"Males of Color" Magnet School

More Questions and Comments From Stakeholders

Dear JCPS submitted the following open letter to JCPS Board Members, Superintendent and District Leaders Regarding the “Males of Color” School Proposal. The letter contains the a link to the following collection of questions and concerns that have been submitted to Dear JCPS since the work session on Aug. 23, where a magnet for “males of color” was proposed. (Posted 8/28/16 8:16 PM/Revised 8/29/16 8:04 AM)

Using the argument that a school like this in Lexington is successful (and making the assumption that would translate to JCPS) may be irrelevant. For example, is Lexington a district of choice like JCPS is? Do they have district-wide forced busing? Is the busing strictly taking primarily african american students out of their neighborhoods? How many students does the Lexington district serve? How many of those are FRL? How does the entire district’s racial and socioeconomic makeup compare to JCPS?

Is this school faith-based?

The principal said it is a “school within a school.” Is that what you’re planning for WEB DuBois? What would that look like?

What will the application and selection process look like? Doesn’t that self-select only students who have parents with the ability to navigate the complex system?

In Dr. Marshall’s presentation, he testified how during one of his visits to CGW, he saw a student who was not behaving. The student was “sent home to get his mind right” and later came back and was engaged and cooperative. Research shows that sending kids home from school does more harm than good. Is this an approach that would be used here?

How/when will the negotiate with JCTA about ideas for teacher incentives? Will these incentives be offered to other teachers at other schools? What is the purpose of tracking scores back to the students’ resides schools? How can you hold schools accountable for the scores of students they don’t even teach?

There have been so many recent failures, such as the Catalpa school, Maupin and Atkinson Elementary, Frost, Valley Prep, Myers Middle School, as well as broken promises for schools like Shawnee Middle School that was voted unanimously by the board to be magnet only, and within a year had a resides. These situations lead to disasters with qualified teachers leaving and students getting the raw end of the deal. The district sent tons of manpower to Maupin just to keep it safe. What happens if this is another half-baked plan or when “non-negotiable” promises are broken? Even if this proposal was the greatest thing since sliced bread, we DON’T TRUST the district to do what it is proposing.

I might be alone in this, but I feel like this is structured like a private school. It serves a very defined and limited population. Public school funds should be spent on programs and initiatives that improve education for everybody, not a select few. Maybe there is a need for a school like this, but if your school doesn’t serve everybody it shouldn’t be funded with public money.

Someone mentioned using this school as a catalyst. A learning opportunity. No longer have to go to another city to see the example. We would have a successful school right here in our own district that we could learn from. “Yeah. Because we do that so well…” (sarcasm).

The presentation said that the CGW school makeup reflects the overall current school system. Does that include alternative students? Low advocacy students? Poverty? IEPs. Special needs? FRL?

What is the “exiting” process? What percentage?

Explain the tracking of the scores to the resides. Why? What is the advantage/disadvantage? How does that compare to magnet students at Manual, Male, etc?

Marshall’s presentation said the success is due to/dependent upon community based effort. And you “have to have a strong parent piece.” This would be true of existing schools. Why not get them involved with schools that are already struggling?

Don’t you think there could be other factors (such as busing) that may be preventing community and parental involvement in our current schools? Why not remove those hurdles instead of creating a brand new school?

And what about kids with IEP’s. Are they taking any of those kids? What percentage?

This isn’t really a question but I think it does say a lot about this man’s confidence in his own ability to lead turnaround efforts for young men of color, considering he’s not willing to take behavior issues or a high level of poverty. He doesn’t have an innovative idea. He has the same idea every teacher in this country has been asking for, only we’ve been told that we should believe that all students can learn and if they are failing it is our fault and we need to do better.

I really don’t see where this school helps anyone who actually needs help. It looks like to me that this school would be set up to be a model – look what happens when we put handpicked students in the best environment and give them everything they need to be excellent students. The question then becomes: If this is how to build good schools, why aren’t we striving for ALL our schools to look like this?

