Education advocate says leadership is key to help struggling school systems

06/05/2013 10:55 AM

Each school district in the state faces its own set of issues, but strong leadership and parental involvement are key to fixing problems that continue to hold back struggling schools, according to a Kentucky education advocate.

Stu Silberman is the head of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a group that is among the top education think tanks and advocacy groups in the state.

Silberman, who worked as an educator for 37 years, said one of the most important factors that affects schools is the amount of parental engagement. Silberman said the Prichard Committee wants to help expand parent engagement in struggling schools.

“We are hoping to do some work in Jefferson county increase that parent engagement to help parents better understand what we are trying to accomplish and to become advocates for their schools,” Silberman said. “The leadership is also a factor and then the support system that the community is able to put in place.”

After three reviews by the state auditor’s office found waste and abuse of power by school superintendents earlier this year, Auditor Adam Edelen and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday pushed to require more disclosure of superintendents’ compensation.

Silberman, who is the former Fayette County Schools Superintendent, said that no one condones what happened in those districts but he hopes people will not look at all other school districts in the same light.

“I think it is important though to know that there are 174 districts in Kentucky so I hope people wont view all superintendents and school districts in this state through those glasses,” Silberman said (at 3:30). “The issues that took place in those districts are bad and we don’t want that to happen anywhere so I am glad that Adam [Edelen] was able to uncover that to make sure because those dollars go to our kids.”

Silberman said that those instances do make it hard for education advocates like himself to go to Frankfort and ask for more money because the perception problems situations like those create.

“We don’t need to govern by exception. We have great folks doing great things and that’s the vast majority of folks, and so that is what we want to say to our leaders,” Silberman said (at 4:30). “Our leaders really do care about education so it is up to us to try to clarify some of those types of things that are going on.”

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