Whether or not you choose to share this message is up to you.
I have been a JCPS parent for the last 7 years. 2020 was officially our last year enrolled in JCPS because we moved. As a college educated, working mother of two, I chose to join [Dear JCPS Private Group] to support the teachers and JCPS public ed. I was at the Capitol supporting the teachers and the students this past year.
While in the past I have taken comfort of being part of this group, I see a divide beginning and thus chose to leave.
As COVID 19 has become a big part of our lives right now, we are all going through new territory. Though the past 4 months have flown by, many scientists and doctors have been working to study all the affects of COVID 19, not just the immediate effects of becoming ill.
And as these facts are shared, I find it very disheartening that the educators of this group choose to ignore all of the impacts so blindly.
While I understand starting the school year will be scary, I must ask you to also consider everyone else in the community. All of the parents in this group are going to work, day in and out, to support our families and the rest of the country through the various types of employment that we hold. We have not had the luxury of staying at home, where it’s safe.
And all the while, we go to work with our masks and do our jobs as expected. Otherwise, we would lose our job.
I think teachers should be thankful that school was closed at the end of the year, so the country could learn more about the virus. But now that we know how to be safe (social distance, masks, hand washing), teacher’s need to get on board with opening schools safely, bring their ideas because we know they have some and push the envelope to get what they need. I have shared my thoughts and ideas with the group, only to be shutdown.
And I’ll end with this… when did teacher’s become better than everyone else? Grocery store clerks, fast food workers, blue collar workers, everyone else is working at their workplace. Only those lucky enough to be able to do their job remotely have the pleasure of staying at home. What you hear parents saying is… we tried to do school at home, it didn’t work, our kids did not learn, primary education is not a job that can be done remotely and be done well.
We need the teachers to pull together with the parents and find the solution that works for all. We need our schools open. Yes because that is how the economy functions, but more importantly because that is where the kids learn best.
I hate to leave the group on such a sour note, but I wish JCPS the best. I hope you all figure it out, for the kids sake.
Dear School Board,
Very concerned and hurt how Dann C Byck is looking.
It needs a whole new make over.
The school looks so bad that the children have nothing to look forward to. We want our children to have Hope. They can’t at that school.
Every door needs to be painted, the windows look bad and curtains are falling down.
The principal should be ashamed of herself knowing that her salary looks good. But her school looks bad.
Please Help our school. I am hurt
XXXXXX is a school in need of something. My child attends there and wants to learn but tells me everyday how disrespectful the kids are to teachers and some teachers spend half their class time trying to gain control of the class.
My daughter has a class with a teacher who can barely speak English and has repeatedly asked to be transferred to another class but it was refused..however a child of another race was transferred out who tells the same story about this teacher..2 different periods where half the class is failing.
I have contacted the counselor and requested my child be transferred still not happening..I’ve contacted the board with my concerns and was told they’d be forwarded to the principal..a week later still no response. My child has a 504 that clearly states her problems and it goes ignored…
what to do
Anonymous submission from a JCPS Parent
Iroquois is not on fire. You are! Bring your buckets of water if that’s what you think because you’re a liar with your pants on fire.
Our school isn’t perfect. You won’t find one that is. Sometimes we have above average challenges and at all times we have an above average staff to meet those challenges. If you’re actually on our staff, Anonymous, you are the weakest link. Transfer season opens in three months and I’ll do your paperwork for you, will gladly help you pack, and hold the door for your tired behind to leave quickly, quietly, and reverently.
You’ve attacked my wonderful principal, our dedicated counselors, our committed staff (amongst whom are proud alumni), and worst of all, our students. You see, my own children, scores of extended family, and all of my godchildren were educated at Iroquois. My son was valedictorian and graduated magna from UofL. Professors couldn’t believe he’d graduated from Iroquois. I could. It’s a great school where, without regret, I’ve dedicated 20 years of my life. I’ve never had a bad day there. Challenges? Yes. I signed up for public school and everything that comes with it. I love my school.
