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:
Someone sent us a copy of the email they sent to their board member and we are sharing it with their permission:
Good morning, (Withheld),
I had a few things I wanted to add to the message that I sent you via email a couple of days ago. I tried to call the phone number listed for you but it said your voicemail was not set up. I have read some of the scuttlebutt about the mask policy. I have heard at least one board member say that no other school district is following the CDC guidelines so why are we.
First of all I find that argument to be really childish. But if we want to talk about things that JCPS does the other districts don’t do in order to protect our students and our staff, we could look at our policy of requiring $5 million in cyber liability insurance for anyone providing us with a digital resource that requires the sharing of student or staff PII. No other district has this requirement. JCPS has established itself as a leader in protecting student and staff data. Why should JCPS be any less vigilant about the health of students and staff?
As someone who has immune compromised family members, and a couple of three-year-old grandchildren, I am watching to see what the board will do so that I can help my children make the decision about whether JCPS is going to be a good place, a safe place, for them to send their children when the time comes.
It seems to me a no-brainer that as an educational institution we would follow the science. Thank you for your consideration.
I am. I’m tired of people in positions of power ignoring or even disrespecting concerns that are brought forward by authentic JCPS stakeholders. I’m tired of them cherry picking what data or science they follow or even spreading disinformation in order to further their own political agendas. The mask survey that was conducted by the teachers’ union leadership was ill-conceived and politically motivated, in an effort to move us toward a premature vote. On top of that, it was found to be compromised, but that didn’t stop them from doubling down on wrong. There’s so much more, which is why we need an audit and an investigation. But until then, please check out my latest blog post. And watch tonight’s work session.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A top story out in today’s Courier-Journal reveals a sordid history of abuse, misconduct and denial, inside and outside of the classroom for William Bennett, the Science teacher at Moore High School who was recently involved in an altercation with a student after telling him he was just going to be “another Black boy shot.” The trail of dirty laundry and terminations runs from Etown, to Hardin, to Bullitt County, before Bennett finally landed a teaching job in a high minority population district. It turns out Bennett was fired from his hometown school system, Elizabethtown Independent Schools, in 2001 after he was arrested for breaking into an apartment “to see if his then-girlfriend was cheating on him,” according to the article by Olivia Krauth.
This incident, while one of the most egregious in recent memory, is not all that unique. In fact, I was just about to release my latest blog post entitled, “Our Schools are Not Safe for Black and Brown Kids,” when I became aware of this latest update on William Bennett and decided to lead with it and some intel of our own. Please check out my latest blog, which also details two other incidents of violence toward Black JCPS students since the start of the school year. The post will be updated.
As COVID cases continue to spike in Jefferson county and across the country, amidst a newly reported outbreak in respiratory virus infections, as well, Jefferson County’s public school system is no exception. Add to the mix a vindictive Kentucky GOP supermajority that plotted and schemed with the likes of one-term governor, Matt Bevin, to pursue their political party’s agenda and strip executive powers away from his popular and charismatic replacement, Andy Beshear. These executive powers had previously allowed any Kentucky governor the right to grant a district in crisis more than 10 days of “non-traditional instruction” or NTI, and not risk their SEEK funding being held hostage for doing so. Between SB1 and HB208 during last year’s session, which I explain in an earlier post, that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Kentucky’s new governor obviously suffered these blows because the losing political party wanted revenge. They concocted a plan to make NTI, which many districts were already utilizing as a response to the crisis created by the pandemic, ILLEGAL AFTER THE FACT. But instead of responding with righteous indignation, the powers that be, including our own allies who fear being voted out of office more than they fear going to hell, apparently, participated in the spread of even more lies and manipulation by falling for the gimmicks of the GOP. They were told HB208 would solve the problem they had created so that SEEK funding could once again flow to the students of schools that had participated in the “illegal” act of NTI and all would be well again.
Unfortunately, the bill also contained “trojan horse” language that would force all school districts to reopen to in-person schooling before the end of the school year, presumably so testing companies could get their data and revenue. HB208 is the real reason JCPS and other districts were forced to reopen to in-person classes before the 2020-2021 school year ended. Thanks to much outcry from districts with vulnerable populations, especially ours, a last-minute compromise allowed districts to continue with a hybrid plan (half capacity, two days per week in person, with the remainder of instruction online) until the end of the year. This exception enabled Joint Education Committee Vice Chair Regina Huff to retain her favorable rating with the state-wide teachers union, Kentucky Educators Association, while she managed to successfully bluff her way through playing both sides long enough that the bill was passed, practically as the 2021 session gaveled out. The tea party libertarians who had concocted this plan hated the compromise so much they actually called for the revised bill to be killed, once again showing that they are willing to use children as pawns in their political charades. The compromises were only good until the end of the school year, however, and 2021-2022 was a whole new ballgame.
Summer never stopped to take a breath. The “big lie” gained momentum and a new deadly variant of COVID began to spread like wildfire, just in time to put our district and most of our state in the red as school was set to reopen. Vaccine resistance and mask-wearing became badges of honor, and the only way for these folks to continue to live in the lie, was to reject history and science and to ridicule others who don’t fall in line. They began storming our local school board meetings, work sessions and committee hearings. Along with it came the rise of anti-CRT legislation and outcry over the dogwhistle narrative that teaching history accurately “creates division” and is “hateful” and “divisive.” Truth is, the base of white supremacists is dwindling, and these desperate tactics are used to recruit new blood to help keep the “big lie” alive.
