This is Gary Houchens's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Gary Houchens's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Gary Houchens
Bowling Green, KY
I am a former teacher, principal, and district administrator now serving as Associate Professor of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research at Western Kentucky University. In 2016 Governor Matt Bevin appointed me to the Kentucky Board of Education for a 4-year term of service.
Recent Activity
In my last post, I reflected on the work (and worry) going into revising Kentucky's education accountability system. I argued that such systems really do two things: 1) they convey vital information to help educators and the public know how schools are doing well and where they need to improve,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at School Leader
Though the work goes largely unnoticed by the vast majority of parents and taxpayers, Kentucky's education leaders have been hard at work redesigning the accountability system that dictates what data points will be collected about the performance of the state's P-12 schools and what must happen as a result of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2017 at School Leader
Last thing here: you can definitely use informational, content-laden texts to teach reading skills. I don't think Hirsh is opposed to that. But he wants a much more specific and intentional sequence of grade-level content in social studies, science, literature, and the arts to be the basis of that instruction. Would you agree with him that right there is little intentionality to the delivery of this content via reading instruction in the early grades?
Regarding the "main idea," Hirsch says that complex writing often has several main ideas, and that if you understand what the writer is saying, you can naturally pick out one (or more) main ideas.
Thanks for your insights, Sara! Hirsch agrees that the "informational" expectation in Common Core is actually a good thing and a way to integrate more content (and he actually says that literature can often be viewed as extremely "informative," so maybe we should ease up on the informative vs. literary dichotomy).
Senate Bill 1, passed with overwhelming support in the 2017 Kentucky General Assembly, directs the Kentucky Department of Education to begin a process of reviewing and updating the state's education standards. Over a six-year period, committees made up of content area and grade-level teachers and higher education representatives will review... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2017 at School Leader
MontessoriPublic is a new print and online publication from the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, an organization that celebrates and supports public Montessori schools and programs. The latest issue includes a series of articles on charters and school choice, including the opportunities and potential threats to Montessori... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2017 at School Leader
Image
Over the last few years I’ve become keenly interested in the importance of curriculum and concerned about how curricular approaches in P12 schools have deprived students of critical content knowledge, especially in the early grades. E. D. Hirsch’s latest book, Why Knowledge Matters, is a masterpiece in this regard, arguing... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2017 at School Leader
Image
During Kentucky's debate over becoming the 44th state to allow charter schools, and especially since the charter law successfully passed the state's General Assembly in March, I have often heard public school advocates ask why, if autonomy seems to be a key to charter school success, shouldn't all schools -... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2017 at School Leader
Image
This month the Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a fascinating study, Three Signs a Proposed Charter School is At Risk of Failing. The report searches for indicators in the applications of proposed charter schools that were associated with those schools eventually posting low student performance. The authors found three signs... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2017 at School Leader
Image
I recently enjoyed watching the 3-part PBS series, School Inc., hosted by the late Andrew Coulson, who until his death in 2016 served as director and then senior fellow at Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom. Full episodes are now available to watch online, and while School Inc covers familiar... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2017 at School Leader
Image
Last night I had a dream. I was attending a very large meeting of regional and state education leaders. I recognized many of them as friends and colleagues I have known for years. In this meeting they were passionately discussing their fears about Kentucky's recent move toward charter schools, the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2017 at School Leader
Image
Following the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015, states have been busy re-imagining what education accountability might look like under the new law. ESSA devolves a lot of decision-making authority back the states, providing new opportunities to define what an effective education system really means... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2017 at School Leader
Image
Last week Representative John "Bam" Carney, chair of the House Education Committee, introduced House Bill 520, and on Tuesday Governor Bevin held a press conference with Carney and Secretary of Education and Workforce Development Hal Heiner to announce his support. While there will undoubtedly be debates and proposed amendments, the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2017 at School Leader
Image
Image Above: Parents and teachers blessing students at St. Joseph School, Bowling Green, on opening day 2015. School choice programs like scholarship tax credits would enable more low-income students to attend schools like St. Joseph. In this series of posts I've attempted to explain in a straightforward way the basic... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2017 at School Leader
Image
In the first part of this three-part primer on school choice, I explained the basic philosophy that education dollars should generally follow students to the schools of their families' choices instead of flowing directly to a network of government owned and operated schools that essentially functions as a monopoly on... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2017 at School Leader
Image
This semester I'm teaching courses on school law and education policy, and the topic of school choice has quickly surfaced, not just because of its relevance to the classes but also its prominence in the news. The nomination of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education and the Kentucky legislature's... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2017 at School Leader
Image
Today I was thrilled to join over 500 other Kentuckians on the steps of the state capitol to celebrate National School Choice Week. I was honored to join a large slate of speakers and enthusiastic supporters calling for more education options for Kentucky families. The Kentucky legislature will consider at... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2017 at School Leader
Image
In my recent review, I argued that Why Knowledge Matters: Rescuing our Children From Failed Educational Theories by E.D. Hirsch was perhaps the most important education book of 2016. Indeed, I believe that Hirsch's call for a more rigorous and rich elementary school curriculum has significant implications for addressing persistent... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2017 at School Leader
Image
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis was one of the top non-fiction bestsellers of 2016. The page-turning story by J. D. Vance, which describes his volatile upbringing between the Appalachian coal country from whence his maternal grandparents migrated and the fast-declining Rust Belt city of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2017 at School Leader
Image
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of touring two charter schools in Nashville and visiting with their principals. As Kentucky looks forward to its first charter school law, it was helpful to see first hand two different charter schools pursuing different strategies and serving different needs, each with its... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2016 at School Leader
Image
The struggle to make Kentucky one of the last states to embrace school choice is going to be an ugly one. The first charter school bill of the upcoming General Assembly has been introduced, but it is a charade of a law filed by a long-time charter school opponent and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2016 at School Leader
Image
Update, 1/22/17: A version of this review has been published in the Bowling Green Daily News. E. D. Hirsch is well known in education circles as a long-time advocate for "cultural literacy," the notion that there is a body of knowledge all educated people should master to be effective and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2016 at School Leader
Image
UPDATE, 12/10/2016: A version of this post was published as an op-ed by Kentucky Today. The GOP's takeover of the Kentucky legislature last month means that charter school legislation is finally coming to Kentucky. After a day-long study session on the topic last week, yesterday the Kentucky Board of Education,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2016 at School Leader
Good grief. Thanks for catching this glaring error. I have revised accordingly. Humans at work here!