relentless exploration, and unending creativity. Strong innovation in teaching and learning cannot be developed on zero dollars and sustained in brief moments grabbed in busy hallways.

If Kentucky agrees to strip teachers of learning funding and undermine their learning time, we will slow and maybe halt the learning changes Kentucky needs. The impact will be severe all around, but it will be hardest of all on students who most need upward movement in our schools, including students with identified learning disabilities, students who are learning English, students with low family incomes, and students of color.

Excellence with equity cannot be reached on this budget path.

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!