What peeves me about you, Anonymous, is that you choose to hide behind your words. I would not normally give such messiness the time of day, but you attacked something dear to me—my school. You attacked someone dear to me—my colleagues and students.
Stay comfortable in your misery, sad person, because what’s said in the dark will come to the light. But before you post again, let me go low for a moment. According to my writing scoring rubric, I would like for you to work on the following—this one’s on me:
1. Organization is key. Group your rambling thoughts coherently.
2. Though we could understand your miserable letter, transition words would make it a smoother read. If you’re going to insult us, at least smooth out the wrinkles in your pig’s ear.
3. Ramp up your vocabulary to better represent the best of your thinking—unless your vocabulary as presented actually does represent your level of thinking. In that case, sign up for Iroquois where we will teach you to strengthen, well, everything you’ve written.
4. Use concrete examples and skillfully interweave them throughout your writing. Tie in example, explanation, etc. Give your audience a full picture to prove you know what you are writing about. Try not to “list”.
5. Be truthful in your writing. Authenticity is also key.
6. Own your writing with a closing that includes your signature and printed name.
If you are amongst us at the school, you have lost the respect and trust of your colleagues. Maybe you need a hug. Maybe you need Jesus. I don’t know. But what I do know is, while our school is not for every teacher, our school is for every student. We value Iroquois and, like any commitment, we take the ups and the downs with grace. And for those of us who are committed, and I’m included in that number, it has been and it remains a distinct pleasure to work for everything Iroquois.
Don’t ever write another letter like that again.
(c) Aletha Fields, 2019
I am scared for the future of Black children in Louisville. School was an empowering experience for me, but my son is treated like a number in a prison. The ClassDojo app is revealing serious implicit bias and I am disappointed at the apathy surrounding the motivation of him and his classmates. I’ve witnessed adults yelling at children on multiple occasions. I’ve witnessed a teacher dragging a child out of a classroom on more than one occasion. I see our advanced children be forced to do”busy work” while exhausted teachers “discipline” other children. I am sad about the state of our schools. We can and we MUST do better for our young people. My son’s school has no PTA. I love the principal and appreciate many of the staff members, but overall I am concerned that our children and being discarded like trash.
Board member: Chris Brady
Louisville Judge sides with Dear JCPS co-founder. Orders JCPS to release PTAs’ financial records to the public.
“In these challenging times, as educators and decision makers explore the glaring inequities in our district and seek ways to resolve them, Dear JCPS wants to make sure every student has an advocate in their corner — especially our most vulnerable students.“
District leaders are to be commended as they grapple with tackling glaring disparities in the current student assignment plan, closing achievement gaps, and reducing behavior and discipline inequities. In addition to these visible inequities, there are often unseen disparities among parental involvement, volunteer and community participation, and fundraising between schools primarily comprised of students whose parents have the social, political and financial capital to advocate for their students to ensure they attend “the right schools,” while those whose parents lack the time, transportation, technology or literacy to navigate the complex system of “choice,” do not.
To that end, Dear JCPS co-founder, Gay Adelmann recently made a routine records request of the largest school district in Kentucky (27th largest in the nation), to obtain copies of local PTAs’ financial records for the past 5 years. These records, which, according to the “Redbook” are required by Kentucky law to be filed annually with each school’s year-end audit, consist of a preliminary budget and a one-page year-end financial review. Her hope was to identify schools that might benefit from a little extra help with programming or fundraising and raise community awareness so that these disparities could be taken into consideration while the district is actively tackling the bigger picture issues.
As often happens when records are held in multiple locations, or when district personnel are unavailable during summer break, the district notified Adelmann that additional time would be required before these records would be made available to her. They informed her she would receive the documents on August 30.
On August 12, Adelmann received an email from Kentucky PTA attorney Coy Travis informing her that his client had filed a complaint in district court to seek injunctive relief in order to prevent the district from turning these records over to her. A hearing was set for August 15 in which she was invited to appear.
