Caged Leadership

Robert New
Robert New

Over the last year or so, Kentucky Education Commissioner Dr. Terry Holliday, has been writing about the “devastating federal funding impact” spending reductions and sequestration will have on our schools. His educated expertise told us:

“These spending reductions will have a devastating effect on Kentucky’s public school budgets,” said Holliday. “Without any federal legislative action to address the cuts, they will begin as early as January 2013 and continue through 2021. They will have a direct impact on jobs, students and the abilities of districts to provide services through federal programs. “

He urged school administrators to “monitor the situation closely, plan and conservatively budget.”

On January 11 this year Dr. Holliday blogged about Key Education issues facing schools in 2013. Funding was one he claims had to “remain on the front burner”. He wrote that “The state pension system reform will require significant resources that will eventually have a negative impact on state education funds.”

Fast forward to March 8 and Dr. Holliday urged education leaders to read the book, “Cage-Busting Leadership” by Rick Hess and to “think outside the cage” in order to come up with creative solutions to budget problems.

But recent events have shown Dr. Holliday may like to urge thinking outside the cage, but his actions show that when it comes to implementation he is stuck inside the same old cage that brought us many of these catastrophic issues. From reading his blogs I never expected the radical solutions needed to solve our budgetary crisis would be to spend more money. All this time I thought the problem was the lack of money available for text books, teachers, technology, and programs that directly impact student performance.

Dr. Holliday’s outside the cage thinking includes $570,000 to bribe school districts to implement the raising of the dropout age to 18. This was passed by the Kentucky General Assembly this year and was touted as something school districts wanted. If they wanted it so bad why pay the first 57 districts to implement it $10,000 each?

Just yesterday Madison County School District superintendent Tommy Floyd announced he was resigning to take a position with the Kentucky Department of Education as Chief of Staff starting July 1. A quick look at the Education Department org chart did not show such a position. Later when the official press release came out, it was announced it was a newly created position.

While schools are cutting services, handing out pink slips to employees who directly impact students’ lives, and forcing students to share text books, the Department of Education is adding a new layer of bureaucracy at the top.

Perhaps the best idea would be to slam the cage door shut on those currently in charge and replace them with leaders who put education ahead of appearance.

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