#EndSchoolClosures Put #StudentAssignmentFirst #StopTheStateTakeover of @JCPSKY. #WeChoose Equity

Dear JCPS,

I am opposed to any plan to close and/or merge schools, or build any new schools, until a new student assignment plan has been finalized.

Thank you! For more information, check out the following links:

Watch the video here.

Dear JCPS,

Our district is headed for a state takeover in 2020 UNLESS we come up with an authentic, community-supported student assignment plan now!

We did not escape it. We only postponed it. We know auditors will be back.

What are we doing about it? Quietly making minor tweaks to the student assignment plan? Or planning a revision that our community can get behind?

We know their intentions are to justify takeover of our district, which means the removal of your powers. I know you know this, but again, I ask, what are you doing about it? Your district administration isn’t going to save you. It’s up to you. It’s why we elected you.

I am not speculating when I make the following statements:

There is a national movement to privatize our public schools, and convert them into charters or worse. Taking over the board gives them power to do this, even if they don’t get their funding mechanism.

They desire to take away local control. Look at what they are doing with SBDMs. I am disappointed that Dr Pollio has come out in support of this bill, by the way. I agree he needs more power, but let’s take it from the state, not from us.

They want to have say over our student  assignment plan. Look at HB151 from 2017. But the plan they come up with will be ill-informed and cause more harm than good. Especially to our most vulnerable students who always bear the brunt of ivory-tower decisions.

Closing schools before these vultures have even taken us over is having you doing their dirty work for them! LOOK AROUND THIS NATION at what is happening. Don’t be complicit.

Don’t close a single school in a black, brown or poor community, at least not until you hear recommendations from the student assignment committee. Don’t build a new school in any part of town until you know where the student assignment committee feels the greatest needs are. You are tying their hands and forcing them to work with a plan, instead of the other way around.

This is a teachable moment. We encourage board members to educate their constituents, not put your own district’s wants ahead of the greater good. This is a sin that’s been committed far too often in this district.

The audit mandated a revised student assignment plan. It was the poison pill. But it’s also our brier patch. Authentic, community-supported student assignment plan is our ticket to prevent state takeover.

Please do not blow it.

We’ve been busing our most disenfranchised students from their communities, many against their will, making it impossible to attend parent teacher conferences, pick their child up from school when sick, participate in after-school activities. If it’s good enough for them, why isn’t it good enough for us?

Why aren’t we having this conversation?

If you pass this facilities plan based on projected growth, without considering this possible proposal, you essentially shut us out. Perhaps that’s the district’s plan. But is it yours? We elected this board to represent the taxpayers, parents and students. To course-correct when the administration puts their own or outside interests first. You have 18 months to show us what you’re made of. But this time, it won’t be us voting you out. It will be Wayne Lewis and ALEC and their enablers.

Let’s ask parents with means, transportation, and time to carry some of this burden for the next decade. Why shouldn’t families in the West End have the same opportunities my child had?

F O R   I M M E D I A T E   R E L E A S E

For more information, contact:

Gay Adelmann                                     De’Nita Wright
Dear JCPS                                              Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
502-565-8397                                        502-403-3926

A video of our press conference can be found here.

To the JCPS School Board: “Stop School Closures/Mergers in Black, Brown and Poor Communities; New Construction Should Not Be Based on Current Student Assignment Plan; Student Assignment Plan Should Come First!; Gather Authentic Community Feedback; Fight the State Takeover!”

JCPS is scheduled to be audited again in the Fall of 2020, where another state takeover recommendation is imminent. To prevent this from happening, an authentic, community-supported student assignment plan must be developed, we must prevent the closure of schools in black, brown and poor communities, and we must stop the dangerous merger of schools with high concentrations of poverty and trauma, including our two alternative schools, all of which further feeds the privatizers’ agenda and fuels the pipeline to prison.

Our current JCPS school board was elected by this community and is accountable to its voters. This power is at risk of being stripped away when the state returns to audit the district in the Fall of 2020. A state takeover of JCPS will enable a handful of state leaders who are intent upon executing their financial backers’ plan, against the will of the voters. These state leaders were not elected by us and they are not accountable to us, and there will be nothing we can do to stop this assault, unless we take action now.

We challenge our 7 elected-members of the JCPS school board to support the following:

  1. Stop the closures and mergers of schools in black, brown and poor communities. Recognize this for what it is: an attack on public schools that serve our most vulnerable populations, straight out of the privatizers’ national playbook.
  2. Look for opportunities to fight for equitable solutions for students in black, brown and poor communities. Seek to develop and finalize an authentic, community-supported student assignment plan before moving forward with any new construction based on the current, inequitable, student assignment plan. The committee’s ability to bring the board meaningful recommendations should not be restricted by decisions made prematurely, without their input.
  3. Listen to the concerns of those serving our most vulnerable populations. Do not move forward with the dangerous consolidation of MDA and Breckinridge Metro. Put stakeholders on the renovation committee for Shawnee. Be intentional about using data gathering techniques that seek feedback from our most affected, most disenfranchised community members. There is currently no onramp for meaningful community input.

