The South may help explain the shift toward college-and-career readiness in education, according to Education Week Editor Virginia Edwards. Edwards will be in Kentucky Friday to speak at the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence fall meeting. She previously worked at the Courier-Journal for several years and this will be the second time she’s addressed the education advocacy organization.
As the nation’s economy changed, the South was forced to find ways to compete, she said.
“You couldn’t just work in the mines or in the tobacco fields or in agriculture more generally, I mean there really was a changing economy and Kentucky and other Southern states recognized to maintain a quality of life it was going to take better education for its people,” said Edwards.
Despite low test scores in several southern states, the history of southern education exemplifies the need for the current college-and-career ready initiatives before Congress, she said.
“The South was at the bottom, right? They really felt the need to focus on improving its schools to improve its prospects for economic development and therefore helping the citizens have a better life,” Edwards said.
Edwards agrees with other educators who believe Kentucky has been a leader in education reforms. And, she said, Kentucky’s decision to apply with 10 other states to waive the federal No Child Left Behind measures show its ahead of the curve.
Kentucky feels like it has “some good policies in place and good test instruments in place and it needs to keep pushing forward with a well thought out agenda that its already got without being distracted by some of the federal requirements that make it feel like it would be taking a step back,” she said.
The state’s 1990 reforms is when improvement in education began, she said. Since then, Kentucky has slowly been making its way to the middle of the pack, and it’s already a leader in so many ways, Edwards said.