The billionaire elites, with Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul as experienced tour guides, have mastered the practice of preying upon the innocence and man-made ignorance of Kentuckians through their well-funded campaigns of disinformation, fear and hate. Despite the best efforts organizations like ours and countless others, and the will of the people we represent, they continue with their destruction unobstructed. We know that not everyone sees what is going on or believes us when we tell them. But we don’t think we have to convince everyone. We, the Leadership Team of Dear JCPS and practically everyone I’ve spoken to in the JCPS community who shares these experiences, believe we are enough.
It’s time to rise up.
I would like encourage everyone reading this post to realize the seriousness of the situations our families and educators across the state were placed in BEFORE this latest Delta variant surge, with every district being forced by that same GOP legislature to offer in-person instruction. Our current predicament does not even take into account the next wave that we fear is coming based on the reports we at Dear JCPS are receiving of cases that are not being accurately reported on the JCPS COVID Dashboard. We believe we have a moral obligation to share, not only what we’ve been hearing, since those we entrust to keep us safe can not always be counted on to do so.
To that end, I decided to compare yesterday afternoon’s JCPS COVID dashboard numbers to this morning, and I noticed an alarming increase overnight. Four new schools joined the club, and the number of infected and quarantined students and staff jumped, in some cases, by nearly 20%. On top of that, we are hearing alarming reports of cases that have still not made it to the dashboard, 48 hours after they were discovered. Sources tell us letters going home to families don’t match the numbers in the dashboard. In-school nurses are being asked to fudge numbers or data they report to the district, making healthcare professionals feel “caught in the middle.”
I was about to post this blog when something strange happened.
After an entire day of on again, off again internet issues, I was about to post my findings, when I decided to refresh my screen for the 3:00 PM update. That’s when I noticed that there was an even more dramatic jump over the 24-hour timeframe after I had already been reeling over the overnight numbers. As my brain tried to grasp what I was looking at, panic began to set in when I realized I had no way to disseminate these findings effectively. My chest felt like there was an elephant standing on it. I had to get the word out! But because I’m currently on a 7-day Facebook ban, and in a remote location with spotty internet, I have been down for the count.
I crunched the numbers and tried to dust off a fake account from my last Facebook ban to see if I could make that account an admin and post to our page. No luck. Another hour goes by, so I did the 4 PM refresh to see how much higher it went and guess what? The numbers went BACK DOWN to more in line with the trend we had been seeing at 10 am, 1 PM and 2 PM. Where did those 10 new sites go? What happened to nearly 400 new cases or quarantines? Meanwhile, I added another tab to the spreadsheet and came up with even more questions and concerns. I tried to capture the discrepancies in the following video.
Sorting by facility or group name, these 10 sites that were new on the 3 PM report had disappeared again by the 4 PM report.
Meanwhile, a parent had been messaging me since 7:49 Friday morning saying, “Some schools haven’t listed their cases from last week.” I told them I had seen and heard this from numerous sources, and for that reason I was working on a data gathering tool to try to triage and make sense of the conflicting information. Later that afternoon, I shared my discovery of the spike, including the 10 mystery sites with them. That is when they informed me that their site is on the “missing” list, confessing, “Letters were sent to families on August 18 regarding our school having a positive case.”
What is the source of this extraneous data?
Why are these sites not showing up on the dashboard (other than that one time)? We have confirmation they should be there.
What caused this blip to show up just one time and not on previous or future reports? Are they suppressing it on purpose? Keeping two sets of data?
How many more situations like these are there?
In addition to the 10 sites that are missing from the ongoing reports, several of the sites that are consistently reported also contributed to that spike at 3 PM. I tried to capture a sort order that shows some of the sites with the largest discrepancies based on student cases here:
If anyone has any additional information to share, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lives may hang in the balance. Rest assured, correspondence will be kept confidential and identities will be protected.
How many others are not accurately reported? Help us find out by reporting missing or conflicting info on our survey.
The data spike during the 3 PM report possibly masked schools that DID experience significant increases in the 4 PM report, such as Lowe Elementary, which according to my comparisons, actually added 10 more students to the quarantine list while everyone else’s numbers were going down, taking them from 38 to 48. Please check the dashboard and ask around at your school to find out if there are discrepancies in your data, and use the survey to report them. We will compile the information to share in a confidential and orderly fashion so that others can have access to the same information we have and you can help the district troubleshoot where breakdowns are occurring.
And even without this unexplained anomaly, the increase in the number of cases and quarantines from Thursday to Friday is still alarming, with case numbers increasing between 20-36% in just one day. With more and more teachers and staff out on quarantine, and a dire substitute situation, this continues to not safe. We will see more situations like the one we saw with a student at Pleasure Ridge Park who was left to fend for themselves after more and more of them are corralled into cafeterias and gymnasiums to maintain control. Meanwhile, opportunistic lawmakers and politicians will use any violent outbreaks as an opportunity to blame the district leaders for removing police from our schools instead of admitting the 1,000 other things they did or didn’t do that got us here in the first place. It’s already happening, and I would even argue it was a calculated maneuver.