With less than three days to prepare, Adelmann sought counsel from pro-bono attorneys and open records experts. They helped her prepare this brief, which was filed during the hearing, but none were able to accompany her in court.
At the hearing, Judge Cunningham was critical of the Kentucky PTA’s request but decided to defer the decision to the Attorney General’s office, in the event all parties were not be able to work out an agreement before then. Adelmann, without an attorney to represent her, trusted the Judge’s decision, and agreed to meet with Kentucky PTA attorney after the hearing to see if they could come up with a mutually beneficial solution. He assured her he would try to help her obtain the documents as long as she asked the “right way.”
Amye Bensenhaver, a former assistant attorney general for Kentucky and a widely recognized open records expert, during this week’s episode of Save Our Schools With Dear JCPS on Forward Radio 106.5 FM said, the Attorney General should never be put in the position of telling an organization NOT to release open records. His job is to get involved when entities SHOULD release documents but are refusing to do so.
Upon further consideration following last week’s court decision, it appears Judge Cunningham agrees. On August 27, as these court documents show, he sided with Adelmann and filed an order for JCPS to release the documents. Kentucky PTA has until September 16 to appeal.
At a time when privatizers are trying to get in through every nook and cranny, influential entities such as Kentucky PTA should be dedicating resources toward revealing predators and exposing their influence. This lawsuit does the opposite.
How much money and time is this lawsuit costing their dues-paying members and taxpayers? More importantly, where was this level of activism when charter schools, vouchers and loss of local parental voice on SBDMs were on the menu? In the past 10 years, only one resolution has been passed at the Kentucky PTA annual convention, and it was one that was initiated by Adelmann.
“This district is taking great steps toward addressing disparities that exist between our school communities. One of those less-often-seen inequities is the availability of parents’ time, talent and treasure,” said Adelmann. “The PTA should be helping us fight undue influences that promote and maintain inequities in our school system, not facilitating it.”
Transparency is the only tool we have to ensure that those with money and power are not using it to advance their agenda while others cannot. As a powerful, influential entity themselves, we have to ask, “What is Kentucky PTA trying to hide?”
By Gay Adelmann
Dear Kentucky PTA Members and Concerned Citizens,
I am a very engaged public school parent in Jefferson County. I want to warn you about something happening in Lexington this weekend. Kentucky PTA is holding their state convention, and along with it, their officer elections.
Two of the officers running on the nominating committee’s “slate” hail from the 15th District PTA board, which represents Jefferson County. Our district PTA is currently mired in controversy.
For example, there have been unaddressed reports of excessive Redbook violations, election tampering, inappropriate use/handling of funds. Some active volunteers have been called “uncooperative,” “ineffective,” “disobedient” or “disloyal” when they refused to do the administration’s bidding, even if it went against Redbook or the best interest of their students.
There are a handful of PTA leaders from Jefferson County who have been squatting in some of these positions for a decade or more, cycling through from school to district to state and back, sometimes serving in schools where they don’t have children, pushing out authentic parents who are wanting to serve. They have been making last-minute rule changes in order to shut out parents and volunteers with whom they disagree by extending their own term limits, holding clandestine elections and limiting who can vote. The most recent District PTA elections are an example of this.
The current state PTA president, who also hails from Jefferson County as the past president of 15th District PTA, once along with her husband and father held positions on the board simultaneously. Therefore 3 of the votes and 3 of the points of view guiding decision-making came from one shared perspective. Her husband is one of the candidates being challenged on today’s slate.
Our district PTA’s immediate past president, who also served as the state PTA’s nominating committee chair that devised the above slate, is another one of those candidates, and is also being challenged.
Serving as a PTA volunteer leader is an exhausting, thankless job. We are grateful for the service of these leaders, and in fact, I would not be here today if it weren’t for them. However, we feel that our board is no longer reflective of the needs and demographics of our district, and its time to take a different tact.
