Author: Garris L. Stroud

Garris L. Stroud is a teacher and education advocate from Greenville, Kentucky. His works have appeared in Science Scope, the Kentucky English Bulletin, Curio Learning, and Education Post. He is a proud 2016 Honors graduate of Murray State University. Garris is a Kentucky State Teacher Fellow and was a 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year nominee. He was recently appointed to the Kentucky Commissioner of Education's Teacher Advisory Council (TAC).

What would the new JCPS student assignment plan mean for West Louisville?

New schooling opportunities may be coming to West Louisville.   For decades, students in the historically low-income West End have lacked access to schools close to home. But during a virtual summit earlier this month, Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio explained how the district’s new student assignment proposal would create new schooling options for West Louisville families.…

Everything we know about Kentucky’s #HealthyAtSchool guidelines

This week, Kentucky officials released the #HealthyAtSchool guidelines for school reopenings this fall. Interim Education Commissioner Kevin Brown and Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman were quick to point out that flexibility among the finer details will be key, and that what works in small rural districts may not work in a large urban district like Jefferson County. Instead, the #HealthyAtSchool guidelines…

Culturally Relevant Education Isn’t About “Indoctrination,” It’s The First Step Towards Justice

Back in 2018, I was really fed up with the major incidents of discrimination and hatred going on around the country. (Remember Charlottesville? Or when two Black men were wrongfully arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks?) It led me to write this piece, challenging educators to appropriately call out discrimination when they see it. The feedback was mixed.  My message was…

Kentucky schools could reopen in late July

Yes, you read that correctly. Governor Beshear is encouraging school districts to be flexible in their plans to reopen for next school year, and this week, he outlined three possibilities to the Interim Education Commissioner Kevin Brown for what the timeline may look like.  One such possibility would involve an early start to the 2020-2021 school year, with schools opening…

Thinking critically about Kentucky’s next Commissioner of Education

The search is on. In late March, the Kentucky Department of Education finalized a contract with the Greenwood/Asher search firm to help lock in a new education commissioner. Kentucky’s previous education chief, Wayne Lewis, was ousted in December by Gov. Beshear’s new-look Kentucky Board of Education. Interim Commissioner Kevin Brown has overseen the Kentucky Department of Education in the meantime.…

#LetThemTeach: Grant Waivers For All Student Teachers Struggling Due to COVID-19

As our schools grapple with the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, it’s difficult for school leaders to plan far ahead into the future. Many have adopted an insular approach, focusing their efforts on the tangible, short-term implications of school closures and funding uncertainties. However, while the threat of the new coronavirus occupies the airwaves, the truth is that there has never been…

States are right to cancel testing amid COVID-19, but we can’t make accountability an enemy

Accountability isn’t the most fun discussion topic in education, but it’s a crucial driving force for our schools. As students complete their state assessments each spring, the data that school districts receive back in the fall provides them with valuable information about how effectively they’re reaching their most vulnerable students, closing achievement gaps, and creating learning opportunities for students. Having…

Resources For Learning and Taking Action During Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Over the past month, we’ve all been watching as coronavirus (COVID-19) quickly spreads across state lines and borders. So far, 14 individuals have tested positive in Kentucky, and Governor Andy Beshear’s recommendation to close all schools for two weeks was intended to keep that number low. As a result, school districts are rapidly applying for “non-traditional instruction days” to keep…

With KTIP Gone, Here’s How Kentucky Can Support and Retain New Teachers

For too many young people, teaching is not an attractive profession. Even the dynamic few who are called to this profession fall prey to heavy workloads, disrespect, and eventual burnout. Perhaps no statistic is more condemning than the fact that almost half of all new teachers now leave the profession within five years. Programs like KTIP, the Kentucky Teacher Internship…

Louisville Teacher Residency Program sets standard for teacher recruitment

Last week, Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and the University of Louisville announced a joint initiative to bolster teacher diversity in Louisville. The Louisville Teacher Residency Program, which is setting its sights on bringing diverse, highly-skilled teachers into low-income communities, will provide participants with a Masters degree and a teaching certificate all in one year. In return, participants agree to…