The Kentucky Alliance holds their People’s Agenda meetings every Sunday at 1:00 PM at the Carl Braden Center at 3208 W. Broadway. We invite the community, the media, and JCPS board members to come and participate in the dialogue, so that community input from the most affected community members is intentionally sought and incorporated into the final student assignment and facilities plans.

Please sign our petition here: http://dearjcps.com/petition

Dear JCPS,

The lack of sibling consideration in school selection process is a major issue especially for those parents who have elementary school age children or single parent households. 

I am a widow, a single mom of two boys 5 and 6. My youngest son did not get into the same school as his brother(Brandeis Elementary). This is an issues on several levels. 

You want more parent involvement however, having kids at different schools will limit parent involvement. Currently, I serve on the PTA, I am a room parent, I attend all field trips, and class parties, however, having kids at two different schools I will have to pick who’s class party I attend and who I take to school on the first day. It is already hard as a single widowed mom. Instead, I am left with a heartbreaking choice of picking what event I will attend and what child I will accompany. For a mother, that is a heartbreaking choice that I refuse to make for the well being of my children. Having to pick which school I volunteer at will increase the chance of my sons thinking there is favoritism if I make it to one school and not the other. Research shows that having a parent involved increases the overall success of a student. However, when you split children you do not help parents to get involved… you make it harder. Holiday parties, conferences, and special events that fall on the same day will be impossible attend.

Secondly, the school system has allowed students who are technically not suppose to be in kindergarten to have slots. I don’t think it is fair if a child is tested up and entering school early that they should be able to have slots at magnet or traditional school. It takes away from the children who are starting on time and if parent chooses to test their child up then they should not be given priority over  students who are suppose to be in kindergarten. Rather they should have been the ones on the waiting list!

It is also not fair that the lottery pick selection process is not across the board. If you want to make changes and be fair it should be at all schools  in JCPS.  The Brown School was not a lottery pick and it really shows bias when it comes to the selection process. If the school board wants to make changes, the school board can not pick and choose which schools will follow suit. 

 Lastly, bullying is obviously an issue and research shows that having an older sibling at school decreases the incident of bullying. Why? Because the child has a sibling, a friend, someone to look out for them and with all the recent negative publicity JCPS is getting considering sibling placement should have been a priority to consider. 

Logistically,  I live in Fern Creek and my oldest  son attends school on 28th and Broadway. It would be impossible to get both of them to school. Not too mention if one of them decides to participate in sports and/or extracurricular activities. 

Of course, if all schools were equal I would not be having this issue. My  kids would have gone to their  home. However that is not the case and I do not believe it is unreasonable to consider siblings during school assignment process especially at the elementary school level. These are not kid self-sufficient like a middle or high schooler, They are very much still dependent on a parent to pick them up and drop them off. You leave me with a choice of up rooting a well established child in order to be able to function as a parent and have them both at the same school. Not the ideal choice for a child who is excelling within his current school.  

And I’m not just advocating for my own children! I know this complaint is widespeard and there are so many others in regards to the school assignment process. I have research statistics  in regards to children success over the years because of my career as a pediatric nurse practitioner. I have seen over and over again how JCPS and the system has failed our youth evidence by so many issues including but not limited to the increase in countless suspension and lack of mental health resources. I have wrote several letters for patients  in support of parents because JCPS would not address certain issues. Yes, I believe some of it stems from parenting skills  but a lot of times it’s due JCPS’ failures.  

Having this background and knowledge And as a single mother of two young African-American males I want to beat the statistics  of their success rate. I have taken the extra steps, I made arrangements to take a part time position so that I could be more involved, I serve on the PTA and volunteer my time to aid in the success of my boys. However, JCPS is definitely hindering the support and engagement I can give to my boys by splitting and dividing my family in to two different schools. 

You all should definitely consider keeping families together. That should be a priority in school selection process.  

Sincerely,

Concerned Parent

Following my experience, this year,  with the North Oldham High School Academic Team as a certified Quick Recall Official, I have changed my mind from supporting charter schools to opposing them. Teachers and Public Schools need to be fully supported fiscally  with competitive pay and funding. This can be justified in terms of educational  success and the future success of Kentucky students and their impact on the economic and social standing of the state. This also applies to Kentucky higher education.