The more we create opportunities that siphon “select” kids from the general population, the more we leave behind higher and higher concentrations of “everyone else”. Even one of Dr. Marshall’s non-negotiables is no high concentrations of poverty. Yet, by creating a school that caters to this desire, we are exacerbating the very situations we acknowledge should not be allowed to persist. How is that EQUITABLE?

To me, this sounds like a charter school funded by JCPS. Will the kids who do not conform be sent back to their JCPS resides school? I would think that the school would want to keep their scores to show success, but then how successful is it if you take the cream of the crop? Success, in my opinion, is taking high poverty, low performing students, naming and claiming them, and showing by their test scores that the trajectory of their lives have been changed.

i just don’t understand why they are not doing something for more at risk youth…give them massive support. i would be all over supporting that! They want suggestions…here is one. Workplaces all over the country have discovered that having an exercise room boost employee effectiveness by 10-15%…how about the same for schools? Pilot it in a few high poverty to see what the baseline change would be for those schools.

But it is self exclusionary for at risk kids who would meet all the criteria except the parental piece. You could have a brilliant kid with inadequate parents who don’t know how to apply him and aren’t going to be involved at the school. So kids will be denied just based on who they are born to. How is that going to help those kids when they will lose out through something they have no control over? It’s a huge missed opportunity. Why not have 5th grade teachers be the ones to identify and recommend kids to this school model and you can take them with or without parental support. That will be how you change the system

Yes. And then it focuses on what the child can do rather that the circumstances the child was born into. And JCPS could even make it a sense of pride “your child has been recommended to this school. This is a great opportunity blah blah blah…” It takes the idea out of the equation that the parent EXPECTING that their child deserves to be in the school

After reading the article, I disagree with this plan. It is segregation. Instead of a school of color, how about teaching more true history at All schools?!
We need more than a black history month, we need inclusion of the true history of this country.
The economy of the world is global. Trying to start a school of color doesn’t make sense to me.
The first step in saying we are ALL equal is inclusion.
Just because blacks have had lower scores does not mean they should all be in a special school. Color is not intelligence. There are ways to reach out to students and not put them outside of typical schools.

I still think it is what we can do within the schools we have now that can make a difference.
I truly can say when I was young, all my classmates were white. Then forced busing came and I had people of color in class. And it has made me a better person to know others with a differing upbringing, outlook and history.
I still say black history needs more acknowledgement in school. Hell, all cultures need to be expressed.
I really don’t want a separate school to be the slippery slope for folks to say segregation is better…

I don’t want to simply reject it out of hand but I have 2 key concerns: How does this help address the systemic issue of racial disparities in our district, not just with academic performance but also with discipline and other things. There will be plenty of black male students who won’t be attending this school so I don’t see this as “the answer” to solving problems of racial disparity. Second, how are students going to be selected for the school? Will it be like magnets and even transfer requests which basic requirements automatically disqualify students who struggle the most? If so, I find that problematic as well – the students who need the most help will continue to fall through the cracks.

I don’t feel like they should be excluded due to not having parents that will be involved. Im sure there are lots people in education that would step into this role for the simple fact of seeing these kids succeed.

I am not in favor of any proposal that further strips my school of students. In a selective program that can mandate “parent accountability” or else, the child gets kicked back to resides- its a horribly inequitable playing field for my kids. We cannot mandate parent accountability “or else”. We teach who walks in. We are making good strides with SIG grants, special consideration for priority schools not to take overstaffs and have more say on their hiring practices, holding them harmless if enrollment declines- strides but still a long way to go.

Seriously!! Those young men would most likely be successful anywhere!

Yes, so why aren’t we already doing these things in our schools? This is what teachers have been saying for years that they need. Why do we need to create a new academy and make it application only when all we really need to do is adequately fund our schools and provide necessary supports to kids from poverty.

But these wouldn’t be kids from poverty…at least most would not be…

In a perfect JCPS world, ALL students of ALL backgrounds would receive the best education possible. However, for many reasons (school, parents, economics, etc), that doesn’t always occur. While this particular school idea would not be an option for my family (we are at the best schools in JCPS, are proud and happy), I can see where a school of this nature will benefit some. This may not be the answer. However, thinking out of the box and exploring methods that cater to current times should never be over looked. For the record, I am an extremely active volunteer in the school system.