Go Teach KY aims to recruit new teachers to the Bluegrass—here’s how it will (and won’t) succeed

Back in the fall, the Kentucky Department of Education officially announced the launch of Go Teach KY, an initiative aiming to recruit new teachers to the Bluegrass. In tandem, KDE also announced plans for a new loan forgiveness program called the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching (KAET) in hopes of diversifying Kentucky’s teaching force. “Ensuring that Kentucky students have…

Successful Schools Have Teachers Who Lead

I’ve been in a lot of schools in my time. Whether as a student, a staff member, or a casual observer of Kentucky’s public schools, I’ve always commented that each school has its own personality, created by the unique community both inside it and surrounding it. And yes, while it’s true that administrators are responsible for setting the tone and…

Andy Beshear is our next governor. So what’s next for Kentucky education?

Last Tuesday night, the majority of Kentucky teachers got their wish: Andy Beshear, the “public education candidate,” defeated incumbent governor Matt Bevin to become the next leader of the Bluegrass. (We think.) Beshear and his educator-turned-running mate Jacqueline Coleman landed their victory thanks in no small part to public education groups like 120United and KEA, who lauded their commitment to…

As student achievement stalls in Kentucky, Bevin and Beshear paint different paths forward

  The Battle for the Bluegrass is nigh, and no, we’re not talking about the Cats and the Cards. Tuesday, November 5th is Election Day, and Kentucky find itself resting firmly in the national spotlight. Proclaimed by some as a litmus test for Trump’s true influence, Kentucky’s 2019 gubernatorial election has already proven unconventional at the least. For education voters,…

Should teacher evaluations be tied to student growth data?

Teacher quality is widely acknowledged as the most crucial school-wide factor impacting student learning. There’s nothing that benefits students more than having an effective teacher in the classroom. Naturally, when the recent “State of the States” report from the National Council on Teacher Quality revealed that several states like Kentucky have backed away from research-supported teacher evaluation practices, it’s no…

Beshear’s plan to raise teacher pay is a good start, but not enough to tackle Kentucky’s teacher shortage

Last week, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear made headlines by proposing a $2,000 pay raise for Kentucky teachers. It’s not yet clear how he plans to pay for it, and of course, there’s no guarantee he’ll win the election, either. But regardless, after all the fiery rhetoric and absurd commentary surrounding Kentucky education these past couple of years, I’m happy…

New poll shows Beshear leading Kentucky’s race for governor, but some say not so fast

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or lying comatose for the past four years, you’re aware that Kentucky’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear is the son of a highly-popular, former Democratic governor. He also happens to be running for governor this year against the least popular incumbent in the U.S., current Gov. Matt Bevin, whose political acumen is as…

State funding cuts are never a good thing, but they’re even tougher for Kentucky’s rural and high-poverty schools

State funding cuts will likely always be a maligned part of the education conversation. Kentucky teachers have known that better than most: over the past decade, funding cuts to K-12 education in the Bluegrass were among the worst in the nation.   Regardless of where you live, teach, or send your kids to school, you’re probably already aware of the…

Solving Kentucky’s teacher shortage crisis begins and ends with the money

There is no getting around it. Any real solution to Kentucky’s growing teacher shortage must involve higher salaries. It has to. That’s my take on the latest debate to strike Twitter feeds across the Bluegrass. With nearly 5,000 teaching positions still unfilled on this final week of July, Commissioner Lewis and Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) officials have become increasingly…

Kentucky Reacts On Twitter To House Approval of Bevin’s Pension Plan

Unless you live under a rock or somewhere not named Kentucky, you’ve probably heard the news. Earlier today, the Kentucky House of Representatives voted 52-46 in favor of House Bill 1, Governor Matt Bevin’s newest pension plan. #HB1 passes. We got this wrong today.#APensionIsAPromise pic.twitter.com/9YArBDu1ki — Buddy Wheatley (@buddywheatleyky) July 22, 2019 This pension plan is different from the controversial…

