Below is an email I sent, as well as a disappointing response I received, following a meeting we had with Dr. Pollio and Amy Dennes regarding offering parking and a shuttle for families attending Showcase of Schools in 2017.
While searching for your email addresses this morning, I fortuitously came across this plea I sent over a year ago (one of many), regarding some of the same concerns that remain in existence today. I wanted to forward it along to accentuate the challenges that we have faced when attempting to get JCPS to address the chronic disparities that exist in our system. I hope you are as excited as I am about the prospect that under new leadership we finally have an opportunity to make some strides in this area!
I look forward to further pursuing the longer-term strategies we discussed regarding deconstructing the inequitable student assignment plan that exists today. In the mean time, I hope that you can provide us with:
Addresses – (in Excel, with student names redacted) of ideal targets for Showcase of Schools in our most affected communities. We will sign any confidentiality agreements you require.
Showcase Parking Assistance – If you are able to acquire some parking passes for the Fairgrounds, we will need to determine a distribution method, but if not, then perhaps we could explore the possibility of inviting people to park in the CB Young parking lot. Attached is a mock flyer I created, just as an example of what we could hand out if this second option were to work out.
Literature – Flyers or choice brochures or something to hand to families as we discuss the exciting opportunities that exist within JCPS
Booth Space – A table at Showcase of Schools on the 28th
Manpower – Any JCPS staff or volunteers to assist with these efforts would be welcome
Support – a point of contact to escalate our group’s questions, concerns, in order to keep this project moving in a timely and responsive fashion
Please let me know the status of the above at your earliest convenience so we can start preparing our messaging and activities over the next two weeks. We look forward to working together to begin to level the playing field for our most vulnerable students and families within JCPS.
Their response was to take our idea and offer it to others to implement:
Email Sent: Oct 16, 2017, 2:50 PM
From: Dennes, Amy P <email@example.com>
To: me, firstname.lastname@example.org, et al
Gay, After further discussion, we decided that we have to post an RFP for services because we recognize that there are lots of organizations that could help us in this work. We appreciate your forward thinking and hope that you will submit a proposal.
My friends call it “spilling the tea.” My family used to call it “spilling the beans.” Although I think the expressions came from two completely different origins, they mean roughly the same thing in this situation.
Not sure where the expression came from, but I can picture some well-dressed Southern ladies sitting together at their bridge table, and when one of them starts to tell a juicy story about one of their “friends,” it causes another to knock over her cup of tea, causing a commotion for all.
Welcome to my tea party. I’m about to spill some tea.
Let’s begin in the present, so I can show you what to look for while it’s still happening. Right now, JCPS teachers are in the midst of a silent coup by the current regime. The fewer teachers who even know this election is happening, the greater the chances they can keep their current dear leader in power.
Up for grabs is the At-large BSK position. The election was held during a 3-day window: Nov. 30 – Dec. 2. What happened during that time could fill an entire season on Netflix, but we’ll sum it up here.
At first, Natalie Rashad was declared the winner. But when the election committee couldn’t explain the irregularities on their infallible software’s tabulation sheet, they went back to their programmer. He magically discovered an error and running tabulations a second time resulted in Kenyata Dean-Bacon becoming the winner. (Maybe they thought it would just be easier to give in than to explain the myriad of errors.)
However, when not a single one of them noticed there had not been a majority winner until Kenyata asked about it, the election committee held a séance, I mean special meeting, and decided that a run-,off would be necessary, putting Kenyata’s narrow victory at risk, and pitting both worthy candidates against one another at a future date.
Third time’s a charm, right?!
But why the mystery? Why wouldn’t the timeline they are organizing just follow the bylaws? Is it really that “unprecedented?” Or is it “going according to plan?”
Does this botched election remind anyone of the recent Bar Exam debacle? When several would-be lawyers had their joy stolen from them because after they had celebrated passing the BAR exam, they later learned they had failed? Many were saying “just give it to them.” After all, these tests are barriers; ways to discriminate. And judging by the makeup of the organization, it’s working just as it’s intended!
Tell JCTA to give BOTH of their BSK winners a seat at the table. Lord knows they’ve earned it! Take a look at the barriers and hurdles they’ve had to face to get to this moment to even be considered for the ONLY position on the BSK this election cycle that is put before the members. Could JCTA make it any less equitable and democratic? I don’t think so!
Kumar Rashad for President!
