District Boundaries

I received the attached email from board member Linda Duncan this morning. I wanted to share it with you, along with my response.

 

Hi Linda,

Thank you for your email.

As they say, “correlation does not equal causation.” Yes, gaps have widened, and yes, students have become less engaged. However, that doesn’t mean busing is to blame. There are many, many other factors that come into play. And this is where we need to be focusing our attention.

It’s also not an either/or scenario. As I explained to Rep. Kevin Bratcher (who sponsored the “Neighborhood Schools” Bill last session), by the board approving a Males of Color Academy, we have not “announced … that diversity is not the top value anymore.” Not at all. Families who want schools to provide Afro-centric curriculum and equity in instruction, discipline and opportunities has nothing to do with wanting to return to segregation. This should exist in ALL schools, but since it doesn’t, they are requesting we start with one. Why must families choose between diversity and equity?

Males of Color Academy is open to students of all races. Segregation by choice is not the same as segregation by force, or by lack of access. If disenfranchised families want this option, we should listen to why, but it doesn’t mean we should force it upon all. We all agree things must change, but that doesn’t mean the only way to do it is to return to segregation. It’s well past time to do the difficult work of revisiting the student assignment formula and process. It’s been a taboo subject no one wants to touch and that’s finally starting to backfire on us. The current student assignment process is not transparent, has significantly more hurdles for poor, minority students, and frankly, it’s discriminatory.

How can district leaders come to ANY conclusions without giving those most affected by busing an opportunity to be heard? I encourage you to talk to teachers and families in these downtown and West End schools. I encourage the district to engage in authentic dialogue with community members. Not just the ones who know how to advocate but the ones who are too busy overcoming systemic injustices to contact their board members and attend community forums. We must get out into the community and find out what people want to see happen here. We cannot defer to the ones who are the loudest, because some of the same folks who are promoting a privatization agenda have given a small sliver of the community a megaphone. They do not speak for the majority of people I encounter in my advocacy work.

Our student assignment plan is not perfect. But due to our segregated housing in Louisville, and lack of schools in the West End, busing is still needed. Approval of the Males of Color Academy should not be used as “justification” to end busing and take away opportunities that busing and integration provide to a greater number of students … not just students of color, but white students, as well.

Yes, let’s change the formula. But let’s do it in a way that is equitable, transparent and inclusive. Let’s stop throwing our most vulnerable, most disenfranchised students and their families under the bus, literally. Let’s seek their input and give those paying the highest price a chance to lead the discussion for once. This is difficult work the JCPS community must do, not have dictated to us by lawmakers. Dear JCPS is ready to assist. Please let me know how we can help.

Thank you for your service, and again for reaching out.

Thanks,
Gay

White privilege is real. So is generational, institutionalized racism. Nowhere is it more prevalent than in our public school system. But often, those who make the rules have a hard time seeing how those rules can limit access to opportunity for others. While these issues are nothing to make light of, sometimes you need a hands-on approach to help white students or family members understand their privilege. We hope this example is of benefit to those who wish to approach these sensitive, yet undeniable, issues with an open heart and open mind. (Download a PDF of the flyer here.)

RULES:

Set up your GAME BOARD. Give yourself cash, properties and hotels and houses, totaling $18,000. Your opponent gets the traditional $1,500 to start. This 12:1 disparity represents the median amount of wealth transferred from whites to their heirs, compared with African Americans.

There are two sets of CARDS. Educational injustices experienced by students of color go in the FAT CHANCE pile (click here to print your own cards). Tax breaks, stock market gains, work bonuses, opportunities due to “who you know,” etc. go in the PRIVILEGED COMMUNITY CHEST.

They choose their TOKEN (the IRON, because it’s the only one that’s left), and the game commences.

When they notice that the board is not set up equitably, they complain. You respond with, “That’s in the past. We’re all equal now. Let’s play!“ You roll and proceed to move forward the correct number of spaces.

When a player lands on a “DRAW A CARD” SQUARE, you draw from PRIVILEGED COMMUNITY CHEST. Your opponent draws from the FAT CHANCE pile. These distinctly different stacks of cards represent the systemic disparities still in place from generations of targeting, profiling and redlining of the black community reflected in policies and norms throughout society today.

When your opponent lands on YOUR PROPERTIES, they pay you RENT. If you own all properties in a COLOR GROUP, their rent is DOUBLED.

