Executive Insights

Executive Insights

Public education: changing to meet the needs of the day but still sound in its framework

Kentucky School Advocate
June 2015 
 
“The whole object of education is . . . to develop the mind. The mind should be a thing that works.”
– Sherwood Anderson, American novelist and short story writer.
 
By Mike Armstrong
KSBA Executive Director
 
Local boards of education, in partnership with their superintendents, teamed up this school year to tackle a number of topics of vital importance. Challenging budgets continue to stress school districts. The new Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) is prompting teachers, building administrators and superintendents to both rethink and redirect their efforts as they now collect measurable and quantifiable evidence to better clarify and document their professional goals and objectives.
 
And while public education still takes an occasional punch in the solar plexus in what are often misdirected and purposeful attempts to shake even our foundational support of such, we continuously see positive example after positive example of the products of public education – students who present as college and career ready and who can’t wait to make their career dreams a reality.
 
Public education provides for every student a real and meaningful opportunity to “develop the mind.” Today’s ever-evolving world of work wants and needs employees who can problem solve, given the increasingly changing foundations upon which work in a global market is built. Ultimately our workforce has to not only outwork the competition, but they also have to outthink the competition, too.
 
I am constantly encouraged by the high quality of learning displayed by students in our public schools all across the Commonwealth. It is obvious from the active teamwork displayed by local superintendents and their boards of education to set high learning goals and objectives. It is obvious when you enter a classroom and see actively involved teachers and students. It is obvious by the positive and productive interactions between educators and parents who share in the common goal of graduating a highly skilled and capable student body.
 
Are there challenges? Absolutely. But it is imperative that we continue to advocate and promote the value of public education and the benefits it provides. Horace Mann (1796-1859), the pre-eminent advocate for public education of his day, shared that “Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.”
 
Kentucky’s public education students come to us from backgrounds that cover the gamut of socioeconomic conditions. But the goals and expectations that are shared among boards of education, school administrators, teachers and staff become the launching pad by which students can then propel themselves to new heights – heights that for some were perhaps even unimaginable at some point in their lives.
 
A mind that works is a common goal for every student. And the pathway to achieving such, thanks to public schools, is a pathway filled with benefits and opportunities to help every student realize that dream. It is not a perfect system – but it is a system sound in its intent that benefited generations past and will continue to benefit our students for generations to come in ways that are perhaps yet unfathomable!
 
To all involved in making it so, thank you for your efforts.
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