Privatization of Public Education

Dear JCPS Board,

Please do not make any deals with Wayne Lewis. The people of Kentucky did not elect him for anything. It would be the worse thing that can happen if JCPS is turned over to the state. Fight it and let it go to court. It is wrong in every sense of the word what they are trying to do. Bevin is trying to destroy education in Kentucky for public schools and you must not let that happen. Fight for the people. Fight for the kids of Jefferson County. You fight now and the voters will fight in November.

Thank you,
Sherry Stewart

JCPS needs work. No doubt about it!

This is exactly why our community is taking back our district! We welcome state assistance, but we don’t need a state takeover now!

In 2015, we started speaking out against an ineffective superintendent who created a perfect storm for predatory charter schools and scholarship tax credits. We invited the community to submit anonymous letters that sparked the beginning of change in the district leadership. In 2016, we pushed to replace board members with questionable motives with community leaders who were committed to making a change in district leadership. And in 2017, we called for Hargens to resign. And she did! Two years before her contract was set to renew.

For the first time in decades, the new board selected a superintendent who is “one of us,” not another corporate shill recruited by outsiders and “education reformers” with their own agendas. Dr. Pollio understands Louisville’s complex history and challenges and has demonstrated his ability to turn things around. This time it’s different!

A state takeover at this time would undermine the progress currently under way and add yet another layer of bureaucracy to the mix. Any “deal” or compromise outside of existing KRS regulations creates an “unknown” scenario that could potentially:

• Take decision-making power away from elected board members
• Take SBDM and local decision-making ability away from schools
• Allow decisions that could resegregate our schools
• Put teachers’ contracts and pensions in further jeopardy
• Pull funding from our struggling public schools
• Pave the way for a predatory, profit-driven charter school agenda that’s been in the works for nearly a decade

Gov. Matt Bevin, newly appointed KBE Chair Hal Heiner and interim KDE Commissioner Wayne Lewis, and others, have been working behind the scenes since at least 2011 to pave the way for out-of-state investors to profit from our public schools. They’ve shown us their true intentions with our district. If we compromise with them now, they’ll keep coming back for more! Learn more about the real agenda at www.dearjcps.com/exposed.

Our JCPS board meets again this Friday night at 5:15 PM where they may vote whether to accept a compromise with the commissioner. Contact your board member, and tell them we will stand with them as they stand up for us!

The Public Has A Right to Know!
These folks in Frankfort have been working with wolves-in-sheep’s clothing in our community, pretending they want to close the achievement gaps for black and brown students. Yet, these are the same people who supported the gang violence bill and sales tax increases to fund pensions! They have resources to assist with directly aiding problems of community (homelessness, home repair, equitable housing), yet they CHOOSE NOT TO!

They have prejudices about our minority and low-income families’ struggles. Stereotypes we know are not true. They privatized prisons to make maximum profits off black and brown people and now they want to do the same for our schools, feeding the pipeline to prison even faster! This tactic is called “disaster capitalism.” Yet this is a disaster THEY created! We want JCPS to focus on educating our kids. These outsiders would rather force our district to manufacture widgets!

The entire Louisville community is finally paying attention. Now is our chance to hold district leaders accountable and expose this hidden agenda by outsiders!
This state takeover was led by folks who did not attend public schools and most of their kids never attended, either. Yet, they know how to fix our broken school system? We don’t need more of their “solutions!”

They may have denied us a hearing but that doesn’t stop us from  and see what’s going on for ourselves!

Dear JCPS,

Wayne Lewis, “interim” Kentucky Education Commissioner recently stated in the Courier Journal he has “No Agenda” with respect to the takeover of JCPS by his office. However, I have read his 194 page doctoral thesis and it is clear he intends to see the takeover happen. His paper reveals his hostility toward public school systems like JCPS including teachers, administrators and the teacher’s union. He obviously favors charter schools and writes throughout his paper of the difficulties they will face such as getting uncertified teachers into the state retirement system, using “alternate” tests instead of standardized testing, converting existing private schools into charter schools and using money from the state lottery to fund building maintenance and expansion. He explores eliminating racial quotas for students, getting rid of the “cap” on the number of charter schools allowed within the state. He also wants to allow “admissions preferences for some students”. If Mr. Lewis is getting a head start on twisting his words to meet his agenda then imagine what he will do once he is no longer “temporary”.

