Dear KY Senators,
We’ve been Sold Out by Our Own Leaders!
We need you to check out these slides and listen to the attached audio file before Monday.
Louisville (and JCPS) Stakeholders, Voters and Taxpayers
Submit Your Open Letter to Jefferson County Public School District Board and Administrators
Dear KY Senators,
We’ve been Sold Out by Our Own Leaders!
We need you to check out these slides and listen to the attached audio file before Monday.
Louisville (and JCPS) Stakeholders, Voters and Taxpayers
You can also listen to this week’s podcast here:
And prior relevant podcasts here:
HISTORICAL 3-28-19- Senator Raque Adams Casts Swing Vote for EdChoice’s Gary Houchens
House Bill 208 (#HB208), the “back-to-school bill,” started out with good intentions, or so they were led to believe.
It was positioned to some legislators as a “funding bill.” They were told districts needed this new language in order for SEEK dollars to follow students because after the GOP stripped the governor of his executive powers, doing so was illegal. You see, after February 1, the governor was no longer authorized to use his executive powers to allow districts to continue on NTI longer than 10 days during a pandemic. This was one of several powers recently stripped from Kentucky’s governor. Another one was the Governor’s ability to reappoint boards and committees, such as the Pension Oversight Board. (More about that later.)
The GOP disingenuously stated this move was not a power grab. Yet two years earlier, Senate President Stivers spoke out of the other side of his mouth when he admonished our objection to the appointment of Bevin’s pro-privatization Board of Education, when he pressured the Senate to confirm pro-voucher board member Gary Houchens to KBE. Back then he believed the governor had the constitutional right to appoint people to boards and committees. Funny how they no longer feel that way now that Bevin is out.
So, what was wrong with HB208 in its original form? Well, it contained language that could force districts to provide in-person learning in order to qualify for the SEEK funding. One source claimed that after a $75,000 lobbying effort from KDE (I’m not sure how they know that), an amendment was added that made the bill “better” for districts like JCPS, who don’t have the infrastructure (and haven’t for decades, which is why we are making all these changes and needing to raise property taxes), by taking a bill that was going to force all districts to reopen to qualify for their funding, and adding an amendment that would provide exceptions for our most at-risk families to remain on NTI. That’s a good thing, right?
But alas, that was not their goal! So now groups like BIPPS and “Let them Learn” (mostly privileged white parents) are upset!
HB208 passed the House 87-8 last week and just passed out of Senate Education committee today 8-2, with a brand new substitution, which will once again force districts to reopen by March 29. It overrides the local school board’s authority on deciding to remain on NTI until our community knows it’s safe. The JCPS Board had already taken the initiative and voted in favor of a March 17 return date, apparently thinking that would call off the dogs. But it didn’t, did it?
During the committee meeting, the argument was even made that since the JCPS Board voted to return in person in anticipation of the passage of this bill, it was an implied endorsement of a bill, even though many members of JCPS board knew the bill was harmful. They played their defensive hand and left us exposed, once again.
This reminds me of a similar time the JCPS Board of Education voted 4-3 to accept the state takeover compromise with a wild swing vote from my own Board member. I even spoke at the following Board meeting to admonish her and others for giving away their constituents’ power by accepting the compromise deal from Bevin’s corrupt KBE and Commissioner, instead of holding out for our “day in court” against an ever-looming state takeover. (Someday you will need to ask me about the role white JCTA leadership played in all of this with #OurJCPS.)
Structural racism refers to the totality of ways in which societies foster racial discrimination through mutually reinforcing systems of housing, education, employment, earnings, benefits, credit, media, health care, and criminal justice. These patterns and practices in turn reinforce discriminatory beliefs, values, and distribution of resources.
It’s a pattern. But I digress…
Judging by the two guests who spoke in opposition to the bill in today’s elusive Senate Education Committee Meeting, it would seem that the scheming GOPers who had this brilliant idea for a bill to force schools to reopen, suddenly wanted to KILL THE BILL to fund districts operating on NTI! As if to say, “If we can’t force others to do education our way, NO ONE SHOULD be educated!” With the passage of today’s committee sub, the possibility that the option that allows some students to remain on NTI and still receive SEEK funding could be taken away from districts like JCPS becomes even more real. One JCPS teacher told us they are now being told to plan to return on March 22, and according to the bill language, students would be required to return in person no later than March 29, 2021.
