Educators stand at the entryway to the world for generations of children. They stand for all that is fair and good. In some cases they are the most morally impressive adults that many of our students will ever know. They represent to them the pillars of our free society: knowledge, justice, and the fairness of law. Everyone celebrates a personal memory of individual teachers, yet collectively our society has developed a culture to affix blame on public schools whenever we experience an economic or social crisis.
And over the past year to year and a half from budget cuts, pension crises, and talk our school voucher programs, the very idea of free compulsory public education for ALL is under threat.
I am beginning my second four-year contract as superintendent of the Owensboro Public Schools. A major focus for me during the remainder of my tenure is going to be supporting teachers and safeguarding the public education we provide to this community. I want to continue to build on the trust and confidence that our community has with OPS and continue to promote and advocate for public education. Our community and this school district have long been a beacon for the state and nation for how to successfully provide high quality public education that serves a diverse population.
We know how important the role of a quality teacher is to the success of a student. We know that teachers working together collaboratively focused on high expectations and best practice can make all the difference in the world. I want OPS to be known as a place where teachers are supported. Where a high standard of teaching and learning is found at all levels and expected of everyone we hire. Where meeting the needs of the student are placed at the center of what we do every day. We stand miles above the national rhetoric about public schools. We have public schools that are also school of choice for our community with options for students in the traditional and innovation sectors with a thriving arts program and a strong focus on academic success.
I am excited about our new DRIVE initiative. It is an entirely teacher driven and directed effort. DRIVE—which stands for Developing Relationships and Inspiring Visionary Educators-- will work to improve collaboration between schools to produce the best educational methods possible to engage and support our students.
DRIVE will be working to benchmark the teaching profession in our district with the top performing education systems around the world and focus on ways to improve the work environment, make sure our compensation is more than competitive, and elevate the status of the teaching overall.
Most importantly DRIVE will advocate to Empower Educators in our district, so that we can collectively fight for the continued existence of a strong, effective system of free public education for all children. I believe public education is one of the most important social inventions in the history of civilization itself, essential to our democratic system of government and the economic competitiveness of our community, state, and country.
As the educators of the Owensboro Public Schools, we should dedicate ourselves to upholding the sacred trust and ideals of public education as a service to our community. Our district will support and empower OPS educators to do just that.