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This is a DRAFT of our legislative priorities for 2020. We want your input! Please help us rank them and provide examples of each of the categories listed below. Suggested edits and additions also welcome.

ACHIEVING EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE in JCPS “with E’S”

FROM OUR JCPS BOARD MEMBERS & SUPERINTENDENT, we demand:

  • EVIDENCE-BASED education practices
  • Realistic EXPECTATIONS
  • EXPERIENCED teachers, staff and leaders
  • EMPOWERED students and advocates
  • EQUITABLE funding, resources and access
  • ENRICHING experiences
  • ENGAGING, culturally competent curriculum
  • Nurturing and safe learning ENVIRONMENTS
  • EXTERNAL community supports
  • Supportive and meaningful EVALUATIONS

FROM OUR LOCAL AND STATE LEADERS, we demand:

  • Accountability and Transparency
  • Authentic Education Reform and
  • #FullyFundED Public Schools

For EVERYONE!

To submit your feedback, click here.

Dear School Board,

Very concerned and hurt how Dann C Byck is looking.
It needs a whole new make over.
The school looks so bad that the children have nothing to look forward to. We want our children to have Hope. They can’t at that school.
Every door needs to be painted, the windows look bad and curtains are falling down.
The principal should be ashamed of herself knowing that her salary looks good. But her school looks bad.
Please Help our school. I am hurt
Thanks, 
Vanessa Goodwin

Dear JCPS,

XXXXXX is a school in need of something. My child attends there and wants to learn but tells me everyday how disrespectful the kids are to teachers and some teachers spend half their class time trying to gain control of the class.

My daughter has a class with a teacher who can barely speak English and has repeatedly asked to be transferred to another class but it was refused..however a child of another race was transferred out who tells the same story about this teacher..2 different periods where half the class is failing.

I have contacted the counselor and requested my child be transferred still not happening..I’ve contacted the board with my concerns and was told they’d be forwarded to the principal..a week later still no response. My child has a 504 that clearly states her problems and it goes ignored…
My child is falling through the cracks here and nobody seems to care…i guess she has to fight a teacher to get attention (sarcasm)..the focus seems to be on all the bad kids there..

so someone

please

tell me.

what to do

 

Anonymous submission from a JCPS Parent

Dear Anonymous,

Iroquois is not on fire. You are! Bring your buckets of water if that’s what you think because you’re a liar with your pants on fire.

Our school isn’t perfect. You won’t find one that is. Sometimes we have above average challenges and at all times we have an above average staff to meet those challenges. If you’re actually on our staff, Anonymous, you are the weakest link. Transfer season opens in three months and I’ll do your paperwork for you, will gladly help you pack, and hold the door for your tired behind to leave quickly, quietly, and reverently.

You’ve attacked my wonderful principal, our dedicated counselors, our committed staff (amongst whom are proud alumni), and worst of all, our students. You see, my own children, scores of extended family, and all of my godchildren were educated at Iroquois. My son was valedictorian and graduated magna from UofL. Professors couldn’t believe he’d graduated from Iroquois. I could. It’s a great school where, without regret, I’ve dedicated 20 years of my life. I’ve never had a bad day there. Challenges? Yes. I signed up for public school and everything that comes with it. I love my school.

What peeves me about you, Anonymous, is that you choose to hide behind your words. I would not normally give such messiness the time of day, but you attacked something dear to me—my school. You attacked someone dear to me—my colleagues and students.

Stay comfortable in your misery, sad person, because what’s said in the dark will come to the light. But before you post again, let me go low for a moment. According to my writing scoring rubric, I would like for you to work on the following—this one’s on me:

1. Organization is key. Group your rambling thoughts coherently.
2. Though we could understand your miserable letter, transition words would make it a smoother read. If you’re going to insult us, at least smooth out the wrinkles in your pig’s ear.
3. Ramp up your vocabulary to better represent the best of your thinking—unless your vocabulary as presented actually does represent your level of thinking. In that case, sign up for Iroquois where we will teach you to strengthen, well, everything you’ve written.
4. Use concrete examples and skillfully interweave them throughout your writing. Tie in example, explanation, etc. Give your audience a full picture to prove you know what you are writing about. Try not to “list”.
5. Be truthful in your writing. Authenticity is also key.
6. Own your writing with a closing that includes your signature and printed name.

If you are amongst us at the school, you have lost the respect and trust of your colleagues. Maybe you need a hug. Maybe you need Jesus. I don’t know. But what I do know is, while our school is not for every teacher, our school is for every student. We value Iroquois and, like any commitment, we take the ups and the downs with grace. And for those of us who are committed, and I’m included in that number, it has been and it remains a distinct pleasure to work for everything Iroquois.

