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:
- The decision to terminate the SBDM and reinstate a new one in 2015, despite it not technically being a new school.
- 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.)
- The decision to go from grades K-5 to only having grades K-2 teaching Waldorf.
- 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.)
- 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:
- 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.
- Not sending any of the promised communications home to existing Maupin parents in order to set their expectations for the years ahead.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- Telling parents that the audit results could not be appealed, because the superintendent did not feel one was warranted.
- Telling teachers to go ahead and apply for transfers “just to be safe” since they were not sure if the program would continue.
- Sending home a misleading flyer telling parents the board had already voted to discontinue the program when in fact they hadn’t.
- 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:
- Scores for Catalpa classes are outpeforming non-catalpa classes. But they’re lumping all classes together for their presentation tomorrow night.
- 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.
- Attendance at Maupin is up.
- Behavior issues are down.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Magnet families are being offered the opportunity to apply to new schools since they missed the transfer window. However resides families are not.
- Current magnet families will not even have the option to stay if this program is removed.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
This is an email that was sent to @JCPSKY board chair @BradyJCPSBOE Chris Brady by a Maupin parent.
I realize you’re expected to vote on the discontinuation of the Waldorf model at the next board meeting. I want you to know that the district has already taken steps to discontinue it, and now they are asking for you to rubber stamp what they’ve done. There are two examples of SBDM violations where they did the same thing to us. One where they decided to go from K-5 to K-2 without SBDM input. Another where they decided not to use the waiver we received from the state. The district made this decision in September when Hargens sent a letter to KDE, but the SBDM didn’t vote on it until November. This school of innovation was passed unanimously by the board, but has been riddled with poor execution and lack of support since day one.
The promises with regards to communications and expectations with incoming families, with recruiting across the district to bring in families who want this style of teaching, to change the student mix to “reset” the school. None of this ever happened. We have now lost our SBDM because school and district leadership that went around our council, so of course they’re going to be considered ineffective by state auditors, who by the way seemed to not understand Waldorf style, nor the fact that we were in our first year of SOI when the scores that triggered the audit came about. We were held responsible for the prior school’s scores. And we were lied to about an appeals process, because they didn’t WANT us involved. And now they’re lying to you. There is a reason Hargens is leaving. Please give us the chance we deserve. The one we never got under her failed leadership. Give us one more year to demonstrate that this program can work.
Mrs. Shanna M. Miller
Letter from Maupin parent to Board Member Chris Kolb:
Again I can’t thank you enough for all the time that has been spent trying to help us when you didn’t have to. When I read your comments yesterday, I was starting to be okay with Maupin possibly losing this program. It was not until I read the research paper that Dr. Herring and Joe Leffert created that made me rethink everything. Attachment C, that you can find on the board website talks about all the considerations or recommendations for Maupin Ele. This research paper was well written and clearly written to only side with those who believe that Maupin should not stay Catalpa. There was not one single attachment given to the board talking about the great things happening at Maupin. About any of the kids who have started to show signs of improvement. The kids who have improved in their reading levels or about how many of those kids last year who couldn’t identify those letters, how many can they now? What about how the slow implementation of this program was the downfall for the Catalpa model. What got me was these statements from that document the first being ” Both magnet parents and teaching staff have had difficulty understanding and discerning how to blend the Waldorf traditions with the KY Core Academic Standards, timelines, and benchmarks.” Not sure who that was supposed to be directed to, but I have no difficulty understanding or discerning anything. Most of my confusion is because of the false information I continue to receive from those with all the answers.
And then there was this statement “Waldorf education needs support of Waldorf parenting. Poor and working class parents employ different parenting practices (accomplishment of natural growth vs. concerted cultivation –Lareau) than their middle class counterparts”. They are absolutely correct but change would happen if we supported those poor and working class parents learn how to incorporate Waldorf parenting. That is exactly what I am trying to do but feel stalled having to fight this fight.
The other things they outlined were well documented but I would like to see what would this look like if we have known all of this last year. What would this have looked like if this time last year we were working to make improvements for the 16-17 school year.?Give MWhy didn’t they draw up all this last year right after the test scores came out? Were they holding on to a wish and a prayer instead of going in and making changes? Did they do all this just to watch it fail, just to see what would happen? They didn’t hurt anyone but the kids, it’s the kids that are affected not the adults.