Cheaters never win.
I think the GOP’s ALEC-friendly lawmakers’ original scheme has backfired. Their intentions of putting the wants of a privileged few above the lives of some of the district’s most vulnerable. But what everyone keeps forgetting is that it has not passed. There are some who want it killed. There are others who want it passed but don’t want to take away the local decision-making authority. But only those who truly understand systemic racism and the impacts on our students, educators and families of color, know that there is no deal with the devil that is good enough for our students.
Now that the intent-on-corruption legislators had successfully retroactively made the Governor’s executive orders to extend NTI beyond 10 days illegal, their next scheme was to force everyone back to in-person schooling so they can make sure they can administer their almighty tests. Certain lawmakers showed us today that this is an effort to control JCPS, because we are not complying with their scheme. The entire meeting, which you can watch below, seemed to carry the theme “What’s wrong with JCPS?,” and “If they can’t make good decisions, we will make their decisions for them.”
You can watch the entire meeting here:
Kentucky legislators keep passing bad bills, instead of solving the problems they are creating. Maybe these 8 Kentucky House Reps who voted “Nay” against their fellow educator bill sponsors, knew HB208 was a Trojan Horse all along? We will find out because after it passes the Senate it will be back to the House for another vote or amendment. Perhaps die-hard GOP party line toe-ers will come out against it and when the Dems who voted against catch on to their scheme, maybe they will switch their votes and vote yes. Maybe it will die in the House because the bill sponsors realize they’ve been duped, or they get cold feet, and it never gets called back to the floor.
What I do know is we should all be paying better attention. Because voters, taxpayers, teachers and parents are getting screwed. We should all contact our House Reps and make them aware these schemers are up to something. My Rep is Tina Bojanowski, one of the bill co-sponsors, a JCPS educator and JCTA member, and you can bet I’ve been texting back and forth with her quite a bit today.
Once our Representatives know to look for side and back room deals, even if they don’t understand it all just yet, ask them to start poking around. For those that are starting to get it, ask them if they feel like they’ve been played? I know some JCPS school board members do. In fact, Joe Marshall was our guest on this past Monday’s People’s Agenda meeting where we shared our concerns about some of these possibilities. #NowAreYouStartingToGetIt?
When will white lawmakers in Frankfort take their knees off Black JCPS students’ and educators’ necks?
In closing, the real question is, will HB208 accomplish its original goal to force vulnerable high-minority population districts like JCPS to go back in person before it’s safe for us to do so? And if so, for what? Just so they can force students to take abusive tests that benefit them in now way, while also dealing with trauma, loss, and health concerns that have been amplified, along with already existing learning gaps and racial injustices by a pandemic, and as Breonna Taylor’s school district, as the epicenter for the movement for Black Female Lives? Or will the scheming radical GOP special interest groups, like BIPPS and Let Them Learn, be able to kill their own bill, leaving other ways to continue their assaults on public education by tying up the governor’s authority in endless lawsuits and threatening to strip away funding for districts like JCPS that don’t reopen in person by their rushed timeline?
HB208 continues to carry a great deal of uncertainty, forcing a district the size of JCPS to leave hundreds of thousands of lives in the lurch, swinging wildly back and forth with every tweak of the bill.
Instead, wouldn’t it be great if our local elected officials would have the fortitude to stand up and say, “We are Jefferson County’s duly elected school board officials and we will NO LONGER allow outsiders to make our decisions for us!”? We are in a pandemic after all. And a movement for Black Lives.
Ignore the outsiders. We elected YOU to make decisions for our district, not them. You say you’re about racial justice? You say you want to dismantle structural racism? Well, stand up and fight for what’s best for our most vulnerable JCPS populations. If not now, when?
