Not everything is as obvious as it seems
Image source: WFPL
If a swarm of armor-clad SWAT team members, chest deep in bullet-proof-vests, some reportedly carrying weapons “bigger than themselves,” storming Kentucky’s most prestigious “private public” high school the morning after a hotly contested Governor’s election doesn’t strike fear into your veins, nothing will.
What’s even more curious to this observer, who spoke to eye-witnesses and insiders last night and this morning, is that there’s been little to nothing else said about it since (other than a curious statement condemning “domestic terrorism” from JCTA). The rumors that it was politically motivated or an “incel” who was pissed about the election outcomes, or even that it was “AI” (whatever that suggests, other than no one to hold accountable), have already been drowned out by the usual street traffic of the day.
I have questions. Lots of questions.
Here’s a “SWATTING of Manual” timeline I’ve been working on, as well as some theories and outstanding questions we need to be thinking about. I hope you’ll help me stay on top of this until we get honest answers and regain our confidence that those making life or death decisions that impact our children are capable of doing so. Let’s “contact trace” our way to what led to the SWATTING of the sanctuary school for our city’s elite. Was it targeted, to send a message? And if so, by whom?
Did someone, a computer, even, call in the threat?
Could the whole thing have been staged? An inside job, perhaps?
Maybe even by a small faction or criminal gang within the police force? We’ve heard of fire fighters also being arsonists. Maybe the call was orchestrated by the dark underbelly of the force, to generate fear and a sense of helplessness so that they could come in and “save the day.” In addition to boosting morale with a success story, the media will make them into heroes.
I know what you’re thinking. Tin foil hat time, right?
Well, we can’t rule it out, and here’s why:
We know local, state and federal police were involved in picking off Omari Cryer (except instead of SWAT, they got US Marshals to pull the trigger, literally) when VICE News broke their story, “Money and Drugs Go Missing,” exposing evidence of their possible motives in Breonna Taylor’s murder.
Then there’s also the curious assassination of lion-hearted activist Travis Nagdy when he alerted activists and protestors that one of LMPD’s own had just shot and killed an innocent, unarmed white man in a predominately Black neighborhood at the height of the protests in 2020. These are the same protests following the wave of police killings that led to extended occupations of cities like Seattle, and to some degree, Louisville already. One more time being caught red-handed would surely result in significantly more outrage and potential violence and damage, all of which would be on LMPD’s murderous hands!
There’s historical evidence police have targeted and terrorized the people of Jefferson County relentlessly. Let’s look at the riots of 1968, which not only led to the murder of James Groves by LMPD, the wrongful arrest of the Black Six and the destruction of Black owned businesses, homes and wealth. There’s also the case of the misidentified four in 2014, one of whom was the cousin of US Senate Candidate Charles Booker, who was mysteriously murdered following an embarrassing wrongful arrest conviction and settlement. Not to mention the targeting, bullying and intimidation of Metro Council Member Jecorey Arthur the night he voted against their contract. Here he spoke about it at a Metro Council Meeting, along with a dozen OTHER examples not covered here.
And, of course, there’s the murder of Breonna Taylor, the ENTIRE DOJ REPORT and the BOTCHED GRAND JURY TRIAL — that same one that cost Daniel Cameron the governorship Tuesday night — which confirms, in writing, by the highest-ranking legal authority in the nation, that our allegations are indeed true, that the department acts in ways that violate its citizens’ rights, and to date, have experienced nothing more than a slap on the wrist, to charges which they still declared they were innocent.
I keep hearing everyone at the top, middle and bottom say parents, students and employees need to be held accountable. Meanwhile, we’ve got our police, our elected, and appointed officials avoiding their own role, for which they are handsomely paid, unlike the scapegoats they blame. Tell me again how things will be different going forward when nothing changes, and there is zero accountability at the top? Let’s start there!
And, given WHERE we are (deep red Trump Territory) and the VOLATILE TIMES we are living in, as the last of the “election deniers” and cult followers desperately cling to the final shred of “truth” they’ve been led to believe for nearly a decade, while their “anointed one” sits on trial, we must consider the possibility that JCPS is being held hostage by those put their political or professional careers, white nationalism or worse, ahead of our students, schools and access to a free, quality public education for all.
It’s terrorism, alright. But the perpetrators may be hiding among us. In plain sight.
Another insider I spoke with today reminded me about all the Class D Felonies involving possible sex, drugs and human trafficking involving minors in JCPS, which a teacher mom uncovered at Manual. We talked about how it was swept under the rug after that parent and I took it up the channels, to school administration, district leaders, the school board, the FBI, and anyone who would listen. No one did.
Or DID THEY?
The human trafficking ring rumors seemed to keep coming back to coaches all over the district. It even involved the 17-year old refugee student who was in elementary school, apparently so he could play on sports teams and a donation would be kicked back to the foster/guardian’s non-profit, or something. Some of these guardians were also reported to be coaches! We shared what we knew about Manual with FBI, DOJ, and Homeland Security. And then BOTH Stoner brothers came under scrutiny weeks apart, while working as coaches at Manual. These are a lot of crimes, and these are just the ones we ARE hearing about! Not to mention the whole embarrassing Jerry Mayes debacle.
Maybe something is finally moving on these crimes. Maybe yesterday’s “SWATTING” was really a “raid with good optics.” What if the police went in and secured the building long enough to gather the evidence they need, and JCPS politely went along with it because the truth is much harder to explain. Maybe, just maybe, all the crimes we’ve been experiencing, witnessing and reporting are finally being uncovered.
I’m STILL hearing the principal at Manual was PISSED that he was not informed of the plans. I’m wondering if Van Hoose was, and judging by how well rehearsed their spokesperson was, and with an out of the ordinary, premature blaming statement from JCTA, if I was a betting person, I’d say they all knew. But at the school level, by all accounts, it was a surprise attack. What it if turns out it was a warrantless, “no-knock” search of the school? Like the “good old days!” At least, in this case, no one was shot and killed. Not even the “bag man.” But this time, the cops and their accomplices will come out smelling like a rose, as long as no one snitches. Because they have it all planned out.
Or maybe all of the above is just wishful thinking. Maybe some nutjob really did phone it in like a dickless coward, SWAT swooped in and saved the day, and all the crimes we keep hoping someone will uncover will continue happening at the expense of our children and taxpayers. Meanwhile, Brent McKim, the white man who won’t quit, will stay in power of the teachers’ union just long enough for the GOP to kick the last leg of the stool out from under us, even though a new president will have been elected. By the time she takes the helm, there will nothing but rubble and ashes left. The so-called Manual teacher and his “deeper learning” pit crew, have spent more time rubbing elbows with Mitch McConnell (another Manual grad) than they have wiping noses in a classroom. What is this, some kind of cult or secret society? By the way, these are the same dozen or so people who have been running the teachers union into the ground for the past two decades or more. They act like they think they work for JCPS, not their members, and upon further inspection, many of their players appear to have been recruited from out of state, have taken shortcut routes into their roles, and have ties to privatizers. They abuse their power to game the system in order to STAY out of the classroom, but they think they know how to represent teachers? Haven’t they done enough damage? Isn’t it time for change?
If you or someone you know is interested in running for JCTA Executive Office, as VP, Secretary or Treasurer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for support or endorsement requests.
To members of the Board, or whomever else it may concern,
What are your thoughts about the proposal?
