Changing the Landscape in Northern Kentucky
In 1993, two community leaders, Dr. Leon Boothe, President of Northern Kentucky University, and Jack Moreland, President of the Northern Kentucky Superintendents’ Association, began discussion of an idea just beginning to gather interest across the country, that of increasing communication and cooperation among educators across all educational levels, and particularly between secondary and post-secondary education. With their encouragement and the support of Northern Kentucky University, Thomas More College and the Northern Kentucky Superintendents’ Association, the Council of Partners in Education was created. The initial group included twenty faculty and administrators at all levels from both public and private institutions who agreed to meet five times during the school year for lunch and dialogue on matters of mutual interest.
Three individuals – the Vice President for Academic Affairs from Thomas More College (Dr. Ray Hebert); the Provost from Northern Kentucky University (Dr. Paul Gaston); and the Chairperson of the Northern Kentucky Superintendents’ Association (Jack Moreland) – initially chaired the Council and rotated as meeting chairperson. All Council members shared a commitment for fostering the growth of personal and professional relationships within the group and to creating an agenda that served the cause of P-16 education. All members were viewed as equals and issues from any of the levels were welcome.
Even without paid staff, a great deal of dialogue took place across all educational levels. A major accomplishment during that time was the creation of curriculum alignment groups in four content areas and their development of a booklet, titled "Making Your Move," describing skills and knowledge necessary for the successful transition from secondary to post secondary education. As an outgrowth of that project, the mathematics curriculum group developed an early assessment mathematics test, which is now the Kentucky Early Mathematics Testing Program, available on the web to all teachers and students statewide.
In the spring of 2001, the Council of Partners felt it was time to hire a staff person so that the organization could move ahead on existing projects and develop an agenda for new initiatives. A part-time Executive Director was hired in August of 2001, with funds from local school districts, NKU, Thomas More College, and the new Gateway Community & Technical College, as well as one-time grants from the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Tri-County Economic Development Corporation. Projects for the first few years included: continuing and enhancing the curriculum alignment discussion; sponsoring Northern Kentucky Education Week in November; and engaging in cooperative projects with the Chamber of Commerce and other groups committed to educational collaboration. In 2003-04, the Council received a five-year, $100,000 grant from Toyota, and several additional state and private grants in the following years. The Council received its designation as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in 2005.
In 2008, Northern Kentucky began an alignment process to address the issues of duplication and resource allocation in relation to education. With input from regional leaders in the education, business and community sectors, the Council of Partners in Education, Vision 2015 Education Implementation Team and the NKY Education Alliance agreed to work collaboratively and to merge their efforts. As a result, the NKY Council of Partners transformed into the Northern Kentucky Education Council and now serves as the catalyst for the regional education goals as established by the Vision 2015 process. The Vision 2015 Education Implementation Team dissolved, and the Education Alliance is a key leader in the work of the Council.
The Northern Kentucky Education Council is currently comprised of members from the business, community and education sectors, and has divided its work among six action teams. Each action team addresses one of the six regional education goals; progress towards these goals and effective strategies will be reported to the larger public. As a result of the Council, students will have significantly greater opportunities for academic and lifelong success, and Northern Kentucky will become a more prosperous place to live.