Privatization of Public Education

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 Board of Education Members,

On November 30, I spoke before the board and asked for follow-up data with regards to Adam Edelen’s audit. To date, I have not received a response.

In particular, I am interested in knowing how the following numbers look today, relative to what was identified by the audit several years ago.

  • JCPS ranks at or near the bottom in teacher staffing and expenditures for instruction, while ranking highest in the categories of administrators, support staff and instructional aides.1
  • Specifically, he found that the district pays 369 administrators more than $100,000 a year.2
  • JCPS also had the second-highest student-to-teacher ratio,
  • JCPS ranked the lowest in instructional spending, (at 53 percent of its budget (four of the other five were 60 percent or higher), while ranking highest in administration and operations spending, at 31 percent of its budget.)

Please provide a report with this information as soon as possible.

Following the April 26 board meeting last year when the Community Advisory Team (CAT) made observations that “JCPS needs market reconciliation for teachers, certified administrators and classified positions,” – nearly a year ago –  I sent district leaders the following email message (to which I also received no formal response). In addition to concerns about the CAT make-up, I also mentioned:

“… you’ll recall, the original audit from Adam Edelen came with the observation that administrative salaries were too high, not teachers’. So I’m not sure how this discussion led to the talking point that teachers are “overpaid.” I’m guessing the committee mix above could have had something to do with it. … Again, we feel that the make-up of this committee has led to some very short-sighted conclusions, and seems to have missed the point entirely.”

Upon requesting information as to how these recommendations came about, we were told no minutes were kept. It would appear to us that open meetings and open records laws were violated. Honest mistake, perhaps, but much of this painful detour could have been avoided had the process been more transparent and inclusive of authentic stakeholder input from the beginning.

I further cautioned, “Parents, community members, teachers, students all need district leaders who will do better than this. We ask that JCPS go back to the drawing board to make sure these decisions are being influenced by committees made up of people who bring balanced and “tuned-in” perspectives, who will work together to find equitable and sustainable solutions, and provide our school board with proposals that are likely to result in the best results — the first time! Our kids’ futures are at stake. We don’t get do-overs.”

Taxpayers deserve transparent decision-making and authentic answers to our questions. We expect to see action taken as it relates to the actual “action items” in the audit, or answers that can be used to dispel myths that continue to be used against our district in Frankfort. And we demand accountability. When mistakes are made, we want to know, as our former board chair put it so eloquently, “whose throat to choke.”

I truly thank you for your willingness to serve as an advocate for Jefferson County students. I look forward to your reply.

Thanks, Gay

Gay Adelmann
Dear JCPS

Dear JCPS,

My name is J.M., a student at Doss High School, and I am for busing. Busing started in the 1970’s to ensure that schools were not segregated. Segregation in public schools ended in 1954 due to the Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education. Busing gives students the opportunities to go to schools in areas with more money.

The more money a school has, the better education for the children. There would be better textbooks and technology. Not all schools have lots of money, but with busing it gives students a way to get to a school outside of their neighborhood. Studies show that the more textbooks and technology a school has, there is a better education for students.

If busing were to end, some children’s test scores may drop. Most neighborhood schools are not as good as schools that requires busing, educational wise. Some may argue that students are on the bus for too long. But getting a better education is more important than how long a child is on the bus.

I believe that if a student is on a bus for too long they should spend their time wisely. What I mean by that is, if they have homework, they can complete that on the bus. If they are tired, they can take their afternoon nap on the bus. If this is done on the bus, children would not have much to do when they return home from school.

If busing ends, that would basically be segregation all over again. There are certain neighborhoods that are separated by races. If everyone had to go to their Neighborhood schools, the school would consist of all one race. Busing helps prevent racism, because most schools are now mixed with different races. I hope you make the right decision and keep busing.

J.M.

Dear JCPS,

I’m a student at Doss High and I think that busing is a good idea for JCPS students. This is because it gives some students a chance to see what they haven’t seen or experienced before. I think that there are some things about it that kind of makes people rethink because of the long bus ride from home to school, but other than that, there are great advantages.