First, since I was only allowed to select one role in the previous question, I do want to point out that I am also a School Staff member as well. I have been a teacher in JCPS for 14+ years. I am also a father of 2 JCPS students, a 7 year old and 5 year old. And I live in Louisville, and I am a Community Member. So I’m not sure why we had to choose just one that we most identify with, because my reaction to the proposal isn’t just through one lens, but through many. I chose to identify more as a parent/family member because in the end, personally, I believe this proposal will affect my family more than it will affect me as a teacher in my specific situation. But I think it will affect the community as a whole more than anything. I think all 3 of those roles need to be considered when taking into account my response.
On to the proposal…I have A LOT of thoughts, and could very easily turn this into an emotional venting session. However, I will attempt to keep my thoughts organized and respectful in the hopes that this is not just for optics, and will not fall on deaf ears, but will actually be taken into account before this proposal is considered, voted on, and implemented.
If I had to summarize my thoughts, again, without getting too emotional, and trying my best not to just sound like I am venting, I truly think this proposal is a joke. I can’t think of a better, more professional word, so unfortunately that is what I am sticking with. I think this could be a disaster for the entire community and city of Louisville, let alone JCPS. I think there were so many factors that were not considered when making this proposal, which I will detail in the questions below. I think the district set out to solve one very specific (and admittedly one very important) problem. They believe they have found the solution to this problem, but are so narrow minded in their solution, they do not see how negatively this will affect so many people, both immediately and well into the future. In the end, this looks more like an ill-advised attempt to just cover up a major underlying problem instead of actually solving the problem as a whole.
What do you see as benefits of the proposal?
The only benefit I see to this proposal is that it is bringing to light a very real, very unfortunate, and very important problem that absolutely needs to be solved. The issue of students getting to school late, or being stuck at school late, is truly unacceptable, and needs to be addressed swiftly and decisively. Any student, parent, and family member, along with the bus drivers, who are all having to deal with this on a daily basis, deserve to have this issue brought to light, and solved in a realistic and effective manner. That cannot be denied.
What do you see as challenges that need to be considered?
I am going to attempt to organize this into subheadings, to make sure it is easy to follow and I don’t miss anything. I don’t necessarily think there is one issue more important than the other, so I will just try to organize this in a logical way. Every item touched on below I believe has equal importance and needs to be considered.
- Lack of an interdisciplinary committee of stakeholders: The lack of an interdisciplinary committee in the formation of this plan is very disturbing. This survey is asking Community Members, District Staff, School Staff, Parents, Family Members, and Students for feedback, all of whom are important stakeholders in what is being proposed. However, if I’m understanding correctly, there was little to no stakeholder involvement in the formation of this plan. Instead, it was outsourced to “MIT coders,” who used an algorithm, apparently, too advanced and complex for us to understand, to solve our problem. After seeing the presentation made to JCPS staff, and then watching Dr. Pollio’s press conference, what became very evident to me is that these coders were paid, probably a good deal of money, to solve what ends up being a complex math problem. What can we do, using math, to solve the “transportation crisis?” It looks like they took into account bus routes, bus employees, the physical layout of the city, locations of the schools, and start times. With all due respect to the incredibly smart people who solved this problem, the district could have paid mathematicians, scientists, and engineers here to solve this problem, and they could have come up with a similar solution. However, no evidence has been presented to us whatsoever to show that they took any other information into account, or how this plan could have a cascading negative effect on the entire city of Louisville, its economy and its community, as I will detail below.
- Teacher Transfers: As a teacher, selfishly, the one thing that stood out to me, and all of my peers, was the point made in the presentation to us and in Dr. Pollio’s press conference about Teacher Transfers. If the new start times don’t work for you, then you can put in to transfer to another school for next school year. I am one that is not easily offended, but to me, that is incredibly insensitive to those of us who have stuck around through the mass exodus of JCPS teachers (and bus drivers) over the past few years. Many of us have worked very hard to have the opportunity to work where we are now. We have built relationships with our peers, our administrators, and most importantly our students. It doesn’t seem like this was considered in the proposal.
- JCPS Employee Morale: The previous two points logically lead into this. In my almost 15 years working for JCPS, I would say that employee morale is at an all-time low. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know personally, my responses in the Comprehensive School Survey have gotten more and more negative as the years have gone on. And it doesn’t seem like that matters to anyone, because teachers and staff members continually get dumped on. Optically, how does it look that we weren’t included in this proposal? Optically, how does it look that we are being told if the proposal doesn’t work for us, then we can move. Has anyone actually analyzed WHY we have a transportation and why there has been a mass exodus of teachers out of JCPS (more on this later)? In what other profession are employees consistently treated the way we are treated, without addressing why there is so much discontent?
- Staffing Shortage (Teachers and Bus Drivers): While it is obvious that this proposal does not at all address the reason behind the staffing shortage, it is possible that it could make it even worse. Were bus drivers consulted about this proposal? Does this help the hours that they are expected to work, or the overall distances that they are expected to drive? That was not very clearly addressed in the press conference. Don’t we have a transportation crisis because of our bus driver shortage? Is the district not concerned with the REASON behind the staffing shortage across the district (again, more on this later).
- Student Transfers Logistics: Similar to the proposal’s plan for teachers to have to transfer if the new times don’t work for them, the proposal and press conference also made it clear that students can apply to transfer as well, and the district will work with every single family to make it work. Were the logistics of this considered by the MIT coders? I’m not going to speculate on how many students will actually need to transfer, but let’s assume that there are some. Does the algorithm take into account how those kids will get to school? How those bus routes will work? On the district side, do we realistically think we have the capacity and manpower to solve these problems, on the fly, just over the summer? And if a parent can’t justify or make it work that their student can get to a new school, is the district ok with parents pulling their students out of JCPS to attend Catholic or Private schools, or even worse, forcing families to have to consider moving to other counties or states? I know this seems a little extreme, but I can promise you it will be a reality for some families.
- Adolescent Sleep Schedule and Chronic Absenteeism: When this topic first came up, it was to use the research on the adolescent sleep schedule to help solve the problem of chronic absenteeism. While these buzzwords and phrases were still used in the proposal and press conference, the reality is that this proposal is not really solving that problem. It is only concerned with making the bus routes more efficient. If this truly was about older students getting more sleep, which in turn would guarantee that they get to school more often, wouldn’t the most logical solution be to just swap the high school and elementary start times? This plan only changes some high schools, and makes some elementary schools later than they already are. It is very inconsistent, the message that is being sent. In regard to chronic absenteeism, as a teacher and parent, I would very much like to see the research that was done specifically in our city of Louisville showing the main causes of chronic absenteeism. Is it truly sleep related? Is it transportation related? Is it safety related? Is it demographic related? Is it related to a student’s home life? All questions don’t seem like they were considered, or at least answered by the proposal.
- Working Parents: Dr. Pollio mentioned in his press conference that families are going to have to figure out how to make this work. Well let’s think about that logistically for a minute. If you have one parent who works and early job, or works the night shift and is sleeping, or is a teacher at a different school, and then you have another parent who works a traditional 9-5+, how exactly are they supposed to make this work? Previously, and elementary school student could be dropped off at 8:45 AM, letting the other parent get to their 9:00 AM job. Now, let’s assume that their employer is not ok with them getting to work 30-45 minutes later, every day. Parents are now going to be strong armed into paying for CEP. What if the CEP site is not close to where the family lives, and causes even more of a morning inconvenience? What if a family hasn’t budgeted for this and can’t afford it, but they also don’t qualify for government aid for the CEP program? I also don’t see how using CEP as a solution solves the problem of kids being at school for too long. If a parent has to drop their kid off at CEP early, then have to pick them up, possibly later than before at a CEP site, which will now be affected by a newer rush hour traffic pattern, kids can still be at school many more hours than they should be.