Come on, JCTA. Especially you, JCTA President Brent McKim. All eyes are on you. Do the right thing. Give up your seat that’s been controlled by mediocre white blood for decades. It’s time for new blood. Be the hero. Endorse Kumar Rashad for president. Allow members to bring back the term limits you removed, so this type of stagnation doesn’t continue to happen. It’s his time. If not now, when?
Let’s all get behind #KumarForJCTAPresident, and follow a path that will allow JCTA to award BOTH of these two fierce advocates for black, brown and poor JCPS students a seat at the BSK table. Let’s quit manipulating results and moving goal posts and get back to supporting our students and teachers. (Sorry for the shade toward McKim, but he’s been given every opportunity and we’ve reached this point where the members have some decisions to make. They deserve to finally see what’s been going on behind the curtain all these years.)
Teachers, get organized! They still plan to move forward with a run-off BSK election. So, unless they are planning to violate their own bylaws, it would happen this Wednesday (Dec. 16). Also, start preparing for the general election starting on January 27, where several key positions are up for grabs.
This message was sent via email to Board Member James Craig on Dec. 1, 2020, ahead of the Work Session on the Student Assignment Plan proposal discussion.
Good evening, James,
I wanted to reach out as your constituent, first to congratulate you on the tremendous strides toward equity and racial justice that the district is making under the collective leadership of you, Dr. Pollio and the rest of the board. I also wanted to express my support for the proposed changes to the student assignment plan, as well as some additional requests for consideration.
From the reconfiguring of the map and the addition of a close-to-home “no-application required” school choice for West Louisville students, to putting an end to push outs from our traditional schools and to resetting diversity targets, these changes are to be heralded and will no doubt improve situations and outcomes for many of our district’s most underserved students. We must continue to pursue them as urgently as possible.
My overarching concern with the proposal is that these changes still don’t go far enough, still lack “the notches in a new belt,” if you will, and as a result, still have potential to backslide and/or cause unintended harm. I know neither of us want that, which is why I wanted to continue bringing feedback and concerns from the community.
First, the district was very responsive to the earlier demands that were brought forward by the Coalition for the People’s Agenda, which is why we were pleased to extend our support for the tax increase (congratulations, again!). These demands still resonate as we move forward with the implementation of the student assignment plan. As a reminder they were “EARN”, or:
Evaluation and presentation of inequities in current plan, in its entirety. We have seen great efforts being made here and I was moved by the public forum that was held. However, this needs to be ongoing, intentional and more community driven. We would like to talk with you in the future about what that looks like going forward.
Anti-racist budget (divest from policing, testing, harmful curriculum; invest in counselors, smaller classes, recruitment/retention).
Resolution in support of the Coalition for the People’s Agenda and the movement for Black Lives. (Board Member Shull has offered to take the lead on this and the Kentucky Alliance Education Committee will consult. I hope you will support or even consider co-sponsoring it with him.)
No wholesale return to in-person schooling until it’s safe (safe from policing, racist teachers, and COVID). Would like to update you on some examples of how the internal investigations process broke down, and suggest a form of intervention/restorative practices with teachers who exhibit harmful behaviors.
As my board member, I would like to ask you to see if you can determine if there is any feasibility to implementing the following “emergency provisions” with the proposed changes expected to be voted on at the next board meeting. You see, these are barriers that have prevented, and continue to prevent, some of the proposed changes from happening organically, and the coalition believes that removing them prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year would allow the district to ease into some of the proposed changes, and also right some of these identified wrongs even sooner :
“Dual resides for everyone!” Not just West Louisville students, but all students could automatically have Shawnee as one of their two choices. Simply providing dual resides for West Louisville students risks further resegregation, but offering that option to families outside of West Louisville might set the stage for “flipping the script” for further voluntary integration in the future. “More carrot, less stick.”
“Ban the box!” Remove the application barrier for families that do not have a resides school that is close to home while we wait for the dual resides plan to be fully implemented across all grade levels (and even now while learning is virtual). This is a barrier that disproportionately impacts black, brown and poor families and now that it has been identified, it should be removed without any additional study necessary. It, in effect, allows the district to baby-step into the dual resides plan, accomplishing the same end result, but during this interim could still leave the decision-making ability up to the school’s principal. It would simply allow impacted students to apply, when in the past, they needed a 2.0 GPA and no behavior or discipline issues. For our West Louisville families, these are hurdles that were likely exacerbated by the discriminatory system in the first place.
“Guaranteed curriculum.” Please research Marzano’s guaranteed viable curriculum to explore if this concept can be incorporated into the above implementation of dual resides, hubs or any other emergency situations as we try to mitigate the remainder of this school year without gaps widening any more than they already are.
I do hope there will be a way for the public to submit 3 minute videos or join the zoom meeting on the evening the board intends to vote on such a historic decision. During this extraordinary time we are living in, in the midst of a pandemic and as ground zero participants in the movement for Black Lives (with Breonna Taylor and many other victims of police brutality and corruption being JCPS graduates), and on this day our mayor declared racism a public health crisis, I am proud to bear witness to one of the nation’s leading urban school districts also leading the way. Let’s continue to be a shining example of how to deconstruct and dismantle structural racism in public education.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Co-founder, Dear JCPS Co-founder, Save Our Schools KY Charter Member, Network for Public Education 2014 Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parental Leadership (GCIPL) Fellow Board Member, Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression Chair, Coalition for the People’s Agenda Education Committee Decision-Making Council
Over the past several months, Chris Kolb failed to return calls or meet with key Coalition for the People’s Agenda Education Committee representatives. In a Sept. 2, 2020 email addressed to 12 Black and Black-allied leaders who had expressed objections to not being able to be heard at board meetings since March in order to voice concerns about the proposed student assignment plan changes not going far enough (https://dearjcps.com/we-the-people-object/), he responded with:
“It is very difficult for me to imagine how investing over $50 million in West Louisville and giving families in West Louisville more choice will have anything but a positive impact on students and families that live in West Louisville.”
To which Tyra Walker, co-chair of the Kentucky Alliance replied,
“What is also concerning is for someone to think that putting $50 million for new schools and school choice is all the Black community wants. The Black community is woke and they see clearer than they have ever seen before. They understand that it is going to take more than money and new buildings to create equity and a quality education for their children/students. They want more and that is what [we have] been working towards.
Jody Hurt, on the other hand, has not only attended Coalition meetings, he has listened and expressed explicit support for the demands coming from these grassroots groups and would vote in favor of the Resolution in support of the People’s Agenda. For this reason, Dear JCPS endorses Jody Hurt, instead of Chris Kolb. If you live in the Highlands/Crescent Hill area and haven’t already voted, please consider a vote for Jody Hurt.
And if you’ve already voted, (or still insist on voting for Kolb), at least give him a call and ask him “WTH?” If you would like to read the email exchange in its entirety, you may request a copy by email at email@example.com.
Dear JCPS endorsed Chris Kolb in 2016, as evidenced by this opinion piece written by our co-founder, Gay Adelmann. JCTA and the Courier Journal did not. How ironic.
The public has been denied the opportunity to speak at JCPS board meetings since COVID forced all public meetings to be held virtually in March.
On July 16, Gay Adelmann and Tyra Walker met with Dr. Pollio over Zoom, to make him aware that a handful of powerful players were continuing to derail grassroots groups’ efforts to support the tax increase. Gay sent a follow-up text message to Dr. Pollio demonstrating these concerns. To date, there has been no reply to these text messages.
On Aug. 6, leaders from four Black-led and Black-allied organizations requested an “URGENT” meeting with Dr. Pollio to let him know we had concerns that the consulting firm’s strategy for the tax increase was out of touch with many in the Black and West End communities and could backfire. With major changes to the Student Assignment Plan anticipated to be voted on at the August 17 board meeting, it was imperative these voices be heard before that meeting.
A group of teachers and community members that has been calling petition signees to verify signatures are finding several petitioners who say they didn’t sign the petition and want their names removed.
Emilie McKiernan Blanton, a JCPS teacher and leader in the local teachers union, estimated that about one-fifth of people who have been reached by phone have asked for their signatures to be withdrawn.
The effort is not officially tied to the union, she said. Murphy said the district did not organize the coalition, either, but was aware of the effort.
On Aug. 11, the co-chairs of the Kentucky Alliance sent a request to district leadership to allow public comment.
On Aug. 17, we continued to express our concerns about not being heard, and invited allies to join us in next steps, which included reaching out to Board Members to demand Justice for Black JCPS Students. We learned that the Student Assignment Plan decisions would not be made at that time.
The findings come after a group of teachers and community members, not tied to an official union effort, found several people who said they didn’t sign the petition and wanted their names removed, The Courier Journal previously reported.
Multiple school board members said the analysis’s findings concerned them.
“It’s not clear to me that Jefferson County voters received a fair review of this petition,” board member James Craig said in a message. “This petition process seems to be completely devoid of any integrity. I am alarmed at what I’ve seen unfold during this debate.”
On Sept. 1, members of the Coalition for the People’s Agenda sent the following email to the JCPS Board, asking that it be included in the minutes: We, the People, Object!
