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Thanks for the Engagement

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I want to take this opportunity to say thanks to all who have contributed to our public engagement blog. I would also like to thank Education Week for giving us the opportunity to share information and opinions on what has been happening in education over the last couple of years. This will be our last post, and I hope we have helped broaden the public's understanding of developments in education, particularly in Kentucky.

We recently released the Prichard Committee's Ed Guides, reader-friendly information about the work that is taking place in Kentucky schools. We also will release our "Top 20 by 2020" report soon, showing how the state's performance on key education indicators has changed since our last update two years ago. We conducted research on charter schools this summer and will convene a study group to prepare a report we will share with our members in November. We also plan to convene a group to review where we are in early childhood care and education programs. I share all of this with you to invite you to continue keeping up with our work via our website, on Facebook, Twitter @prichardcom, and our Prichard Committee blog.

Clearly, all of us have much to do for our kids. Among the items on the list (and there are many others):

· A focus on early childhood education to prevent the development of achievement gaps and allow all kids to start school on a level playing field. Although there is near unanimous agreement that this is a long-range solution worthy of support, states are still coming up short on funding.

· Initiatives to attract more of the best and brightest to the teaching profession. Teaching is one of the most important and most difficult jobs that exist, but salaries for beginning teachers do not reach the level of professional pay. We must begin to pay a professional wage and bring more top students into the profession.

· Efforts to engage families in schools in ways that improve student achievement. We must encourage and help develop parent/guardian advocates and leaders. When families are truly engaged, supporting our schools and advocating for excellence, kids are the beneficiaries. This is a major focus for us at the Prichard Committee with the Governor's Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership.

· Listening to the people on the front lines - students as well as teachers. Given the chance, they can provide the knowledge, resulting from their experience, that we need to move to the next level of educational excellence. We are particularly proud of the Prichard Committee's Student Voice Team and the input they have been providing.

And, of course, there are efforts related to testing, academic standards, funding, governance, teacher evaluation - a long, growing and important list. Yes, we are making progress, but it always seems to be two steps forward and (at least) one step back. I worry that politics continues to drain the energy needed for progress. We must find a way to end the partisan games and focus on doing what is best for the kids of this country.

In closing, I also want to thank our staff for all the time they have devoted to organizing, reviewing and editing the posts to this space. We would not have been able to participate in this endeavor had it not been for your help and wisdom.

For those of you who continue to be interested in sharing your thoughts we welcome you to do so via the Prichard blog.

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