- After School Activities – JCPS Related: I heard a few times during the press conference about it only ever being an hour different than it was before, or the latest it will be is 4:20 PM. However, was it really taken into account how much of an impact that hour, or the 4:20 PM end time would affect students and staff alike? And I’m not just talking about the problem about high school sports starting later, and at different times, and how that could be perceived as unfair for the athletes with different practice times, game schedules, travel times for away games, etc. What about the JCPS employees who coach, or lead clubs, at different schools or even different districts? What if they do that, not just because they are passionate about it, but because they also need the additional income? What about the JCPS employees who have a second job immediately after work to support their families? What about the high school students who have jobs immediately after school, whether it is just something they do to prepare for the real world, or because they also have to support themselves and their families? This cuts into work hours, which in turn cuts into income, which may be the difference between being able to pay rent and afford food or not. Does the proposal take into account all of these employers probably not being ok with this new schedule (more on community impact later)? Do we really think these students will be able to retain their after-school jobs with the time changes? WHERE IS THE EQUITY IN THIS?
- After School Activities (Non-JCPS related) and Community Impact: First, I want to acknowledge that I am in a very fortunate situation, that my wife and I worked hard for, to be able to afford our kids the privilege and ability to participate in non-JCPS after-school activities. I want to give an example of our situation, and how that will not only affect our kids’s ability to participate in these activities, but how it also will impact local businesses and the community. Our kids have played soccer at Mockingbird Valley Sports Club. It is the after-school choice that we made, because it is relatively close to our home, with a schedule that worked for us. We would pick our kids up from school, and get them to their lesson at 4:00 PM. With this proposal, that will no longer be an option for us. So let’s extrapolate this situation to other families who are also in similar situations at Mockingbird. If they, Mockingbird, are unable to adjust their hours to accommodate these changes, then they will be losing a lot of business due to something completely out of their control. Then we, as the parents and families, have to look into other options for our kids. An example of another option for our age group would be Javanon Football Club, which is a rival of Mockingbird, that has a similarly aged lesson available at 6:00 PM. So this could work for our families. But Javanon is about 15-20 minutes away, so then you have to take into account the small influx in traffic this will cause, during rush hour. Again, this is a very small, very specific example of a very small demographic of JCPS students and families. But now, extrapolate all that data to every single activity that many JCPS students participate in, all of the changes that will have to be made due to this proposal, and how that affects the community and local businesses at large, both economically and logistically.
- Traffic/Rush Hour: I have now mentioned a few examples for a potential increase in traffic closer to rush hour. Did the MIT coders take that into account when coming up with this solution? Was it considered what life is like in larger cities with worse rush hour traffic than what we have now? How that impacts other professionals leaving their jobs, less time spent with family due to getting home later, how the increase in later after-school activities would all be impacted? Not only that, but more new high school drivers and more staff members would be leaving schools and after school events and activities later in the day. Is it safe for these new drivers to be on the road in heavier traffic conditions?
- Budget and Government Money: I will admit that I am not as well versed or researched in this area, but from my understanding, JCPS receives a pretty sizable amount of money from the government every year, and that has not decreased in recent years, even with the mass exodus of teachers, bus drivers, and students in some cases. If this proposal goes through, and causes even more of an exodus of teachers, bus drivers, and students, how will that affect the budget going forward? Also, is it fair for me to ask, if JCPS is still receiving the same amount of money each year, where is all the extra money going that used to be paid to the teachers and bus drivers that have left these past couple of years? There is another topic I would like to discuss in regards to money, and its allocation. I’m sure this issue has been beaten to death, but hear me out.
- Busing: Again, I am admittedly not the most well versed or researched in the history and reasoning for busing in Louisville. What I do know is that it has been going on in this city for a very long time, and was originally initiated in an attempt to desegregate our schools due to geographic location, provide equal opportunity and equity to all students of all races and demographics, and to help close the achievement gap. In my opinion, that was truly a valiant attempt at solving a very serious problem in our city at the time. But can we objectively analyze the climate of our city and schools today and say that it has worked? In reality, busing is a large part of the reason why we have a transportation crisis in the first place. Now let’s look at our schools, and what busing has caused. Is the achievement gap really being closed, or is everyone just normalizing to the median, rather than everyone being raised to the higher outliers? Does busing kids all over the city truly promote equity and provide equal opportunities to all students? Or is it causing more resentment in our community? What does this outdated busing plan imply about the schools they are busing away from? Are we more concerned with getting the underprivileged kids to the “better schools” than we are about lifting up all of our programs and schools to an equally high level?I think these are important questions that need to be discussed and answered.
- The Real Problem: I have been beating around the bush for some time now, so let’s talk about what the real problem is in our district. What is it that has caused our staffing shortage of teachers and bus drivers, which has led us to have overpopulated classrooms, and a “transportation crisis” due to too few bus drivers? Student behavior and lack of discipline leading to a general overall feeling of JCPS schools and buses no longer being safe for all students and staff members. I can attest to this as a tenured JCPS teacher, a parent, and a community member. JCPS has allowed itself to become a victim of modern, “woke” society, and its employees and students are the ones paying the price. Fifteen years ago when I first joined JCPS, administrators ran the schools, took care of their employees, and demanded respect from the students.They received support from the district. Students were disciplined in a variety of ways, which to today’s modern “woke” society might seem archaic, but the results were clear. The students respected the staff members, their elders, and if they didn’t, they learned to. This lead to a healthy and positive work environment, where, for the most part, students and staff members felt safe and cared for. It also prepared students for the real world of college and careers where they couldn’t just do or say whatever they wanted with no repercussions. Over the past 15 years, as society changed, JCPS began to slowly start enabling problem students (AND problem parents) until we got to where we are today. Enabled students led to more enabled students. Now, students think they are invincible, that there are no repercussions for their actions, because there truly are not. Not any more. I have seen, personally, violent acts between students, violent acts directed towards staff members, gang violence in many schools, extreme destruction of school property, excessive bullying, complete disrespect and insubordination from students in the classroom, that is literally being live streamed to Facebook or YouTube. How are these kids disciplined? They aren’t. They don’t even get a “slap on the wrist” any more and sent back to class. They get spoken to kindly and with empathy and are sent back to class. No lessons are learned, and our problem continues to snowball. I know some will argue that there are other reasons why there is a staffing shortage, including COVID. I don’t want to generalize and say that is not the issue, because for some it definitely is. But a large reason why students are choosing to attend Pathfinder School of Innovation virtually, or are leaving the district all together, is because they feel unsafe in their “home” schools due to violence, bullying, and lack of discipline. A large reason why teachers and the poor bus drivers are leaving in droves, is because of the extreme behavior exhibited by our students that is met with silence, indifference, or even worse, the blame is turned back on us. We don’t believe we feel heard or supported by our administrators and district, and in turn, JCPS has become a toxic work environment for many staff members. I have spoken to friends who work at other schools around the district, schools that at one time felt safe, and where the adults in the building felt like they were in control. What they say now is that the students run the building, and they are just there to collect their pay check and get to retirement. How sad is that? That teachers who once held a high passion for teaching now feel like they are just trying to survive. Over the past 15 years, I have witnessed the shift in JCPS from the adults being in charge and running things, to some problem students beginning to hold certain schools hostage, to our modern problem of an entire generation of enabled, undisciplined students and parents holding an entire school district, city, and society hostage. Seriously, what is it going to take for not only our district, but society as a whole to recognize how bad things have gotten in public education? Students are already killing other students. And I’m not talking about mass shootings, I’m talking about gang violence or neighborhood violence that has now been allowed to leak into many schools where it never was before, where problems are exacerbated and perpetuated without swift and decisive intervention from school and district officials. What happens when a student eventually kills a teacher? There already has been a recent report in this country of an ELEMENTARY school child bringing a gun to school and shooting a teacher through the hand. What is it going to take?
