Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, submitted the following letter to the editor to the Courier-Journal on Nov. 11, 2010, after the publication of Jefferson County teachers call for stability in troubled schools.
On behalf of the more than 2,700 members of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, I am writing in support of HB 176 and its goal of improving low performing schools in Kentucky. On the heels of the Kentucky Education Department’s announcement of the 10 lowest performing schools and a flurry of reactions to the list, it is important that communities and schools place students at the center of improvement plans, just as the law intends.
The 10 schools – East Carter High School, Greenup County High School, Sheldon Clark High School in Martin County, Christian County High School, and Iroquois High, Doss High, Fairdale High, Waggener Traditional High, Southern High and Seneca High all of Jefferson County – are now eligible for both federal and state assistance, financial and professional, to help improve their student learning. The state assistance is guided by a process established by HB 176, a bill supported by the Chamber and the Commissioner of Education, Terry Holliday, and unanimously passed by both chambers of the General Assembly. The bill was the first bill made law and signed by Gov. Steve Beshear in 2010.
Opponents to the law share concerns that some of the provisions – the option to replace a principal and some teachers of a low performing school – would cause instability. When the promise to parents and communities is that their schools will educate every child, the quality of the education should be paramount, not the movement of adults in the building. It is imperative that the adults in the school buildings are the best fit for fulfilling this promise to children, parents and the community they will join as adults.
Business considers itself part of this large community. We depend on public schools to produce qualified and capable people to become our workforce. We commend the dedicated teachers and the administrators working hard every day in the classroom who must overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges to educate our children. We see HB 176 as an appropriate method to help improve the schools in need for the children, our ultimate priority, and ask that the legislature not be persuaded to repeal that law.
President and CEO
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce