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:
This is in regards to the Valley High School state findings, that the current interim principal is not fit for the school.
I would have to DISAGREE with the findings at Valley High School. Mr. Gossett was giving the interim principal role just a few months ago, when our principal ran into some health issues. Mr. Gossett was the Assistant Principal of Valley High at the time. So who better to be put into the head role at the school. Mr. Gossett knows what these kids need, what works for them, and he has plenty of support from the parents to continue doing what he’s doing there at Valley. This would be a big mistake taking him from this role at the school. As a parent of a Viking I support him & all he’s done to make changes in the short period of time he has had this role. We will continue to make sure our voices as parents are being heard at JCPS.
It’s no secret, Bevin wants to bring charters to Kentucky, and it’s also no secret he intends to start in Louisville’s West End. He said so.
It’s also no secret, he’s been making plays from the #ALECPlaybook to accomplish this goal. From attacking pensions, to attacking teachers for standing up for their students, we’ve seen these moves play out in other states. From high-stakes testing and random CSI metrics that are used to label nearly half of Kentucky schools as “failing,” to “broken on purpose” cuts to funding and unfunded mandates, to deprofessionalizing the profession of education, to raising graduation requirements without raising the level of supports, to taking away parent and teacher voice, we’ve been experiencing the death of public education by 1000 cuts. They don’t even hide it, as most of these plays are even published on the ALEC website.
Following the most recent JCPS audit, it’s been made pretty clear: Given the opportunity, Bevin’s choice for KDE Commissioner, Wayne Lewis, have every intention of taking over JCPS, regardless of how our district completes the compromise’s corrective action plan.
Matt Bevin, Wayne Lewis, Hal Heiner, Gary Houchens … Not only are they long-time players in the education reform business, they are playing chess and using our students as pawns. They’re down to just a few moves left, and they currently have us in check. They may have been unsuccessful in obtaining their charter school funding mechanism for their third year in a row.
So their attention shifts to JCPS. Once Lewis takes over JCPS, he and he alone will serve as the decision-making authority, replacing our elected board. He will have the ability, among other things, to convert existing schools, anywhere from Manual to Shawnee, into Charters. No funding mechanism required.
Here’s how we can stop them. Stay with me.
Lewis was chosen by the Kentucky Board of Education.
This quote, from former KBE Member Roger Marcum is telling.
“Bevin and Heiner are running the Department of Education. As long as (Wayne Lewis) is willing to do what they are telling him to do, everything will be fine.”
Roger Marcum, a former chairman and eight-year member of the education board
The Kentucky Board of Education was appointed by Bevin.
The Senate has to confirm the most recent of Bevin’s appointments, and they have yet to do so. These include Hal Heiner and Gary Houchens.
The senate has waited until the final day of session to confirm these appointments. In fact, the resolutions were not even filed until the veto period started. If we reach midnight on March 28th without these being called for any vote in the Senate, or the resolutions fail, these individuals will come off the KBE and cannot be put back on for at least 2 years.
Stop the resolutions, Stop KBE, Stop Lewis, Stop Bevin, Stop Charters in Kentucky. Are you still with me?
Help our Senators understand how they hold the last line of defense against a state takeover of JCPS, and the final barrier between local control of our public schools and profit centers for out of state investors. Contact them below:
Add your message regarding voting against any resolutions to confirm Bevin’s appointments to KBE.
Here’s a Twitter thread from JCPS Parent Rob Mattheu @LouSchoolBeat regarding the KBE appointees.
Here’s another thread from Rob, this time about Wayne Lewis’ (lack of) qualifications.
Please email ALL KY Senators here and ask them to please support public education in Jefferson County, and to please do everything in their power to not let these resolutions to confirm KBE appointments pass.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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,
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/
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.
Pardon me while I rant! The recent news that the state is lowering its standards for teacher certification, no longer requiring a Master’s Degree, has put me over the edge. Besides the feeling of cheapening my degree, and those of my colleagues, this news comes just a few months after learning (with little or no warning) that the state will require all elementary art and music teachers to be certified to teach art and music. While this may sound like a good idea on the surface, it is in reality a ridiculously, poorly thought out, unrealistic, and unnecessary burden on our schools!
Hear me out….
I am certified to teach k-5 (elementary education) reading, writing, math, science, social studies, etc., BUT, I am now….after teaching art and music at my school for 9 years….suddenly NOT certified to teach art or music!!?
So guess who is teaching art and music at my school this year, as I was forced to move to 1st grade….NOBODY!!
That’s right….my school, and several other JCPS schools, currently have substitutes filling these “VACANCIES”!!!
So my students, who were looking forward to being in Art Club, or Percussion Ensemble, or Choir, get none of that, much less an experienced art and music teacher. There are simply not enough certified art and certified music teachers in Jefferson County to fill all the positions. Also, I was not given even a year to acquire this extra piece of paper that says I can do what I’ve been doing (and doing well, by most accounts) for the last nine years.
Have I mentioned that my Bachelor’s Degree is in ART!!!??? I also have several years of music training under my belt (way more than math and science, I can say)!! So through no fault of my own, I must now figure out how to jump through all the ever-increasing paperwork hoops required of a regular classroom teacher (if the general public only knew how much time-consuming, bs, paperwork/computerwork teachers had to do….taking them away from doing things that would actually benefit students and instruction..).
Meanwhile, the classroom I was fortunate to teach art and music in for 9 years, sits empty…waiting for the next sub to show up!!
This rant is nearing its completion! While a lot of this may sound like it is just me being upset about my situation….at the root of it is MY students, and the students of other JCPS schools, as well!! They deserve better!! Rant over….for now!!
Thomas Matthew Bleuel
What follows next are the comments that were received on Thomas’ post.
Editor’s note: Clearly Jefferson County Public Schools is already feeling the effects of this short-sighted Koch-orchestrated maneuver. Combined now with the new exit exam to graduate high school that will be voted on Oct. 3, the “50% of schools now at risk of failing” narrative, the shady replacement of KBE members and commissioner, the attempted takeover of the state’s largest district, and the MYRIAD other hate-filled, ignorant comments from our governor, how can anyone NOT see that these OUT-OF-STATE GRIFTERS are playing from a playbook? It’s been executed in 45 other states, just look around us! Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Arizona, YOU NAME IT, they’ve tried it, and many other states are seeing the light. WHY CAN’T WE? It’s time to wake up and stop this nonsense by voting pro public education on November 6. Read our Connect the Dots article to see all of the conflicts of interest we’ve uncovered, and we’re just scratching the surface!
UPDATE: This rant was originally posted 3 weeks ago….the status is quo!! Nothing has changed, except the amount of quality art and music instructional time our students are currently missing out on due to this ridiculous turn of events!
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