Admin

Dear JCPS Board of Education,

In February, I wrote to you as a parent of a Maupin student with my concerns about the possible impacts of an audit on Maupin Elementary after being placed into “priority status”. My original concerns, quoted below this letter in many ways have not changed. The only thing that has become clear since that time is that the District continues to take actions that will lead to the end of the Catalpa model at Maupin unless you take action to forge a different path.

From early on in the implementation of this program, the leadership of the school and district have continuously reneged on promises, degraded the integrity of the Waldorf model, and made unilateral decisions that silenced the voices of teachers and parents at the school and in the Parkland neighborhood and have brought us to this precipice point. While I could write you a long letter describing the ways my family has dreamed of having access to Waldorf education for our children and would never have the economic access to attend a Waldorf school outside of a public school system (something that is true), today, even though my family will be affected by this decision, the reality is that as a family with many underserved privileges that come with white skin and being perceived as “middle-class”, I know that my family will ultimately be okay whatever decision is made. However, this is exactly this reason that I am writing to you today. The reality is that families in West Louisville who bear the brunt and the burden of racial injustice in this community will be harmed by the removal of the Waldorf program at Maupin.

It should be acknowledged that in the beginning of this program, neighborhood families, as I understand it, were skeptical that Waldorf was right for their community (and made me hesitant to choose this magnet for my child), but over the two years that this program has begun to sink its roots into the community, neighborhood parents have shared the many ways they have come value the Waldorf approach to education. If these families were not given a voice the process of bringing the disruption of a new model to their school two years ago, we absolutely owe them the opportunity to be major contributors to the process now.

During a parent meeting at Maupin in February, Principal, Maria Holmes expressed that she felt that Waldorf was not providing equitable education for many students whose unstable life situations caused them to leave the school and need to integrate into a different educational setting. While I appreciated and agreed with this concern, I have ultimately come to disagree with the conclusion that Waldorf-type education would necessarily lead to this imbalance. Because here’s the reality: education will never be able to educate away poverty, and systemic racism. I’d love to be proven wrong, but I don’t believe there is any program or system that can actually wipe out the affects of poverty, racism, and trauma that educators are tasked with “educating out of the classroom”. Maupin did not “fail” because Waldorf creates inequitable ways of educating. Frankly, I believe It failed because the district and principal, consciously or not, did not believe that it could succeed with black children. They actually reinforced the stereotype that they could have addressed by providing the kinds of supports that begin to address inequity: access to health care and mental health services, family supports, access to jobs and job training for parents, supporting programs for home ownership and economic development, etc.. But these are big problems that are seen outside of the scope of education—these are the challenges of dismantling systemic Racism with a capital R. The Kentucky Department of Education and indeed, JCPS have shown and time and time again that they don’t see the need to do that and would prefer to fall back on blaming teachers, parents and students for their failures as measured by standardized tests measuring unstandardized lives.

So right now, I see that the board actually has two choices. 1.) The board can vote to support a system that ultimately always chooses to protect itself. I get it: KDE is sort of driving this bus right now; so, choosing not to go along with the district’s plan is going to be incredibly challenging. It will be a fight. OR 2.) You can decide to make a choice that values the input of community stakeholders who have the most to gain or lose by this decision and you can demand a leadership chain (including finding a new superintendent immediately) that is willing to do whatever is needed to tackle the BIG R issues that get in the way of education. And if the Waldorf model stays at Maupin, the school and TEACHERS MUST be given absolute support to fully implement the model at every level of the school.

Thank you for considering this perspective. I hope you will hear the families of West Louisville.

Emily Pickett,
Parent

The following letter was sent to @BradyJCPSBOE on April 23, 2017 from a Maupin parent:

Mr. Chris Brady,

I am following up on our conversation on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 after the Townhall meeting w/ Pruitt.

