Category: Opinion

Cardona Matters, But the Most Important Decisions Will Happen at the Local Level

President Joe Biden has certainly kept busy during his first days in the Oval Office. He has issued a call for national unity, doubled down on his promise to reopen most schools in his first 100 days, and signed a flurry of executive orders on everything from climate change to immigration. However, with fanfare of the new Biden administration likely to continue…

Rural and small schools are the unsung heroes of innovation, and it’s time we learn from them

While the challenges of rural schools have been discussed at length, they also have unique opportunities for innovation. Not only do rural schools act as centers for learning, but they serve their small towns as community hubs as well. Accordingly, rural schools are often better positioned to create opportunities for family engagement than their suburban and urban counterparts. This environment,…

If You Care About Educational Justice in Your Community, #GetEducated and #VoteLocal

Focus on what the talking heads have to say and you would think there’s nothing more to this election than donkeys and elephants. Yes, we’re witnessing one of the most contentious presidential elections in history. The outcome will have immediate consequences for a nation struggling to navigate a disastrous public health crisis, an economic recession and racial injustice all at…

Overwhelmed by remote teaching? These simple mindset shifts may give teachers a lift

Around the country, teachers are working hard to educate our students in some form or another. Whether you’re managing a virtual academy or juggling between in-person and remote learners, one thing is clear: teaching in 2020 is tough. But with a few shifts in mindset, remote learning doesn’t have to be the bane of every teacher’s existence. Here are a…

Let’s extend grace to education leaders as Kentucky students head back to school

Our nation’s education leaders are asked to take on many roles in their good work to promote safe and supportive learning environments for their students. In many cases, “punching bag” is among them.  School principals face pressure from all sides: staff members, parents, students, and district administrators. Nearly half have considered leaving the profession because of the relentless workloads. District…

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…

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…

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…

5 reasons teachers remain in toxic work cultures

Currently, we are experiencing an unprecedented teacher exodus, in addition to shrinking applicant pools and education program enrollment. The reasons for leaving the teaching profession are abundant, but what’s not talked about, are the reasons many remain in a toxic culture. It’s time for teachers, many of which, if not most, view their profession as a “calling”, or “passion,” to…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

Holding Teachers Accountable Without Adequate Teacher Prep Programs Is a Set-Up

One of my resolutions for this new year is to think outside of silos and to start connecting the dots between the wide, disparate, and interwoven factors within education, among them teacher accountability, teacher preparation and teacher support. Even after 10 years in the classroom, I’m frequently accused of being anti-teacher. I’m not surprised, though. When you write about the need…

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…

I Am ‘Just A Teacher’ And Proud Of It.

OK, so here’s this embarrassing thing I did recently. I kinda promised myself I would never admit this to anyone, so please don’t tell. It was my friend’s birthday, and my friend is this super impressive person who has been elected to office and whose friends are all impressive people that help people get elected to office and have job…

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…

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…

JCPS Is Closed Again. What Does Today’s ‘Sickout’ Mean for Kentucky Teachers?

Closed for the second time in seven days, Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is very, very sick. Last week, they were sick of lawmakers trying to restructure the state’s pension board. Today, they’re sick of the legislature’s proposed plan for scholarship tax credits, which would allow donors to contribute to a scholarship fund for low-income students seeking private school enrollment. …

What If School Reform Is What’s Best For Kids?

It’s no secret that the Bluegrass State is embroiled in a battle for for the souls of our schools. We’ve witnessed one commissioner resign and another rise from relative obscurity. We’ve seen the state’s largest school district narrowly avoid a takeover. In a matter of months, we’ve watched as perennial policies were repealed and replaced overnight. The whirlwind of changes…

I Cut Out Standardized Test Prep and Focused On Relationships. Student Growth Was the Highest of My Career.

If you’re a teacher, you might know the feeling.  You maintain a frantic pace all year long, trying to shoehorn an impossible amount of the prescribed curriculum into a limited amount of time because ‘it might be on the test.’  You sprinkle multiple choice test taking tips into your lessons to help kids squeeze out a few extra correct answers.…

Teachers Need Emotional Support Too

Increasingly, schools are returning to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in order to better understand how to support students. As anyone who has taken an introductory psychology course knows well, Maslow’s psychological theory is a five-tier model of human needs, depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs include: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. The theory is applicable to education in…

Reforming the Teaching Profession

A public school teacher in the United States of America is not a very attractive career. The pay is not acceptable. The training is not sufficient. The professionalism of the career is in the gutter. Schools are underfunded and understaffed. Tenure has destroyed any motivation for improvement and advancement. Leadership and most significant decisions trickle down from state or federal…

Why We Fight

Public education, and more specifically public educators, have increasingly been in the media more this year than in the past several decades. Thousands of teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and North Carolina have held work stoppages, strikes, and rallies at their respective State Capitols over the severe lack of funding for their students, teacher salaries, and teacher (and…

It’s No Wonder Kids Aren’t Learning When Our Schools Are Filled With Myths Like This

As a kid of the early 2000s, I still remember the old-school “Hooked on Phonics” commercials that encouraged children to sound out words phonetically to increase their reading speed and proficiency. Even though my family never bought the program, this was in essence the same approach that my parents and teachers used when I was learning how to read. I…

Hey Teachers, Answer These 2 Questions And We’ll See Just How High Your Expectations Are

The first question is easy. Do you agree that all teachers should set high expectations for their students? The answer seems obvious. Of course, teachers should set the bar high for the kids they work with every day. It’s the second question that seems to really trip teachers up. Do you honestly believe that all students can meet those expectations?…

Rural schools need equity too.

Rural Schools Need Equity Too

I just got home from a convening with the rest of the Kentucky State Teacher Fellows, where we had some long, tough conversations on equity in our schools. We’re preparing for later this fall, when schools across the Bluegrass are going to witness a major data collection blast from education groups and teacher leaders. The reason is simple: Kentucky is…

In Rural Areas, Education Means More

What’s white and red and would have been worth thousands in the 18th century? Yep, a Coke can. As it turns out, pure aluminum used to be one of the most prized metals in the world. Aluminum was once so valuable, in fact, that the government of France used to display Fort Knox-style bars of aluminum next to the French…

‘Tough Kids’ Need Love Too

For twenty years I worked in traditional school settings — “normal” elementary and middle schools. Then it all changed. I was sent to work at our district’s alternative learning center. I had heard about the ALC. That’s where the “bad” kids were sent. The kids that bullied others. The kids that brought weapons to school. The kids that made bomb threats.…

Live From Rural Kentucky, It’s The Belief Gap!

Mass media has an unmistakable impact on our impressions of people and places. Take, for example, shows like Baywatch and 90210, which color our perceptions of Los Angeles. When I think of the City of Angels, I see endless sunshine, luxury, and Kardashian-esque mansions. When I think of The Big Apple, songs like Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and Alicia…

The Rural-Urban Divide: Responses To School Shootings Show Us Two Sides Of America

When then-candidate Barack Obama was still seeking the Democratic nomination back in 2008, one of his most notable gaffes of the primary campaign trail was an ill-worded assessment of blue-collar culture. Speaking to a wealthy fundraiser crowd, Obama suggested that rural residents of Pennsylvania were bitter, and that they were inclined to “cling to guns or religion” as a result…