When you land on THEIR PROPERTIES, same thing. Except, they probably don’t own any properties, you bought most of them (or inherited them) before they got there.

Eventually, they will inevitably land on one of your HOUSES or HOTELS and they won’t have enough cash to continue. If they happen to have purchased a property, they have the option to MORTGAGE their property to the bank in order to stay in the game. However, they only get half the LOAN AMOUNT on the back of the card.

When your opponent runs out of cash, they have to GO TO JAIL, while you continue to roll the dice until all assets have been acquired. If they complain about any of the rules, you say, “That was one of the rules that was decided on before you got here. Don’t like it? Get here earlier next time.”

OBJECT OF THE GAME:

To inspire whites to understand their privilege enough to research it and develop talking points so they can respond to others who try to marginalize it by saying racism or privilege don’t exist, and to commit to fight to create equitable learning opportunities for our children of color.

Credits: Created by Gay Adelmann. Inspired by Shelton McElroy and Jane Elliott.

Disclaimer: We realize this post will probably upset some of our white followers. However, in this current climate, and the increasing suffering of our students of color, we believe it’s a chance we must take. If you disagree with the examples presented in this post, it’s possible that you are not one of the ones impacted by them. The FAT CHANCE CARDS were created based on actual examples experienced by students of color in our district. These hurdles continue to happen every day in our schools. And we cannot end them until we acknowledge they exist.

Dear JCPS,

Everyone should know by now that you all can only do “so much” due to a possible state takeover but at this point it doesn’t matter and let me explain to you why.

Charter schools are a radical change. Trying to legally segregate us again was an almost radical change. Approving the Dubious Academy was a radical decision (kudos) although seemingly very rushed and unorganized with some very stupid contingencies…but still very good nonetheless.

What are you all actually doing to help the other 30 thousand students of color? From what i see, NOTHING compared to simple things you can do. It is easier to approve a school and start one for a specific demographic than it is to teach culturally and historically accurate information to your teachers and students??? No no no no no. I do not for one second believe that mess. One bit!! I’ve visited a school or 2 with high concentrations of students of color and white teachers. I’ve been at other schools as well where its like walking in a mini university. I’m no professional in the field but correct me if I’m wrong in thinking that its easier to teach students who look like the people who write and sell the curriculum. African descendants built this country. My parents parents parents’ environment was manipulated in a way to create a perpetual cycle of poverty, maladaptive behavior, and a slower pace of growth than every other demographic. And we are seeing the manifestations of the social experiment of the “ghetto” (which was adopted from Adolf Hitler and given steroids) in today’s children and adolescents of color.

For starters, a simple way to begin to break the school to prison pipeline is teaching a real education with real facts. Not some europeanized lie that’s been perpetuated for HUNDREDS OF YEARS. You know, like the roman emperor names Septimius Severus who was from Africa. Who was born with heavily melenated skin. Or the man who created the machine to attach soles to shoes. Or the woman who created the ironing board. Or the fact that every major religion on the planet in our existence was started by melenated people. Or something as simple as making sure every map in every classroom that has and needs one shows the relative size of every continent. You know, the fact that America, China, India, and Europe, and Japan fit into the continent of Africa…All together. Or that Plato, Aristotle and their gang of philosophers gained the vast majority of their base knowledge and much more advanced knowlege from Africa. That Alexander the great was intimidated by Queen Candace of Ethiopia and instead of an invasion, he retreated before even going to war with her and her army. That the wealthiest human in history was Mansa Musa of Mali. Or that people from Africa sailed to the americas long before Columbus.

In no way am I saying anyone is better than anyone else, but why lie? Stop contradicting yourselves by saying, “We’re committed to equity” when you pay for books that teach lies. You want real change in the classrooms? Stop closing down schools that actually work. Teach your teachers diversity and empathy, as well as how its difficult to learn when you’re too hungry, tired, and/or wound up to learn from trauma. Fix the biased busing. Teach the truth. Equitably market the schools downtown. Create youth counselor positions for people who will be trained to teach emotional regulation and social skills for our students who live in poverty and affluent neighborhoods.