For schools, it would do a lot. It would raise the schools test scores like ACT and SAT tests to let parents think about sending their child to the school. Either resides or school of choice, it will be a good reflection. Busing would also balance out the race in the school because there are people coming from all parts of Louisville to go to a school. This will make it a nicer environment for all students to see other races they probably haven’t seen or been around that much before. This also makes parents think about how open that school is so there isn’t any racism going on or kids being mean to each other about their race.

Another advantage is that it gives students more of an opportunity to be in other programs that other schools might not have. Like our school has the Class Act Credit Union, there aren’t that many schools with that, so kids can learn about how to take care of money and prepare for the future. The programs are either to have something to do, or prepare for the future. Nursing programs aren’t in some schools, but if kids are being bused to other schools, they have a chance at it. The other schools that kids are being bused too might have more money and more updated things like computers, etc. This can make students want to learn a lot more if they have something that they’re used to, or new to. This might also want kids to think about college because if you’re in a nursing program, this can make kids want to go to medical school, or make up their mind about what they want to do and experience things earlier.

So, if you left the busing where it is, then the students would have a better opportunity to see the things that they have never experienced before and can benefit them for the future. This will also let them go to a school with more money and more programs that could help with their future. It would help the school by raising test scores and racism would not be around in the school, this would make it nicer and help people get along better. The students would also have more experience in computers and other things. That’s why I think busing would be successful for JCPS.

Sincerely,
M.E.

Dear JCPS,

Hey! My name is K.M. and I am a 14 year old Doss High School student. I want to talk to you about JCPS busing. I’m not for busing because nobody wants their kids on an hour bus ride. Like for example racial integration is worthy goal, and busing is an easy mean to achieving that goal. Children in higher socioeconomic areas naturally have more opportunities than children who do not. Putting children in schools that’s in their neighborhood is not a good idea, some neighborhoods is mostly blacks and others is mostly white and putting them all in one school is going to cause segregation.

Far away schools is not working for the parents is either, parents cannot be involved in school if it is too far from their home. Parents are forced to send their kids far away from home for a good education.

Busing was started in the 1970’s to ensure that schools were not all black or all white. African American’s lived in the west end, while whites lived in areas like St. Matthews or the country. The whites would have a long ride to and from school every day like an hour or 2 ride. The west end kids would go to school far from where they live to, like some might go to school far like Seneca.

Busing causes white flight where families move their children from public city schools to private and suburban institutions. They put all whites inside the same school that causes more and more fights same with African American’s it’s going to cause more and more fights.

It also gives students the opportunities to go to schools in areas with more money. On the other hand busing too costly for school districts that must purchase the buses to establish the program. Example staying after school and buses have to take you home and you live far away that is going to cost a lot of money.

Sincerely, KM

Dear JCPS,

I’m L’R B and I attend Doss High School. My opinion on busing is that it should continue. I bring this up because my Civics class gave me a task to write a letter to JCPS arguing for or against busing using the evidence I found from my research. I think busing should continue because it helps racial integration, it gives students opportunities to go to schools in areas with a better environment, and it eliminates racism. I will come up with a better student plan to help busing continue.

Busing brings great experience to lots of students. You meet people of all kinds teaching you that a difference in race doesn’t matter. Also busing shows a student in a poor environment a look at how it is to live well. Students from different races get to learn from each other. It brings everyone together.
If I could solve the problems people have with busing I would change a lot. First thing I would do would be change the school time to later hour so students have more time to be picked up. I would also add community schools for parents who want their children close. Students who have trouble getting along, I would have a counseling for them to get better. If the student likes the counseling I would continue, if not ill switch their school.

Overall there’s a lot of good things busing allows us to do. I’ll say the bad opinions against busing aren’t good enough to stop it. Busing is wonderful for everyone and lots of people enjoy it, let’s not repeat history by basically segregating schools. I hope this letter gives you a view on how some students feel.