- Possible Solutions: As I think I have made abundantly clear, I don’t think this time change proposal is going to solve the real underlying problems. Sure, it may solve the problem of decreasing the number of bus routes so that our students can possibly get to school or leave school on time, regardless of our massively understaffed bus drivers. But as I’ve mentioned, this will create a slew of new problems that will affect many people in the entire city, and will not solve the real problem. So what can we really do to exact real and lasting change? First, consider stopping busing, and go back to at least a hybrid of the neighborhood school model. And if the district doesn’t trust its own stakeholders to help put together a proposal, ask the MIT coders how this would affect bus routes, start times, and attendance. Secondly, discipline kids, both in school and out. Make alternative schools matter again. Every child has a right to free public education. That is irrefutable. But every child does not have the right to a free public education at the “better school” all the way across the city, where they are causing so many problems that they are negatively impacting the safety and learning of others in the building. The same goes for the buses. Dr. Pollio even alluded to this in his press conference. Free transportation to school can go away. And in my minimal research, I found that State and federal laws don’t require schools to provide transportation, except for students with disabilities. So if that is the case, and a student is misbehaving on the bus, they are no longer allowed to ride the bus. If the district feels obligated to provide them with another option, if they are old enough, give them TARC tickets. If they are not old enough, it should be the responsibility of their parents or guardians to get them to school. That is what is being asked of us with this new bus proposal anyway. It is up to the family to figure out how this is going to work. If misbehaving students were kicked off the bus, maybe bus monitors and bus drivers wouldn’t leave JCPS. Now, we can use, what I understand to be, a significant amount of money saved on busing to fill other buckets. Pay JCPS bus drivers and teachers more in general. Offer monetary incentives to bus drivers and teachers willing to work in these more difficult areas at the more difficult schools. But I also don’t believe we should offer more money to work in those schools and let that be the end of it. I know the district has identified difficult schools and areas, so let’s be a little more proactive in the recruitment, application, and interview processes in choosing the right candidates to work in those schools. Make the monetary incentive to work in these schools enough to attract a large number of applicants, but be deliberate in who is selected. Who will be good in these schools long term? There would probably still be enough money leftover to upgrade and update these schools, and make them more attractive, modern, and progressive for students and staff alike. Have MIT do the math and come up with an algorithm of that. How much money could be saved, where it could be allocated, and how that will positively affect buildings, students, and staff in our district. I think this next point is very important; instead of constantly playing catch up and trying to match what other “large districts” are doing around the country, we could lead the way in educational reform. Does it really matter if we are one of the only large districts in the country not doing staggered start times? No, it doesn’t. But instead of solving our own, not very unique problem, we are just playing catch up to what other districts are already doing. What if instead we addressed the real problem, discipline in and out of schools, and how that has affected school and bus staff numbers? Then other districts around the country could model their reform after us. Because let’s be honest, we’re not the only district with a discipline problem. It’s a nationwide, societal problem. In the end, no one asked me for my opinion. No one asked any of us who still work for JCPS, who stuck around despite everything continually going against us. No one asked us as parents of JCPS students, who are constantly impacted by these decisions made for us. No one asked us as active, invested members of the Louisville community. But the reality is that there is a lot more that needs to be addressed here than just solving the bus route transportation crisis. I know I speak for many JCPS employees, parents, guardians, and community members in saying that I hope the issues and possible solutions I have brought up do not fall on deaf ears. That at least we can be active participants in a conversation before this proposal is voted on and mandated. Thank you.
(Watch the 3 minute speech here.)
Throughout the years we showed you, Dr Pollio, how parents of color and their accomplices are pushed out of PTA for bringing forward their concerns about discrimination in their schools. Instead of being asked how we can improve, they are treated like the problem
We showed you how educators and staff are lied on, pushed out, blacklisted for reporting abuses of children, especially black children, even though they are Mandatory reporters. We Brought you evidence of how the grievance process has been manipulated against black employees and how internal investigations process can be fraudulent, self-serving with no accountability or recourse.
Administrators and principals have been allowed to hijack PTA for their own purposes. Rigging sbdm elections to put “yes people” in them.
Meanwhile their PACs rig internal elections and accept dark money contributions and are able to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars into candidates who repeatedly vote against public education with zero consequences.
Administrators bully us but not them. And you pretend you don’t notice.
Again last year I reiterated it.
In between, there was a pandemic. The requests of parents, teachers and organizers who work with our district’s most impacted community members every day were delayed, denied, disrespected. By you (Marty). By you (Chris). By you (James).
We told you how powerful white-led organizations were abusing their power to continually drown grassroots voices out. We elevated concerns of shut-out teachers, staff, students and parents only to be labeled “rogue groups” by these whyte leaders that have been holding their organizations hostage and out of reach of their members, for decades. You allowed it. Some of you even participated in it.
Why keep bringing solutions only to have them mocked, ridiculed or ignored? Or to risk personal attack or retaliation?
Teachers showed up in red by the thousands in 2018 and 2019 telling anyone who would listen what they need. Leaders of organizations attacked their own members instead of standing in solidarity with them.
And here we are. That anti-CRT moment has not passed.
Unchecked white supremacy has created a rise in white nationalism and fascism that is knocking at our door. We can’t ignore it. We have to name it, denounce it and smash it, before it is too late. Our district is the last stronghold that protects 170 other districts across the state. We can’t expect someone else to save us.
Our inequitable system allows special interests to infiltrate these outside groups, pour hundreds of thousands of dollars in to gaming the system, their PACs outspend us 100 to 1, leaving democracy out of reach for PTA moms like me.
Yet JCPS Lobbied to take power away from parents and teachers dismantling SBDM. The opposite of what stakeholders asked you to do.
Add a parent and student to SBDM.
Stop putting a paid employee in a gatekeeping role with outside organizations.
(mic is shut off)
Support another KERA.
Justice for the People
Justice for Breonna
JCPS is having a board meeting tonight, starting at 6 PM.
Meanwhile, the folks who have been using JCPS Board meetings and dogwhistles to recruit and mobilize for their hate group continue to put pressure on board members.
This is not hyperbole.
They’ve already tried and failed a couple of times. Following the August 2 Board Meeting, where a hate group organized an anti-mask rally outside of district headquarters, we heard rumblings that one of the board members was trying to call for an emergency board meeting, but there must not have been enough appetite for it because that window came and went. The next time the board met was the August 16 work session and James Craig and Sarah McIntosh signaled their intentions to flip flop on the board’s recent unanimous vote.