As I recall you had stated that you thought this year would have been the 1st year to consider since last year was a transition year. Also that you thought that the implementation at Maupin was horrible. That you had set up a meeting with Mr. Leffert and were going to discuss my questions and concerns with him.

You also stated that at that time no one had released any information regarding the audit or the parent meetings that occurred afterwards to the board. That you were requesting that as well as the questions/concerns that the parents/caregivers sent to Joe Leffert and/or Maria Holmes.

Lastly I recall you stating that once you received that information you would fight for this program to both the School Board and KDE if need be.

So now I’m asking:

1. How did your meeting with Mr. Leffert go?

2. Are you still going to try to save this program and convince the school board and possibly KDE if needed to support it?

There has been so much misinformation and piece-mealed information lately that I feel that I have to ask you my District Representative where you stand in regards to this program.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Also for all you do for the children in the communities you serve by being on the School Board. I know it can’t be easy continually dealing with some parent and their schools’ issues. So I thank you for doing it.

Very Respectfully,
Mrs. Shanna Miller

Dear Dr. Willner:

Please vote “NO” tomorrow night for the removal of magnet status from Maupin Elementary School’s Catalpa School of Innovation Magnet Program and the discontinuation of the Catalpa Waldorf model for the 2017-18 school year.

I have spoken to a number of individuals who share my concerns about the discontinuation of the Magnet Program and Catalpa Model and the likely impact on the students who are presently enrolled in the school. Parent engagement is up, attendance is up, the number of behavior issues are down, and test scores are trending back up. But the message being communicated publicly is that parents don’t participate, students are poorly behaved and failing, and teachers have given up. We must use extreme care and ensure that yet another effort to close the achievement gap and improve the lives of students and their families in Louisville’s West End is not terminated before it has a chance to deliver on its promised results.

The application for designation as a School of Innovation clearly spells out the change that is required and the need for a strong well-trained staff to execute the vision. How is it then that the principal appointed to lead the school is not trained in the Waldorf method? And, that the training that was to occur for teachers throughout the school year has not been done—not to mention that in the first year of implementation 8 of the teachers were in their first year of teaching? Is it no wonder that some of the teachers are encountering problems teaching the new curriculum and managing student behavior in the new instructional environment? Not to mention, being forced to perform under the watchful eye of State administrators whose focus is on student testing and Common Core standards and call for bolder thinking but who fail to do their part in creating the conditions for this to happen. Unfortunately, it is the children and their families who will suffer if the program is terminated prematurely as is currently proposed by Dr. Hargens and her executive staff.

As a Board you have taken steps to address the divide that exists between JCPS administrators and the communities they serve by negotiating Dr. Hargen’s resignation. I ask you now to take the next step in voting NO at tomorrow night’s meeting. I implore you and the other Board members to step back and look anew without prejudice at this program and its performance. Please allow adequate time for parent and community input and counter-arguments. And, before you decide to terminate it, first ask what it would take to make it successful. We need to demonstrate through our actions that we recognize the potential of each and every student who resides in West Louisville—and that while we too often have labeled them and their families as the “problem” (e.g., the students poor behavior and lack of parental involvement), it may in fact be our own impatience and lack of commitment that are the problem.

In these times where we are witnessing an assault on public education, I so value your stewardship over our public schools. Thank you for your service to our community and your commitment to our children and youth.

Sincerely,
Theresa Glore. MS

This letter was from 2015. It reveals that the Catalpa school was not receiving the support it needed from the beginning. And that the administration was trying to change instruction back then, as well. Tonight’s vote is more of a matter of asking the board to rubber stamp a defacto decision the district has been implementing since the beginning. As a parent at Shawnee, I witnessed what happens to schools that endure constant “change for the sake of change” activities. We cannot let this pattern continue.

The following email was sent to board chair @BradyJCPSBOE (Chris Brady) by a Maupin parent on April 20, 2017.