Bill Michael
Constituent of Board Member Chris Brady

The views expressed here are those of the author. If you or someone you know has a concern, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form


Any day now, the Governor-appointed Kentucky Board of Education could decide to “take over” the district and remove power of our democratically elected school board. We CANNOT let this happen! We must maintain control of our schools, by any means necessary.

Dear Kentucky Board of Education,

As a public school parent, School Based Decision Making Council Parent Representative, a former PTA President, a 16th District PTA Board Member, and Parent Advocacy Trainer in Fayette County Public Schools, I implore you to NOT takeover the Jefferson County Public School System.

Quite simply, this is an unprecedented attack on Democracy and local control, including the destruction of parent voice and power in JCPS. This is not to say that this is a vote for status quo, but to allow Marty Pollio to continue the good work he is doing within the district.

Please allow the recently elected board members and the newly hired Superintendent to keep the momentum of improvement that is currently happening! Please allow local constituents to retain control over their tax dollars and school governance, through KDE State Assistance and support, NOT through an unnecessary and politically driven takeover of local control!

Respectfully,

Lucy Waterbury

Dear KDE Board members,

I retired from JCPS after 36 years of teaching. I absolutely agree that JCPS has problems, especially in the last few years under Dr. Hargens. However since Dr. Pollio,  I have seen a greater energy and focus in JCPS while visiting my previous school and in discussions with friends from multiple schools.

I implore you to choose State Assistance, giving JCPS a set of goals in which to show improvement. Allow Dr. Pollio time to turn things around. The downward slide took quite a few years, I can already feel the difference in the District.

Taking control of JCPS will not solve the problems. History shows state take overs of Districts create more problems than they solve. If the State will just offer suggestions and give Dr. Pollio time to implement them, I think JCPS can make vast improvements.

Thank you.

 

Cynthia Wetterer
Retired Teacher, JCPS

 

Submit your open letter to the KDE Board and Commissioner using this link on the Save Our Schools Kentucky website. Copies will be posted here.

Dear JCPS,

It seems that when you move to a better neighborhood, your child is forced to go to a school that places them with those that are not within the same neighborhood. The reason why we moved in the East End was to have a nice safe home and schools for our kids. Now we are being forced to move our oldest out of Eastern and our 4.0 GPA middle school turned high schooler in the fall in a school that has not only proven to be unsafe, but understaffed and unruly. I have grown up going to schools like these in my youth, which is the reason why I have avoided it for my children. However, JCPS is seemingly forcing us to go to a school, taking my son out of Eastern for the past two years, and placing him and his sister in an uncomfortable school in which they are not accustom to. Being a black man, I already know the pitfalls some of these schools have for my children, and moving away for the more crime filled areas only to have to have my children deal with it in school makes no sense. I will take my children out of JCPS before they will attend Waggoner or Jeffersontown. Why take a kid out of a school that they have been for the last two years and move them to a completely different environment? This is the reason I favor charter schools as parents have a choice as to what the education and the safety of our children will be. JCPS takes the choice out of the parent’s hands as they know what is best for our kids. This letter is more of outrage of what JCPS decides what’s best foe kids without taking some basic considerations in their decision. I will be appealing and while I wait, sending our particular case to my media friends,,,,

The views expressed here are those of the author, not of Dear JCPS. If you would like to respond, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form

Dear JCPS,

As of this writing JCPS has not yet said it will appeal the decision for a takeover by Kentucky government. This is unbelievable. Is there anyone who cannot recognize a “coup d’é·tat” in progress? This could not be working out better for charter schools than if it were planned from the start. Simply make charter schools legal, subject to the approval of the local school board, then take over the school board. Are you ready for your taxes to skyrocket? The takeover will place a billion dollar budget at the disposal of government cronies who are not elected and who do not represent the taxpayers they are going to rob. With generous amounts of public funding to be bled away from public schools, charter schools will be popping up left and right. To this day, no one can explain to me how charter schools are supposed to be better or why JCPS schools cannot be fixed. Interim (temporary) Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, who recommended the takeover, is promoting himself right into a lucrative, permanent, top spot with generous government pay and benefits. Taxpayers in Jefferson County should be OUTRAGED at what is unfolding.