Thank you,
L’R B

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At last night’s board meeting, Maupin parent Shanna Miller spoke to @JCPSKY Board Members about her daughter’s experiences at Maupin and her reasons for choosing to send her daughter to a Catalpa-modeled school. She had a list of questions regarding the failed implementation of the School of Innovation contest winner and subsequent state intervention that resulted in the loss of SBDM, as well as uncertainty for the future of the school. Unfortunately, due to time constraints she did not get a chance to ask her questions last night, so we are posting them here in the hopes that her questions can be answered and the district can be held accountable for the numerous missteps along the way.

Dear JCPS Board Members:

  1. We had waivers for the deviated teaching timeline so that things would be taught at the age appropriate time as well in an age appropriate way. We also had waivers for testing due to the deviated teaching timeline. Why, did we not use them. When parents ask, we are told it was an Administrative decision. Who in the Administration made those decisions? Where is the documentation?
  2. According to the Catalpa Model School of Innovation contract with the Kentucky Department of Education they had 5 years before an audit was to be performed. Why did the District allow them to be audited prior to the 5 years that is in the School of Innovation contract, and I believe law?
  3. If you change the teaching model at Maupin from what was in the Catalpa Model School of Innovation, aren’t you in breach of the contract that was given to the School of Innovation design which is a 5 year contract with the Kentucky State of Education?
  4. According to the Administration they want to change the model since Maupin has so many students that are transient. The School Board chose this school to place the program in. This should have been a non-issue since they knew that when they placed the program here.
  5. When is the Administration going to release the add on funds that pay for our Magnet Coordinator, retired teachers as well as some special area teacher positions? These are part of the Catalpa Model School of Innovation proposal and was agreed to for the 5 year, minimum? How do you expect a Magnet school to succeed without a Magnet Coordinator? Wouldn’t you be setting that school up for future failure? Again, aren’t these positions part of the KDE School of Innovation contract with the District for Maupin, a Catalpa model school of innovation?
  6. The School Board chose this program and chose the school it was to be placed in. What positive support, other than paying for the building, keeping the lights on and paying teacher/staff salaries, have you provided to Maupin, a Catalpa model school of Innovation to help ensure its success? How are you supporting my child and what is in her best interest?
  7. Who is reviewing the questions and concerns that were submitted to Maria Holmes (Principal) and/or Joe Leffert (Asst. Superintendent)? When will the Parents get answers to their many questions and not just be briefed on what we already know via the many news outlets who have already provided that information? Parents need to know what direction this school is making, so they can plan for their children’s future. We need a definitive answer now.
  8. The Board does remember that this is a Magnet School, so it’s not just an issue of concern for families in the 1st District but for many others. The parents, voters in the many different Districts, are also the stakeholders of this Magnet School. It’s a JCPS Magnet School so it is a JCPS concern.

Thanks,
Shanna Miller
Maupin 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.

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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 Senators on the Education Committee,

I write today to ask you to vote no on charter schools in Kentucky.  I am a parent in Tennessee, but I can tell you from experience that charter schools are NOT the magic cure that you may think they are.  Learn from Tennessee’s mistakes…

Let me tell you about the charter school that was just a few miles from my house.  On the outside, it looked nice.  With taxpayer money, this charter operator rented prime real estate in a strip mall on the busiest street in our town, bought fancy looking office chairs for students, and hung flat screen TVs so big you could see from the street.  You can google it, it was called the “New Consortium of Law & Business Charter School.” For a school that pledged to teach students about law and business, it sure didn’t practice what it said it preached.  The charter operator (who drove a shiny new BMW convertible, and probably still does) squandered taxpayer money, failed to pay the teachers and staff on time, and didn’t pay their insurance premiums as agreed to in their contracts which caused health insurance to lapse for employee’s families.  Yes, it broke the law by not honoring its contracts, and it also had awful business management by not managing its cash flow to meet its expenses year-round, but there was nothing we as taxpayers could do about it.  There was no elected board to talk to or hold accountable.

