2020: The Decade To Make a Big Leap in Education – Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

2020: The Decade To Make a Big Leap in Education

2020: The Decade To Make a Big Leap in Education

As we count down the days until 2020, the Prichard Committee has been contemplating the importance of kick- starting the commitment and momentum that it takes to surge forward in education and quality of life.

I’ve spent the last year thinking about what lies ahead for the Committee. I keep coming back to our simple founding phrase: “a path to a larger life.” The 1980s laid the groundwork for the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, the accompanying new investment in education and increased achievement.

By Brigitte Blom Ramsey
Executive Director

In recent decades, however, our progress has slowed. On some important measures, our position has eroded. Momentum has been hard to maintain while facing yearly fights to maintain level funding and adjust to the myriad changes to our K-12 accountability model.

Beyond our education outcomes, family income in Kentucky significantly lags the nation. In fact, we’re fifth from the bottom of the nation in poverty. And, for the middle class, there’s been a decline in household income of more than 7 percent over the last four decades. Our educational progress has changed the trajectory for some, but that path to a larger life is not open to enough Kentuckians.

We should see 2020 as an opportunity to redefine our long-term ambitions and take a BIG BOLD stand to begin to decrease family poverty. In the General Assembly’s upcoming budget session, we’ll be making a BIG BOLD ASK to recommit to our investment in education with an increase of $1 billion over the next six years.

We need to urgently reinvest in higher education, committing ourselves to achieving the goal of well over 60 percent of Kentuckians with a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030. The difference in family income between a high school degree and a postsecondary degree or certificate can be double.

It’s high time the state followed through on a real commitment to high-quality early learning for all children, including child care and public preschool. Children’s brains are developing most rapidly from birth to age 5. Access to high-quality child care is not only important, it’s critical for Kentucky’s littlest learners and working-poor families.

Schools need the state to fully fund all-day kindergarten and transportation, freeing local taxpayers’ dollars to target increased academic achievement. In addition, we recommend a new fund for teaching excellence. When it comes to ensuring excellence for each student and closing achievement gaps, teaching matters most.

These priorities make up our BIG BOLD ASK to right-size and re-energize Kentucky’s investment in education and its commitment to a brighter future for more students and families.

With the path to a larger life at the forefront, we should better coordinate the connection between education and economic development. Increasing household income and moving the needle on poverty could be signature measures of our work going forward.

We can seize the new decade to propel us forward once again. It is time to push Kentucky ahead — clearing the weeds, roadblocks and uneven terrain and opening the path to a larger life for Kentucky’s families.

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— empowering citizen leaders groundswell.prichardcommittee.org

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