Privatization of Public Education

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Tomorrow, the Kentucky house and senate education committees will be holding a joint meeting to discuss, among other things, taking power away from SBDMs. Read more from KASC’s post: Keep Your Voice.

Koch-Brothers aligned “free-market” proponent BIPPS is one of the anti-SBDM speakers tomorrow. In an opinion letter that appeared in several papers across the state recently, they say teachers and parents are not equipped to make curriculum decisions. That’s ludicrous. Teachers are among the BEST equipped persons to do this. They have master’s degrees and certifications in education, are current on what’s going on in education and classrooms, and they know their students. A superintendent who, in a district the size of ours, may not have taught in decades and may only set foot in our building maybe once a year. A school in a high poverty area has many different needs and learning styles than a more-affluent magnet-only school. A superintendent has their own “adult-centered” agendas and when the state puts demands on them that force them to pay more attention to how things “look” than what they know to be right, they don’t always have the ability to do what’s best for the school. And depleting power from the local school level will only make matters worse.

I know this first hand.

My son graduated from an “Advisory SBDM” school. As a high-poverty school, we were in the first cohort to hit priority status under the new regulations, and the SBDM was made “advisory” prior to our arrival. When we found the school, the principal was dynamic and the school was in the midst of a turnaround. Despite being the lowest performing school in the state at the time, the energy was electric, and my son absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, at the end of my son’s first year there, because the principal did not get the school out of priority status in the state’s allotted 3-4 years, he was forced to resign.

His school went the next several months with interim principals, each having to leave after completing 6 weeks of service so they didn’t jeopardize their retirement plans. Soon into the school year, JCPS considered reimagination of several schools with innovation in mind and a district-devised “plan” was proposed and pitched to board members as something “everyone loved.” We were told the plan was necessary in order to “prevent us from being taken over by the state,” even though we had no leadership and no one representing the students or teachers or parents had been consulted in crafting “the plan.” And it was FAR from being “loved.” Finally, after numerous objections from parents, teachers, staff, students, alumni and community members, and speaking at board meetings and to the media, by Christmas break, JCPS Halts Redesign Of Shawnee High, Considering Principal Applicants. Soon, we had a new principal. SBDM meetings resumed and capacity was beginning to resume. However, our new principal left abruptly a year and a half later (two weeks before the end of the school year) and the next principal was not selected until 36 hours before the next school year started. Shawnee was the FIRST school to know they needed a new principal and, despite repeated appeals to the superintendent, it was the LAST one to get one. That would not have happened if we had an empowered SBDM.

Each principal selected by the superintendent was loyal to her, not the students and parents and teachers in the building. With the most recent replacement, the superintendent overlooked the overwhelming support from the SBDM advisory council to name one of the HIGHLY qualified APs in the building who knew the kids and could keep the momentum going. Instead, she put someone she either owed a favor or who she knew would do her bidding in the open slot. And she did so at the last possible moment. Our SBDM implored the superintendent to realize that our kids needed consistency. We even asked if this had been communicated to the new principal. Instead, this new principal changed EVERYTHING. She killed our mentoring program. She realigned the staff and put them in jobs that they weren’t suited for. Not knowing what worked or didn’t work, and not being given time to prepare, she got her marching orders from the superintendent who only saw us as “failing.” Our new principal clearly intended to make her mark, even if it upset the apple cart for these kids, AGAIN.

One week, when student fights had gotten out of control, the principal denied it was a problem. She also apparently didn’t log them in the system, because she didn’t want to look bad or she was following a directive to not report. When pressed, our superintendent claimed she couldn’t help us with added resources, because the “data didn’t support it.” So, our students videotaped the fights and sent them to the media. A few days later, we got the support we needed. Unfortunately, in the school that already had the highest turnover in the district, and where relationships matter, we also got an unwelcome consequence. Three of our most beloved staff members were intentionally moved to different schools. Intimidation tactics were employed that sent the message that more retribution would be necessary if these “factions” continued. One of the displaced staff members was our only high school counselor during critical scholarship and college application window — in a high-poverty school that NEEDS help with college applications and scholarships more than most. This retaliation would never have been able to happen if the SBDM had been involved in staffing decisions.

