Raise the bar. Close the gap.
Dear Kentucky educators,
This is the first of what I hope to be many messages to you addressing the needs of Kentucky’s most precious resource: our children. I’d like to take just a few moments to introduce myself and discuss my vision for Kentucky’s schools.
I started my career as a special education teacher. As important as my formal education and experience have been in my career, I’ve learned just as much from my experience with kids, teachers and leaders. For example, I learned as an early-career teacher that a child’s family and community context matters, and that fundamentally different schooling approaches are sometimes needed to reach different populations of students. I learned that all kids do not have access to high-quality public schools or effective teachers, and that access is often dependent on their zip code. Additionally, I learned that it will take significant policy reform to address the structural inequities in our public education system. Funding is important, but it is not the sole answer for how we can raise student achievement for all students and reduce shameful achievement gaps.
Throughout my academic and professional career, I have kept those lessons in mind. My life experiences and professional experience are central to my insistence that the academic needs of all students – regardless of their background – are met at school.
I believe that all children can succeed – and that success looks different for every child. It is up to all of us, including educators, to make certain that every child is provided the opportunity to achieve.
Wayne D. Lewis, Ph.D.
Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education