But they don’t want high concentrations of poverty…so they want to leave out our most vulnerable MOC. Why? Because it’s hard to educate kids when there’s a high concentration of poverty? Hm. Well my school had about 90% as of last year.

A point to keep an eye is get the zip code where these students come from or what is their resides schools and trend the performance of those schools over time that their resides population is cherry picked. I suspect we will see those schools performance decline.

Already happens with the schools we have.

Why not work on getting the tools these schools need to tackle these problems so we stop failing these children.

And then take the performance of the academy and fold its number in that resides school and I bet the decline affect goes away. What this would mean is all you did is shift students from one school to another in order to produce one superior student population.

That sounds very familiar to several schools we already have.

And let ask this rhetorical question: how does doing this help solve the issue? I would conjecture it makes it worse because the failing of the resides population will now be covered up by one exception student population. This effect is already happening with the magnet programs

Sounds familiar….wait…wasn’t that the plan for Shawnee Middle?

This idea has been floating since the Dewey Hensley days. When they were talking about closing gheens to offices this was one project that was discussed filling the building. I could say a million things about how the students “chosen” would have been successful anywhere they went to school…..but it has been said already. If anyone thinks this is not a done deal…..they wrong. It has a name and a Twitter page already.

On paper it sounds like a good idea but I fear getting it off the paper and getting the right people are two different things. We’ll see.

I wonder if anyone is going to file legal action seeking an order of injunction. You fight the SCOTUS over being able to use race as a means to diversify schools…and then this?? I mean really??

What about Title IX? Are we going to have a separate school for girls of color? They have been using the term “males of color” but when asked by Toni Konz about race for enrollment, JM stammered that any race could apply. Really???? We need to be teaching these concepts in ALL our schools, especially accurate and comprehensive black history and not just show Roots for a month and consider that black history.

I do think there are plans for the same for girls.

We have a middle school for boys and one for girls. The Olmsteds. We just don’t get the special conditions that this school is asking for. We do and are capable of teaching an “athro-centric curriculum” if given the training and resources to do so.

JCPS needs to be looking at the West End School right here in Louisville. It is a tuition free private school for at risk “males of color”, but they could learn a lot from this school.

Brilliant! I want to teach there! A perfect school! Lol!

Why is it OK for this school to be allowed to “require” parents to visit the school 4 times a year…but others can not nor enforce any type of consequence???

I wonder how many alt cert, long term sub, or new teachers will be employed there…

I thought they were trying to get rid of schools that hand picked students? Schools like Manual….and breaking the traditional models? I don’t understand what is so much different except that it will concentrate on a black male population? Now I’m confused…..

By trying to change the application process (the last attempt seemed to fail just because of strong parent protest) they are essentially getting rid of them. I have wondered if there was a connection between the abandonment of the 8th grade ACT Explore and the proposal to lower the requirements for manual and then have a lottery.

Rumor has it that those were some of the top things on her agenda when Donna got here…getting rid of the magnet programs and the alternative schools…remember the Manual parents created quite the uproar??

They did the Magnet Schools of America audit, which found that except for Manual, JCPS “magnets” are not really magnets because they have resides populations.

Can someone explain to me why poverty would exclude a student from this DuBois school?

How is this not “separate but equal”???

So we bus to desegregate schools but now we are creating a completely segregated school?

Schools are just as segregated as before with bussing because of advanced and comp classes, but we see diversity on paper when you look at the overall school population.

As long as it’s not a charter. I worry that students will be booted back from this program like they are from the Private Public Schools now. As a teacher who deals with the kids who “fail” out of traditional and it turns out they are perfectly well behaved, just performing under the school’s goal, I’ve seen the devastating effects of exclusive programs that then weed out under performing children. I also think that with the involvement required of the parents, these selected students would thrive at any school. We have to do better for our students of color, but I’m not sure adding another exclusive program is the answer.

I have mixed feelings about this also. If it would be targeted at students with home problems, as in living in dangerous neighborhoods, or even being homeless, then I would be in favor of it.