Don’t ever write another letter like that again.

Aletha Fields
(c) Aletha Fields, 2019

A teacher sent us this additional background on the cell phone issue.

Dear JCPS,
 
Our cell phone policy is contradictory and ineffective. The directive at the beginning of the school year was that cell phones were completely banned between 7:30 and 2:20. They were not allowed in hallways during passing, not allowed at lunch, not allowed in classrooms. Teachers cannot make exceptions for educational purposes.

If students are on their cell phones, we are supposed to warn them that they are not allowed to be on their cell phones. We are to warn them even if we warned them every day for the last month. If they continue to use their cell phones, we can call for a staff member to come get the student. The student gets to choose whether they want to give up their phone for the rest of the day, or keep their phone and go to ISAP. We must also call the student’s parent if this happens.
 
There are a number of loopholes in this system. First, it’s tough to keep track of who you have given warnings to today and who you haven’t. It takes extra time out of class to manage that. If a kid gets on their phone anyway (and they usually do, since there’s no effective consequence), then we have to stop class to call for someone to come to my room. We then have to deal with the disruption to class that will cause. Students have learned that the last 5-10 minutes of every class is a free-for-all because there isn’t enough time for someone to come get their phone before the next class. The last class period of the day is the Wild West because worst case scenario if they take your phone, you’ll get it back in a few minutes anyway.
 
We are supposed to enforce the policy in the hallways during passing. The way this works is the kids walk down the hall with their cell phones in hand and ear buds in their ears. Teachers tell them to put them away. Half of them put their phone down until they’re a few steps past the teacher and then get right back on it. The other half ignore the teachers altogether. Either way, there will be no administration enforcement so the exercise serves no purpose except making teachers look futile and powerless.
 
The day after the incident with the teacher at Iroquois, I kept track of my class with the worst phone issues. Students were working on group projects. At the beginning of class, I told students to put their phones away (this is how I have to start every class, since there are usually quite a few in use after the bell despite the ban). I gave the class instructions on what they should be doing, and told them that anything requiring technology should be done on the chromebooks I had checked out for their use. I again repeated that students should not have cell phones out for any reason (it’s November but I still have to explicitly state this classroom expectation that has not changed since August). Within the first five minutes, I had to warn EIGHT students to put away their cell phones. By the end of class, TWELVE phones had to be confiscated in a class of 27 students.
 
The next day, it starts all over again. The same kids who were on their phones the day before have to be told again that it’s against the rules, and to put their phones away.
 
Every day, they get angry and offended by being told to put their phones away. The warnings just tell a kid how long he can stay on his phone before the possibility of a minor consequence might occur. It’s exhausting to keep up with. But God forbid you don’t give a warning to that kid that you’ve had to tell to put their phone away every school day for the past four months, because if you don’t then the kid, the parent, and admin will raise hell with you.
 
It doesn’t matter how engaging a lesson is, the kids wouldn’t notice because they’re blasting their music and messaging their friends on snapchat. Every time I tell a kid to put their phone away, every time I call to have their phone taken, I know I’m running the risk of disrupting my class, or setting up a violent reaction. Best case scenario, I’m losing precious minutes of instructional time pursuing a policy that is not working.
 
I don’t have the answers, but this ain’t it.

Signed,
Anonymous HS Teacher
Dear JCPS,

I am a teacher at Iroquois High School. We are on fire. The recent news reports only show a very small portion of the absolute hell our school has become. Today (Friday 11/1/19) I witnessed no less than four fights. This is the norm. A kid sat in traffic on Taylor Boulevard.

We have multiple staff attacked. Let me tell you about the district response:

They sent a bunch of central office people over to stand around. Assistant superintendents Zeitz, Rogers, and a couple others. They don’t know our kids or staff. They stood around and pretended to help, but didn’t do anything.

Half of our teachers don’t even show up anymore, and I’ll be blunt that many of our teachers are terrible, but they’re all we can find.

Our principal is DONE. Our assistant principals don’t want to be here and the kids don’t respect them. Our counselors are done and don’t want to be here.

Our building is on fire and the district does NOTHING.

We need a real principal, real leadership, and real support with chronic misbehavior. JCTA does nothing to support us. We need real leadership and real support.

Please help us.

