Whitesburg KY
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Is education not important to us?

It is disappointing to believe Kentuckians are more vocally concerned with the number of wins and losses racked up last season by former UK basketball coach Tubby Smith than about the growing number of discrepancies in the résumé of recently appointed Kentucky Education Commissioner Barbara Erwin.

The Kentucky Board of Education in a unanimous vote approved Erwin to the state’s highest school post last month with a four-year contract paying $220,000 a year. Their 10-0 vote came despite a cloud of questions and doubt about the truthfulness of her résumé that continue to accumulate. Add to this the fact that Erwin has received other states’ mixed reviews on her leadership style and past accomplishments and one has to wonder if a bad and potentially costly hiring decision has been made.

Consider these discrepancies and Erwin’s public responses from recent published reports:

Erwin notes in her résumé having twice received the Texas Superintendent of the Year award. Unfortunately, the Texas Association of Superintendents, one of the groups listed on her résumé, has publicly acknowledged that it doesn’t award such an honor. Before her hiring, Erwin shrugged this off as a “typo” in her resume.

She also lists having conducted presentations on school improvement, Advanced Placement programs and superintendent search processes during the 2004 and 2006 Illinois Association of School Boards Triple I conferences. But Erwin wasn’t listed in the record of speakers and presenters for the 2006 conference, according to an administrative assistant with the Illinois association. Erwin has responded to this résumé problem by clarifying that she “signed off on the applications for presenters” and introduced two in 2006 and was “asked to be involved” in the 2004 conference.

Another typo?

In just the past few days, another problem has been discovered. Erwin cites having been a member of the executive board of the American Association of School Administrators from 1991 to 2001. According to a Louisville television news station, Amy Vogt, a spokeswoman for the AASA, said Erwin only served three years, from 1999 to 2002.

Yet another typo?

Maybe we’re wrong in our assumption that Kentuckians are apathetic about the quality and credibility of the individual who is charged with improving the quality of Kentucky’s education system. If so, where is the public outcry?

Why has leadership within the Kentucky Education Association simply stated they are giving Erwin “the benefit of the doubt” that her résumé accurately reflects her experience, credentials and accomplishments? Why aren’t teachers, parents and taxpayers asking Erwin to publicly explain and answer to the questions surrounding her résumé, maybe the same ones that apparently “satisfied” Chairman Keith Travis and the other members of the Kentucky Board of Education. Why haven’t superintendents and school board members across the commonwealth at least asked for a review of the selection and appointment process so that appropriate and necessary improvements can be made to avoid surprises like these in the future?

Why? We’re not sure. Maybe to most Kentuckians basketball really is more important. And that’s disappointing.

– The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown

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