Anytime JCPS discusses doing something, i just automatically know it will not be done well.
That’s been true for the past 20-30 years. But then again, that was before Dear JCPS. 😉

The school that they are trying to emulate is a great school. However, it’s not different from a traditional school, or Brandeis, or from any east end school. Those students at the Lexington has high expectations and so does the parents. Parent involvement is expected or their child cannot attend.

So with that being said Are only the male students that are already excelling going to be able to attend this school? The others that really need the help and don’t have parental backing will not be allowed. Those are the ones that need the support. I’m confused on what they are trying to accomplish with this school.

Segregation was forced. Students would apply to this school like they do magnet schools. Before u count it out study the success of these model schools in other states and even here in ky. The school is Lex has been highly successful. Young African American males are in crisis and if this is executed properly and implemented effectively it can be totally awesome for jcps. Training is also imperative. These schools deal with the whole student…..physical, mental, psychological, emotional. Many of these model.schools boast 90-100% graduation and college reqdiness. More than 90% go on to finish college and more than half receive full scholarships. Let’s not get so hung up on the way wdrb worded it and focus more on the amazing impact this can have on a very vulnerable population. Look at the West end school
….amazing things taking place down there!

Consider The West End school as a model as well. It’s private but has similar goals.

I would say a percentage of AA males (in inner city neighborhoods) are in crisis — not all. That comes from the lack of support systems which is a generational issue. You are right about college preparedness.

Here’s my thought. I’d rather see JCPS trying to address the needs of student populations that are struggling in a public school setting than seeing the phony saviors of charter schools creating similar schools that have less accountability and transparency.

I wish they’d stop doing this kind of thing so close to the time decisions on it have to be made.

I don’t know how I feel about this. I see lots of positives but push back from the community. There are non-students of color who receive better schools and opportunities in comparison to those who are. The West End School does a fantastic job in engaging young boys / men. If JCPS is truly here for helping disadvantaged kids, I’m here for it.

What this says to me is “we’ll only teach adequate history to African Americans but continue to perpetuate a lie to everyone else.

What troubles me is that something that needs quick action once again has no plan set before the board prior to presentation. This is a pattern that seems intentional to force the board into decisions without enough time to get community input or make an educated decision.

Went to the meeting, and this is what I’ve gathered: It seems that Jcps, no America as a whole will never make it mandatory for adequate, and accurate African American and African history in its public schools and the only way that children of color can get real history taught to them in an unbiased and non-whitewashed way is if we (African descendants) teach our own. That’s a fact. Here’s where I’m mildly conflicted: Whats the point of teaching our own the truth if everyone else around us is continuing to be taught lies and unfairly biased history. That’s social programming and while our children of color will be the only non brainwashed individuals around. Being taught about true African history and it’s almost infinite benefits to the world now, everyone else will be learning about Christopher Columbus’ barbaric self and his onslaught of a land that had tribes and not States.

Is this change in curriculum the only difference from other public schools? Or do they propose different teaching/learning approaches as well?

I want to see a major shift. Im so over small change at this point. I don’t care about 2 classrooms…that’s so few students of African descent that you can’t even count that as an acceptable percentage. It’s not MANDATORY in America to teach HISTORY. It’s mandatory to Eurocentric perspective though.

Even teachers who don’t want to teach history outside of a European perspective knows american history is really about how white America became so wealthy.

I’ve helped many kids from an alternative school with their homework who were only being taught about slavery, MLK, Rosa Parks, and the civil rights movement. There’s so much more. I’m telling you I’ve sat in the classrooms of an alternative school and have seen the watered down work myself…it is one school, and it’s not every teacher but I’m more concerned with the one sided history being taught than your classroom. I’m concerned with the masses. Not just a few. You can keep taking this personal, but it’s a stain on a wall compared to the amount of emotion I carry everyday knowing how biased our society is. I guarantee you that while your efforts are noble, the curriculum (which you have no idea what I know about) is still way off…like I said, I’ve seen lots of the assignments…

If this is such an amazing school, why will test scores track back to resides schools instead of DuBois being accountable?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have “mandated” parental involvement in all schools, too?