Later that night, during the Sept. 1 board meeting, Dr. Pollio told the board and the public that a REAP had been done on the current student assignment plan, when in fact, it hadn’t. We published a summary here: Where’s the REAP?
I encourage folks to read the below article. Kolb’s response to the Coalition was insulting and paternalistic- you should be grateful for what we are giving you, be quiet and know your place-the tenor of his entire email was extremely disrespectful. I expected better of him. https://t.co/0xuLT7CIZApic.twitter.com/3ta2l4Gwdv
On Friday, Sept. 25, Dr. Pollio sent a text message explaining the misunderstanding and has agreed to conduct a REAP on the current, entire plan at the next Student Assignment task force meeting, but we still don’t know when that is. We are running out of time!
During the Board meeting, @JCPSSuper appeared to be responding to some of the Coalition’s demands for an “anti-racist budget” during the budget discussion, further defining the resolution that was passed on Sept. .
“New and innovative learning spaces in schools throughout the district, especially in West Louisville. We will be breaking ground on two schools this coming month.”
“New investments in our athletic facilities all over the district.”
“All of our AIS schools with more teachers, smaller class sizes, multiple mental health professionals in the school and social workers.”
“This is the work to provide those mental health professionals. I’d like to see three [mental health professionals] in each of our AIS schools, more time for professional development, and extended learning in our AIS schools.
Fund the racial equity initiatives, like bridging the digital divide, expansion of restorative practices across all of our schools,providing quality choice for every student in the district and expansion of our teacher residency program, so that our teacher demographics directly reflect our student demographics.“
“Finally, we’ll see 10,000 targeted students in summer learning programs to increase outcomes for students, especially in reading and math.”
On Thursday, Oct.1, we received an email from Dena Dossett letting us know they were planning to conduct the REAP at the Oct. 7 task force meeting.
On October 14, we met with the district’s communication chair and asked for introductions to the tax increase strategy team so that we could collaborate the last two weeks of the campaign. This effort has been hit or miss. Mostly miss.
On Oct. 21, this bombshell was dropped. https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/education/2020/10/21/jcps-tax-petition-leader-theresa-camoriano-says-nemes-gave-her-access-to-republican-voter-database/5998019002/
JCTA decided not to rescind Jason Nemes’ endorsement.
In January, 2021, several rank and file teachers who have been less than complicit with the continued abuses listed above decided to challenge status quo and run for JCTA Board of Directors. When the election results were reported, some of those teachers filed a legal challenge to the election results, based on a number of factors.
When efforts to reconcile differences over support of West End and Black families continued to break down, Dear JCPS was left with no other option than to withdraw from the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, Louisville.
“Instead, Dear JCPS is honored to be working with the Kentucky Alliance Education Committee on their revival of the People’s Agenda, to include a list of demands for JCPS. Their organization meets Monday’s at 4:30 PM via Zoom,” Adelmann said. “When the dust settles, we want to be standing on the right side of history. AROS Louisville, under its current leadership, is on the wrong side of history. And we wanted to distance ourselves as quickly and vocally as possible.”
This is a DRAFT of our legislative priorities for 2020. We want your input! Please help us rank them and provide examples of each of the categories listed below. Suggested edits and additions also welcome.
ACHIEVING EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE in JCPS “with E’S”
FROM OUR JCPS BOARD MEMBERS & SUPERINTENDENT, we demand:
To the JCPS School Board: “Stop School Closures/Mergers in Black, Brown and Poor Communities; New Construction Should Not Be Based on Current Student Assignment Plan; Student Assignment Plan Should Come First!; Gather Authentic Community Feedback; Fight the State Takeover!”
JCPS is scheduled to be audited again in the Fall of 2020, where another state takeover recommendation is imminent. To prevent this from happening, an authentic, community-supported student assignment plan must be developed, we must prevent the closure of schools in black, brown and poor communities, and we must stop the dangerous merger of schools with high concentrations of poverty and trauma, including our two alternative schools, all of which further feeds the privatizers’ agenda and fuels the pipeline to prison.
Our current JCPS school board was elected by this community and is accountable to its voters. This power is at risk of being stripped away when the state returns to audit the district in the Fall of 2020. A state takeover of JCPS will enable a handful of state leaders who are intent upon executing their financial backers’ plan, against the will of the voters. These state leaders were not elected by us and they are not accountable to us, and there will be nothing we can do to stop this assault, unless we take action now.