Chris,

I realize that you have a lot on your plate besides what is going on at Maupin.  And I understand that you have a huge workload and are very busy.  But the attached letter I received from the School greatly upsets me.  I was under the impression that the Board has not made a decision on removing the Catalpa Model at Maupin yet.  This was something that was going to be in discussion per the Agenda for the April 25, 2017 School Board meeting.

These letters, from talking to other parents, appear to have only been given to Magnet parents who live outside of the cluster.  Since, my husband has already been told we would not be able to keep our children at Maupin when the magnet is dissolved since it is not one of our cluster schools.  Really?!?  So, if after all the JCPS Administration has done to families if our kids end up wanting to stay because they end up having teachers that stay, that option is no longer open to them?  With such low enrollment can they really risk kicking out the only diversity they have in the school as well as the possible number of kids?

I keep hearing that JCPS is for the children, well I have to ask, which ones?  Because I feel like mine keep getting screwed.

I’m going to look at the bylaws, any governing body has them, to see how this should have occurred.  Decisions made behind closed doors and then voted in public after the fact or if these discussions are to be announced, even closed session ones with an Agenda, so that the public knows what is going on.  I feel like if it’s the latter then how is this any different then when Dr. Hargens / Maria Holmes were making those decisions and then having the SBDM vote on them after the fact?

Also, if you dissolve this model, the entire student body deserves to know.  All families, regardless of neighborhood/cluster/magnet should be given the opportunity to decide if this school is where they want to send their child next year.  Some of them actually came for the program as well and communication should be to everyone not just a few.

Very Respectfully,
Shanna Miller

This email was sent to the board on April 13, 2017. 

Greetings Dr. Hargens, Chair Brady and Members of the JCPS BOE,

On Oct 13, 2014, the JCPS Board of Education approved a “schoolwide implementation of the Waldorf-inspired Catalpa School concept at Maupin Elementary School for the 2015-16 school year. “

Only three of the seven JCPS board members who approved this recommendation are still serving on the board today. Furthermore, only five of the seven who approved the subsequent waivers in 2015 are still serving. Therefore, Dear JCPS wanted to make sure the newer board members had easy access to the previous conversations that took place, votes that occurred, and promises and expectations that were set, regarding the decision to turn Maupin into the Catalpa school after four dedicated teachers won the School of Innovation Competition. For your convenience, I have tried to gather four “key” components for your consideration into this email in an abbreviated timeline. Should any of this information prompt further questions from you, please let me know. I would be happy to research and/or provide you with additional information as warranted or requested.

Please review the following items:

  1. 9-22-14 WORK SESSION: This “video” merges the audio file with the powerpoints from the 9-22-14 work session. I added a few images of some of those speaking when I could, just to make it less painful to watch. I’m clearly not a professional. 😉
    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjO4P5z_J1M&
  2. 10-13-14 FOLLOW-UP WORK SESSION: The above work session ran out of time, so the audio for the follow up meeting on 10-13-14 is here (the first 18 minutes are focused on Maupin):
    Audio: https://archive.jefferson.kyschools.us/Board/2014_MP3s/WS_2014-10-13.mp3
    (I have not merged the audio file with the slides and culled out the Maupin component of the presentation, but I can do that if it interests you.)
  3. 2-23-15 WAIVER APPROVAL: Here is a snippet from the board meeting where Bob Rodosky proposes the waivers that the district will be requesting for Maupin.
    Attachments: JCPS DOI Waiver Requests
    Video: Maupin Waivers Approved By JCPS BOE (Feb 23 2015 Board Meeting)
    Order #2015-32 – Motion Passed:  Superintendent Donna Hargens recommends that the Board of Education approve four waiver requests to be submitted to the Kentucky Board of Education as part of our District of Innovation status: (1) the minimum requirements for high school graduation; (2) accountability administrative procedures and guidelines for Limited English Proficiency students; (3) Maupin Elementary—grade-level timeline deviation for coverage of Kentucky Core Academic Standards; and (4) Maupin Elementary—activities of the student attendance day. The recommendation passed with a motion by Mr. Chris Brady and a second by Mrs. Stephanie Horne.
  4. LETTER FROM PARENT: This letter from a Maupin parent was sent to Dr. Hargens last week.
    http://dearjcps.com/dr-hargens-keep-your-promises-keep-maupin-a-public-waldorf-school/

