In his first official act, Gov. Andy Beshear established a new state board of education in Kentucky. Included in this group are a former college president, K-12 administrators, former classroom teachers, literacy experts and the first active full-time teacher to serve on the board.
During this legislative session, there have been bills filed in the Kentucky General Assembly that would unseat this highly qualified, well-respected board of education. This partisan maneuver would severely disrupt the positive momentum created by the board and would ultimately hurt students. I hope you will join me in urging the General Assembly to abandon this effort and work with this highly qualified board to make sure every child is successful in the classroom.
Gov. Beshear and I promised to end the attack on Kentucky’s educators, and this highly qualified, well-respected board is the first step in that effort. On Nov. 5, thousands of Kentuckians cast their vote for the ticket that would put education first and send a resounding message to our leaders: It is time to put political partisanship behind us and move our schools forward. This message continues to propel our administration’s commitment to every student.
Commitment like that of Louisville’s David Karem and Sharon Porter Robinson. Karem has a storied history of leadership as a champion for public education for more than 40 years. He served in the Kentucky General Assembly for 33 years. For 32 of those years, he served on the House and Senate education committees.
Karem holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture, art and planning from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate in law from the University of Louisville. Karem’s wife and both his parents were teachers.
“All of us, no matter who we are … we want what is best for kids in the state of Kentucky. The number one mission from the Constitution is our requirement to provide a quality system of education for all students,” Karem said.
Sharon Porter Robinson has been a local and national leader in education for more than 50 years. Growing up in Louisville, her parents’ dedication to education inspired her. Robinson’s mother was a teacher and her father was the first African American elected to the Louisville Independent Board of Education.
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Robinson went on to earn a bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology, a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in educational administration and supervision from the University of Kentucky. She completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program. She has been a classroom teacher in Fayette County and a leader in the Jefferson County schools. She served as assistant secretary for the Office of Education Research and Improvements at the U.S. Department of Education.
Robinson’s focus while serving on the board of education is giving students and teachers the tools they need to succeed. “One question I would love to ask every school faculty member and principal is, ‘What resources do you need to get the job done?’ and work on an agenda to get those resources provided,” she said.
When establishing the board of education, each individual’s rich educational experience and demonstrated commitment to provide all Kentuckians with a quality education was of the utmost importance to us. We asked teachers, administrators, school boards, superintendents and school councils to recommend highly qualified, well-respected leaders from diverse educational backgrounds to serve on the board of education. This new board represents that experience and commitment.
I believe transformational change for Kentucky’s educational system is within our reach with leaders like Karem and Robinson. We can ensure all children get a great education and quality training so they can attain a meaningful career, support their families and prosper. It requires all of us — elected officials, local school leaders, community members, educators and parents — to work together to provide opportunities for every Kentucky child to reach his or her potential.
Please make your voice heard on this critical issue. To find out who your elected representatives are and how to contact them, visit https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/findyourlegislator/findyourlegislator.html.
Jacqueline Coleman is lieutenant governor and secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
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