This story is developing and may be updated. Send questions. corrections or clarifications to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student 1: “I think you and I have had a pretty good relationship over the past 4 years and I just wanted to make Mayes aware of a situation that was pretty personal that happened yesterday. I was at the football practice filming … and [one of the players] came over to talk to one of the trainers and … he said you need to stay here and listen to this… I stayed there and listened and he went on to tell them that they’re not allowed to kneel for the flag during anthem. And that’ we’ve been standing for 125 years and we need to continue standing and if you want to kneel you can be in the field house. You shouldn’t kneel right here because that’s politics. Don’t bring politics into football because Friday night football isn’t about politics. He’s like, “Speak now or forever hold your peace.” [Player] said “You’re restricting our first amendment rights by telling us that we can’t kneel. By putting us in the field house, you’re locking up my people, which we’ve been locked up long enough. So –”
1:04 Mayes: “That’s ridiculous to say that. That’s a little extreme don’t you think?” “First amendment rights I’m with you on but the rest of it. Come on now.”
Student: Well, [trainer] may not have locked up slaves personally, but …
Mayes: “Let’s really have a good relationship here, okay? … Come on now, seriously? Come on now, seriously? Let’s be straight here, ok?” Listen to the guy. Bring it to me. Let’s have this relationship you talked about. I’m asking you. Let’s talk.”
Student: “I can see where she’s coming from.”
Bring it to me. I’ll take care of it. Let’s talk.
2:00 “I wouldn’t have said it but you gotta think in that moment you’re feeling quite oppressed. Myself, I was feeling pretty oppressed and he wasn’t talking directly to me because I’m not part of the team. And so I can understand the anguish and hurt.”
Mayes: “Why are you feeling oppressed?”
Student: “Because you’re telling us we can’t do something that we are given the right to do. “You’re not kneeling for politics, you’re kneeling for basic human rights. He told us we can voice our politi… (interrupted)”
No but your part of the community.
2:40 “So here’s my question. Why did they choose all of the sudden the Male game? When they could have chosen a game a couple of weeks ago.” You see what I’m saying. You get what I’m getting at? It’s selectively being done, where there’s a stage.”
Trainers have been kneeling throughout the season. And not receiving backlash for it.
No one ever said a word to me about it. That’s the first I’ve heard of it. And my door’s wide open.
3:11 I’m just bringing it to you because it personally made me uncomfortable.
The point is, my first amendment rights have been infringed on. That’s all it should be. And I’ll take care of it. To go into this someone being locked up . To go into this other explanation, I mean, I’m like ok. Your point’s well taken. … You ever see that movie Jerry McGuire movie? One of those chick flick things. Where she comes walking in, “You had me at hello.” You had me at First Amendment.”
“What I don’t like is sensationalism. What I don’t like is people doing this for attention, and what I mean by that is selectively. If you’re gonna be this way if you’re going to kneel then kneel the whole time. Okay? Don’t just pick and choose because it’s a different stage. That’s what I have a problem with…You see what I’m getting at? I respect that, I’ll respect that to the hilt.”
I know you don’t have to be all freaked out. I’m not freaked out. You want to have a dialogue. What I don’t like about it. I want you to understand my scope in thinking about this.
What I don’t like about this. There are some people where this is a sincere gesture, some jumping on it because it’s the cool thing to do. That I don’t like.
I don’t think anyone is doing this because it’s the cool thing to do.
“That’s your perspective.” “What I don’t like is people who jump on the bandwagon.”
Dean Walker lost his daughter. did it because that’s what everyone else was doing. It’s not sincere.
I don’t have a problem with anyone that’s sincere. I have a problem with people that do it just for attention.”
How do you determine?
I can understand where she was coming from in the moment.
What I have a problem is, if that’s really your belief, I respect that. What I don’t like is when it’s the cool thing to do. You have been a former player. He’s also got a team standpoint. We all walk out together. We all come in together. I’m sure that’s part of it. But I’ll address it with him. But I get offended when someone decides to suddenly go on this tirade. My people have been locked up blah blah blah.