Parents and teachers deserve to know what the district’s plans are for this school, even if the decision is NOT to continue with the Catalpa model. Teachers have been told to put in for transfers “just to be safe.” Parents are being told nothing can be done to accommodate them if they want to transfer their children to another magnet since “no decision has been made.” We respectfully request that the JCPS BOE add this item for vote on the April 25 board meeting and allow time on the agenda for Maupin representatives to make a presentation to the board so that you can make an informed decision on how to move forward.

Please advise next steps.

Thank you for your service,

Gay

 

Gay Adelmann

Co-Founder, Dear JCPS
Charter Member, Network for Public Education
2014 Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parental Leadership (GCIPL) Fellow

Letter from Maupin parent to Board Member Chris Kolb:

Chris,

Again I can’t thank you enough for all the time that has been spent trying to help us when you didn’t have to.  When I read your comments yesterday, I was starting to be okay with Maupin possibly losing this program.  It was not until I read the research paper that Dr. Herring and Joe Leffert created that made me rethink everything.  Attachment C, that you can find on the board website talks about all the considerations or recommendations for Maupin Ele. This research paper was well written and clearly written to only side with those who believe that Maupin should not stay Catalpa.  There was not one single attachment given to the board talking about the great things happening at Maupin.  About any of the kids who have started to show signs of improvement.  The kids who have improved in their reading levels or about how many of those kids last year who couldn’t identify those letters, how many can they now? What about how the slow implementation of this program was the downfall for the Catalpa model.  What got me was these statements from that document the first being ”  Both magnet parents and teaching staff have had difficulty understanding and discerning how to blend the Waldorf traditions with the KY Core Academic Standards, timelines, and benchmarks.” Not sure who that was supposed to be directed to, but I have no difficulty understanding or discerning anything.  Most of my confusion is because of the false information I continue to receive from those with all the answers.

And then there was this statement “Waldorf education needs support of Waldorf parenting.  Poor and working class parents employ different parenting practices (accomplishment of natural growth vs. concerted cultivation –Lareau) than their middle class counterparts”.  They are absolutely correct but change would happen if we supported those poor and working class parents learn how to incorporate Waldorf parenting. That is exactly what I am trying to do but feel stalled having to fight this fight.

The other things they outlined were well documented but I would like to see what would this look like if we have known all of this last year. What would this have looked like if this time last year we were working to make improvements for the  16-17 school year.?Give MWhy didn’t they draw up all this last year right after the test scores came out?  Were they holding on to a wish and a prayer instead of going in and making changes?  Did they do all this just to watch it fail, just to see what would happen? They didn’t hurt anyone but the kids, it’s the kids that are affected not the adults.

Waldorf Education has several key differences from “Mainstream Education” including the following:
· Waldorf schools as well as their teachers require strict certification. A curriculum is followed which is considered developmentally appropriate within which the child has a certain amount of freedom to determine their own learning.
· Waldorf place a strong emphasis on imagination and children are encouraged to make their own toys from material at hand.
· Waldorf is outspoken about children not being exposed to popular media and social media. Computers are limited to the upper school grades as children should develop and create their own worlds.
· A strong sense of society is incorporated into the methodology – teaching children to look after themselves, think for themselves, caring for others and avoidance of violence. Teachers are encouraged to explore new ideas and to allow them to be guided by exploration of students.
· Textbooks are limited and mostly used to supplement learning such as math and grammar in the higher grades. Children compile their own “textbooks” through the year, filling them with information of their experiences of what they have learned.
· It is common that teachers stay with a class from first to eighth grade. This way a deep human relationship can be built, which is not possible where teachers frequently change.
· Reading is not taught until second grade. Waldorf educators believe that in the early years children should be read to, be told fairy tales to stimulate imagination and be allowed to play.
· In the Waldorf School writing is taught before reading and the alphabet is explored as a tool to communicate with others through pictures. This way writing evolves out of art and children’s doodles instead of reproduction of written content.
· In Waldorf schooling kindergarten is play-based and does not introduce alphabetic principles.
· Sample Primary (1-3 Grade) Curriculum is: Pictorial introduction to the alphabet, writing, reading, spelling, poetry and drama.  Folk and fairy tales, fables, legends, Old Testament stories. Numbers, basic mathematical processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Nature stories, house building and gardening.

