Category: Equity

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…

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…

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…

He Never Dreamed Of Being A Teacher. Programs Like This Changed His Entire Career.

Chris Stunson never dreamed of going into education. He wanted to be an engineer, and teaching was the furthest thing from his mind. But in a message he wrote to the Bowling Green Daily News earlier this month, Stunson credited loan forgiveness programs for his surprising start in the classroom. “The minority education scholarships, loan forgiveness programs and positive role models…

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…

RCA Kids Dance When They Learn They're Seeing Black Panther

These Students’ Black Panther Reactions Show Us Why Black History Matters Every Month

Most of us are familiar with the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. It’s an insanely awesome, student-centered school that has an intense commitment to students’ cultures. Teachers at RCA use highly-engaging, culturally responsive teaching methods to reach their students. Their lessons are so engaging, in fact, that many of their students’ projects end up going viral on social media. Like…

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?…

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…

Trying to Build A Great Classroom Culture For All Students? Here Are 5 Things Anyone Can Do.

I just got back from an amazing professional learning session delivered by Kentucky State University’s Dr. Roger Cleveland. In the session, he had us do an equity activity that absolutely made my jaw drop. Here’s how it worked. We were each given five index cards and were instructed to write different labels that identify ourselves, like race, faith, sexual orientation,…

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…

Citing Low Performance and Student Abuse, Interim Commissioner Lewis Calls For JCPS Takeover

Jefferson County Public Schools is facing a takeover. Referencing the low performance of several Louisville schools as well as abuses in student discipline, Interim Commissioner of Education Dr. Wayne Lewis stated on Monday that he will attempt to give control over the JCPS district to the state. JCPS is one of the nation’s largest school districts, and the largest in…

Rural Kids Need Better Schools Too

I didn’t really think much about rural representation until I first got involved in educational leadership. For the first time, I learned that there was an entire world of organizations, social media campaigns and professional-development sessions all dedicated to improving schools and closing achievement gaps in Kentucky. “Wow!” I thought. “How awesome to see so many educators who had dedicated…

We Can’t Keep Doing The Same Thing In Schools And Expect Better Results

“School reform” is such a misunderstood concept in the education world. That misunderstanding, of course, leads many people to dismiss useful improvements. But we need those changes, and quick, because nothing can so profoundly impact our children’s lives as much as receiving a good education. Any parent could agree with that. Sometimes, though, I worry that our attempts to make…

Want to Close Achievement Gaps? Know Why They Exist in the First Place

There’s a sad reality in our education system today: Some students just don’t do as well as others. I realize I’m not breaking news here, but the fact that there’s such a disparity between students from poor families and communities and students from solid middle-class families is bad for everyone. The fact that minority students historically fall far behind their…

What Teachers Can and Can’t Learn From ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Author J.D. Vance

In his provocative memoir “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” author J.D. Vance describes his childhood upbringing in Middletown, Ohio. Heavily influenced by his family’s Kentucky roots and their “hillbilly culture,” Vance uses his firsthand experiences with poverty to argue that these Appalachian, working-class values have ultimately impacted rural communities for the worse. That’s the…