Our new principal also was able to select members to serve on the advisory SBDM who were not engaged enough to ask hard questions, and often missed meetings. Business could not get done. She chose what she wanted to share for input, and made the important decisions behind closed doors. At one point, I had to do an open records request when we wanted to simply see the budget. This lack of transparency is one of the reasons we have been opposed to charters. We do not need it in our public schools too. It almost seems like someone has an agenda to make public schools on par with charters, doesn’t it? So charters can be more competitive.

My son’s school met its AMOs for several years in a row, but because they couldn’t get out of the bottom 5%, they couldn’t get their SBDM powers back. Such an arbitrary and moving target should not be used to hold decision makers hostage. However, the superintendent could have helped his school meet this goal by simply changing the student assignment plan, since the inequities had never been made right after being assigned the highest poverty levels in the district in 2008, and since test scores are an indication of wealth, nothing more. (Makes you wonder if his school wasn’t set up that way so other schools could be more successful.) Anyway, who is held accountable for the failings of a school when decisions are not in their control? The superintendent is supposed to be, which is why you say you want to give them this power. But there is no evidence anyone is paying the price at my son’s school except the kids.

So, while one county has indicated that there are problems at their schools, there is no reason to abandon parental and teacher involvement in decision making at the local school level in other districts. I can assure you doing so will create many, many more opportunities for delays, lack of transparency and corruption than it solves. Not just here in Jefferson County, but in districts across the state.

Gay Adelmann
Parent of 2016 JCPS Graduate
Former SBDM Member

Want to share your thoughts on SBDMs? Click here to contact the education committee members, or email them all at the same time.

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.)


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.”


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.

If you happen to know any of these nice people listed below, could you have a talk with them? Could you let them know gently, one-on-one, that by supporting vouchers, and their evil cousin Scholarship Tax Credits, they are, perhaps unknowingly, supporting profiteering efforts that are backed by ALEC, The Koch Brothers, and others who wish to take money away from our already underfunded public schools? Maybe these kind people had good intentions when they clicked on the sign-up button on the Ed Choice KY page, but if they truly understood the myths and facts about education tax credits, and the out-of-state corporations and special interest groups backing scholarship tax credits in our local communities, they would reconsider their support. We’d like to think so.

Image result for thou shalt not steal

The language, “Scholarship Tax Credits,” sounds so innocuous, doesn’t it? But to those of us who have been leading the fight to protect our public schools from these outside threats, we recognize those words as the next steps in the Playbook to Privatize Public Education. Since Kentuckians are beginning to dissect the promise and peril of school vouchers, and are wising up to the fact that school vouchers aren’t working, and that these devices likely violate our state Constitution, lawmakers appear to be planning to bypass this route altogether. Instead, they are going straight for the jugular with scholarship tax loopholes, I mean credits. These credits circumvent tax dollars from going into the state’s general fund by providing a tax credit to individuals who make a donation to a private school, which in turn depletes the amount of money available, not only for public education, but many other public services, as well.

EdChoiceKY’s page says these members “support more educational opportunities for Kentucky students … to ensure that every student gets the best education possible – regardless of their socio-economic status.” Who wouldn’t? That sounds wonderful! However, what these members may not realize is that what really happens is that money is taken away from schools that are also serving students who deserve these same opportunities. And children of low socio-economic statuses often cannot afford the full tuition, books, fees of the private school, and so the scholarship funds meant for the needy generally end up benefiting those who can already afford to attend private school.

We agree that ‘more educational opportunities’ are needed for kids, such as the family resource and youth service centers, extended school services, all-day kindergarten, school nurses, field trips, facility upgrades, transportation, etc. in our public schools, all of which are already underfunded by the state. If the state general fund doesn’t have the financial resources to fully support these educational opportunities and services, then it doesn’t have enough to forego $25-75 MILLION per year, and increasing every year, under a scholarship tax credit, as proposed.

