Category: Network Voices

In Kentucky, We’re Getting Creative With Staffing Schools During This Pandemic

Everywhere you go, you see “Now Hiring” signs. A lot of companies are offering large sign-on bonuses for new employees. You know who also is in desperate need of “help” but can’t offer these same incentives? The education world. No matter what school district’s website you look at, you will see that they are hiring. They are hiring instructional assistants.…

Explained: How to Run for Your Local School Board

This piece originally appeared with Education Post. School boards (in some states “school committees”) sit at the intersection of civic engagement, local politics, and community service. The school board is a team of individuals who want to affect the direction of their school district and are willing to give their time to make a difference. They come from a variety of backgrounds—full-time parents,…

How 18 million Americans could move into rural areas – without leaving home

About 46 million Americans – 14% of the nation’s inhabitants – are currently classified as living in rural areas. That number could jump to 64 million – an increase of nearly 40% – without anyone moving into a new home. That could actually hurt small cities and rural communities across the country. The federal government classifies communities’ characteristics based on…

I Love Teaching, But I’m Not a Martyr

I have been navigating majority (or all) white spaces for a very long time. Whether it was the tracked gifted and talented classes or my time at university, I’ve always sort of been an outsider. In a state with 96% of its teaching staff being white, choosing teaching was to be no different. Current wisdom and policy advocates ‘if we…

Will Biden’s Pick for Education Secretary Work for All Kids?

“We want to support you so that you can get to the great work of helping kids. You have to commit to that partnership if you’re a public school, and you are.” That’s Miguel Cardona, President-Elect Joe Biden’s pick for U.S. education secretary and current education commissioner of Connecticut, speaking last February to leaders of the charter school network Achievement First, which serves…

Citizen voices are speaking out on education during COVID-19

Citizen voices are key to COVID response in education and beyond Add to Kentucky’s groundswell of education influencers some innovative, if earnest, laypeople. We are part of a citizen research team of school stakeholders. We call ourselves the “Intergen 9,” and we comprise three parents, three teachers, and three students representing eight districts across the Commonwealth, including five people of…

As school starts, teachers across the U.S. are trying live virtual instruction for the first time. Will it work?

Chivon Gulley is getting ready for a very different first day of school. When the pandemic hit this spring, the Oklahoma City public high school science teacher focused on helping students with failing grades bring those averages up. She checked in with families twice a week and held office hours, but never taught live on video. That’s all about to…

Dear 2020-2021 Educators

I really hope you use this distance/remote learning experience to reimagine school. Begin by letting students and families know you are here to help, teach, encourage, and love them. You’re here to support and move kids forward just like you always have. Don’t plan for students to be working from home from 8am-3pm. That’s not possible for most kids. Some…

Kentucky Seniors Speak Out On COVID-19 Disruptions

Since March, we have seen our local schools and communities rally around the Class of 2020. We’ve all driven past the signs in the front yards to recognize the seniors. We’ve all posted our own senior pictures with big hair in the 80s to the unforgivable 90s style trends from many moons ago to show support for them. What we…

Prichard Committee makes ‘Big Bold Ask’ for Kentucky education

During the upcoming legislative session, the Prichard Committee has a Big, Bold Ask: $1 billion in additional funding by 2026 to address critical needs in education – from early childhood to postsecondary. The Prichard Committee, a statewide citizens’ education advocacy organization, is calling on state leaders to move forward with key investments across education, including: Early childhood – Investing in childcare…

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…

Could early graduation in Kentucky lead to more equitable outcomes for students?

For thousands of students across America, high school follows the same path of four years, full of classes, courses, and conversations, all to prepare for what we call “the real world.” For some students, however, this traditional path is not what they need or want. Differing circumstances create an environment where the traditional high school system can become inconvenient or…

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…

Teacher-Led Advocacy Isn’t a Choice, It’s Just What We Do

Historically, Teacher Appreciation Week has included cute coffee mugs stuffed with candy and treats for beloved teachers. Apple themed gift baskets, Starbucks cards and handmade gifts from students and parents abound. I’m sure in many classrooms across the country, this will continue to be the case. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never turn my nose at a thoughtful gift! However,…

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…

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…

Students Need Diverse Educators

Growing up in a hollow (pronounced “holler”) in southeastern Kentucky, I never considered if I I was getting equitable access to effective, experienced, and diverse educators. In fact, most of my teachers were a lot like me: white, low/middle class, hillbillies. When I came to Eastern Kentucky University for my undergraduate studies, my exposure to a more diverse pool of…

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…

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Spilling The Tea With Miss Kentucky Katie Bouchard