We challenge our 7 elected-members of the JCPS school board to support the following:
Stop the closures and mergers of schools in black, brown and poor communities. Recognize this for what it is: an attack on public schools that serve our most vulnerable populations, straight out of the privatizers’ national playbook.
Look for opportunities to fight for equitable solutions for students in black, brown and poor communities. Seek to develop and finalize an authentic, community-supported student assignment plan before moving forward with any new construction based on the current, inequitable, student assignment plan. The committee’s ability to bring the board meaningful recommendations should not be restricted by decisions made prematurely, without their input.
Listen to the concerns of those serving our most vulnerable populations. Do not move forward with the dangerous consolidation of MDA and Breckinridge Metro. Put stakeholders on the renovation committee for Shawnee. Be intentional about using data gathering techniques that seek feedback from our most affected, most disenfranchised community members. There is currently no onramp for meaningful community input.
The Kentucky Alliance holds their People’s Agenda meetings every Sunday at 1:00 PM at the Carl Braden Center at 3208 W. Broadway. We invite the community, the media, and JCPS board members to come and participate in the dialogue, so that community input from the most affected community members is intentionally sought and incorporated into the final student assignment and facilities plans.
The lack of
sibling consideration in school selection process is a major issue especially
for those parents who have elementary school age children or single parent
I am a widow,
a single mom of two boys 5 and 6. My youngest son did not get into the same
school as his brother(Brandeis Elementary). This is an issues on several
You want more
parent involvement however, having kids at different schools will limit parent
involvement. Currently, I serve on the PTA, I am a room parent, I attend all
field trips, and class parties, however, having kids at two different schools I
will have to pick who’s class party I attend and who I take to school on the
first day. It is already hard as a single widowed mom. Instead, I am left with
a heartbreaking choice of picking what event I will attend and what child I
will accompany. For a mother, that is a heartbreaking choice that I refuse to
make for the well being of my children. Having to pick which school I volunteer
at will increase the chance of my sons thinking there is favoritism if I make
it to one school and not the other. Research shows that having a parent
involved increases the overall success of a student. However, when you split
children you do not help parents to get involved… you make it harder. Holiday
parties, conferences, and special events that fall on the same day will be
school system has allowed students who are technically not suppose to be in
kindergarten to have slots. I don’t think it is fair if a child is tested up
and entering school early that they should be able to have slots at magnet or
traditional school. It takes away from the children who are starting on time
and if parent chooses to test their child up then they should not be given
priority over students who are suppose to be in kindergarten. Rather they
should have been the ones on the waiting list!
It is also not
fair that the lottery pick selection process is not across the board. If you
want to make changes and be fair it should be at all schools in
JCPS. The Brown School was not a lottery pick and it really shows bias
when it comes to the selection process. If the school board wants to make
changes, the school board can not pick and choose which schools will follow
bullying is obviously an issue and research shows that having an older sibling
at school decreases the incident of bullying. Why? Because the child has a
sibling, a friend, someone to look out for them and with all the recent
negative publicity JCPS is getting considering sibling placement should have
been a priority to consider.
I live in Fern Creek and my oldest son attends school on 28th and
Broadway. It would be impossible to get both of them to school. Not too mention
if one of them decides to participate in sports and/or extracurricular
Of course, if
all schools were equal I would not be having this issue. My kids would
have gone to their home. However that is not the case and I do not
believe it is unreasonable to consider siblings during school assignment
process especially at the elementary school level. These are not kid self-sufficient
like a middle or high schooler, They are very much still dependent on a parent
to pick them up and drop them off. You leave me with a choice of up rooting a
well established child in order to be able to function as a parent and have
them both at the same school. Not the ideal choice for a child who is excelling
within his current school.
And I’m not
just advocating for my own children! I know this complaint is widespeard and
there are so many others in regards to the school assignment process. I have
research statistics in regards to children success over the years because
of my career as a pediatric nurse practitioner. I have seen over and over again
how JCPS and the system has failed our youth evidence by so many issues including
but not limited to the increase in countless suspension and lack of mental
health resources. I have wrote several letters for patients in support of
parents because JCPS would not address certain issues. Yes, I believe some of
it stems from parenting skills but a lot of times it’s due JCPS’
background and knowledge And as a single mother of two young
African-American males I want to beat the statistics of their success
rate. I have taken the extra steps, I made arrangements to take a part time
position so that I could be more involved, I serve on the PTA and volunteer my
time to aid in the success of my boys. However, JCPS is definitely hindering
the support and engagement I can give to my boys by splitting and dividing my
family in to two different schools.
You all should
definitely consider keeping families together. That should be a priority in
school selection process.