Please ask these folks to reconsider their position. As a teacher, parent, staff member, taxpayer, help them see how this has played out in 43 other states where charter school legislation, vouchers, tax credits, etc. have passed in prior sessions. Look at how Arizona is going broke with similar voucher/tax credit schemes that increase every year and are far more costly than they originally thought they’d be.  Originally estimated to cost that state $4.5 million per year, they eventually topped out at $140 million. Certainly not the “cost savings” snake oil they originally peddled. There is no reason to believe the same would not happen in our Commonwealth. Kentucky wrote the book on education reform. We do not need to follow in anyone’s footsteps. Not Arizona. Not Ohio. Not Indiana. And especially not Michigan (where Secretary of Education, DeVos, hails from).

How will the people below feel when our public schools are further decimated by hedge fund investors and billionaires, and they look back on this pivotal moment and the role they played? Ask them to call EdChoiceKY and have their name removed from their Smarter Future Council web page, because Scholarship Tax Credits are an attack on our public schools. And public schools are the cornerstone of our community and our democracy.

Al Burke- Burke Financial services
Albert Leis – Kentucky One Health
Allen L. Crumes – Money Concepts
Anthony L. Schnell – Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC
Becky Phillips – MCM CPAs and Advisors
Ben Waiz – Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Benjamin C. Fultz – Fultz Maddox Dickenz PLC
Beth Ruehlmann- Diocese of Covington
Beth Silvers – Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
Bill Howard – Fastline Media Group
Bill Roby – USA
BJ Ruckriegel – CandyRific
Brian Eviston – Strauss Troy Co., LPA
Charles Bradley – Fifth Third Bank
Charles H. Leis – Brandeis Machinery & Supply Company
Charles J. Kane – 2nd Generation Capital, LLC
Charles Paradis – Bramco, Inc.
Charlotte Lowe- Pattco, LLC
Craig Carlson – US Bank
Craig Jones – Jones Plastic and Engr
Daniel Groneck – U.S. Bank Cincinnati
David Jarboe- Vertical Recruiting
David P. Calzi – Ernst & Young LLP
David P. Heintzman – Stock Yards Bank and Trust Company
Deborah Jo Durr – Richwood Manor, LLC
Donald J. Kelly
Douglas Stough- Assured Partners NL
Edward Bessler
Elizabeth Wiseman – Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions LLC
Greater Louisville Inc.
Heather Huddleston – School Choice Scholarships
James A. Patterson – Pattco, LLC
James U. Smith III – Smith & Smith Attorneys
James Wilson – James E Wilson CPA LLC
Jay Oliver – Humana
Jeff Arnold – Medcare Pharmacy LLC
Jeffrey L. Ashley – Ashley Rountree & Associates
Jennifer Henning- Class Act FCU
Jeremy Lancaster- The Lancford Group, LLC
Jesse Flynn – The Flynn Group
Jim Tencza – Dean Dorton Allen Ford, PLLC
Joesph L. Landenwich – Kindred Healthcare, Inc.
John Hayes – Brown-Forman Corp.
John P. Hollenbach, Sr. – Hollenbach-Oakley, LLC
Jon Votel – K.O.I. Precast Concrete Inc.
Julie Dupont – Dupont plumbing inc
Kathy Oyler
Kathy Potts – Republic Bank
Ken Rechtti
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Kris Knochelmann – Schneller Plumbing Heating & Air, Inc.
Kurt A. Zinser – Prospect Insurance Group
Larry J. Walker – Boca Properties, LLC
M. Kristin Stuedle- Stuedle Spears & Company CPAs
Mark Guilfoyle – DBL Law
Mark Plummer – J & J Transportation, Inc.
Mark Wheeler – Central Bank of Jefferson County
Martin Butler – Strauss Troy, LPA
Michael Brennan- Bramco, Inc.
Mike Ash – Fifth Third Bank
Neil Ramsey – RQSI
Neil Zinser – Strothman & Company, PSC
Patrick Potter – Flexo Wash LLC
Paul F. Smith
Paul M. Grisanti – Grisanti Group CRE, LLC
Paul Sartori- Legacy Financial Advisors
Paul Schulte – Horizon Group International
Paul T. Costel
Paul T. Verst – Verst Group Logistics
Phil McCauley- Madison Group at Morgan Stanley
Phil Stuecker
Phyllis Sparks
Phyllis Yeager – Gateway Community and Technical College
Ralph Drees – Drees Homes, LLC
Raymond Erpenbeck – ECE, Inc.
Rhonda Evsiston – St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Rich Lechleiter – Catholic Education Foundation of Louisville
Roy B. Hill- Dean Dorton Allen Ford RETIRED
Rudy Kreutzjans – Legacy Management
Sean McGuire- Fastline Media Group
Shawn Freibert – Freibert & Mattingly Title Group
Stephen Embry – Frost Brown Todd LLC
Steve B Thompson – Syetling G Thompson Co
Steve Brunson- Pediatric Partners of NKY
Steve Ford – Ingredient Resource Corporation
Steve Gray – Commercial Kentucky, Inc.
Thomas Colvin – Arthur J. Gallagher
Thomas D. Clines III – United Mail LLC
Thomas Perrone – Perrone Wealth Management Group
Tim Rawe
Tink Guthrie – Archdiocese of Louisville
Todd McGee- Comfort Keepers
Tom Partridge – Fifth Third Bank
Tom Wimsett – Wimsett & Company
Vince Tyra – ISCO Industries, Inc
Wayne Hartke – SERVEPRO of Northwest Cincinnati
William Hoskins- Jackson Kelly PLLC
William Ralston – Kentucky Planning Partners
Zach Zinser – Zinser Benefit Service, Inc.

