Since 1983, the Kentucky public education system – from pre-kindergarten to postsecondary – has made enormous progress. Once considered to be at the bottom of the barrel, the system has moved to the middle of the pack. Today, based on a range of data, Kentucky is recognized as a national leader in improving schools.
At the center of this transformation – advocating, negotiating, and holding together disparate interest groups—have been the citizens who make up the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
The seeds were planted in 1980. Then, the Committee was a government-appointed group designed to push improvements in Kentucky higher education. After its recommendations were largely ignored by the political establishment in 1983, the Committee re-organized itself as a private, non-profit advocacy group. It expanded its charge to encompass all levels of public education. Then it re-named itself after its first chair Kentucky educational advocate, Edward F. Prichard, Jr. (See a more detailed timeline and video, Committed to Excellence: The Story of the Prichard Committee)
Though the Prichard Committee takes pride in its past, it also recognizes that if the Kentucky economy is to continue growing and expanding, educational improvements must too. To help meet that need, the Prichard Committee marked its 25th anniversary by embarking on an ambitious Top 20 By 2020 Campaign designed to put Kentucky in the highest tier of public education in the nation.