Iroquois Business and Education Academy Teacher

Dear JCPS,

I am scared for the future of Black children in Louisville. School was an empowering experience for me, but my son is treated like a number in a prison. The ClassDojo app is revealing serious implicit bias and I am disappointed at the apathy surrounding the motivation of him and his classmates. I’ve witnessed adults yelling at children on multiple occasions. I’ve witnessed a teacher dragging a child out of a classroom on more than one occasion. I see our advanced children be forced to do”busy work” while exhausted teachers “discipline” other children. I am sad about the state of our schools. We can and we MUST do better for our young people. My son’s school has no PTA. I love the principal and appreciate many of the staff members, but overall I am concerned that our children and being discarded like trash.

~ SM

Board member: Chris Brady

 

Louisville Judge sides with Dear JCPS co-founder. Orders JCPS to release PTAs’ financial records to the public.

“In these challenging times, as educators and decision makers explore the glaring inequities in our district and seek ways to resolve them, Dear JCPS wants to make sure every student has an advocate in their corner — especially our most vulnerable students.

District leaders are to be commended as they grapple with tackling glaring disparities in the current student assignment plan, closing achievement gaps, and reducing behavior and discipline inequities. In addition to these visible inequities, there are often unseen disparities among parental involvement, volunteer and community participation, and fundraising between schools primarily comprised of students whose parents have the social, political and financial capital to advocate for their students to ensure they attend “the right schools,” while those whose parents lack the time, transportation, technology or literacy to navigate the complex system of “choice,” do not.

To that end, Dear JCPS co-founder, Gay Adelmann recently made a routine records request of the largest school district in Kentucky (27th largest in the nation), to obtain copies of local PTAs’ financial records for the past 5 years. These records, which, according to the “Redbook” are required by Kentucky law to be filed annually with each school’s year-end audit, consist of a preliminary budget and a one-page year-end financial review. Her hope was to identify schools that might benefit from a little extra help with programming or fundraising and raise community awareness so that these disparities could be taken into consideration while the district is actively tackling the bigger picture issues.

As often happens when records are held in multiple locations, or when district personnel are unavailable during summer break, the district notified Adelmann that additional time would be required before these records would be made available to her. They informed her she would receive the documents on August 30.

On August 12, Adelmann received an email from Kentucky PTA attorney Coy Travis informing her that his client had filed a complaint in district court to seek injunctive relief in order to prevent the district from turning these records over to her. A hearing was set for August 15 in which she was invited to appear.

With less than three days to prepare, Adelmann sought counsel from pro-bono attorneys and open records experts. They helped her prepare this brief, which was filed during the hearing, but none were able to accompany her in court.

At the hearing, Judge Cunningham was critical of the Kentucky PTA’s request but decided to defer the decision to the Attorney General’s office, in the event all parties were not be able to work out an agreement before then. Adelmann, without an attorney to represent her, trusted the Judge’s decision, and agreed to meet with Kentucky PTA attorney after the hearing to see if they could come up with a mutually beneficial solution. He assured her he would try to help her obtain the documents as long as she asked the “right way.”

Amye Bensenhaver, a former assistant attorney general for Kentucky and a widely recognized open records expert, during this week’s episode of Save Our Schools With Dear JCPS on Forward Radio 106.5 FM said, the Attorney General should never be put in the position of telling an organization NOT to release open records. His job is to get involved when entities SHOULD release documents but are refusing to do so.

TFW the state PTA sues to block the release of routine open records (naming you as a defendant because you’re the one…

Posted by Gay Adelmann on Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Upon further consideration following last week’s court decision, it appears Judge Cunningham agrees. On August 27, as these court documents show, he sided with Adelmann and filed an order for JCPS to release the documents. Kentucky PTA has until September 16 to appeal.

At a time when privatizers are trying to get in through every nook and cranny, influential entities such as Kentucky PTA should be dedicating resources toward revealing predators and exposing their influence. This lawsuit does the opposite.

How much money and time is this lawsuit costing their dues-paying members and taxpayers? More importantly, where was this level of activism when charter schools, vouchers and loss of local parental voice on SBDMs were on the menu? In the past 10 years, only one resolution has been passed at the Kentucky PTA annual convention, and it was one that was initiated by Adelmann.

“This district is taking great steps toward addressing disparities that exist between our school communities. One of those less-often-seen inequities is the availability of parents’ time, talent and treasure,” said Adelmann. “The PTA should be helping us fight undue influences that promote and maintain inequities in our school system, not facilitating it.”

Transparency is the only tool we have to ensure that those with money and power are not using it to advance their agenda while others cannot. As a powerful, influential entity themselves, we have to ask, “What is Kentucky PTA trying to hide?”

Below are some quick links to some of the recent blog posts, board speeches, member letters and news stories regarding the 15th District PTA.