Sunday, July 22, 2007

Education in Kentucky has met its enemy, and he is us.

The State Board seems uninterested in substantive change, and the
Herald-Leader wants to turn back the clock to the early 1990's. So why is it again that we can't move forward?

In the Lexington Herald-Leader's lead editorial today, "Education reform going downhill," the editors, with their usual aversion to reality, say that the reason the best and the brightest educators are being repelled from the schools top schools job is that Kentucky "is no longer seen as a leader in trying to raise education levels." This is code language for saying that Kentucky is no longer recklessly trying to turn schools upside down in order to impose the latest education fads, which is what it did in the 1990's.

Yeah. That attracts professional educators, alright: but the wrong ones.

The Herald-Leader points to Tom Boysen as the kind of educator we need to attract as head of today's Kentucky schools. Are they serious? Boysen was the first person to occupy the post of Kentucky Commissioner of Education after the elected post of State Superintendent was effectively eliminated by the passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA). And he was a disaster. Here was a man who tried to run the entire state school system from his Frankfort office, and whose imperious attempts to force schools into abandoning basic skills by trying to bring back the "open classrooms" of the 1960's ("non-graded primary program" in KERA parlance) risked an entire generation of Kentucky children.

Of course, the Herald-Leader was one the voices cheering him on in these efforts--a safe thing to do, if, like editors of large newspapers, you can afford to send your kids to private schools when it doesn't work.

So now we have the State School Board looking at Leon Mooneyhan, a retired Shelby County Superintendent, for the interim commissioner's position--a sign that it wants to keep things the way they are, and we have the Herald-Leader pining for a return to the 1990's--a decade in which they were pining for a return to the 1960's. The State Board want to prop up the status quo, and the Herald-Leader wants to return to the status quo ante.

With friends like this, Kentucky school's don't need any enemies.

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