Waldorf Education has several key differences from “Mainstream Education” including the following:
· Waldorf schools as well as their teachers require strict certification. A curriculum is followed which is considered developmentally appropriate within which the child has a certain amount of freedom to determine their own learning.
· Waldorf place a strong emphasis on imagination and children are encouraged to make their own toys from material at hand.
· Waldorf is outspoken about children not being exposed to popular media and social media. Computers are limited to the upper school grades as children should develop and create their own worlds.
· A strong sense of society is incorporated into the methodology – teaching children to look after themselves, think for themselves, caring for others and avoidance of violence. Teachers are encouraged to explore new ideas and to allow them to be guided by exploration of students.
· Textbooks are limited and mostly used to supplement learning such as math and grammar in the higher grades. Children compile their own “textbooks” through the year, filling them with information of their experiences of what they have learned.
· It is common that teachers stay with a class from first to eighth grade. This way a deep human relationship can be built, which is not possible where teachers frequently change.
· Reading is not taught until second grade. Waldorf educators believe that in the early years children should be read to, be told fairy tales to stimulate imagination and be allowed to play.
· In the Waldorf School writing is taught before reading and the alphabet is explored as a tool to communicate with others through pictures. This way writing evolves out of art and children’s doodles instead of reproduction of written content.
· In Waldorf schooling kindergarten is play-based and does not introduce alphabetic principles.
· Sample Primary (1-3 Grade) Curriculum is: Pictorial introduction to the alphabet, writing, reading, spelling, poetry and drama. Folk and fairy tales, fables, legends, Old Testament stories. Numbers, basic mathematical processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Nature stories, house building and gardening.
These things outlined here, if implemented properly, would change everything about the life of a student who lives in the West End. This is something beyond different but could be the answer to our kids learning issues. The kids who were tested never had the chance to spend a year under this training.
I urge you to vote No to this recommendation. As a community we will work to make this work. Give us what they promised 2 years ago and make sure the implementation is done correctly. I ask that they give us a chance to make it work and for us to show you that this program will not only change this school but it will change the community around this school. We need another year to show you, let my second grader who will be in 3rd grade next year show you want a JCPS student with Waldorf education looks like. She will show you how a kid on an IEP can impress you with her ability.
Maupin “Resides” Parent
(This page is a work in progress. For more information, please also visit the Maupin School of Innovation Timeline on Facebook.)
It’s a tragic story. The district is not admitting any wrongdoing, but clearly something isn’t right. And it’s the kids who suffer. Please help us raise public awareness of this situation and encourage the board to vote no to the district’s proposal to remove the Waldorf program from Maupin.
Fallacy: The school is failing because of the Waldorf model, and therefore needs to be removed.
Fact: The scores were down BEFORE Waldorf. As a result of persistently low scores, and the threat of a state intervention or takeover looming after 3 years of low performance, this is probably why they decided to place this school of innovation at Maupin. It’s a commonly used shell game in our district. If enough of the population changes, the school gets a “reset” and starts the clock over for them. When that didn’t happen, they they carried two years of failing scores INTO the brand new Waldorf model. Therefore, the school was subjected to a state intervention after just one year under its new, innovative program. Someone miscalculated what it would take to get a reset, or didn’t do the marketing and communications in order to attract enough new magnet families. The program was destined to fail.
Here is a timeline of events:
8-11-14 – After extensive research, presentations, and Q&A sessions, the Catalpa School is approved by the JCPS Board of Education as one of the winners of the District of Innovation contest.
9-22-14 – Board considers putting the Waldorf program at Maupin. State mandated testing concerns noted. Student mobility concerns noted. Parent communications will address.
9-22-14 — INITIAL WORK SESSION: This “video” merges the audio file with the powerpoints from the 9-22-14 work session.
10-13-14 — FOLLOW-UP WORK SESSION: The above work session ran out of time, so the audio for the follow-up meeting on 10-13-14 is here (the first 18 minutes are focused on Maupin).
10-13-14 – BOARD MEETING — JCPS Board of Education approved a “schoolwide implementation of the Waldorf-inspired Catalpa School concept at Maupin Elementary School for the 2015-16 school year.”
2-23-15 — WAIVER APPROVAL: Here is a snippet from the board meeting where Bob Rodosky proposes the waivers that the district will be requesting for Maupin.