Not everyone who opposes the mask mandate is tied to white nationalists. Not knowingly, anyway. But the lead organizer at the August 2 anti-mask rally was Dr. Frank Simon. You may already know his name and reputation. His group, American Family Association of Kentucky is a known anti-LGBTQ+, pro charter, “stop the steal” hate group. Their national organization is a designated hate group on the SPLC website.
Regardless of one’s position on masks, the district’s masking policy that is now in effect is a continuation of a policy that was in effect at the end of last school year and was unanimously reconfirmed as part of the district’s “back to school” protocols at the July 19 board meeting. It’s not new. What changed is the community COVID levels went back into the red right before school started. The biggest reason this policy is being placed in jeopardy RIGHT NOW is because a vocal minority of mostly white people, organized by hate groups, election deniers and white nationalists, have been putting pressure on board members to reverse their decision, not based on science or concern for our most vulnerable, but because dogwhistles, hate and fear make a great recruiting tool for their base. Unfortunately, the teachers union president has been adding fuel to the fire by conducting unwanted mask surveys of questionable validity, which James Craig further promoted as justification for his (so far) failed attempts to add the item to the board’s agenda.
All this back and forth on asked-and-answered issues takes time away from REAL issues, such as the teacher shortages, busing challenges, opportunity gaps, and back to school plans, not to mention all the neglected issues that were only exacerbated by the pandemic. It sets a dangerous precedent to allow a board policy to be put in jeopardy because if they can overturn an issue as important as this, which could negatively impact the health and safety of our most vulnerable (the board vote to deny James’ motion to amend the agenda on August 16 was along racially divided lines), what’s to stop them from overturning the new student assignment plan next month? What else could be placed at risk?
It is dereliction of duty for a member of our school board to give in to these demands and try to overturn a popular and recent JCPS Board decision simply because dark-money funded domestic terrorists (the same folks who have been storming board meetings, not just in Jefferson County, but nationwide, wanting to ban books and historically accurate curriculum) are now making demands about masks. Especially since these are the same armed and dangerous people who are believers of the “big lie,” representing the same ideology that has been referred to by President Biden as “Semi-fascism”. And especially since the teacher and staffing shortage means we need to take every precaution to keep as many adults healthy and safe for as long as possible. The masks are a simple thing to ask people to wear, and a much more dangerous thing to take away. The imbalance in the attention that is given to this issue is indicative of the intent to distract and recruit for a group that aligns with the destruction of public education. After everything we’ve seen and learned, elected leaders who can’t recognize these tactics or worse, agree with them, are not fit to govern a public school board.
Until those leading the insurrectionists are held accountable for their actions, there is no reason to assume they’re not preparing for and capable of doing worse if they are allowed to continue to spread disinformation in order to recruit and radicalize their base. Because we see them organizing in our own back yards, there is no reason to assume they’re not planning something similar here following the mid terms. Especially if the Constitutional Amendment to ban abortions fails.
But yesterday, Lindsey Graham warned of “riots in the streets” if Trump is indicted. Mid term elections may not be the only milestone they are monitoring.
I don’t know what to expect at tonight’s JCPS Board meeting. Hopefully it’s a non-issue, but considering what’s at stake, it’s important to stay vigilant. Better safe than sorry. I just want to encourage #AllEyesOnJCPS.
If anyone wishes to email board members to encourage them to continue to stand firm against these bullies and domestic terrorists, you can easily find a one click link to all of their email addresses at www.dearjcps.com/advocate.
You may watch the board meeting on the district’s You Tube Channel here:
On Wednesday, June 29, 2022, I was lured to Twitter by a random notification that Louisville’s illustrious junior education reporter had Tweeted something we all needed to keep our eyes on. Turns out, it was about me, or so I thought.
The tweet read,
If you are running for JCPS school board and you have a publicly visible photo or video of yourself sitting in a bathtub, please consider removing it from any platform where it may be screenshot and sent to me at this time.— Olivia Krauth (@oliviakrauth) June 30, 2022
Aware that I had at least two examples of a “publicly visible photo” and one Tik Tok “video” containing “damning evidence” of the fact that I do indeed take baths, I immediately went to my Facebook and Tik Tok accounts and disabled the artifacts in question. Not that I’m ashamed of them, mind you, but because I didn’t know what else to do other than comply with Olivia’s threat.
Running for school board invites all kinds of crazy, including death threats from randos who question your morality for standing up for bodily autonomy, defending LGBTQIA+ rights and the teaching of accurate history and science. Of the four of us running for the District 3 Board seat in Jefferson County Kentucky, I am the only female, and I am by far the most outspoken on these issues. The last thing my family needs is for the media to gin up reasons for the zombies to come for me.
The tweet went on to say,
To specify, I'm fine with you fully clothed modeling a potential new bathtub for your home.— Olivia Krauth (@oliviakrauth) June 30, 2022
But if you are actively taking a bath, and have uploaded evidence to the internet … you have until EOD Friday until you make next week's newsletter.
Since my images didn’t quite meet Olivia’s prudish criteria of a “fully clothed model” showing off a “potential new bathtub,” I felt pressured into taking the images down or invite next-level hell after realizing her Tweet also included the threat of making “next week’s newsletter” if I didn’t comply by “EOD Friday.” In fact, since I didn’t not see her Tweet until an hour or so after she posted it, I knew “the enemy” was already scouring my timeline in search of this “damning and shameful evidence.”
What does what a local reporter is “fine with” even matter? Isn’t she supposed to report the news, not be judge, jury and executioner of a candidate’s campaign by tainting the candidate as some kind of immoral sleezy character? But isn’t that what her Tweet was intended to do? To shame the offender into taking it down? Whether the Tweet was directed at my opponent, Steve Ullum, who it turns out had one photo that I saw circulating, or me, who had two photos and a minute-long popular Tik Tok video, was unclear.
But, if the plan was to blackmail me into taking the video down, their scheme backfired. As word got out that it might have been me who “violated” Olivia’s code of ethics, support and curiosity started to roll in. A renewed interest in the video and disgust by those who saw the intrusion into private lives and body shaming as unacceptable turned their smear campaign upside down. As I acknowledged the content and reactivated the TikTok, I was suddenly notified by one of my informants that someone all-knowing had informed them that it wasn’t me she was Tweeting about after all. While I was relieved to learn this, something still didn’t add up. Support suddenly dried up, and in fact, I was accused of “manipulating” one of my informants into supporting me. But the most curious part was how they knew it supposedly wasn’t me.
At a minimum, this experience reminded me of the shenanigans that took place last spring, and the reasoning behind why they might have wanted that video taken down. Two of the candidates for whom the teachers’ union is trying to justify their continued endorsement and big spend, were implicated in that video. One of them condemns my opponent for caving under pressure by disruptive right wing radicals, which created an opening for a sinister bill like HB208 in the first place. Coincidence? Decide for yourself.
The story begins here.
On the morning of 3-4-21, I woke up to discover I had been thrown in Facebook jail for calling “Let Them Learn” parents “selfish white people” which is exactly what they are for trying to force people who are at high risk of death and long-term health effects back into crowded, dilapidated classrooms just so they can get THEIR children out of their hair while they are forced to work from home. Let Them Learn is one of several right wing radical groups that popped up recently to antagonize Black and Brown families, storm our school board meetings and cut in front of everyone, including some who’ve been waiting generations for their concerns to be addressed.