Hey folks, for those of you new to the site, this is little Q&A session we like to call “Spilling the Tea.” Here with us this week is reigning Miss Kentucky Katie Bouchard of Owensboro, whose platform is “Being the Voice For Kentucky’s Children.” You can also check out our other Q&As with KYREADS founder Allison Slone and Kentucky Teacher…

Spilling The Tea With Jessica Dueñas

Hey y’all! Our first Spilling the Tea piece did so well that we decided to bring it back for even more. (If you didn’t get the chance to check out our first session with Allison Slone, go read it now!) Our next guest is Jessica Dueñas, Kentucky’s current Teacher of the Year. She’s here with us to spill the tea…

How Our Rural School Is Closing the Opportunity Gap and Preparing the Next Generation of Teachers

This piece by Leah Luke originally appeared on Education Post. While Leah’s experiences take place in Wisconsin, my hope is that Kentucky’s rural schools and districts will find value and relevancy in her work as well. Teacher shortages in Wisconsin, and across the country, have a stranglehold on the profession. Enrollment in educator prep programs in Wisconsin is down 30 percent. Teachers are retiring in…

Spilling The Tea With Allison Slone

Hey all! As we approach the first anniversary of Kentucky School Talk’s launch, I’ve decided to start digging deeper into the great work that’s going on in schools and districts across the Bluegrass. Throughout 2019, you’ll see short Q&A sessions like these pop up with fantastic educators, parents, and students from around the state. We like to call it “Spilling…

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…

Poor Curriculum Is a Recipe for Disaster, Here’s How Schools Can Help Teachers Find High-Quality Materials

Lately, I’ve seen a meme that keeps popping up on social media: “Telling a teacher to use a boxed curriculum is like forcing a chef to cook hamburger helper.” I was tempted to like it at first; it seems catchy and does hint at an issue that teachers face regularly: maintaining autonomy and creativity, while using materials that are aligned…

#MeToo Meets Kentucky Schools

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, we’re discovering that sexual assault is a much larger, more widespread issue than we had noticed before. Kentucky schools are not immune. Maybe you saw the breaking news over a Kentucky high school last week. A woman who used to attend the school accused her former teacher of “predatory sexually grooming” of his students,…

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…

How to Talk to Your Child About Bullying

This month is National Bullying Prevention Month. As a principal, have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying. I decided to address this issue because parents need to be aware of bullying and the devastating impact it can have on children. HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO COMBAT BULLYING Have a serious conversation with your child about bullying. Physical bullying increases in elementary school…

Educators & Diversity: How Teachers Can Tackle Implicit Bias & Create More Equitable Learning Environments

Some studies suggest white teachers have lower expectations of students of color, and it has been well documented in Kentucky and across the nation that students of color receive disciplinary remediation from school administration at higher rates, sometimes 3 to 4 times more on average, than their white counterparts. As a white former assistant principal, this statistic really hits me…

Finding Purpose In My Eastern Kentucky Roots

Growing up in Eastern Kentucky, I was often bored with small-town life. I was a rather shy and bookish girl of few words and many thoughts: thoughts about my family, my community, and more than anything, my future. I spent many days studying hard and dreaming about big cities with plenty of room for my most ambitious aspirations. By the…

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A More Perfect Teacher

Benjamin D. Alvord is a history teacher at Clarke N. Johnsen in Tooele County School District. He has committed to a life in education after working for a decade in the corporate world and now has been teaching for 8 years. Find him @misteralvord. An original version of this piece appeared on Curio Learning. I teach 8th Grade U.S. history, a…

Standards Can Help Fix Students’ Broken Moral Compass

A recent piece in The Atlantic, Students’ Broken Moral Compasses, describes a teacher’s attempt to help his students develop good character and learn morality and ethics. However, his arguments against the Common Core State Standards are unfounded. High academic standards free teachers and students from skill-and-drill sessions that deaden curiosity, and give students the opportunity to think independently, analyze reading…

The Power of Community

This past December my wife and I faced the most difficult challenge of our lives.  We were very fortunate to become parents to a set of beautiful twin girls, but their time spent with us was limited to only a brief moment.  In that moment, despite the outpouring of love and support from friends and family, I struggled to focus…

#KYEdUpdate: Hal Heiner, JCPS Takeover, and EPSB Overhaul

While teachers and students across the Commonwealth are holding on tight to their final days of summer, the action in Frankfort and beyond just keeps coming. The Kentucky Board of Education has a new chairman, but he’s no first-timer in Frankfort. Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis has a deal for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), one of the largest districts in the…

Student Voice Matters

This past January, Rachel Belin and representatives of the Prichard Committee’s Student Voice Team came to educate my students on student voice. In one of the activities that they did with my class, my students were all lined up in the front of the room. Rachel explained she would ask them a “yes” or “no” question and then they would…