Rural Families Deserve To Know What Will Happen With KentuckyWired

KentuckyWired, a bold plan to bring broadband Internet access to thousands of rural families, is set to make the Bluegrass State the envy of the nation. Eventually.That’s because the bipartisan plan to provide rural Kentucky families with high-speed Internet access is currently years behind schedule and $100 million over budget, as revealed in an ongoing investigation by the Courier Journal and ProPublica.

145,000 Kentucky kids are coping with parental incarceration. Could programs like this give them the lift they need?

I have long believed that the power of a quality education can transcend the four walls of any classroom. However, after recently learning about a crisis affecting 15% of all Kentucky children, I am more convinced than ever that education must transcend brick and mortar to truly render positive change within our communities. That crisis? Parental incarceration. As it stands, roughly…

Kentucky Is Replacing Common Core With… Common Core

When Kentucky became the first state in the nation to adopt the Common Core standards in 2009, America suddenly developed curriculum fever. Viral “Common Core math problems” baffled parents. Questions of local vs. centralized control lingered in statehouses around the nation. Shortly after forty-one states and the District of Columbia had adopted the Common Core standards, public resistance had reached…

Has School Choice Become The Litmus Test For 2020 Democrats?

American politics is a sport of trends. In 2016, we witnessed a progressive uprising among Democrats and left-leaning independents who embraced Sen. Bernie Sanders’ vision of “democratic socialism.” The Vermont Senator may have gone on to lose that race against frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but his platform was no less successful. Bernie moved the party to the left, setting a trend…

So You Really Wanna Know What’s Wrong With Ed Reform?

It seems like every week I come across another article that tries to point out where “school reform has gone astray.” Many of them are penned by teachers, angry and confused by the adoption of charter school  laws and rapid changes to their state’s accountability systems. Others are written by reform-minded folks with legitimate concerns about the direction that the…

Spilling The Tea with Tyler Murphy

We’re back with another Q&A session, this time with Lexington’s Tyler Murphy. He made waves by winning his race for Fayette County Board of Education last fall, and he’s continued to make a name for himself as an education and equity advocate since then. Enjoy! Garris: Hey Tyler! Thanks for joining us. For those who may not know you well…

There’s An Obvious Way To Improve Teaching Quality, But Getting There Won’t Be Easy

As conversations on school quality rage on, the authors of a new study from Education Next tackle a question that seems so obvious, you would never think to ask: “Do smarter teachers make smarter students?” Based on research in math and reading performance across 31 different countries, it appears that they do, and the relationship is much stronger than some…

Afi Tagnedji’s Making Sure Students’ Voices Are Heard in the Equity Conversation

Everyone is talking about how schools should care about equity for their students, but that can’t be the whole conversation. Equity has to mean more than just policies or decisions made for students—it also has to mean the process of fighting for fairness along with students. That’s the message that Afi Tagnedji, a senior at Louisville’s Iroquois High School, has been spreading far and…

Kamala Harris proposes nationwide teacher pay raises

Kamala Harris Wants to Raise Teacher Pay, But Some Argue Not So Fast

The 2020 primaries may be ten months away, but that hasn’t stopped over a dozen Democratic candidates from launching early campaigns for a chance to take on Donald Trump. Among the heavyweights so far is Kamala Harris, a California Senator whose announcement brought thousands together in Oakland to support her bid to become the first African-American woman president. Her first…

In the Wake of Christchurch, Sanaa Kahloon Refuses to Let Hatred Win

After the recent mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, new attention has been called to the fears that Muslims experience every day. Just ask Sanaa Kahloon, a first-generation Pakistani-American from Lexington. Sanaa points out that while the Christchurch shooting was gutting, persecution isn’t exactly new to the Muslim community. For her, no Friday prayer passes without a…