How is this hate speech? Because I pointed out that they are white? I’m white. White people hold the majority of decision-making seats in our country, and we have not experienced the generations of violence and discrimination that our Black, Brown, (not to mention LGBTQIA+ and women) friends, family and neighbors have. Facebook has really played a supporting role in the dismantling of our freedoms and I believe they should be sued, prosecuted, and punished, but we’ll get to that later. Any lawyers interested in taking on a class action suit against Facebook (or any of these clowns), please contact me.
Back to the story. Decide for yourself. Here’s a retweet of the first Tweet I made on March 4, 2021.
This is what got me thrown in FB jail on 3-4-21, so I came to Twitter to get my message out. 3-4-21 was also the day I learned how to Tik Tok. https://t.co/ZyXeYeqGHe— Gay Perry Adelmann for JCPS District 3 (@GayAdelmann) June 30, 2022
After Tweeting this and more events that were unfolding in Frankfort in real time, specifically calling out HB208’s sinister intentions, and a fun little sideshow I came across while “flipping channels” between the House and the Senate closed circuit TV programs. It was of another JCTA endorsed candidate
I took to TikTok and shared the “offensive” bathtub scene as part of the edutainment . Could it be that it’s not the shoulders-up, wet hair, version of me in a bathtub that offends their sensibilities, but the truth telling that I direct viewers to pay attention to on Twitter? On the video, I call out weak and racist actions by elected officials who were endorsed by JCTA’s PAC, one of whom is running for reelection to the seat Steve Ullum and I are challenging. Coincidence?
My belief is that this vague Tweet was part of a smear campaign intended to intimidate me into deleting my TikTok video. When it became clear to those conspiring on this scheme that I wasn’t going to let them shame me and scare me into deleting my video, they suddenly changed course and revealed to everyone that it was not me they were trying to expose after all, but Steve, who I mentioned above.
Pay no attention to the fact that the one photo of Steve in a bathtub that was circulating didn’t hold a candle to the photos and videos that had been on my timeline. So, either these “informants” are easily gaslit and will believe whatever lie JCTA’s dark money white supremacists conjure up, or they’re in on it. How else could they be sure it wasn’t me she was referring to? Something about this story doesn’t add up.
At the time, COVID was raging, but a radical right wing push was underway to force students back into classrooms so they could sit for standardized tests and provide privatizers with data to mine. Despite promises, lack of funding, dire circumstances in many buildings, we knew it was coming. Whether it was going to come in the form of HB208 out of Frankfort, or a preemptive motion made by board member James Craig to give Dr. Pollio the power to reopen in-person schooling, students and teachers were going back, regardless. Why? So they could take high stakes tests.
It was Deja Vu All Over Again
This wouldn’t be the last time Craig sided with rabid white parents demanding they be able to expose other people’s children to the dangers of COVID. In March of 2022, he advocated for JCPS to drop the mask mandate.
He once again succumbed to pressure from the loud, gun-toting, temper tantrum throwing few, instead of science, and definitely not considering our most vulnerable students, employees, and their families.
From WAVE3, regarding the March 8, 2022 Board Meeting:
Board member James Craig suggested the motion to match CDC and state health guidelines updated last week, categorizing prevention steps based on “low, medium, or high” numbers of cases and hospitalizations.
During the meeting, Board Member Kolb lays out a great argument why masks should remain required in public schools, starting around the 31-minute mark.
From the Courier Journal
The board voted 4-3 on a motion from member James Craig to let Superintendent Marty Pollio make masks optional for Kentucky’s largest school district, in accordance with state and federal guidance.
The “no” votes Tuesday came from board members Chris Kolb, Corrie Shull and Diane Porter, while Craig, Linda Duncan, Sarah Cole McIntosh and Joe Marshall voted in favor of the motion.
But I digress…
The March 2021 vote was a nail-biter, too. My theory is that Board Chair Porter had already committed her vote to someone, either Superintendent Marty Pollio or Board Member James Craig, that she would provide the “yes” vote if it was a tie. They already knew Craig, McIntosh and Duncan were going to vote “yes” because they all wanted to get reelected and their constituents are mostly either privileged or racist white people. A vote that puts minority, vulnerable populations ahead of their own doesn’t play well at election time. She knew there was a strong chance she was going to be a swing vote. When Marshall voted “yes” at the last possible moment, she was able to vote no and save her political capital for another day. If she was truly opposed to the motion, why didn’t she use her agency to influence others to join her in voting no? Especially since she pointed out that COVID impacts her district.
Here, on March 1, we even interviewed Joe Marshall, asking him to explain his rationale for casting the fourth and decisive “yes” vote. We shared our ongoing frustrations with him.
On March 3, 2021, I blogged about HB208 and the dark-money-back-room-dealers’ scheme and how it just backfired. The astroturf groups overplayed their hand, and then they showed their hand. Someone apparently doesn’t want you following these breadcrumbs. But in classic fashion, their scheme will once again backfire. Their meddling simply shined a spotlight on what we had put behind us,and we think the public will be interested to revisit them.
Here’s the transcript of the TikTok video originally Published on March 4, 2021
Today I woke up and was in Facebook jail.
Then, House Bill 208, the “force everybody back to school” bill thanks to the “Let Them Learn” privileged white parents passed our Kentucky General Assembly today.
So now, everyone has to go back to school so they can take standardized tests.
I had to take to Twitter and my fake Facebook account to get the message out.
And while I was doing that, a bill came into one of the House Committees from Jason Nemes that was racist.
So I live-Tweeted about that as well.
It was a good day to learn to be on Twitter.
And since I’m still in Facebook jail I guess I’ll learn how to TikTok.
Below are some more links to Tweets from that day:
It may be too late to stop #HB208 from forcing in-person instruction across KY, but that doesn't mean we are powerless to stop high-stakes testing. Demand KY legislators pass #HB579 #OptOut bill. Read today's blog post about both bills. #CancelTheTestshttps://t.co/7KvXSxaAEj— Save Our Schools KY (@SOS_KY) March 6, 2021
For those scrambling to understand #HB208, the #ForceThemBackToSchool bill, and who is behind what, here's a video from today's House vote. This bill is the love child of #LetThemLearn and #LetsMakeADeal and this video should clear things up. Or does it? https://t.co/Fx1RjwVmiq— Dear JCPS (@Dear_JCPS) March 4, 2021
I believe a crime was committed with this smear campaign. I believe it was an effort to intimidate me into deleting my TikTok video. I have filed complaints with the FBI and Courier Journal. I will make the contents of those complaints public in the near future.
Four of the seven JCPS Board of Education seats are up for grabs this November. If you’ve been thinking you would like to see things done differently in JCPS, this may be your chance to find someone to run for school board in your area, or maybe even file to run yourself! The deadline to file is Tuesday, June 7.
The seats that are open are the ones currently held by Diane Porter, James Craig, Linda Duncan and Corrie Shull. Their bios can be found here. As of the date of this page’s publishing, only James Craig (District 3, incumbent) and Matthew Singleton (District 5, Linda Duncan’s seat) have filed to run in November.
Visit JCPS School Board Central – 2022 for information on how to file, who is running, their positions on important issues, and other updates as we head into election season.