“Why do you think I support the BSU? Why do you think I do all this equity diversity? I’m not down with this all that stuff. But at the same time, let’s put it into proper context for what it’s for. I just had this conversation with the principal at [John Marshall… His office is run inefficiently, so when we do events for equity and diversity, they come up screwed up.” It’s the way you gotta present it. You gotta be careful here, that in our push to bring these things to light. Instead of really saying
“You can cry wolf so much that people stop listening and away from the real point here. You want people to take you seriously. I’m not saying [student] is not sincere. That’s just a bunch of kids. You gotta be careful because it’s going to look like a bunch of sensationalism. It’s not about
That’s what I’m saying about John Marshall’s office. His office has screwed things up so much. What do you do when your parents tell you something you don’t want to hear. They screwed up so many events that now the real message of equity and diversity is getting a sidebar like, ok, this is going to be screwed up.” Guess what, they focus on that instead of the issue.
Last spring I started this thing.
The point was for us to start a conversation.
“Is there another way besides kneeling that you could do this…that convo should have happened.”
“You’d have to be just an idiot not to know about the oppression and all that kinds of stuff but I hate to say so, there’s some people that take that card and they play it to the [hilt?].” Your parents have worked very hard to put you in a position.
Let’s take my story. I could sit around and say all day. My parents divorced when I was in sixth grade.
I think that’s pretty different.
How is that different? How is discrimination accepted
Oppression of black people to a greater degree.
I know there is discrimination in religion. I am aware of this. I think it’s a little worse for black people.
I could be wrong, but I don’t remember a time when we imprisoned protestants. Redlining. I don’t remember a time when protestants had the leader assassinated. I personally feel that there a higher degree of discrimination
The conversation veered toward comparisons between the treatment of blacks and other minority groups. When one of the students said blacks have received faced greater discrimination than Protestants, Mayes responded by saying, “And that’s coming through your filter, and I don’t agree with you,” I see it across the board. But when you look at it through one set of lenses, But I look at discrimination under a larger situation. I’ve got native American in My people My people MY People, Way before slavery, dear. I could go but I choose a different route.
To sit there and say
You’re sadly mistaken. Sadly mistaken.
Your last statement was.
I said it’s to a greater degree.
So from my perspective. I could raise Cain about what happened to my people way back when. You’re looking at it from your perspective.
Black people are not the only people.
We haven’t even touched on the whole Jewish nation. Their people were put down into troughs and slaughtered.
This is my whole issue with the whole equity thing.
“Listen, I’ve been discriminated against because I’m white. That ain’t right,” you follow me? Listen. I’ve lost 4 jobs because I’m white. But that door swings both ways.
The students and Mayes began comparing discrimination against blacks to the discrimination Protestants have faced over history. One of the students said that discrimination against blacks was worse.
“I totally disagree with you on that.”
14:12 – interrupted, dr. marshall on the phone
“MLK is more palatable than Malcom x”
“I hate fake and phony people.” referring to equity office.
“I don’t want us to set up factions…I think we’ve got to be really careful here. I guess my argument is I want the discussion to go on and I don’t want people coming in with fists clenched…”
“I don’t want it to be a black and white issue. I want it to be a community issue. There’s people within our family who have feelings, so let’s address those feelings.”
BLM – where is it now?
“This is not a white and black thing… this is about treating people properly, period…if I’m a black person and I’m looking at it, make sure that you’re being fair to that said, because I’m black I deserve this…”
“I get crap here sometimes, ‘you need to hire more African-American teachers.’ I’d love to, but would you want me to hire an African-American teacher because their African-American or because they’re the best teacher?”
Mayes goes on to talk about Alabama…says he knows discrimination is real because he’s seen it.
Students ask for diversity and equity training, formal round table discussion with coaches, about students first amendment rights.
Pollio sent out memo – giving district’s position, said he sent it out to staff and would re-send.
Said it was the first time it was brought to him.
Today at 5 PM, Jefferson County Teachers’ Association (JCTA) triennial general elections will draw to a close. Following a contentious campaign cycle, a diverse group of teacher members vying for more than a dozen open seats on the Board, (including the four key leadership positions of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer), will learn how they fared against entrenched white incumbents who appear to be willing to stop at nothing to remain in power.
