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Dear JCPS: Stop Operating As If We’ve Already Been Taken Over

Watch the video of the guest speakers from Tuesday night’s @JCPSKY board of education meeting here.

Speakers at Tuesday night’s JCPS Board meeting included Dear JCPS officers, Tiffany Dunn, Gay Adelmann and Michael McCloud. They addressed the state takeover, putting students first, and the proposed policing of JCPS students. Here is the text from Ms. Dunn’s speech:

My name is Tiffany Dunn. I’m a national board certified ESL teacher at a wonderful school, Lassiter Middle.

At our November 13th faculty meeting we were told by our administration,

“We are operating as if we are already under state control.”

This was said twice for emphasis.

My question to you is, “why?”

JCPS parents, teachers, and stakeholders fought hard and made it clear we had no interest in being controlled by a privatization-minded, predatory state board of education and commissioner. We succeeded, but only to have our district wave the white flag anyway?

What does “operating as if we are already under state control” look like, you ask?

Our professional learning communities have been hijacked. We have district personnel sit in our meeting every single week. Instead of having collegial conversations about student learning, we are being forced to give common assessments. On the same day. No matter where we are in our teaching. And then analyze the contrived data as if it’s legitimate.

We’re also being told we have to do project-based learning – the SAME project as our PLC members. Have any of you looked at the research on PBLs? It’s dismal. John Hattie has it at a .15 effect size – what does this mean? To be considered effective – a strategy should be at least .4. PBL effectiveness even falls behind charter and religious schools, which not surprisingly, weren’t much better.

This type of control is not only attack on teacher autonomy, it’s an attack on student learning.

Along with the classroom control, we have become obsessed with MAP testing and student data. We are losing precious class time to assess students. Most appalling is that ESL and ECE students are being denied their reader accommodation on the reading portion of the MAP test.

So, these results aren’t even reliable or legitimate! Next Tuesday, our school is having a reward day for students based on MAP growth. We are losing two more class periods of instruction. Less than 1/3 of our 6th grade students qualified.

I ask you, “Why are we using test data for rewards? What are we trying to accomplish? Shame students into learning? As if they’re trying to do poorly?”

Wayne and his cronies want nothing more than to see us fail – it fits their narrative and it will line their pockets. Following a takeover agenda will only get us one place – taken over. It was and always will be the end goal.

Instead, JCPS needs to align itself with research-based strategies, not data mining. Teachers should be treated as the experts, not babysat by district and school administrators.

Below is the text from Gay Adelmann’s speech:

I sure hope that teacher does not experience any retribution for speaking up for her students tonight.

No teacher should ever experience negative consequences for doing what’s best for their students.

And that includes our teachers who speak out against these threats of privatization and excessive testing and everything that goes along with it.

Dear JCPS,

My name is Gay Adelmann. I am the co-founder of Dear JCPS and Save Our Schools KY.

In May of 2016, I stood up here and told the current board chair he needed to put the interests of our students ahead of the interests of privatizers. He didn’t listen. And he’s gone now.

In August of 2016, Dear JCPS cofounder Erin Korbylo stood here and told Dr. Hargens that we gave her a vote of no confidence because she worried more about what business leaders thought than about doing what was best for students. She’s also gone now.

In fact, the first time I spoke to this board was in 2013. Before Dr. Pruitt was even the commissioner. Only two of you are still here. And here Wayne Lewis comes in from nowhere, telling you how to fix JCPS. And you jump through every hoop he sets for you.

Don’t worry about them. The superintendent reports to this board, this board reports to us – the voters. Our students are your customers. The customer comes first. Not Frankfort, not business and chamber leaders (who probably don’t have kids in our schools), not these disingenuous Alec-funded fake grassroots groups.

Because no matter what you do! It’s a shell game. It’s a moving target. They’re going to find a way to say our schools are failing. So you might as well do what you know is right.

Not only did voters keep out the privatizers out of our district, we pushed back on a state takeover and charter school funding. While we weren’t pleased with the compromise, because we knew it would lead to more of the same, living in fear of being taken over

You’ve gotten a two year stay of execution. Use it.

Spend it doing what’s best for students — especially our most vulnerable. Not jumping thru hoops for unqualified, outsiders with a privatization agenda.

Here’s something I don’t think the community understands.

What may be fine for mainstream students, like many of ours, is not fine for our most vulnerable. ESPECIALLY when you have a district of CHOICE!

I did not realize this until I saw it first hand as a Shawnee parent.

When you have choice and diversity, two things we TREASURE, you cannot allow them to use these qualities against us and destroy our district in the process. Fight back! Help them understand.

When you treat students as data (in the aggregate, the average, the statistic, instead of the wet clay that they are), you learn to manipulate it to give you what you need to make Frankfort happy, instead of giving each student what they need individually to “reach their full potential.”

Our most vulnerable students are the ones who end up being used as pawns to make the data look good for the adults.

We know that these practices are abusive. They’ve told us! Resist doing what you know is harmful. Give exceptions – fight back – for schools with high needs populations. For vulnerable students. Because what works for the mainstream often throws our most vulnerable students under the bus. And we’re losing a generation of kids.

If any elected official has a problem with our district cutting back on this state-mandated abuse, let them say so publicly. So we know who to vote out next time.

Put students first. Not in aggregate. Not the averages. Not data points. Not the mainstream.

All students, especially the most vulnerable.

Support excellent teachers like Ms. Dunn. Allow her to do what she knows to be best for her students, and everything else will follow.

Thank you.

Tiffany Dunn and Michael McCloud wait their turn to speak.

We do not yet have a transcript of Michael McCloud’s speech but will post it here when we do.

If you have a message you would like to submit to Dear JCPS, please email moderator@dearjcps.com.

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