I can’t say for sure what makes everyone tick, but what I can do is notice when a person’s actions don’t align with their words, or when they do things that cause harm to people they claim to be trying to help, despite us literally telling them to their faces that their behaviors are harmful. Whether they are doing it intentionally (like they are paid infiltrators), or because their value system causes them to sympathize with fascists, or they have some kind of mental health disorder that causes them to easily fall for the gaslighting and bullshit. I don’t know. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. The outcome is the same. So until we devise a “privatizer-breathalyzer,” we’re going to have to err on the side of caution.
So, let me tell you the reason for making this post now. We’ve always known we couldn’t trust everything that came out of BIPPS, Pegasus, SCALA, Pritchard Committee, Kentucky Youth Advocates, or even JCPS, JCTA, KEA, KDE or PTA for that matter. But we demonstrated that we could easily organize and shut them down, and we did several times between 2013 and 2018, so it’s only been of late that the dark money is really clamping down and pulling out all the stops. I believe this includes activating some “sleeper cells” that have been laying dormant while aiding and abetting the devil’s work in the mean time. Two of those individuals are now running for House as Democrats, so I just wanted to warn you. Not everyone who says they are with us really are. I believe you deserve to know some of the facts that I have been made aware of so you can do your own research and form your own opinions. So for the next few days, I will do my best to provide you with such information.
The first bit of data I would like to provide is about my experiences with Jonathan Lowe. Jonathan is a candidate for the “new” House District 34. I first met Jonathan when I began publicly expressing frustrations with the district and they had trouble keeping my objections under wraps. We had coffee together early on in my “squeaky wheel” phase. I remember having to beg to get that meeting, and as we sat there that rainy morning in the middle of the Heine Brothers on Douglass Loop, as I came hopeful to share valid, quantifiable concerns and well-thought out solutions, I still remember the words he said to me that ran through my heart like an arrow. He said, “it’s detrimental to my career to be seen with you.” Like we were somehow doing something wrong! Shouldn’t appeasing a disconcerted customer be seen as a good thing? Honestly, the rest of the meeting was so depressing because I realized it didn’t matter what I said to him from that point forward. After the meeting was over, I went back to my car and cried. I also made this post.
Later on, after the SCALA-led JCPS school board chair “sewer billed” the renewal of Dr. Hargens’ contract against the wishes of the community, causing us to be stuck with her for another four years. We organized a rally at Van Hoose one Tuesday evening to ask (demand) her to step down. Some time between that event and the day she actually did resign, I ran into Jonathan at a committee meeting in Frankfort. I can’t remember the bill we were there to speak on but I remember getting a cold shoulder from him and saying something to him like, “Dude, I’m on your side.” This elicited an outburst from him so loud that we had to step into an empty committee meeting room across the hall. He said, “You’re trying to get my boss fired!” I corrected him and said, “no, I’m trying to get her to step down.”
On another occasion, Mr. Lowe chirped with glee when some of the language he wrote while working for the Legislative Research Council made it into the charter school bill. See, this is what made me think he has never really felt one way or the other about charter schools. From an employment perspective, he was in a role that would likely thrive either way. So, it dawned on me, FINALLY, that perhaps, the Hargens administration saw charter schools as “inevitable” and they were doing the best they could to untether some assets so that it would be easy to allow the predators to have easy access to some low-performing schools in West Louisville and keep their precious Manuals, Males, Browns and other “public privates” off limits.
So, when Matt Bevin got elected in November of 2015, he proclaimed something to the effect, “We’re going to bring charter schools to Kentucky and we’re going to start in West Louisville.” Next thing I knew Hal Heiner, Bevin’s pick to eventually become KDE chair, was scouting locations such as Shawnee and Maupin. My sniffing around and exposing fraudulent acts at both of these schools, which I will document in future posts, is what caused for JCPS administrators and PTA leaders to conspire to have me voted off the 15th District PTA Board three months before my term ended. For any doubters, I will post the recording of that meeting, as well as my confrontation of them the following evening, below:
Want to see more?
I was at Shawnee one day and I saw Jonathan walking to his car. I rolled down my window and said, “I hear Hal Heiner was here today. How did it go?” Fine, or something to that effect. I don’t know. But I decided to do an open records request to see what I could find out about his visit. Sure enough, Jonathan was knee-deep in these events. Why knows why they were there? They didn’t say it was about charter schools, but it didn’t have to be. They were already public with their intentions. Why are we parading these schoolchidren and buildings to known predators?
To those who say Jonathan was just doing his job, can we really fault him for that? Personally, yes, I do, because simultaneously we were bringing him evidence of harm and wrongdoing, and he treated me like the enemy while he helped these predators and outsiders gain access to our schools and students. That’s problematic.
This was just Shawnee. I have a whole other set of data regarding his role with what went on at Maupin. Besides, nothing has changed. He has showed us that no matter who signs his paycheck, he will be loyal to them, not the students or taxpayers. He still works for JCPS, and JCPS administration does not always do the right thing! So can we really afford to take any more chances? Every chess piece and every square on the chess board is sacred. We must be organized, with specific demands and specific goals. Here’s a link to an invitation I sent out regarding the person who is running against Jonathan in the Primary on May 17. Please help us get Sarah Stalker elected to House District 34 so we can avoid allowing another establishment, status quo lawmaker making ivory tower decisions for the rest of us. When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.
What else do you call it when the party in supermajority power continues to pass wildly unpopular legislation by just one vote? It certainly feels coordinated. As if everyone knows their part.
Whether it’s the confirmation of Gary Houchens in 2019 (Sen. Julie Raque Adams – District 36 in Jefferson County), or the passage of HB563, Chad McCoy’s voucher bill, passed the House by just one vote (twice!) in 2021. And now, in 2022, the VERY SAME GOP House Rep, who is also the majority whip, manages to eek out exactly enough votes to get the previously dead on arrival charter school bill across the goal post, in just a week’s time, five years after it BARELY passed into law but couldn’t muster enough votes to allow the wolves in waiting to tap into the rich, evergreen SEEK funding pipeline. In less than a year, coming off a pandemic and during a time of incredible tension and turmoil, they manage to pass both the crowning jewels of canned ALEC legislation by exactly the right number of votes. How does one get so lucky? Especially when, if you ask around, other than a few special interest groups, vouchers and charters are unwanted in Kentucky. Something doesn’t add up.
Do you seriously expect me to believe that the strongest union in the state couldn’t convince a single one of their endorsed candidates who voted yes to support not only JCPS’ publicly known stance, but their own purported efforts? It’s certainly what many union members I spoke with believed their dues were funding. Is this not part of the screening questions when deciding who to endorse or continue endorsing? Apparently not. Unless…
Since 2017 or so, we tried to sound the alarms that JCTA leadership is at a minimum not anti-charter, and in fact, appear to be working for the other side. And JCPS is not off the hook, but they tend to be a little more slippery. But in future publications, I intend to demonstrate in greater detail how district leaders made intentional efforts to sacrifice Shawnee and Maupin to the charter school charlatans.
It’s been a “close call” far too many times for us to keep falling for it. Especially when you consider the lackluster effort both JCTA and JCPS put forth to stop the entire swath of anti-JCPS legislation that came out of recent sessions. Hell, JCTA’s entrenched white leaders put more effort into retaining control of their union than they did stopping any one of these bills, including the 20-year efforts to dismantle Kentucky’s public schools and defund teachers’ pensions.
And as you can see in the video above, JCPS had board members saying to us they were going to stop anti-CRT legislation in 2022 by getting the business community to come out strongly against it. In fact, they saw absolutely no need working with grassroots groups because they were confident their approach would stop it. Guess what. It didn’t.
