Kentucky may have led the nation in education policy with the 1990 passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act, but it could have done a much better job of preparing parents and the public for what that sweeping legislation would require of students, teachers, schools, families and communities. The state fell short on the critical test of building public support and political will for dramatic change. For example, many teachers and administrators fought the changes because they felt they were not involved in the development of the changes. The experiences were invaluable, and there were notable successes along the way as the fundamental elements of the reform remained in place. Educators, families, and communities became more involved and began to have more input on the subsequent changes. But the challenges were distracting and forced reform advocates to spend an inordinate amount of time defending and protecting the new system, time that would have been far better spent doing the actual work of school improvement.
As the nation stands at the threshold of dramatic change in public education, these lessons can provide critical guidance to efforts to build support for the full implementation of the common core standards, improve teaching, create meaningful assessments, secure adequate funding and initiate other needed reforms.
A key challenge is making the right connections to inform and engage the public with the goal of creating and sustaining the political will - as reflected in the actions of local, state and federal policymakers - to ensure continued progress.
The Public Engagement and Education Reform blog’s central focus will be illuminating strategies, programs and specific initiatives that help or hinder efforts to reach the all-important goal of building public support and sustained political will for achieving educational excellence.
The blog will:
Highlight developments across the country that reflect successful or failed attempts to inform and engage the public for school improvement Identify opportunities to use events and issues as catalysts for public engagement Provide specific 'how-to' examples of successful strategies Counter misinformation designed to undermine public support for schools Encourage the use of collaboration and common sense to resolve major disputes affecting school improvement
As this blog begins, the hope is that you will become more involved in ensuring that educational excellence is attained.
The opinions expressed in Public Engagement & Ed Reform are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.