Of course teaching curriculum based not entirely off of white male fairy-tales will cause a ton of white flight. SO WHAT!!!
If you can’t teach relevant information that will change the perspective of how we view one another to a more positive one then you do not at all need to be teaching anyone’s child anything. Oh and ending the play-based school downtown was a stupid decision. You clearly missed the obvious fact that the schools leaders didn’t support it in the first place. You also missed that they clearly defied the board by not implementing the program like they were directed to. Also, I don’t see how smart of a decision it is to appoint the new CAO when she literally has only worked with 1/6 the students of color population that Louisville has. WAKE UP Pollio. White students get more than enough in this city from the school district. And now the person in charge of Title 1 and 2 funds is the same person who cannot give a moment of silence to 2 students? We cannot continue to be devoid of common sense.

So I leave you with this… Are you all really, truly within your soul committed to radical change? To level the playing field for the most miseducated and neglected? Because your actions say, “Of course not!”

Obi Negus

Dear JCPS,

My name is H.G., I am a freshman at Doss High School. I agree with busing for many reasons. If busing was to stop many families without transportation would be affected greatly. Families only want the best education for their children. If busing is the way to get their kids to a better school on time and efficiently why would you cancel that?

One reason I agree with busing is because, it gives all students opportunities to go to school in areas with more money. The diversity of schools is another reason, some say it raises test scores and balances the races between classrooms. Racial integration is a worthy goal and busing is an easy means to achieving these goals. Students will be able to become friends with kids who are unlike them and have different interests.

But busing isn’t all that is expected, there are some cons of busing too. Students are forced to be on the bus for hours at a time. It is also harder to be involved with after school activities if you live an hour or two away from your school and you want to go to a game or be in a sport it won’t be as easy as it is with a child that lives ten to fifteen minutes away. Children in higher socioeconomic areas naturally have more opportunities than with children who do not. It also can focus on where children go to school rather than the quality of their education.

Although busing has its ups and downs it’s a convenient way for kids in the east to go the west and vice-versa. Busing is an affordable way to achieve desegregation that only makes up about five percent of the operating cost of a school district once the system is in place. Desegregation diminishes many of these disparities and creates a more just society.

In conclusion busing is the way to go. It may have its downs but all around it’s the smartest choice. It will have less complaints and it will be equal for kids to go where they want to go.

Thank you,
H.G.

Dear JCPS,

I am C. F., a freshman at Doss High School. In this letter, I am going to tell you my views on busing, and why I believe it has an important role in keeping our community desegregated and diverse. If busing ends, and the bill stating we have to attend our neighborhood schools passes, they would be segregating public schools, not only by social economic class but also by race, given that some neighborhoods consist mostly of white or black people.

I was looking at the reasons to end busing and one I find very comical is ” Busing causes white flight- where white families move their children from public schools to private and suburban institutions”- Why is that even one of the reasons? (Also the term ‘white flight’ is hilarious.) Are white people afraid of diversity? Some parents move their children to private schools because well, they can afford it and they want their child to get a better education. I don’t think that the diversity in their schools is the main reason why they do it. Busing gives students opportunities to be with students who are unlike them and it eliminates racism and discrimination.

Doss High School is diverse like every other JCPS public school. I believe that students are better thanks to that. I have personally never seen bullying around here because of race or sexual orientation. They don’t judge you because you’re different, they just don’t care. Here, no matter how weird you are, you will always find more people that are like you, that’s the beauty of diversity, you don’t feel alone and left out. Sure there are still trouble makers and misbehaviors in classrooms but that happens everywhere; it mostly depends on the teacher you have. While with one teacher we are little devils and frustrating, with another one we are angels and a good class.

Busing gives all students opportunities to go to schools in areas with more money and get the education they want. My neighborhood school is Iroquois but I applied to Doss because of their STEM program. It teaches what I want to learn and the teachers are great. They want you to succeed and they give you chances to remediate and prove you know the material you once failed. All students have the chance to get A’s and B’s, some don’t because they’re too lazy to try.

Now the cons about busing that I found valid and I feel there’s a solution to them: 1. Hard for students to be involved in after school activities; 2. Parents cannot be involved in school if it’s far away; 3. Students are on the bus for hours. First of all, students and parents choose to go through this. Jcps automatically assigns you to your neighborhood school, sometimes it might be another one that might be far away, but then if you wish to attend another school of your liking you can apply to go there. If the school you want to go to is far away but you still choose to go there, it’s your decision, you knew that it would be a long bus ride and that it will be hard for you to be involved in after school activities. Also, parents can be involved in their child’s education in many ways, they don’t necessarily have to go to the school to do that.

