Wrong-headed on Sexton, Prichard
Jim Hanna's op-ed piece left me somewhat speechless.
He states that he does not "mean to personally disrespect my friends on the Prichard committee or Stu Silberman or the memory of Bob Sexton, whom I met only once." He then proceeds to denigrate all of the above.
Well, I met and became friends with Bob Sexton over my years as an administrator at the University of Kentucky. I found him to be dedicated to education at all levels, especially K-12. To suggest that Sexton and the committee were a "shill" for corporate interests shows a complete lack of understanding of his and the committee's goals.
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Hanna then proceeds to attempt to trash the Kentucky Education Reform Act, which has been heralded nationally for its goal of improving our educational system. He again rails at the corporate influence in our public schools with no supporting facts.
His final salvo struck me as especially vicious and petty. He attacks the namesake of the committee by calling Ed Prichard "the most infamous crook in Kentucky political history." Prichard made some mistakes and he paid a political price. I was honored to meet and get to know Prichard in his latter years and I found him to be brilliant and dedicated to education.
I only have sympathy for Hanna's students who are subjected to his vitriol and lack of supporting facts.
Working to improve education
As a teacher familiar with the work of the Prichard Committee, I must respond to a recent column depicting the committee's work as corporate sponsored and deleterious to education.
After spending 14 months working with the committee's task force for teaching excellence, I found the Prichard Committee dedicated to an open exchange of ideas about how to support what is best in education.
Our final report advocates comprehensive new-teacher training and support, professional pathways for teachers and fair, collegial evaluation systems along with many other beneficial shifts in funding and thinking.
Read the report as well the list of contributors at www.prichardcommittee.org.
Never once in the year and a half of research, conversations, panel discussions and convening did I feel any pressure to adhere to a particular agenda of any funder.
They called upon me and other educational stakeholders from across the state and the education spectrum (parents, higher education officials, school boards, school districts, legislators and teachers) to engage in the arduous work of sorting through the politics and special interests to arrive at what, to the best of our ability, would lead Kentucky's schools down a path of excellence for all students.
Their work is far from finished and I look with high expectations to what they will accomplish next.
The tradition of educated discourse leading to productive action that Bob Sexton began lives on in Stu Silberman and his dedicated team. I am honored to be a part of it.