It was encouraging to read recent comments made by Jonathan Jett, who just last week began leading the Perry County School District as its interim superintendent, a job he will hold for at least six months before the board announces a full-time hire.
Jett’s comments came after rather disappointing assessment scores were released for the county schools. The district as a whole scored in the bottom nine percent in the state. Chavies Elementary in particular fared the worst, with the elementary students scoring in the bottom one percent and the middle school students in the bottom four percent.
It wasn’t much better at the high school level. Perry Central scored in the bottom five percent, while Buckhorn High School was in the bottom 14 percent.
We realize, based on the new assessment model mandated by the state that includes more rigorous standards, that this first year of results would make it seem as though schools are performing worse throughout the state. Here in Perry County, however, these results when compared to the state average should serve as stark wake-up call. And we think the district’s administrators get that.
The emphasis in Kentucky schools is now college and career readiness — an apt goal. When our students graduate from high school, we want them to be prepared to either begin their college career or their vocational one. It seems that here in Perry County, and indeed in Eastern Kentucky where most districts scored below the state average, we’re not getting the job done.
That is precisely why it is encouraging that Superintendent Jett is not shying away from these test results, and acknowledging that district administrators and teachers have their work cut out for them in the coming years. In a world with an ever-changing economy and workforce needs, we simply can no longer afford to allow our students to fall behind.
It is particularly encouraging that Superintendent Jett acknowledges past shortcomings in which a system nurtured the individual success of schools rather than a successful district, and is beginning to institute a philosophy that instead takes an all-in approach and encourages Perry County’s teachers to share their knowledge with their colleagues.
It is also encouraging that Jett is taking the position that he won’t have all the answers himself, and administrators within the district should not hesitate to disagree with him. Colin Powell once said that leadership is solving problems. When those under you stop bringing you their problems, then you stopped leading them because they have lost confidence or you no longer care.
Jett has made it no secret that he plans to seek the superintendent’s position full time when the board of education begins its search in the coming weeks. Gen. Powell’s philosophy seems like an appropriate one, and we hope it’s one that Jett, whether he gets the job full time or not, ultimately leads with.
— The Hazard Herald