Order #2015-32 – Motion Passed: Superintendent Donna Hargens recommends that the Board of Education approve four waiver requests to be submitted to the Kentucky Board of Education as part of our District of Innovation status: (1) the minimum requirements for high school graduation; (2) accountability administrative procedures and guidelines for Limited English Proficiency students; (3) Maupin Elementary—grade-level timeline deviation for coverage of Kentucky Core Academic Standards; and (4) Maupin Elementary—activities of the student attendance day. The recommendation passed with a motion by Mr. Chris Brady and a second by Mrs. Stephanie Horne.
Because the school is technically closing and reopening as a School of Innovation next year, Hargens had the ability to choose the principal because the new school does not yet technically have a school-based decision-making committee.
The Kentucky Department of Education has approved a waiver request from Jefferson County Public Schools that would allow Maupin Elementary to deviate from the laid-out sequence of what must be taught at each grade level under the Common Core standards.
(JCPS’ original waiver request would have allowed for even more flexibility, with all the K-8 standards needing to have been taught by the end of eighth grade, but JCPS tailored its request after speaking with state officials, who in part wanted to make sure that all elementary-level concepts were taught in elementary grades.)
Maupin has struggled with implementing its new curriculum in this first year and also with managing student behavior that some teachers have said has significantly disrupted learning.
As students return to classes after Thanksgiving break, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes will move back toward a more traditional curriculum – although teachers will still “engage in Waldorf-inspired methods,” principal Maria Clemons said.
During a presentation on the district’s 19 priority schools to the school board Tuesday evening, JCPS staff warned that Maupin Elementary could fall into the dreaded state category this year because the school has not met its annual improvement goal for the past two years and currently is in the bottom 5 percent of all elementary schools statewide.
Schools are labeled in priority status if they are in the bottom 5 percent and don’t meet their goals for three consecutive years.
Maupin Elementary is the JCPS school in most danger of joining the 19 other low-performing district schools with that label, although district staff noted that other schools also could potentially enter that category after this school year, including the other School of Innovation, Atkinson Elementary.
2-29-16 – Assistant Superintendent who oversaw the implementation of Catalpa School at Maupin, Kirk Lattimore, retires
Schools are placed in priority status as a result of a 2010 law that called for the Kentucky Department of Education to identify the state’s lowest-performing schools and outline a range of interventions aimed at turning them around.
However, no new priority schools were identified this year, due to the fact that the state will be switching to a new accountability model next year. Officials said it would be unfair to identify new priority schools under one accountability system and hold them accountable under a new system.
Had there been a list, district officials say Maupin Elementary School would have been on it. The number of Maupin students scoring proficient or higher in reading dropped from 17.9 percent last year to 12.8 percent this year, while math proficiency fell from 17 percent to 8.9 percent.
“Without a doubt, they would have been a priority school this year,” said Marco Munoz, the district’s director of priority schools. “Maupin is going to require a pretty strong turnaround effort. One of the first things I am going to do is get into the instructional framework and monitor how the instruction there is being implemented.”
11-19-16 – Schools of Innovation Update – audio file and powerpoint, discussion points to problem with parents who came for SOI, and also glosses over the test scores not being reset.
… test scores released by the state on Sept. 30 show dismal results at Maupin, placing it as among the lowest performing in the state and prompting the Kentucky Department of Education to step in.
4-6-17 — LETTER FROM PARENT: This letter from a Maupin parent was sent to Dr. Hargens.
4-13-17 – Dear JCPS sends email to board, with some of the timeline of events, also explaining:
Parents and teachers deserve to know what the district’s plans are for this school, even if the decision is NOT to continue with the Catalpa model. Teachers have been told to put in for transfers “just to be safe.” Parents are being told nothing can be done to accommodate them if they want to transfer their children to another magnet since “no decision has been made.” We respectfully request that the JCPS BOE add this item for vote on the April 25 board meeting and allow time on the agenda for Maupin representatives to make a presentation to the board so that you can make an informed decision on how to move forward.
“Superintendent Donna Hargens recommends the Board of Education approve the removal of magnet status from Maupin Elementary School’s Catalpa School of Innovation Magnet Program and discontinue the Catalpa Model for the 2017-18 school year.”
Only one problem. The district already made this decision over the course of the past two years, so the board is only rubber stamping their actions already in place.
NOTHING HAS CHANGED! THEY KNEW ALL OF THIS WHEN THEY APPROVED IT!! IT TAKES TIME!!!
Sadly, if they had put as much effort into supporting the school as they did preparing all of these reports, the board wouldn’t be put in this position to renege on promises made to parents, teachers, students and community members.