This list was taken directly from EdChoiceKy’s website as of 8/21/17.  Charles H. Leis, President and Andrew Vandiver, Vice-President appeared on KET Tonight with Dear JCPS and SOSKY co-founder, Gay Adelmann, where they discussed Scholarship Tax Credits in more detail, below. Mr. Vandiver is a paid lobbyist for EdChoiceKY. EdChoice Kentucky is housed at he same address as Catholic Conference. 

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 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,

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.

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.

This post will be updated.

After having completed two open records requests and interviewing more than two dozen Maupin parents and teachers, I am starting to have a pretty good grasp on the situation, yet there is new information coming to light every day. Damning information. And I really hope that instead of rubber stamping the district’s decisions that led to the recommendation to discontinue Maupin’s Catalpa School of Innovation, they take the time to fully understand the real impact that this program is beginning to have on the kids and what supports must be provided to make it successful.

I would also like to point out that while most board members have been accessible and responsive to our concerns, parents are not being given the same opportunities to present their counter argument Tuesday night, despite repeated requests to do so. They will not be given equivalent time to speak in public in an open format, but instead will be forced to speed read through their comments in three minutes each. They may even be limited to the number of speakers that can speak on the topic. There will be no time for Q&A afterwards, and in fact, if there are any questions from the board, they will likely be posed to the administrators to spin the way the want. Lastly, it’s worth noting that any of the efforts to present the “pro” Catalpa side of the argument had to be done by unpaid persons, on their own time, without full knowledge of the data that exists, requesting open records according to state regulations (3-days in advance), siphoning through 26 MB of open records responses, including much mundane, irrelevant info, and contacting board members one at a time to make their cases, in some cases receiving no response at all. Meanwhile, the “anti” Catalpa folks are district employees on full salary (many making well into six figures), with secretaries, assistants, technology teams, etc. with access to any and all data and resources they wish to select from until they find what they need to support their argument. AND they are afforded the luxury of posting their fancy proposals to the district website, for the public and all board members to peruse over the weekend. AND they will be given the floor, a computer from which to project their powerpoint slides, and a screen and as much time as they want to make their case. Followed by open dialogue with board members.

So, what do we know?