Harold Trainer

Prospect, Ky

Watch the video of the guest speakers from Tuesday night’s @JCPSKY board of education meeting here.

Speakers at Tuesday night’s JCPS Board meeting included Dear JCPS officers, Tiffany Dunn, Gay Adelmann and Michael McCloud. They addressed the state takeover, putting students first, and the proposed policing of JCPS students. Here is the text from Ms. Dunn’s speech:

My name is Tiffany Dunn. I’m a national board certified ESL teacher at a wonderful school, Lassiter Middle.

At our November 13th faculty meeting we were told by our administration,

“We are operating as if we are already under state control.”

This was said twice for emphasis.

My question to you is, “why?”

JCPS parents, teachers, and stakeholders fought hard and made it clear we had no interest in being controlled by a privatization-minded, predatory state board of education and commissioner. We succeeded, but only to have our district wave the white flag anyway?

What does “operating as if we are already under state control” look like, you ask?

Our professional learning communities have been hijacked. We have district personnel sit in our meeting every single week. Instead of having collegial conversations about student learning, we are being forced to give common assessments. On the same day. No matter where we are in our teaching. And then analyze the contrived data as if it’s legitimate.

We’re also being told we have to do project-based learning – the SAME project as our PLC members. Have any of you looked at the research on PBLs? It’s dismal. John Hattie has it at a .15 effect size – what does this mean? To be considered effective – a strategy should be at least .4. PBL effectiveness even falls behind charter and religious schools, which not surprisingly, weren’t much better.

This type of control is not only attack on teacher autonomy, it’s an attack on student learning.

Along with the classroom control, we have become obsessed with MAP testing and student data. We are losing precious class time to assess students. Most appalling is that ESL and ECE students are being denied their reader accommodation on the reading portion of the MAP test.

So, these results aren’t even reliable or legitimate! Next Tuesday, our school is having a reward day for students based on MAP growth. We are losing two more class periods of instruction. Less than 1/3 of our 6th grade students qualified.

I ask you, “Why are we using test data for rewards? What are we trying to accomplish? Shame students into learning? As if they’re trying to do poorly?”

Wayne and his cronies want nothing more than to see us fail – it fits their narrative and it will line their pockets. Following a takeover agenda will only get us one place – taken over. It was and always will be the end goal.

Instead, JCPS needs to align itself with research-based strategies, not data mining. Teachers should be treated as the experts, not babysat by district and school administrators.

Below is the text from Gay Adelmann’s speech:

I sure hope that teacher does not experience any retribution for speaking up for her students tonight.

No teacher should ever experience negative consequences for doing what’s best for their students.

And that includes our teachers who speak out against these threats of privatization and excessive testing and everything that goes along with it.

Dear JCPS,

My name is Gay Adelmann. I am the co-founder of Dear JCPS and Save Our Schools KY.

In May of 2016, I stood up here and told the current board chair he needed to put the interests of our students ahead of the interests of privatizers. He didn’t listen. And he’s gone now.

In August of 2016, Dear JCPS cofounder Erin Korbylo stood here and told Dr. Hargens that we gave her a vote of no confidence because she worried more about what business leaders thought than about doing what was best for students. She’s also gone now.

In fact, the first time I spoke to this board was in 2013. Before Dr. Pruitt was even the commissioner. Only two of you are still here. And here Wayne Lewis comes in from nowhere, telling you how to fix JCPS. And you jump through every hoop he sets for you.

Don’t worry about them. The superintendent reports to this board, this board reports to us – the voters. Our students are your customers. The customer comes first. Not Frankfort, not business and chamber leaders (who probably don’t have kids in our schools), not these disingenuous Alec-funded fake grassroots groups.

Because no matter what you do! It’s a shell game. It’s a moving target. They’re going to find a way to say our schools are failing. So you might as well do what you know is right.

Not only did voters keep out the privatizers out of our district, we pushed back on a state takeover and charter school funding. While we weren’t pleased with the compromise, because we knew it would lead to more of the same, living in fear of being taken over

You’ve gotten a two year stay of execution. Use it.

Spend it doing what’s best for students — especially our most vulnerable. Not jumping thru hoops for unqualified, outsiders with a privatization agenda.

Here’s something I don’t think the community understands.

What may be fine for mainstream students, like many of ours, is not fine for our most vulnerable. ESPECIALLY when you have a district of CHOICE!

I did not realize this until I saw it first hand as a Shawnee parent.

When you have choice and diversity, two things we TREASURE, you cannot allow them to use these qualities against us and destroy our district in the process. Fight back! Help them understand.

When you treat students as data (in the aggregate, the average, the statistic, instead of the wet clay that they are), you learn to manipulate it to give you what you need to make Frankfort happy, instead of giving each student what they need individually to “reach their full potential.”