These things outlined here, if implemented properly, would change everything about the life of a student who lives in the West End. This is something beyond different but could be the answer to our kids learning issues.  The kids who were tested never had the chance to spend a year under this training.

I urge you to vote No to this recommendation.  As a community we will work to make this work.  Give us what they promised 2 years ago and make sure the implementation is done correctly.   I ask that they give us a chance to make it work and for us to show you that this program will not only change this school but it will change the community around this school.  We need another year to show you, let my second grader who will be in 3rd grade next year show you want a JCPS student with Waldorf education looks like.  She will show you how a kid on an IEP can impress you with her ability.

Carla Robinson
Maupin “Resides” Parent

Dear JCPS,

I don’t want an apology from MAG. I want an apology from Dr. Hargens.

To make a public spectacle about cutting teachers’ pay (and being forced by the union to grant years-of-service Steps) based on erroneous data is unacceptable. ( Why weren’t the figures given to department heads to compare to actual payroll data? It would seem SOMEONE would cross reference the salary figures, in at least a few departments, prior to recommending something so drastic as cutting pay.) This action alone is enough to diminish trust in the district’s ability to make sound decisions. Honestly, I lost trust long ago.

Click to play.

But, Dr. Hargens’ statement that this $40 million mistake is the cause of teachers feeling undervalued and unappreciated is what I find absolutely unforgivable. It’s not just a feeling. It’s a fact that teachers are undervalued and unappreciated, specifically and precisely, due to this district’s policies that create over-worked, exhausted, paper-pushing teachers; a fear-based, top-down administrative approach, and policies that strip teachers and students of time, creativity, and a voice.

Clearly the atmosphere in our communities and in our schools has changed dramatically – violence, drug use, poverty. high-stakes testing, budget cuts. Teachers’ roles have changed and responsibilities have spiked. JCPS’ policies have failed to acknowledge, much less support these changing roles and THIS is the cause of teachers’ reality of being undervalued and unappreciated.

Signed,
Frustrated

Dear JCPS,

In life, when you fail to take action in a timely fashion, your decisions will be made for you. Fail to pay your mortgage or your car note? Fail to turn in paperwork? Forget to make an important decision? You know how it goes.

That’s what is happening right now in our school district. We are facing a litany of legislation and overreach from Frankfort, in many ways directly attacking JCPS. On top of that, we are being subjected to a management audit from KDE. I believe all of this is a result of inaction and indecision by our district leadership.

For example, we saw the writing on the wall with regards to inequitable and outdated student assignment plan for some time now. In September, there was even a work session around this difficult and delicate topic. But as far as I know, no action has been taken.

And then suddenly, as if out of the blue, we find ourselves potentially faced with the possibility of having to blow up our student assignment plan, leaving our most vulnerable students the ones to take the greatest hit. This led to scrambling to make maps and respond to attacks instead of bringing forth recommendations and action plans while they were still our ideas. It’s hard work, which is why we need strong leadership. Instead we tend to be reactive, not proactive.

In addition to having HB151 thrust upon us, we are about to have to potentially surrender some of our badly needed tax dollars to support so called “public” charter schools. How are we supposed to juxtapose that exposure with our billion dollar problem with our growing facilities needs?

