State’s top education officials to meet Jan. 14 in panel discussion at Kentucky State University

Aaron Thompson

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky State University is hosting a panel discussion featuring four prominent figures in education and workforce in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to explore accelerating academic performance and success. The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 14.

Panelists include Dr. Aaron Thompson, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE); Derrick K. Ramsey, Kentucky Secretary of Education and Workforce Development; Dr. Wayne D. Lewis Jr., Kentucky Commissioner of Education; and Kentucky State University President Dr. M. Christopher Brown II.

Dr. Crystal A. deGregory, a highly sought after and acclaimed historian and the director of the Atwood Institute for Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal, will open the convening, affirming the racial disparities in education. DeGregory will present a historical perspective of how the miseducation of students of color in the commonwealth and across the nation deepened educational disparities.

Renee Shaw with Kentucky Educational Television (KET) will moderate. Shaw is a managing producer of KET’s public affairs programs and content and currently serves as host of KET’s Kentucky Tonight and Connections with Renee Shaw. During sessions of the Kentucky General Assembly, she produces and hosts KET’s nightly Legislative Update. In election season, she hosts KET’s live primary and election night coverage. Throughout the year she serves as a contributing host for several other KET public affairs series, including Health Three60 and Education Matters.

Kentucky State University’s Center for Research on the Eradication of Educational Disparities (C.R.E.E.D.) and the Atwood Institute for Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal is hosting Together We Can | The Convening to bring education disparities to the forefront by addressing the critical educational challenges students face in the Commonwealth, says President M. Christopher Brown II.

“We are excited to lead this important dialogue to outline our strategic vision and work. Inequality in education continues to be a critical issue, despite public concern and media coverage,” Brown said. “We must align our resources to establish partnerships that will create lasting opportunities for student academic performance and success in P-20 and the workforce. It will take us all — our participation and commitment — to a just and equitable education system that ensures all students prosper.”

Furthermore, Thompson believes this conversation is an essential piece to achieve economic progress in the commonwealth.

“It is important to understand that we cannot achieve the level of economic development in Kentucky that we need to unless we focus on access and opportunity gaps,” Thompson said. “The purest way of doing this is through the alignment of our postsecondary and P-12 education sectors. In addition, this alignment must produce employment pathways for all of our students but especially those that have been historically disenfranchised. This convening is a great venue to bring together the workforce and education sectors to converse about a deep process of strategies and inputs to build this dynamic.”

Lewis believes now is the perfect time to commit to collaboration in closing educational gaps.

“While acknowledging Kentucky’s progress, we must collectively be willing to own the magnitude of the challenge we face with closing achievement gaps. There has never been a more perfect moment than now to commit to collaboratively accelerating the work of closing gaps and ensuring that each and every Kentucky student is prepared for success in postsecondary education and the workforce,” Lewis said.

Collaboration is a key component in Kentucky’s efforts to address the education and workforce challenges facing the commonwealth,” Ramsey said. “By aligning government, community and business resources, we have the opportunity to transform the educational system to ensure Kentuckians are equipped with the education, skills and training to successfully compete in a global workforce.”

Dr. Aaron Thompson is a nationally recognized leader in higher education with a focus on policy, student success and organizational leadership and design. He was named president of CPE in October 2018. He served a variety of leadership positions at CPE from 2009 until 2016, when he left to serve as interim president of Kentucky State University. Thompson returned to CPE in the summer of 2017. His leadership experience spans 27 years across higher education, business and numerous non-profit boards.

Dr. Wayne D. Lewis Jr. previously served as executive director of education policy and programs in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development cabinet. Lewis also served as an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies at the University of Kentucky. He is the former chair of the Kentucky Charter Schools Advisory Council and served as a former non-voting advisor to the Kentucky Board of Education. His teaching, writing and research have been in the areas of education politics and policy, human capital and human resources management.

Derrick K. Ramsey has decades of working in Kentucky’s higher education system. He began his career as a community relations officer at the University of Kentucky before becoming athletic director at Kentucky State University. Ramsey also previously served seven years as director of athletics at Coppin State University in Baltimore. Most recently, Ramsey served as the secretary of the Labor cabinet under Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, where he was responsible for administering worker compensation and workplace standard laws for 1.9 million Kentucky workers and employers. Ramsey also served as deputy secretary of commerce under former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, where he managed a $50 million budget and oversaw human resources for the agency. Ramsey also revived Kentucky’s registered apprenticeship program to better recruit and train the next generation of workers.

Dr. M. Christopher Brown II is the 18th president of Kentucky State University and the founder of the Atwood Institute on Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal. President Brown previously served on the faculties of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and The Pennsylvania State University, where he earned tenure. During a professorial leave of absence, he served as executive director of the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute of the United Negro College Fund (FDPRI/UNCF), director at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and vice president at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). President Brown has also served as professor and dean of the College of Education at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas; professor, executive vice president and provost at Fisk University; the 18th president of Alcorn State University; and the inaugural executive vice president and provost of the Southern University and A&M College System in Louisiana.

Those interested in helping set the foundation for this work are encouraged to attend along with business leaders, civic organizations, community advocates, educators, government officials, legislators, religious leaders, and workforce development leaders, among others.

Reservations are required to attend the event. If you are interested in attending, please email [email protected].

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