Our most vulnerable students are the ones who end up being used as pawns to make the data look good for the adults.

We know that these practices are abusive. They’ve told us! Resist doing what you know is harmful. Give exceptions – fight back – for schools with high needs populations. For vulnerable students. Because what works for the mainstream often throws our most vulnerable students under the bus. And we’re losing a generation of kids.

If any elected official has a problem with our district cutting back on this state-mandated abuse, let them say so publicly. So we know who to vote out next time.

Put students first. Not in aggregate. Not the averages. Not data points. Not the mainstream.

All students, especially the most vulnerable.

Support excellent teachers like Ms. Dunn. Allow her to do what she knows to be best for her students, and everything else will follow.

Thank you.

Tiffany Dunn and Michael McCloud wait their turn to speak.

We do not yet have a transcript of Michael McCloud’s speech but will post it here when we do.

If you have a message you would like to submit to Dear JCPS, please email moderator@dearjcps.com.

Dear KBE members,

Public school advocates such as myself do not disagree that Kentucky is graduating some of its students with fewer skills than should be considered “college-ready.” However, adding more requirements to graduate, without adding resources and supports to ensure they can meet these goals, is tantamount to adding more thermometers to a patient’s care and expecting that to make them well.
In fact, peers in other states tell us that this tactic has been implemented in their schools, not as a means to improve outcomes, but as a means to perpetuate the “failing schools” narrative, to justify further attempts to privatize public schools.
Most students, like my son, had little difficulty meeting the requirements before, and would sail through these new standards as well. However, what is not being taken into account is the harmful effects they will have on our most vulnerable students. It’s already happening in our lowest performing schools, and these new requirements will only worsen their plight. Opportunities to “game the system,” and “teach to the test” will escalate, vulnerable students will continue to graduate unprepared and now they will lack the basic certification that allows them to gain real world experience, further feeding the pipeline to prison.
Please delay this decision until you can visit a school like the one my son graduated from, and talk to impacted students, teachers and families. Instead of adding another means to measure what we already know, lets introduce more opportunities to intervene in the student’s academic career, EARLY AND OFTEN, so they are more likely to succeed.
Thank you for your consideration,
Gay Adelmann

Parent of graduate of Shawnee High School (one of the “lowest performing” schools in the state)

Send your email here: http://www.saveourschoolsky.org/2018/10/02/tell-kbe-to-delay-vote-on-new-high-school-requirements/

Dear KBE,

With the vote on new graduation requirements looming, several educational organizations and leaders have already named specific concerns with many aspects of the Kentucky Departments of Education’s proposal.  The issues they’ve identified should be sufficient to at least pause the approval of the proposal.  But, the debate has become one over details which often implies a concession to the main premise.  In other words, the Titanic’s course may be approved because we’ve been focused on the deck chairs.

Most agree that we need to find ways to help our students be better prepared for the next stage of life.  However, we are not asking whether setting the minimum requirements for graduation is the appropriate place for this conversation.  Minimum requirements should be achievable by all within our current system.  A diploma should be work, but it only needs to show that a student has completed the minimal course work requirements, as our current system does.  Colleges and employers all look at test scores, resumes, previous experiences, portfolios, recommendations, etc… in addition to a diploma.  It’s neither necessary nor should a diploma have to carry the weight of having to certify that a child has preemptively completed the additional training, education, or development that may be required in the future.  A diploma is a noble accomplishment, but it should not represent our highest expectations of education.

In fact, it is a best counter-productive to set the policy and practice for reaching our highest goals though minimum requirements.  When we do, we shift the burden that should belong to adults onto children.  Figuring out what type of teaching and learning most engages and challenges our students, and then training and preparing educators to implement it is an adult problem.  Creating learning experiences for students that are both personalized, but also equip them for a diverse world and an unknown future is an adult problem.  Finding ways to stretch the teenage need for instant gratification towards long term decision making and investment is an adult problem.  Marshalling the resources, funding, and connections to facilitate authentic workplace and research experiences for students is an adult problem.

I know many hard working adults in education, and I think most would say that we are making progress on the problems above, but they are by no means solved.  Our schools still don’t have sufficient or equitable access to resources.  Our teachers don’t have access to the full training and support necessary to truly transform practice.  Our policies aren’t always fair, up two 21st Century standards, or in the best interest of students.  Solving these problems is the real work of raising expectations.  Of course, children need some measure of responsibility and personal investment when it comes to their futures.  But, the proposed graduation requirements takes this too far.  We should never create a policy that holds children accountable for things adults should be working on.

Signed,

A Very Concerned JCPS Teacher