Click the images to play the videos. Listen to the Forward Radio 106.5 FM interview with Senator Neal and Dr. Pollio here.
Dear KBE members,
Parent of graduate of Shawnee High School (one of the “lowest performing” schools in the state)
Send your email here: http://www.saveourschoolsky.org/2018/10/02/tell-kbe-to-delay-vote-on-new-high-school-requirements/
With the vote on new graduation requirements looming, several educational organizations and leaders have already named specific concerns with many aspects of the Kentucky Departments of Education’s proposal. The issues they’ve identified should be sufficient to at least pause the approval of the proposal. But, the debate has become one over details which often implies a concession to the main premise. In other words, the Titanic’s course may be approved because we’ve been focused on the deck chairs.
Most agree that we need to find ways to help our students be better prepared for the next stage of life. However, we are not asking whether setting the minimum requirements for graduation is the appropriate place for this conversation. Minimum requirements should be achievable by all within our current system. A diploma should be work, but it only needs to show that a student has completed the minimal course work requirements, as our current system does. Colleges and employers all look at test scores, resumes, previous experiences, portfolios, recommendations, etc… in addition to a diploma. It’s neither necessary nor should a diploma have to carry the weight of having to certify that a child has preemptively completed the additional training, education, or development that may be required in the future. A diploma is a noble accomplishment, but it should not represent our highest expectations of education.
In fact, it is a best counter-productive to set the policy and practice for reaching our highest goals though minimum requirements. When we do, we shift the burden that should belong to adults onto children. Figuring out what type of teaching and learning most engages and challenges our students, and then training and preparing educators to implement it is an adult problem. Creating learning experiences for students that are both personalized, but also equip them for a diverse world and an unknown future is an adult problem. Finding ways to stretch the teenage need for instant gratification towards long term decision making and investment is an adult problem. Marshalling the resources, funding, and connections to facilitate authentic workplace and research experiences for students is an adult problem.
I know many hard working adults in education, and I think most would say that we are making progress on the problems above, but they are by no means solved. Our schools still don’t have sufficient or equitable access to resources. Our teachers don’t have access to the full training and support necessary to truly transform practice. Our policies aren’t always fair, up two 21st Century standards, or in the best interest of students. Solving these problems is the real work of raising expectations. Of course, children need some measure of responsibility and personal investment when it comes to their futures. But, the proposed graduation requirements takes this too far. We should never create a policy that holds children accountable for things adults should be working on.
A Very Concerned JCPS Teacher
Airs Thursdays at 6:00 PM, Fridays at 3:00 PM and Saturdays at 7:00 AM. Listen live here:
It’s that time again! Time for Save Our Schools with Dear JCPS on Forward Radio 106.5 FM
Here are some of the things we will be talking about on today’s show (Sept 27, 2018).
In the studio today, we have Karin Bennett and (hopefully) Ivonne Rovira.
Our guest on the phone is Tyler Murphy. He’s running for school board in Fayette County. We will also be talking with Lassiter Middle School teacher Tiffany Dunn a little later on in the program.
Opt-out movement discussion.
Connect the dots
From the Playbook Whoops he did it again! Bevin doubles down on kids in harms’ way.
In other news:
Judith Bradley drops out of school board race
What are we doing about it?
Canvassing on the issues, not candidates – Oct 4
State-wide tour last week before the election.
Upcoming Rally with Diane Ravitch
How things are coming along.
About the Speakers
Co-sponsors and participants:
Tickets go on sale Friday.
Other upcoming events:
Thank you for joining us! A link to the program will be available on Sound Cloud later this week.
As first reported by Toni Konz, WDRB, a state audit recently forced JCPS to reassign many of its non-certified instructors to supporting roles instead of supervising classrooms, since state law does not allow them to do so without a certified teacher present. This has apparently resulted in modification or discontinuation of certain optional classes in many schools.
We have heard that 270 instructors were affected, so we want to hear what kind of impact this has had on your school and your child. Please take a moment to complete the following survey. Your information will be aggregated into a report for others to view, but personally identifiable information will be kept confidential.
This article also came out in the Courier Journal yesterday and contains a link to the letter Dr. Pollio sent to the state in response to the audit findings and the action the district is taking.
We are interested in learning from all who have been affected, instructors included, and see if we can’t compile your responses and propose solutions to district leaders and state legislators. We believe this is a problem that has been evolving over time as a result of district leaders’ admirable attempts to make quality programs available under tighter and tighter budgets. As with many public education issues, when unintended consequences like these occur, some grassroots advocacy work may be required to get everyone back on the same page.
Dear JCPS’ goal is to find commonality among all groups affected and use that messaging to communicate to try to bring state and district leaders to a solution that benefits our students and staff, instead of losing valued programs and putting unfair burdens on our beloved instructors.
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.
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.”
OBJECT OF THE GAME:
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.
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.
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 email was sent to Kentucky Board of Education Members. Their email addresses are:
Dear KBE Members,
As a parent of a recent JCPS graduate from one of our district’s Cohort 1 “priority” schools, I implore you to exercise extreme caution when vote tomorrow to recommend charter schools, and if you do decide to do so, be equally judicious with which elements you can support.