Even worse than hurting the adults employed there, the students were robbed of years of their education.  That charter was supposed to be high-tech, with every student getting a personal laptop instead of textbooks.  However, after the money ran out, students didn’t get their promised laptop, and teachers had no resources to teach with.  It was a disaster.  You can read parent complaints on Facebook about how their children were treated, how impossible it was to get their children’s report cards, and how difficult this charter was being when they tried to transfer their children back into public school.  The school’s test scores ranked among the lowest in the state.  It took several years before the local public school board was finally able to revoke that charter school’s charter and close it down last year.  It was a disastrous experiment, and it was allowed to happen because the politicians in our state (who accepted huge campaign contributions from out-of-state charter organizations) voted to approve charters.  Unfortunately, the children are now paying the price.

If you visit Memphis, you’ll likely see the huge expensive billboards on the interstate advertising charter schools.  Realize the money spent on the billboards was money that should have been spent on students, on more guidance counselors, on lowering class sizes, on extra-curricular opportunities for children to excite them about education, on field trips, etc…  Instead, a marketing firm and billboard company got that money.  In the summer, you might see advertisements for parents to attend charter school events where they will be treated to massages and given free food to enroll their children in those charter schools.  The money for that comes from the existing public schools which are already on shoe-string starvation budgets.  It is shameful and wasteful.  The poorest students suffer the most by having their public schools deprived of funding and resources to pay for the charter schools that serve a cherry-picked student body.

Charter schools are experts at making themselves look good.  Here’s one way:  My friends who teach in public schools in the inner city have told me how their public schools get a wave of new students in the spring just before the big state standardized TCAP test.  Where do these new students come from?  They were kicked out of the charter schools because their predicted test scores would lower the charter school’s average.  Since this is after the “count” day for attendance, the money for these students stays at the charter school instead of going to the public school that is now educating them.  It is shameful how these poor students are treated like pawns and money-makers.

Charter schools are excellent at marketing themselves, especially to legislators.  Charter High Schools will brag that their school has 100% college acceptance rate and 100% graduation rate, but they won’t tell you the alarming number of students who were kicked out or held back.  Ask how many students were in the freshman class, and how many made it to their senior year?  You’ll be shocked to learn how low their retention rates are.  Ask where the students went that they “counseled” out?  These charter schools also won’t tell you that a requirement to graduate from their charter high school is to be accepted into a college (which is a lofty and worthwhile goal, of course), but they won’t tell you that they count ANY post-secondary institution (even the shady ones that accept anyone) as a “college.”  The truth isn’t as pretty as it seems.

Disrupting and possibly destroying your strong public school system to create a parallel system that will be prone to mismanagement, manipulation, and greed to serve only a fraction of students whose parents can pass the gauntlet of the application process… it isn’t worth it.  Take it from Tennessee.  Charter vultures are eager to get into your state.  The endless flow of tax dollars is too tempting.  So, please, northern neighbor, learn from Tennessee’s mistakes.  Vote against charters in Kentucky.  Support strong public schools for every child who needs it.

Sincerely,

Jennifer P.
A Mom in TN

 

This information is from the Network for Public Education about Kentucky’s charter school bill:

HB 520 flew through the House on Friday, and will soon come before the Senate. The bill contains numerous provisions that have been damaging to public schools in other states.

The bill allows charters to contract with for-profit Educational Management Organizations (EMOs). EMOs will be able to design and implement the curriculum and manage charters– all for profit.  This has proven to be disastrous in other states. In Michigan, home to Education Secretary and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos, 80% of charters operate for-profit, and charters are overwhelmingly represented in the lowest performing 5% of schools in the state.

The bill doesn’t place a cap on the number of charters that can open in Kentucky. With unlimited potential for growth, for-profit charters will be able to quickly grow and expand, with limited accountability and oversight.

As currently drafted, HB 520 fails to ensure that teachers in charter schools must be certified. It also fails to stipulate how charters will be funded, who will fund them, and how much funding they will receive.