Could it be that some of these JCTA-endorsed lawmakers who cast what could be considered the “lone deciding vote” were also encouraged to lay down and allow these measures to pass? It certainly leaves one to wonder.
Dear Kentucky Senators,
Today at 1:00 PM, you will gavel in for day 57 of a 60 day session. Presumably, you will be asked to vote on HB9, the charter school funding mechanism bill, today or tomorrow, before the 10-day VETO period begins, allowing you enough time to override the Governor’s veto. I beg you to be fully aware of the following facts before casting an affirmative vote, should you intend to do so.
Using SEEK funding formulas to allow taxpayer dollars to “follow the child” to a non-public entity to manage, is not only unconstitutional, it’s misguided, for the simple fact that not all students cost the same dollar amount to educate. We have created a system that FICTITIOUSLY evaluates a school’s performance based on test scores. Therefore, that system perceives the best schools as those that produce the highest test scores for the least amount of money. It’s a system that creates “cost center managers” who are forced to try to weed out students with a “lower ROI.” These students already wind up at a disadvantage within the public school system. Charter schools have no CHOICE but to operate from that same mentality, and charter school legislation gives them plenty more “outs” than their public school peers, which will mean more incentive to game the system to educate students as cheaply as possible, to do what? Benefit their bottom line! And if they fail? No worries. Predators in other states have modeled how easy it is to just close up shop, keep the assets, change names and do it all over again. We have CREATED that formula, and that’s a big part of what’s already failing our minority children in JCPS, not public schools that are forced to implement it. We know this, because many of our students and educators in Jefferson County live it every day. If you want to close achievement gaps, FOCUS ON FIXING THAT instead of legislating around it and further tying our hands! Help us bring transparency by prohibiting gag orders on lawsuit settlements, for example! Ask us what we need! Not union leaders. Parents! Teachers! Students!! Grassroots groups! Add a seat at the table, don’t take more voices and resources away!
Whether the dark-money-backed lawmakers and their slick ALEC talking points want to acknowledge it or not, charter schools, and even many public schools, DO cherry-pick their students. From simply having an application in the first place, to pushing out students for subjective reasons, to making a parent’s or student’s life so miserable they give up and quit, it can and does happen. It is hardly ever blatant discrimination. Although, there’s plenty of that too.
Take for example, the lead pastor of the “group of Black pastors who have been wanting to open a charter school in West Louisville for decades.” I first met Jerry Stephenson after he organized a press conference in front of Westport Middle school during an off-site JCPS school board meeting in October of 2015. Being boots on the ground when Bevin and Heiner started pushing for “charters in the West End” we started talking with teachers, administrators and parents about what our families in West Louisville REALLY needed, and discovered ALL THE REASONS WHY CHARTER SCHOOLS WOULD MAKE THINGS WORSE, NOT BETTER, FOR OUR FAMILIES.
My son was attending the Academy @ Shawnee’s aviation magnet at the same time the district was choking off resources, shutting down programs, not replacing leaders, presumably to prepare her to be handed off as a sacrificial lamb to the charter school wolves in waiting, but we didn’t recognize that at the time. We just knew that nothing that was happening made sense, including forcing the resignation of a dynamic principal over the summer, and denying a replacement, and instead coming up with a 4-pronged plan out of central office to completely overhaul Shawnee’s leadership structure, school operations plan and create considerable upheaval in students and families’ lives, without anyone actually setting foot in the building and asking stakeholders what was needed, what’s worked and hasn’t worked, etc. A handful of us had just formed a PTSA at Shawnee, so, with the school building being absent of leadership, we became the information clearinghouse and conflict-resolution “adults in the building.” A coalition of parent and teacher acquaintances had begun working on addressing racial injustices that we kept running up against in JCPS, and we requested a meeting with their group. Myself, a JCPS ESL teacher and another JCPS parent went to their church facility for a meeting.
Seven or eight Black men, including Jerry Stephenson, were sitting around a conference table in an upstairs room in their old church building. They had just eaten and women were clearing their plates. A conversation about how JCPS was failing Black students began. Jerry did most of the talking. Very early on into the conversation, it became clear that his perceptions about JCPS were based on outdated stereotypes. We did not disagree about the problem, just the solution. We raised specific, current examples of students falling through the cracks, and patterns that we were working to address. We talked about how charter schools would impede that progress and create even more “pass the buck” opportunities while offering no real benefit in return. We shared with him research on ALEC and the historical evidence of the harm charters have caused in other states, and how we would be harmed if similar predatory, profit-driven legislation were allowed to pass in Kentucky. He countered with, “there was nothing wrong with making a little profit.” He stated that he also objected to the “liberal agenda” being taught in schools. He also spoke about his desire for schools to teach religious moral concepts. One of the ladies who was there with me kicked me under the table at one point, it had gotten so bad. I know I wasn’t quite sure what to make of our visit, but one thing I DID know was that tax dollars should not be used to fund it.
In December, 2015, right after Matt Bevin was elected Kentucky Governor, he announced, “we’re going to bring charters to Kentucky and we’re going to start in West Louisville.” It clicked with me that he meant Shawnee High School, and several of us tried to attend that announcement meeting, which was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Anyone who had been seen outside holding a sign was locked out when the meeting began. Others came and went, but whenever anyone from our group approached the door, a bouncer stood in front of it and waved us away. I posted about it. The press reported on it. I finally was allowed in after Bevin had left, and I had the opportunity, once again, to chat with Pastor Jerry (who hails from Indiana), as well as Milton Seymore, who had participated in the press event, about the fallacies of the arguments they were making and to once again ask the “what about the kids who remain in public schools,” and “how does a charter school fix that” types of questions, to which there were no answers.
What they DID answer for me was one of their reasons for wanting to start a charter school was based in bigotry. Once again, the “liberal agenda” became the concern. When pressed for more specifics, he informed me he was opposed to programs that supported gay, lesbian, bi and trans students. At that moment, two other pastors used the intimidation of their physical presence to “correct” me when I dared to disagree with him. I blogged about that experience, too:
But that’s not all. In this video, I showcase some of the disinformation that is being used to resurrect this bill. It was a bad bill in 2017 and it is a bad bill now. HB9 is a bigoted, wasteful, unconstitutional, disingenuous affront to minority, LGBTQ+, disabled and poor students, of whom JCPS serves the majority of in this state. Yet, charter schools being forced upon a community that has OVERWHELMINGLY SAID WE DON’T WANT THEM, is an affront to all of the taxpayers of Jefferson County. If you pass this bill into law, you are FORCING us to FUND a failed experiment with our own tax dollars and using our own children as guinea pigs so outsiders who fund some of your colleagues’ campaigns can make a quick buck off our backs and the backs of our children. This bill, which was resurrected from the dead only a week ago, will pump blood into the heart of the beast that we already slayed, and that blood comes from our public school children and their families, who are already on life support.
In summary, if this bill passes, you will be FORCING OUR HAND, the hand that provides a good chunk of those SEEK funds that school districts across Kentucky rely on. This short-sighted bill, and the unchecked bigotry behind it, is going to cause Jefferson County to implode. It will either force us into bankruptcy, or will force us to “sue you to stop you.” Either way, it will have created a no-win situation that will only waste more time, money and lives. Black lives. And they matter. At least to us in Jefferson County, they do. If they matter to you, too, you will vote no on HB9.