One of the things that makes Kentucky schools special is its emphasis on local control, as exemplified in the innovative decision under KERA to provide SBDM power to local schools. However, the conversation revolving around helping these high poverty gap students via way of charters is invalid if you take into account that my son’s priority school lost its SBDM powers 5 years ago when it entered into priority status.
Another thing that no one seems to be able to genuinely answer is how “school choice” will solve our problems in closing achievement gaps. JCPS is already a district of choice. This choice, combined with overemphasis on high stakes test scores, has been devastating to our students in poverty, who don’t have the same abilities to navigate the system and overcome the hurdles we put in front of them. Our student assignment map that discriminates against our most vulnerable citizens is just one of many examples. There is no sense of community behind my son’s school because they backfill the students who attend there from other communities. Perhaps you should know more about hurdles like these before we assume that they just need MORE choices. Competition has not been proven to improve outcomes in Jefferson County. We need more reasons to work collaboratively instead. Let’s work to make our existing schools better before we throw more variability and competition into the mix.
Speaking of local control, our local school board is should have the final say as to which charters will be permitted in our community. They are democratically elected and have the ability to garner feedback from their constituents about the proposed schools and whether or not the charter proposals and the underlying assumptions, hold water when it comes to how they will address the needs of the students in our community.
Perhaps instead of looking at charters as a solution for persistently low achieving schools, we should look at ways to remove some of the handcuffs we’ve placed upon them. I’m happy to share a litany of these items, should you be interested, in addition to a few I hinted at above. No, these problems are not solved by simply introducing charters as a way of “working around” the system. When we have a leaky house, we must fix the roof, not build a new house down the street.
Furthermore, should charter schools move forward, I would like to reiterate the following provisions that should be a requirement in any charter school legislation in the state of Kentucky:
• SBDMs need to be in every publicly funded school, both public and charter (especially priority schools!)
• The local school board, which is democratically elected by the community it serves, should serve as authorizers
• Non profit. Truly non profit not an arm of for profit company
Should not take tax dollars from existing schools. (Since this year is not a budget year, making funding a sticking point could buy us time.)
• Not closing schools just because they are low performing. Need latitude to serve special needs, at risk, etc without being held to same standards as a school like Manual.
• Remove the unhealthy fixation we have on high stakes testing for all schools, public and charter, but finding less intrusive accountability measures, such as sampling and dashboards, and even self reporting of portfolios of accomplishments
• Schools must be open to all, and should not have ability to refuse applicants or weed out. Barriers to entry already create self selection bias. How will that be eliminated?
• Must provide transportation and free and reduced lunch the same way public schools do.
• No use of public funds for religious schools. (No vouchers for St X, for example.)
• Accountability and transparency is a must. Open board meetings, open records, published minutes, budgets and salaries of all employees, contractors and operators
• There needs to be a minimum enrollment in a charter before it can be funded, demonstrating community need and support.
• There should be a limit to the number of new charter schools opened per year.
• There should be safeguards in place to prevent taking resources from public schools to fund the charters. One of the reasons public schools are currently failing is due to lack of supports and resources. Stripping away funding, or even “high performing” students, or highly involved families, from the mix, creates even greater burdens and hardships on the schools that stay.
• There needs to be equitable access to quality schools in every neighborhood. Closing low performing schools is not an option if there are no other schools in the vicinity.
• We need to treat our teachers with respect and support if we wish to attract quality educators. The idea that we can work them more hours for less money is going in the wrong direction and will see less than qualified individuals with higher turnover than we are currently experiencing in public schools. This is a fallacy with no evidence to support it.
• JCPS is already district of choice. You must demonstrate, without a doubt , not just from selective evidence, that “school choice” does more to fix existing problems. Proponents must provide conclusive evidence before we move forward with implementing a solution that doesn’t fix an existing problem, but only layers on more complexities.
This is a quick list I threw together in the hopes that you will have a chance to review it before you vote tomorrow.
I found the presentations at the work session last week to be one sided. They did not provide an opportunity to cross-examine the evidence by those of us who represent the more cautious approach to charter school implementation. What were the unique qualities of each of the success stories and what made them a success? What specific laws did they implement, which we could we emulate, to make sure we have the same successes? Claims that Nashville was a success story was quickly discredited by Tweets from school board members in Nashville. Arguments that charters serve gap students in urban areas has been disproven time and again by other research groups. Parents, teachers, community leaders, including NAACP, have made it clear that charters are doing more harm than good in many of the communities all over the country where they have entered. THESE VOICES CANNOT BE DENIED! Perhaps it is due to one or two factors that good legislation can and will prevent, but the information presented to the board at the work session was unclear what those specific items are, and therefore you do not have conclusive enough evidence at this time to justify forcing us to implement unproven charter schools in our major cities. WE DON’T WANT THEM! No one has been able to demonstrate to me that any version of charter schools will magically address the needs of the students attending my son’s school and schools like them. Since they represent our district’s most vulnerable, don’t we really need to come up with the best plan for them, regardless if it’s introducing charters or fixing existing schools, before we move forward with any plan?
Please help those who are doing the work at the ground level dig into the ways we can stop failing our most vulnerable students in the Commonwealth BEFORE moving forward with some fancy new idea, which will only create a distraction and drain on resources and energy. I look forward to continuing the conversation. We have work to do.