Bill Michael
Constituent of Board Member Chris Brady

The views expressed here are those of the author. If you or someone you know has a concern, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form

While everyone in Louisville is focused on Derby, let’s talk about another horse race.  One that’s been rigged for nearly a decade.

When the Supreme Court ruled that districts could no longer use race alone as the determining factor for student assignment, Jefferson County came up with a more elaborate plan. It may have been well-intentioned, and it may have served the majority of students in JCPS, but it left one school in particular out in the cold. That school was the Academy @ Shawnee, in Louisville’s highly segregated and disenfranchised West End. A part of town where residents already suffer from high poverty, high trauma, high gun violence and drug influence, high rates of incarceration, food insecurity, lack of employment, lack of transportation, lack of shopping, higher rates of abandoned homes, and so on. You get the picture.

While other schools used race, educational attainment of parents and zip code to determine which students would attend, and a target between 15% to 50% of families in the most affected tier was achieved, it was necessary for one school to have a much higher concentration of students in poverty in order for the plan to work. The Academy @ Shawnee was the only high school to have a saturation level of 87%.

Its aim is to leave no school with more than half its students from low-income, low-education and high-minority neighborhoods. Except for Shawnee High School. Under the proposal, Shawnee would still draw 87 percent of its students from low-income, low-education and high-minority areas — more than double the rate of any other high school.

Let’s talk about the student assignment map itself. In order to achieve this student assignment plan above, the district had to carve up the neighborhood immediately surrounding Shawnee and assign the students to one of a dozen or so schools around Louisville. Then to fill Shawnee, they had to backfill from the Portland and Highland neighborhoods.

District officials could have created a satellite attendance zone for Shawnee in a more affluent area of Jefferson County to diversify enrollment. But they chose not to.

And if the school had been given the resources and supports, as well as some empathy and latitude when their high-stakes test scores do not keep up with a school like Manual, for example, so that they could focus more on meeting students where they are and less on “keeping up with the Joneses” authentic progress could have been made. But former Superintendent Hargens was tone deaf to those requests, which is why many members of the community, including our organization, pushed for her resignation, as well as the removal of board members who propped up her continued failures. And instead our community elected board members who vowed to hold her accountable and remove her.

If one was paying close attention, they might think this horse race was rigged in order to make Shawnee an ideal sacrificial lamb for a conversion charter school. Bevin told us in December of 2016, there were going to bring Charters to Kentucky and they were going to start in the West End.

Charters are NOT proven to improve outcomes for students of color. However, supports, interventions, smaller class sizes, less emphasis on high stakes tests, early childhood education, and 100 other things are. And on top of that, state law ties the hands of district leaders, forces adults and schools to “compete” for a Hunger Games type situation where the bottom 5% of schools continue to face radical punitive measures if they do not perform well. It’s dog eat dog, so collaboration from a peer at another school is out of the question when you’re both near the bottom. Administrators have lamented how they feel relief when another school fails, because at least it wasn’t them! It’s an awful paradox to put them in.

Why not try removing the unfair handicaps instead of taking JCPS down a path of privatization and even greater opportunities for waste and fraud?

 

 

Dear JCPS,

I am the Robotics instructor at Newburg Middle School.

I will tell you that Newburg is undefeated in VEX IQ robotics this year and we’re representing Kentucky and the USA at VEX Worlds next week.

Our Math and Reading scores are 34% and 37% respectively on state assessments, yet we have beaten all other middle schools in the state in robotics. Based on our scores, most people would not think this was possible. That is because these state tests are not accurate assessments of what kids in a school can do. I can guarantee that from first hand knowledge.

Our kids have been successful because over the last two years my school has secured over $35,000 through grants and donations to build a robotics and engineering program. Now my kids can be successful because they are exposed to the material and the technology. Our robot to student ratio is 1:2.

Any school can do what we’ve done IF we can get proper funding for our public schools. State tests are NOT reliable performance reviews and they need to STOP being used to measure a school’s success.

JCPS Teacher