Adam Edelen on education - "the silver bullet"
Not Edelman or Edelstein or Edelin, as some recently mispronounced and misspelled Adam Edelen’s name. Remember that name and that spelling. It’s attached to a 34 year old who, unless he does something stupid (which Kentucky politicians have been known to do) has a long career in public life ahead of him.
He’s been grooming for his job since high school when he was in leadership programs for Kentucky teens with our daughter. My husband and I met him as a teenager when daughter invited him to go with us to meet then candidate Bill Clinton.
He’s got all the physical attributes of an up and coming politician. He’s tall, good looking, self assured and is one of those people who never met a stranger. Edelen grew up in Meade County, then went to St. Xavier in Louisville before going on to UK where he majored in Leadership and Public Service. He’s married with twin four year old boys and lives in Lexington.
Edelen is now chief of staff to the top government executive in Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear. He is one of three of the staff who report directly to the Governor. The others are Secretary of the Cabinet Larry Hayes who is doubling as Economic Development Cabinet Secretary and Ellen Hesen, the Governor counsel. Edelen manages a staff of almost one hundred spread over the office of communications, scheduling, boards and commissions, and legislative affairs offices.
Day to day, Edelen says that he is “the person most directly responsible for executing the Governor’s policy and political agenda.” That may include meeting with county judges, elected officials, legislative leaders. He serves as the Governor’s surrogate at policy meetings and events like the Pig Roast in Bardwell.
His newest appointment to the Southern Regional Education Board is a chance for him to interact with governors from the Southeast and their appointees to address as he says, “the unique challenges to education in our region.”
Edelen calls public education his “public passion”.
“It is the one area of public policy that addresses all others. If you have a world class system of public education, you don’t have as many people in prison. You have people who are highly educated and able to compete in the global economy. You have less need for social services.”
“Education is the silver bullet.”
Edelen cites to the Governor’s priorities in his budget that has put education first over the last 18 months. He is flattered, he says, to be the Governor’s representative on the Southern Regional Education Board.
The President recently announced a competition called “Race to the Top”. States will compete for funding based on ideas for improving education. Edelen said that discussions were already under way to enter the competition. “We are confident that under KERA where every school has a site based decision making counsel and parents and kids are engaged in the school environment that we are the model for what they are looking to do. We were doing it before it was fashionable.”
In his remarks, Edelen told the crowd that the budget situation in Frankfort would have been more dire without stimulus funds from the federal government. The Beshear administration’s goal was to preserve education, police or health services funding. Without the stimulus, an 11% cut across the board would have been necessary. Staff cuts to areas other than education, public safety and health would have been one out of three jobs lost. Edelen warned the crowd that “We must value integrity. We are living in historic times. Forty to fifty years from now, history will judge what we do. History doesn’t grade on the curve.”