Guest Column: Is Kentucky up to the challenges of the next 20 years?

  • Guest column by Virginia Edwards

    “Disruptive innovation” has come to virtually every sector of the U.S. economy.  To remain relevant, companies and whole sectors have worked nimbly and aggressively to transform and reinvent themselves over the past decade or so.  Think retail sales and publishing.  A common theme has been the willingness to embrace change.

    Education, meanwhile, has generally been absent from the party.  That’s changing, though.  Because of economic and global imperatives, among other pressures, K-12 education is rethinking a century-old system of schooling and embracing a new generation of policies, programs, and products that could lead to “disruptive” as well as “sustaining” innovation. 

    K-12 education has arrived at a truly spectacular “moment in time” in the 30-plus-year history of efforts to improve schools and ensure better outcomes for students.  Among many factors, improvements and innovation are being spurred by:

    • Agreement that all students need 21st century skills to succeed in today’s interdependent, fast-changing world. 
    • Advances in our understanding of how learners learn and the power of data and analytics to leverage more meaningful student engagement.
    • Technological leaps in communications, networking, and adaptive response that make deeper and personalized learning a reality.
    • The confluence of policy developments intended to encourage innovation and new approaches to teaching and learning.
    • Economic realities that are driving policymakers and educators to “think outside the box” and embrace more efficient and productive models that support enhanced student learning and break down traditional notions of time and space.

    The job of improving schools and ensuring student success is hard work.  Systemic education reform requires a vision and a long-term commitment of resources and energy. 

    But educators, policymakers, and business leaders in Kentucky know that.  Indeed, the Bluegrass State has been recognized in the national school-reform community as a standard-bearer for systemic change.  For more than 20 years, Kentucky has served as a beacon for school improvement.

    Is Kentucky up to the challenges of the next 20 years?


    Virginia B. Edwards is the President and Editor-in-Chief of the nonprofit Editorial Projects in Education, the publisher of Education Week and She will present during the Kentucky Chamber's Business Summit and Annual Meeting at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, July 22.

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    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

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