This isn’t the first time in our nation’s history union leaders have attempted to usurp the wills and voices of their rank-and-file members using mob-like mentalities and bullying tactics. In fact, the Landrum Griffin Act of 1959 came about as the labor movement was under intense Congressional scrutiny for corruption, racketeering, and other misconduct.
The new law:
established a code of conduct guaranteeing certain rights to union members within their union, and imposed reporting requirements on unions, union officers, employers, and consultants.
This is also not the first time in recent history powerful third-party organizations in Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) have been accused of bullying, intimidation, abuse of power and tampering with elections and outcomes. Following numerous anomalies chronicled in this series of articles regarding numerous controversial PTA elections, in July of 2019, I spoke at a JCPS Board of Education meeting about the need for greater oversight of external organizations.
Watch the video below:
Unfortunately, being on the receiving end of mud-slinging from bourgeois elites and their enablers is nothing new. Since before our founding in July of 2015, Dear JCPS leaders and members have been demanding accountability and transparency from district leaders. Although some perceived the “drama” as unpleasant, deterring them from wanting to get involved, pushback from those loyal to corrupt administrators is reminiscent of those protecting status quo under Dr. Hargens. Yet, if you ask teachers today, most would say they approve of how that turned out.
A rally on the steps of Van Hoose, spearheaded by Dear JCPS, called for Hargens’ resignation which came shortly thereafter, a full two years before her contract was set to expire.
Similarly, the removal of venture capitalist David Jones, Jr. from the JCPS Board of Education in 2016, can also be attributed to actions of grassroots groups, not the teachers’ union, as most believe. In fact, the union’s political action committee (PAC), Better Schools Kentucky, was too chicken to go up against Jones, so instead they remained silent in that race.
The recent botched election for Better Schools Kentucky, the union’s political action committee, which directs endorsements, funds and volunteers to candidates using members’ dues money, wasn’t the first election that the union President attempted to have undue influence over.
School Board Race Interference
Another example of how the JCTA President may have manipulated elections behind the scenes took place in August of 2018. On the filing deadline for the JCPS School Board race, I received text messages from an allied stakeholder. He was thinking about throwing his hat into the ring and wanted to know if I thought Linda Duncan was a board member who needed to be replaced.
Recalling numerous culturally inappropriate and insensitive comments she’s made over the years, I responded with an unequivocal “Yes!,” and an intense series of phone calls and text messages ensued, given that the deadline was only a few hours away. After advising my friend and potential candidate what he needed in order to file, I proceeded to notify the teachers’ union president that someone had stepped up to take Duncan’s place, assuming he would share my excitement.
I remained in contact with the potential candidate the remainder of the afternoon, helping him think through the logistics about how to obtain the necessary signatures, and deliver the required forms (and possibly meeting a constituent at the clerk’s office for a last minute signature), before the early afternoon deadline.
I recounted this incident in a recent 4-hour “tell-all” Facebook livestream, but I wanted to blog about it here, as well, because I believe the public deserves to know the truth. Among other things, I believe the 20-year president (a condition that came as the result of removing term limits shortly after being elected to the top seat) of arguably the state’s most powerful union, did us all a disservice by dissuading an amazing social and racial justice advocate, union leader, parent and taxpayer from trying to serve his community.
Perhaps the “head’s up” text message I sent to this powerful leader was my own undoing, but it isn’t the first time McKim has earned negative press for interfering with JCPS school board elections. Another incident involved recruitment of a tea-party candidate to claim he lived in Debbie Wesslund’s district in order to run against what must have been considered an “unfriendly incumbent.”
After my friend and concerned stakeholder was convinced to pull out of filing at the 11th hour, he stopped communicating with me, and instead posted this vague status on Facebook about averting a close call.
The reasoning for the change of heart, according to sources, was that he was told by the JCTA President that Duncan was a “friendly incumbent.” He told him that fellow union folks needed to stay in their own lanes (my friend was a leader in a union that represents members in the communication industry, not education, after all) and apparently amassed his power to convince a legitimate, concerned constituent of Linda Duncan’s, to abort the filing process.