IS THE SCHOOL BEING SET UP FOR A CHARTER TAKEOVER?
To Dr. Hargens and others,
I came to the JCPS Board about the issues that we are dealing with at Maupin. I sat in front of them and I asked them, each of them, to fight with all their power for my daughter. My daughter is a second grader at Maupin Elementary School. The school that was gifted or you may even say awarded the “School of Innovation” stamp just a little under 2 years ago. This year, we found out that gift that was so generously given to us, may be taken away. You know Maupin, this school is in the West End of town. This is also the same school, I as a neighborhood mom went to in grade school. I started there 3 years ago as a parent when the school had a traditional school feel, but then all of a sudden, JCPS came in and surprised us all by saying WE want Maupin to be our School of Innovation. And we are going to bring in this new and exciting program and everything will be grand. This Pep Rally they pulled off was amazing, because guess what, the next year my daughter was there in attendance. The colorful walls and talk about teaching folklore and line dancing excited me a bit. Also, this Waldorf learning style and all these new teachers and staff members, made me, a resident of the west end proud of my daughter’s school. We made it through the first year of transition and this year I thought this will be the breakout year, everything will be great! And you would guess it, it was! Kids seemed to be enjoying this new learning style and progressing through. And then October 2016 hit, and my life has forever been changed.
Audit? What audit?! No one ever said the school would be audited! What do you mean 3rd-5th grade isn’t teaching Waldorf style? What do you mean we are now a priority school, and what does that mean? Smoke and mirrors, no real answers, just wait on the audit results they all said. And then March 2017 happened, and again NO REAL ANSWERS! Joe Leffert came in to help, but this problem isn’t his or Maria (the Principal at Maupin). It started well before they arrived on the scene and now we NEED your help.
Lately, I have attended your JCPS board meetings because like many in our community I was naïve to think that you would make sure my baby girl would be getting the education she deserves. She, along with her peers aren’t your experimental hamsters, they are kids who love coming to school. They love Maupin Elementary, they love their teachers, and special area instructors, they are a family at Maupin. They teach my kids day in and day out how to be a good citizen and how to show love and compassion for each other. They have shown me how to be a better mom to my child and how to effectively teach my daughter so that her mind expands. OH and wait, they also teach my daughter academic things too, it’s not all tree hugging stuff. Maupin is better because of the Catalpa School. Maupin is better because of each and every one of those teachers and staff members who changed their lives to come into this community and teach these concepts.
It’s sad to hear that many of those teachers have already put in transfers to move to another school. It’s even sadder for those kids who lives change many times a year. Living in one house with family or without. Losing family members to incarceration or by death. Many come to Maupin with mental and emotional issues that make me cry just thinking about it. And you feel that it is okay to shake up their worlds again. To just give up and throw in the towel. To say that this Waldorf style just doesn’t work and no need to press forward. How would you feel if every JCPS student did that said “It’s just too hard, I can’t do it”? You’re quitting a program that has barely even gotten off the ground, has barely been even given a chance to grow.
Next year you want to spend $400,000 on a Deeper Learning Program. Dr. Herring, add Maupin to your list of deeper learning schools. Devote some of that money there to help them build this program up, like I was promised you would 2 years ago. Instead of hiring more folks take that money and put it into making JCPS better. Fix the issues, devote your dollars to keeping your word. We have JCPS senior classes setting up Gofundme pages to pay for senior prom, how about put some of that 400K there? I want to have a voice and choice for my daughter to attend the public school Waldorf program at Maupin Elementary.
I do believe that at this time, I don’t know who to trust with my daughter’s education. Are you telling me that maybe I was wrong to call my state representatives and denounce Charter Schools? Because you have me feeling like maybe, just maybe, a Waldorf style Charter school is the way to go. Again I am asking you to HELP US!!! We are neighborhood moms who love the teachings of compassion, self-value, and good citizenship. How great would it be to have 400 little ambassadors walking around Louisville spreading the news of good citizenship and compassion? Think about all the murders that happened last year, you have a program at a West End Elementary School that could curb that. My little 7-year-old is praised often because she won’t stand for anyone in her class to be bullied. She speaks up, and she is not alone. Ask other parents at Maupin how this program has helped them with parenting their kids and helped with deal with trauma in their own lives. TALK TO US, THE PARENTS AT MAUPIN!!! Most Importantly DO SOMETHING NOW!!!! Don’t let us down! Don’t let these kids down!!
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.
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.
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.