Not only is our inaction causing us to have decisions made for us, we are not even putting up a fight. Instead of creating an effective defense against unscrupulous education reformers. We seem to be rolling out the red carpet. This must stop!

Awhile back, you supported the district’s legislative position with regards to superintendent hiring the school principal because she is the one who is held accountable. Look at the situation Shawnee is in. This is not a new problem that just came to our attention today for the first time. Where is the accountability? Who is coming to their aid?

Over the course of the past two years, we’ve watched a poorly planned implementation of School of Innovation. And as a result, on Friday, Maupin lost its SBDM. They were made promises that were left unfulfilled and students are paying the price. Who is being held accountable?

We focus on adult problems instead of kids. We deny problems exist instead of addressing them. There seems to more interest in kicking the can down the road or playing shell games than in doing the heavy lifting of doing it right the first time. We are afraid to take risks, to be bold and decisive.

For the last several months, and longer, board members have expressed frustration with how long they’ve been waiting on reports, proposals, solutions, etc. We knew we had problems that needed to be addressed, but yet more months go by where nothing seems to happen.

I share your frustration. And yet, we continue repeating same mistakes.

I hear repeated requests from board members to “do something.” Again, last board meeting, regarding the facilities plan. However, those pleas seem to be directed at the JCPS staff, instead of the person who has the authority to make action happen. The person who is supposed to be accountable to you.

Really, there is only one employee you supervise. That is who you should be looking at. That is who you should be demanding to take action. She is the one who needs to do something. And if she doesn’t.

You must.

Inaction has led us to this predicament. We cannot afford to be indecisive. We must take control. Before more is done to us.

Something must be done before the contract renewal season. While there is still time for someone to guide us through the audit and staffing for a turnaround. May 15, I believe.

We repeatedly hear and personally experience the culture of fear, intimidation and retribution in JCPS, instead of openness to constructive criticism. Under toxic and ineffective leadership, staff become paralyzed. Don’t look at the staff. Many of them are just doing what they must do to survive. To keep their jobs. They are not to blame.

This starts at the top.

Hold your direct report accountable.

I ask you please. Do something.

Join us! Call for Resignation of JCPS Superintendent!

The community of JCPS stakeholders (parents, teachers, staff and community leaders) will come together tomorrow night to issue a vote of “no confidence” in our superintendent’s ability to continue to lead our district and ask for her to step down.

At least 5 of the 7 JCPS board members have expressed concern in her ability to lead, as have numerous organizations and community members. However, we understand that with more than two years left on her contract, terminating Dr. Hargens, even with cause, can be costly and time consuming. With potential negative outcomes from recent BOE executive sessions and the state audit, we believe it would be in everyone’s best interest if she would step down from her position immediately so that the board can appoint an interim superintendent who can fully cooperate with the state audit team and help get our district back on course.

There have been repeated examples of mismanagement and misreporting of data, denial of/failure to address problems, misrepresentation of facts to board members, media, state and community members, with zero accountability. Our kids can not afford to wait any longer as our district continues in this out-of-control downward spiral, which has invited legislators to propose overreaching bills such as HB151 (neighborhood schools bill), paved the way for unproven charter schools to siphon money away from public schools, and more recently resulted in an unprecedented state audit and potential takeover. We do not feel the superintendent is equipped to guide our district going forward, much less through the state audit.

The press conference will take place from 6:30 – 7:00 pm tomorrow night outside of VanHoose, prior to the 7:00 board meeting. Any groups or individuals wishing to speak to the press or during the board meeting on Tuesday evening, please contact moderator@dearjcps.com or call (502) 565-8397.

In addition to attending the event, please sign this petition. The petition has over 6,000 signatures so far.

The Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) District is conducting the 2017 Comprehensive School Survey (CSS) until March 24, 2017. Be sure to share your feedback here, as well.