Now, the really long bus rides, but in the government’s perspective. It does cost a lot of money in gas and maintenance; my proposition is to put a limit on how long the bus rides can be. Like ‘your bus shouldn’t be taking longer than 40 min to drop you off’ and 40 min isn’t as long as it seems since they have to take different routes and stops for different students. If the student wishes to attend a school further than that anyway, then it is the parent’s responsibility to drive them to school and pick them up every day.

Remember it’s the student’s choice they’re taking away if you stop busing because some kids don’t have parents with cars or they don’t have anyone available to take them. Thank you for taking your time to read this letter.

Sincerely,
C.F.

Dear JCPS,

I am a JCPS student at Doss High School and I am here to share with you my opinion about the busing trouble you are facing this time. As everybody knows JCPS is in charge to transporting of children to a school outside their residential area as a means of achieving racial balance in that school to prevent segregation. This is an issue really important in our community.

I believe busing must be continued. It’s give a lot opportunities to us. As we know JCPS gives all students opportunities to meet students who are unlike them and this increases the diversity and knowledge about different cultures and traditions of Americans, African-American, and international students. Between those opportunities JCPS gives all students opportunities to go to schools in areas with more money its means better education, some people say it raise test score.

Also we have to take in consideration JCPS is trying to terminate the racism and discrimination between students and increase the diversity and tolerance. The only way to make people comfortable with people from different backgrounds is just to spend more time with them. DESEGREGATION that the clue word.

Almost 50 years ago before I was born, Unites States of America was divided according to the race, the color and where you came from. These country faced a lot troubles and violence to be what is today. Segregation was one of the most ridiculous and racist thing that exist in this country, but our city persisted, led by the courage of African American parents and children. And thanks to their sacrifices, I was able to attend high-quality, integrated public schools in Louisville. Now I am telling you stop busing is not the answer.

But at the same time I think is time to change some things in your system. I believe if you fix some details your busing system would work again.

For a long time I was thinking about the solutions and benefits if you increases the number of buses in our community, with this option you can have a better plan at the time you accommodate the students and also you can save time and bring jobs opportunities in our community. To make this possible a lot student and parents can sing a formal letter to the state with this solicitude.

Also we have to take in consideration if JCPS stop busing, is a violation of the 14 AMENDMENT, which said, we all have the right to get equal and proper education. No matter where we live.

The reason I’m writing this letter is to continue busing. In my civics class we learned a lot about segregation, and the negative effects this cause. I wish that you will consider reading this and hopefully it influences you. Thank you for reading my letter it makes me happy to know that JCPS listens to its students and don’t just make decisions on their own.

Sincerely,
FAF

Ms. Weaver’s Exploring Civics Class at Doss High School in Louisville, KY takes a look at proposed legislation and how it would directly impact them, their peers and community.

Students in Ms. Weaver’s Exploring Civics Class at Doss High School recently learned about the history of desegregation, busing and current events that could impact student assignment in JCPS. They submitted the following letters sharing what they learned and their opinions on the subject, both pro and con, from the student perspective. We wanted to share their amazing letters with you.

Dear JCPS offers an open-letter format. We welcome other students to submit their opinion letters here.

Disclaimers: Opinions are expressly those of the author, and not Dear JCPS. Dear JCPS is not affiliated with Jefferson County Public School system.

Dear JCPS,

I am writing you to talk about the local controversy about busing in JCPS, and as a former victim of busing I say that it needs to come to an end. Although I see why busing is a touchy topic, and it’s hard to say that I feel this way in the first place I believe that there are many more cons to busing versus pros. In the 6th grade I was bused from my home on downtown market street to Crosby middle school, and I hated it. Every minute of it.

Every morning it took me 45 minutes to an hour to get to school, and I had no other choice, I could go to any school in the neighborhood, after the long, painful bus ride when I was inside the school I still dreaded it. Me and everyone that was bused from downtown did not get along with the kids that came from the neighborhood, often found it were one group was having an issue with another group, mainly because of the much different economic status that took place in the school. Downtown is a mainly poor area, and I grew up that way, and kids around the school were fairly wealthy. Me and other kids I knew from downtown were picked on because we didn’t have name brand clothes, or the new iPhone and that caused fights and arguments, and that sucked, but the issue was never about race, and that’s because busing has stopped that issue.