At least on 5 occasions, the district made unilateral decisions that should have been run past SBDM, JCPS Board of Education and/or KDE, but weren’t:

  1. The decision to terminate the SBDM and reinstate a new one in 2015, despite it not technically being a new school.
  2. The decision to not grow the school to K-8 the second year. (Initial promises were one new grade per year, so they should be K-6 right now.)
  3. The decision to go from grades K-5 to only having grades K-2 teaching Waldorf.
  4. The decision not to use the waiver granted by the state. (SBDM voted on this in November of 2016, yet Dr. Hargens had already notified KDE in September.)
  5. The decision to freeze the add-on budget that would have allowed for additional staff to support the program.

The district appears to also have engaged in deceptive practices on multiple occasions:

  1. Selecting Maupin as a location for the SOI after two years of failing scores, possibly as an opportunity to “reset” the scores and restart the clock. This plan backfired when the student population did not change enough to warrant a reset, but the scores followed them into the new school so that in their first year of Waldorf (third year of failing scores), they were subjected to a state audit.
  2. Not sending any of the promised communications home to existing Maupin parents in order to set their expectations for the years ahead.
  3. Essentially discontinuing the program through the actions noted above, so that families and teachers left, causing the school’s failure to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
  4. Not ensuring teacher training. It takes 4 years of summers for teachers to become certified. This was in the original plan and proposal that the board approved. Teacher training was supposed to be mandatory those 4 years, but we were later told that that MOA “sunsetted” at the end of year one, so training became optional. Still, most teachers attended. Not so with the administration. In addition, the principal is not Waldorf trained and therefore, does not fully understand how to lead in this environment. There has also been no ongoing training throughout the year as promised. That’s part of the funding that was frozen this year.
  5. Not honoring board approvals. The district is asking the board to rubber stamp actions that the district has already taken, giving up on this school after just two years (sooner actually), when the initial proposal  that was approved was for four years.
  6. Not defending the school and the scores to state auditors. When asked if this happened, the current assistant superintendent simply responded, “I don’t know, that was before my time.”
  7. Telling parents that the audit results could not be appealed, because the superintendent did not feel one was warranted.
  8. Telling teachers to go ahead and apply for transfers “just to be safe” since they were not sure if the program would continue.
  9. Sending home a misleading flyer telling parents the board had already voted to discontinue the program when in fact they hadn’t.
  10. Sending the flyer home only to magnet parents, so that resides parents remain oblivious to the impending changes.

Dirty Dozen: What they’re not telling you:

  1. Scores for Catalpa classes are outpeforming non-catalpa classes. But they’re lumping all classes together for their presentation tomorrow night.
  2. Parent engagement at Maupin is the best it’s been in years. In fact, before the magnet was implemented, the PTA got into trouble because they only had school employees serving, which is a violation of RedBook policy. The PTA treasurer CANNOT be a JCPS employee.
  3. Attendance at Maupin is up.
  4. Behavior issues are down.
  5. The proposal that the board approved 2 1/2 years ago warned that scores would go down before they went up. This was a known issue, and is no reason to abandon the plan.
  6. Not only are the destroying the public waldorf option at Maupin, but they destroyed the successful one at Byck in the process, since they moved all of the families and teachers over from there.
  7. Yes, scores went down but they appear to already be trending back up in 3rd grade with those who have been in the Catalpa all along. It’s working! But we need more time.
  8. The first year of the program was really a transition year. There was a new principal, and all but one teacher left. The behavior and discipline issues escalated due to the uncertainty, lack of training and building of capacity. The scores that the school are being held accountable for were from that first, troubled year, and do not reflect the true potential of this program.
  9. The state’s decision to remove the SBDM’s decision making capacity might have been avoided had the auditors been informed that this was a school of innovation, the scores are from just the first year, and that decisions were being made without their knowledge or input.
  10. Magnet families are being offered the opportunity to apply to new schools since they missed the transfer window. However resides families are not.
  11. Current magnet families will not even have the option to stay if this program is removed.
  12. This is not the first time the district has short-changed a school in the West End. In fact, it’s business as usual.

We are still expecting more information to come forward. Please continue to check this post.

If you have any information you think should be added to this list, please send an email to

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


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