National PTA is Pro Charter
Perhaps one of the reasons this is happening is that National PTA is pro-charter. And in this climate of charters, vouchers, state takeovers, and SBDM power stripping, we would be naive to dismiss the possibility of pro-charter leaders. I’m not saying that’s what they are, but if they are not, why don’t they have the courage to push back on National PTA for their controversial stance that harms Kentucky children? To educate and inform their members so they can stand up for our children?
I served on the 15th District PTA Board in Louisville from 2014 to 2017. I constantly warned fellow board members about the likelihood of charter school legislation ahead of the 2017 session and the destruction they have caused in other states. In late 2016, I made a motion to simply “educate and inform PTA members about pending charter school legislation.” It passed. However, months went by and no action on this motion was taken by PTA leadership at either the district, state or national level. We weren’t asking them to take a position, just educate! They finally published the National PTA’s position on charters. That’s it. Session ended in March and guess what! The ALEC-backed legislators got their charter school bill through in the final hour on the final day. Don’t you think that might have ended differently if PTA had found some way to advocate for Kentucky’s most vulnerable school children, who will be most harmed by this legislation? Would we still be fighting against vouchers and a funding mechanism this upcoming session? I don’t think so.
Members Have Another Choice
I and another JCPS mom have decided to run from the floor at this weekend’s election, in order to give members another option. We realize that most parents can’t afford the $75 late registration fee, $129 in hotel costs, ability to take two days off work, etc., so we’re attempting to represent those who cannot be there. We just want you to be aware, get involved, ask questions, and help us ensure PTA is serving all of Kentucky’s children, especially those who don’t have advocates at the table. It’s our moral imperative.
Gay Adelmann is co-founder of Dear JCPS and Save Our Schools Kentucky. Her son, Peyton, graduated from a so-called failing school in the West End of Louisville and is now a senior at the US Naval Academy.
Why are you so reluctant to allow parents in schools? Within the past one and one half years, parental involvement, especially my own involvement at my children’s school, has dramatically been decreased, cut, sliced, diced into practically nothing. From 2010 to until early 2018, I personally volunteered (at least) over one thousand hours per school year at my children’s school. I assisted with the car pool, PTA and school functions, sweeping the cafeteria floor after breakfast, to name a few. Nothing was beneath me because I really enjoyed being part of the school. I even had parents come up to me asking about the school as some of the parents assumed that I worked for the school. I did politely tell the parents that I did not work for the school but that I was a parent volunteering at the school.
I felt so proud to be part of my children’s school that I even took a third shift job so as to be even more available when needed for any volunteer opportunities which may have come up at my children’s school. As I have said previously, I really enjoyed volunteering at my children’s school and developing rapport with teachers, students and parents was and still is (when given the rare opportunity by the school principal) very rewarding. When asked to the principal by myself, why I was being “singled out” or “pushed out” , the principal noted that I “Was a liability”. When I asked the principal to further explain, I was denied a straight answer. When I proceeded to go up the “chain of command” at JCPS, I kept getting the same response “His/her school (referring to the principal), his/her rules.”
What did I do to ostracize myself from the school administrator? Could it be retaliation from the principal from when I made an ethics complaint against the principal due to the principal’s failure to correct an error that a check from a fundraiser was inadvertently made payable to the school instead of the PTA. The principal was asked repeatedly by myself (for a period of four months), to call the fundraiser and to correct the error. With less than one week to go before the check was to be void, I made the complaint and within forty eight hours after filing the complaint, my volunteer status at the school was now a “liability”.
Again, how may I ask that I am a liability? I am trained in “active shooter response” as well as certified in first aid and CPR. I also have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in social work. I have no criminal record history and I have worked for the same employer for almost thirty three years. I have excellent references to match my qualifications to, in my opinion, volunteer for JCPS. So, please if you will, answer my earlier question, why are you so reluctant to allow parents in schools?
“Left outside parent”
The views expressed here are those of the author, submitted via email at email@example.com via our open letter form. While the full name of the author has been withheld here, they are not anonymous to us. If a school board member would like to follow up on the content of this message, they may contact us via email to request a connection with the author.