Aspirations and Reality
Our vision statement is simple – Bullitt County Public Schools: The leader in educational excellence. During my first year as superintendent, we had some assistance from the state due to several years of sub-par academic performance. The people that worked with us were great and dared our district leadership team, made up of central office leaders and our principals, to aspire to more than then current reality indicated was possible. At that time, our rankings in the state were in the bottom 22 percent of all districts (137 of 176). We were not a draw for the community to pull in new families or new businesses. Frankly, we were a pretty adult-centered system. I don’t want to sound like it was all bad, because it wasn’t. Even then, we had dedicated teachers and students could most definitely get a solid education and go on to great success. The problem is that, though students could get a great education, not enough were getting a great education.
In the face of this reality, we adopted the above vision. After consistent hard work by our entire staff, we as a system have risen to a position of respect in the state. Our latest rankings show we are now a proficient school district scoring at the 73rd percentile according to the state calculations. We have adopted, and continue to modify, new strategies and programs and solidify our core instructional program to ensure that more and more students get the great education they deserve. I now hear stories of people choosing to come here because of the schools, not in spite of them, and we are not a drag on business recruitment or the real estate market; we are – as we should be – an asset to our community. This is great news, right? Yes it is, but…
It leads to the next challenge and I’ll put it in the form of a question. Why do school districts like Oldham County and Daviess County continue to outperform us? I mean no disrespect to these districts or their leaders and teachers; just the opposite, but I know that our raw materials – teacher talent, principal determination, and student brainpower – are just as good as either of these same sized and similarly resourced districts. While we ranked 77th of 174 (remember, this is a big improvement over the past six years) on last year’s state testing system, Oldham ranked 11th and Daviess ranked 22nd. They have ranked up toward the top for many, many years.
I believe that, just as the school district must challenge itself, our community must do the same. I suggest that for a still too large segment of our community, academic achievement is not given enough respect. Academic preparation and achievement should and must be honored, celebrated, and expected. Our community, through the work of our teachers and students, has risen quickly toward the high aspirations we adopted, but we are not there yet.
It is important that we all consistently send the message to our young friends and relatives that learning is important. We can demonstrate it by how we interact with our teachers, how we react to report cards, when we schedule vacations and appointments, how late we stay at the ball park on a school night, how much we read and talk about what we learn with our own kids, and so much more. Kids follow the lead of the adults and if we want our children to be in a position of strength in their futures, we must walk the walk. Expectations and example matter a great deal.