Friendly to JCTA and JCPS executives and electeds, perhaps? Because many of the grassroots groups, including Dear JCPS, LSURJ, and The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and Black Lives Matter Louisville did not consider Duncan to be friendly to Black, brown, and LGBTQ+ students and teachers. Many had repeatedly witnessed and expressed disdain for culturally inappropriate comments for which Duncan was notorious.
Many of these same grassroots groups, as well as the League of Women Voters Louisville, had also filed to be intervenors in the state takeover hearing, because we knew the truth and we welcomed our “day in court.” Many now realize what the JCTA President and his insiders must have meant by “friendly” was that Duncan favored a “compromising” stance on the hostile state takeover that had been fraudulently thrust upon us by an unethical state education commissioner and board. The union president and other district leaders clearly preferred a board member who they could rely on to cast the deciding vote that would prevent the state takeover negotiations from ever making it to a hearing.
We believe a handful of JCTA leaders have repeatedly interfered with the democratic election processes, because they have a vested interest in continuing to bury the seeds of truth. And we think it’s important that the more than 6,000 dues-paying members have an opportunity to do their own research before deciding who to vote for in the election.
The People’s Agenda Education Committee and Dear JCPS have endorsed teachers RaShauna Tyson for President, Kumar Rashad for Vice President, Tyra Walker for Secretary and Dr. Randy Wieck for Treasurer.
#ItsOurTimeJCTA #JusticeForBreonna #JusticeForDaquan #BlackJCPSStudentsMatter #BlackJCPSTeachersMatter
If you have a similar story to share, please email it to email@example.com. Your submissions will remain anonymous upon request.
You may remember the recent flak JCTA’s political action committee received when they stuck to their endorsement of Jason Nemes.
UPDATE: McKim says JCTA is "extremely troubled" by today's revelations regarding Nemes.— Olivia Krauth (@oliviakrauth) October 20, 2020
The endorsement committee is reconsidering Nemes' endorsement, he says. https://t.co/NhwWcuKFti
You may also be aware that same JCTA-endorsed candidate is now chairing an committee to impeach our public school friendly governor. He also voted for charter schools and the infamous “sewer bill.”
But terrible endorsements are nothing new for McKim’s closely controlled political action committee. For the 20 years prior to McKim taking over the role of President, there had been 7 presidents, the most recent being Laura Kirchner. Laura and others have been paying attention. Here are some opinions of BSK endorsements we came across recently:
JCTA Elections end Wednesday at 5:00 PM. If you are a member, be sure to exercise your vote before the deadline! To make an informed decision, check out all of our resources on our JCTA Members page. In particular, you can read about the 20-Year Timeline of the Teachers’ Pensions, and also sign up to organize with JCPS Teachers and Parents around your back-to-school concerns.
In 2016, according to a post made by JCTA member and candidate for JCTA Vice President, Randy Wieck,
JCTA blocked transparency of the private money (equity) contracts, so-called “proprietary”, in 2016 (see bottom of Action from 2016). The private money firms divulge what they choose, and charge what they like, and this cannot be revealed to JCTA/KEA members. (See Beau Barnes, open records request 2014)
According to the Feb. 2016 ACTION newsletter distributed by JCTA, SB2 would have required KTRS to publicly disclose information on secret, no bid private equity contracts. Claiming disclosure would prevent these types of investment opportunities in the future, JCTA supported keeping the information private, and applauded the removal of these transparency provisions in the revised legislation. (See bottom of newsletter.)
In a recent letter from ACRE, https://acrecampaigns.org/wp-c
A Huge Wall Street Scandal Just Exploded In Kentucky
Jacobin Magazine, July 22, 2020
Financial Times, July 22, 2020
Lawmakers Push To Defund The Insurrection
Legislators request review of pension investments flowing to Wall Street firms whose execs funded groups boosting Republicans who tried to overturn the election.
The Daily Post, Jan. 15, 2021
Jan. 7, 2021