It’s hard to say that I am against busing because it gets rid of the major racism issue, and I’d say that is the biggest part of why busing needs to stay, but it starts so many issues in school and out that instead of getting rid of busing entirely, you need to replace the system. I am against busing don’t get me wrong, having to ride the bus for an hour is ridiculous, one time I finished an entire video game on the bus riding to and home from school. But getting rid of busing without a good replacement is a huge mistake. So I’d like to discuss a plan that I believe could work for busing in jcps.

Not only would ending busing altogether [create] an issue with segregation, but it would make everyone be forced to go to their neighborhood schools, and now that I’m in high school, I would KILL if I was forced to go to my neighborhood school. So I believe that ending busing, but allowing kids to stay in the school that there already in would be a good alternative. Some kids that are being bused enjoy it, they like where they go to school and don’t want to go to their neighborhood school, I understand that, so I think that if you are a student of busing and busing gets replaced you should be able to decide [if] you stay in the school you are currently in, or move to your closest neighborhood school. I know that that plan is far from flawless, and I can see issues with it now, but I like that base idea of it. I think that this plan can be worked on to make a plan that can ultimately make JCPS a better district and a better community. Thank you for your time for reading this letter.

Sincerely,
LB,
A Doss High School Student

Dear JCPS,

Hello, my name is JS. I am a Doss High School student. I am on the freshman side. I would like to discuss something with you today. I would like to have a conversation about the busing of Louisville, Kentucky. I don’t ride the bus but I have friends that do. Also, I don’t like that they are thinking to change it or just stop the busing. It really makes me sad. I would miss my friends so much.

I believe that we should still have busing in Louisville, Kentucky. This is because when you have classes with other kids from different sides of town or different countries, you can learn something from them. You can learn something about their town that you didn’t know or what they like and what they like or dislike about their town or countries. Also you can learn about their different cultures or habits also what they enjoy and what there are.

My second reason is that we have equal opportunities. They got to see new places. Instead of sitting at home. See what’s outside of their neighborhood look like. View more options in their life-time adventures. Maybe, if they do that then they might not drink beer or do drugs. It might help us save a life. We can get them out of the gangs that they’re in.

My third reason: Maybe, one kid in the classroom doesn’t really like talking to their own race of people. Maybe they have friends of different races. This sounds like me. I don’t really have many white friends. Most of my friends are different races.

Also, there is a flip side to this. They could end up doing something and getting people into other things. They could end up getting others in trouble. They could bring drugs into the cities. They could bring it into the country-side too. They could end up messing up people’s careers and their futures too. Please consider my side.

Please don’t change anything about the busing. I would lose all of my friends. I would really miss them.

JS

Dear JCPS,

My name is AR and I’m writing you this letter to talk to you about busing in Louisville, Kentucky. This is really important topic because it affects me, my friends, my classmates, and my family. My opinion about this is that you should continue busing because I want to choose the school I want to go to. If I go to my neighborhood school, then I might not get as good of an education than if I’d stay at Doss.

Here are a couple of reasons why you should keep busing. First of all if we keep busing then it will give us students opportunities to go to schools with more money. Another reason to keep busing is that it eliminates racism in schools. Racial integration is a worthy goal, and busing is an easy means to achieving that goal. Racism is a big problem in the United States and it needs to be eliminated so that everybody can be in peace.

Now one thing you can do to improve busing is maybe changing the routes to where they are faster and you can be there on time to school. Nobody wants to be late to school and miss work then you would have to do it for homework. We want busing in Louisville so if there’s any chance you should change the routes to make them faster. That will improve busing and make it better so we don’t have to worry about kids being late.

Here are a couple of more reasons to keep busing. It gives the people the ability to meet new people and make new friends. Nobody wants to be stuck with the same people each year in the school years. Another reason is that desegregation diminishes many of the disparities and creates a more just society.

The reason I’m writing this letter is to continue busing. In my civics class we learned a lot about segregation. I wish that you will consider reading this and hopefully it influences you. Thank you for reading my letter it makes me happy to know that JCPS listens to its students and don’t just make decisions on their own.

Sincerely,
AR