Don’t Underestimate the Value Time, Talent, and Treasure Have on Student Outcomes

(Transcript of 3 minute speech presented to JCPS School Board by Gay Adelmann on October 15, 2019)

Link to YouTube Video

Dear JCPS,

I’ve been coming here for the past 6 years – since my son was a sophomore at the Academy @ Shawnee. Thanks to the opportunities afforded to him by teachers and programs at his so-called failing school, he’s now a senior at the US Naval Academy. For 6 years, I’ve stood here along with JCTA, AROS, Teachers, Parents, Students, community organizations, We’ve heard from National leaders such as Diane Ravitch, Jitu Brown, Sue Legg, and our New UK Dean of Education, Julian Vasquez Heilig who have been telling us for years: 

“High stakes tests are the tool privatizers use to justify turning our schools into charters, or in our case, a state takeover of some of our schools or our entire district.”

No one is saying there’s not room for improvement, but a thermometer never made anyone well. Especially when the cause of the illness remains unaddressed.

Root cause solutions, such as an equitable student assignment plan that sends as many children from west to east as from east to west, are needed. In fact, families in East Louisville don’t bear the same burdens as our families to the West, so we should be willing to carry more of the load until these disparities are eliminated.

Recently, the KY PTA turned over the financial records they sued you to prevent me from having… the year-end summaries anyway. (It appears no one has been enforcing the submission of budgets, even though they are also required by law.)

While data from a few schools is still missing, I was able to look at the last 3 years’ numbers to determine which schools have strong vs. inactive PTAs. Look at how closely these PTA budgets track with the schools’ scores. It’s not just money. It’s compounded with volunteer time, education and influence. Also known as “time, talent and treasure.”

Also, look at the correlation between powerless SBDMs and CSI schools. 

We already know high poverty, high minority schools don’t perform as well. Here it is in living color.

Those advocating for our children of color are being systematically shut out of the conversation. By speaking up for their kids, parents of color have been labeled “angry” and “ineffective.” They’ve been pushed out of their PTAs or prevented from serving on their SBDMs, or driven out of these schools completely. Principals are manipulating elections in order to impact their SBDM makeup.

Why? There’s too much emphasis on test scores and not enough on the students. 

In addition to overtesting, and gaming the system, another way job-fearing administrators have been known to solve that problem is to push these students out. Out to other schools, out to other districts, out of the system altogether. Don’t incentivize that.

Tell Wayne Lewis, Jefferson County sees what he and Bevin’s board are up to, and we are not falling for it!

Instead of perpetuating privatizer propaganda, push back on bullies in Frankfort who want to keep us jumping through moving hoops instead of meeting our children where they are, with punitive tests that pit schools against one another and eliminate collaboration.

Identify and compensate for the unseen disparities not just in PTA time, talent and treasure, and SBDM, but in scholarships, alumni associations, fundraising ability, booster clubs, grants and more.

Support the communitywide PTO that is forming to lift up these schools in the red.

I’d like to end with this poem from the back of my shirt:

We love our teachers
Our school’s the best
We are more than 
a score on a test.

Thank you.