So we already know it’s bad. The questions are, “How much worse is it than we realize?” and “What are we going to do about it?”
Our community needs transparency in order to make the best decisions. In order to prevent avoidable suffering, humans have to be willing to see that our actions (or inactions) have cause and effect, and anticipate where our society is headed in order to make the best preparations. Change is inevitable. We can sit back and helplessly wait for it to happen to us, or we can recognize that each of us has the power to be the change that MUST happen and guide it in for a safer landing. The sooner we bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice, the less fallout, carnage and repercussions there will be. Parents, students, teachers and staff hold the power to make this shift happen sooner rather than later. And as they say in the medical profession,
an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Our Leadership Team will make every effort to validate, vet and share the information as it comes in, so you can continue to weigh all available information when making your own personal decisions about the health and safety of your families, but also to alert anyone in a position of authority who might be able to intervene on our behalf. To get a better sense of how widespread these disparities are, and streamline the vetting process, we have created a COVID discrepancy survey for parents/guardians and JCPS employees to report discrepancies, concerns, etc. that they are aware of. Participants will have the option to remain anonymous, and any personal data shared with us will not be shared with anyone outside of the Dear JCPS Leadership Team.
Thank you as we ALL do our part to keep our students, families and community safe! If you have updates to provide, please email email@example.com or come back and complete the form again. Please try to provide timestamps with your documentation so competing or duplicate reports can be reconciled.
In Kentucky, you can’t technically “opt out” of state testing, but there are ways and good reasons to “refuse” them. We don’t have all the answers, but we’ll help you find them. Check out the content we are working on, not just for JCPS families, but across the state. We are all in this together.
Please copy firstname.lastname@example.org on the emails and replies to and from your principals and board members. Our experience tells us that not all parents receive the same responses from district leaders. This will help us keep up with any desperate treatment some schools and families may be receiving. There is also information about an upcoming virtual town hall and a survey so we can collect your input on a few matters. Identifying information will be kept anonymous upon request. Thank you so much!!
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!
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.”
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 email@example.com.
Let’s say there’s a school district somewhere that has approximately 18,000 employees and 95,000 students.
Now, let’s imagine if everyone in that district caught COVID-19.
Since we know approximately 1 in every 50 people who catches COVID dies, that would mean somewhere around 360 employees and 1,900 students in that district would die.
Now let’s say there are 120 schools, with around 800 students each, in that district. That’s like losing 3 employees and 16 students per building.
But since we know children aren’t as likely to die from COVID as adults are, and it’s too early to know what long-term health effects are, the number of deaths and serious immediate consequences would skew more toward the adults.
So, instead of naming 16 students you would be willing to sacrifice, it might be better to think of some more adults to complete the list. Throw in a few more teachers, administrators and counselors. Top it off with the school’s resource officer, a cafeteria worker, a custodian, along with some coaches, secretaries, bus drivers and clerks. Or maybe some of the ones you’ll lose are parent volunteers. Have you reached 19 yet?
Could you make a list of the teachers and students you are willing to sacrifice from your school building?
Expand that number to their homes, spouses workplace, childcare, grandparents, etc. How many more would die? Not to mention, how many others would experience long term health effects, financial hardships and more?
Lest we ignore the fact that some schools have higher concentrations of minority populations, poverty and underlying health conditions than others. Their consequences might be triple, quadruple, or even ten times the averages.
Let’s take this real-life example of two elementary schools in Jefferson County Public Schools. Bloom Elementary, shown as School B, on the left; and Foster Traditional, shown as School F, on the right.
School B, which is in the eclectic, affluent Highlands neighborhood, is 78% white, whereas at School F, in the Chickasaw neighborhood in West Louisville, only 2% of the students are white, and 95% of them qualify for free or reduced lunch (considered low income).
Not to mention, high minority, high poverty schools earn lower test scores and face other dire hardships. For example, despite having roughly the same populations, Bloom has approximately one fourth the number of homeless students as Foster. And that was before COVID exposed and exacerbated these disparities that have been there all along. They also have a harder time garnering parental involvement and community support.
Whether it’s health threats, low test scores, or inability to fundraise, the schools with higher non-white populations face significantly greater risk of negative outcomes and serious consequences.
Is this hyperbole? Maybe. Maybe not. For some of us it may seem like it, because we’ve had the good fortune of being able to send our children to “good” schools. and we’ve had a reasoned governor, superintendent, and school board making informed decisions about COVID. Not everyone is so lucky.
On December 30, Kentucky School Boards Association reported,
To make matters worse, Kentucky’s General Assembly also starts Tuesday, where the supermajority GOP is hellbent on stripping emergency power away from our governor, in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
So, go ahead and make that list. Or better yet, keep practicing social distancing and staying home. And more importantly, keep advocating for those who can’t or won’t.
Sorry if this post upsets anyone. Those who have lost loved ones unnecessarily have an even greater reason to be upset.