Yeah, I think more parent support and parent programs would be beneficial as opposed to yet another program my students can get kicked out of and sent back to me broken and exhausted.

Well, I went with an open mind. And now I have a list of about 12 concerns. The primary one being, anyone can be successful with these things they’ve outlined. Why would we create even more disparities between those who can navigate and advocate and those who cannot?

Everyone’s history and culture should be taught in all schools. We need to teach the true history and not the whitewashed version from elementary through high school. That’s been a problem forever and now that they realize this is a good way to educate students of color, let’s do this everywhere. Hire teachers who can teach this and put them in all public schools. Can this be done?

If they only take “students of color” who behave, make good grades and scores, and have parents who care-then it’s a joke. These kids do well where they are. If they take the behavior problems-the ones with poor grades-poor scores-parents who never participate–then let’s see if it works.

Instead of “parents who never participate” let’s go with majority of parents who “can’t” participate.

Anyone can ask for a curriculum map to know what is being taught in history classes in schools. That should certainly be shared with parents of students if they inquire. The social studies standards are being rewritten in KY and they have been worked on for years now because no one can agree what should be taught. I participated in a focus group session in 2014 to work on the standards and I challenged some of the language used to communicate concepts. One I challenged was participation and deliberation: applying civic virtues and democratic principles which, in short, stated in order to evaluate how citizens SHOULD (my emphasis) interact with each other in formal institutions and informal interactions. I asked what SHOULD meant? According to whom? The law? It didn’t say. European descendants? It didn’t say. I felt like it was coming from a white perspective. In 3rd grade, they were going to teach how citizens responsibly participate in democratic processes and practice civic responsibility. For those people who feel like they are part of a democracy, maybe. For those who aren’t? Not in my opinion. I felt they were too fluid and could avoid teaching the truth if a teacher wanted to focus on the whitewashed history. I learned true history when I went to college. Never before. The book Michael references, “Lies My Teacher Told Me” is an excellent book to read and anything by Howard Zinn should be required reading.

There are many unanswered questions and assumptions I see within the limited presentation given. If the goal is to provide support for success of students of color, shouldn’t be more specific about how they’re being underserved and how this plan will address it? If your goal is to open this school with lofty goals in less than a year, shouldn’t we have more than a PowerPoint slide and a few presentation boards? There should be a full plan AND a principal and support staff in place with a workable plan and information about how his will be prepped for success.

I am still sitting on this and I have 3 African American sons and teach. I see pros and cons… I still need some time to digest this information.

My son’s school started a middle school 3 years ago. It was to be a magnet only. It required an application to get in. Parental involvement was a must. It was a lot of these things they listed. But a year later JCPS broke their promise. So I don’t trust them to implement. My other thing is, ANY school can be successful if they have this list of non-negotiables. You’re not doing anything but moving student mix around. This is another shell game. And thirdly (or is that fourthly?), the history and lens they are proposing needs to be taught at EVERY school.

JCPS has an all male academy at Olmsted, so an all male academy isn’t needed. Teaching through the lens of AA culture is a great idea, but by selecting only a few to receive that education further perpetuates the racism and segregation we are trying to eliminate.

This concept is about test scores and funding, not education. It’s about taking some of the most vulnerable kids in our district and making them high profile pawns in someone’s ego trip.

My proposal? Let’s revamp the history curriculum for ALL JCPS. Do away with the whitewashing. Teach all kids the truth. It gives white kids perspective. It gives kids of color a sense of inclusion. And it levels the playing field.

You want diversity in this district? Then put your money where your mouth is. Quit making kids travel all over hell and high country. Bring all schools up to a level of quality that kids can be proud of their heritage and homes.

The LAST thing we need in this community is another way to segregate.

I don’t care how you try to market this idea, it’s segregation. It’s George Wallace remade into John Marshall with a lot of buzzwords and politically correct rhetoric.

Are they kids at risk with all of the non-negotiables??

Federal court ruling says JCPS cannot assign schools on race alone. So JCPS has kept this asinine bus program and assigned based on parental education and socioeconomic status, ostensibly. Take those factors out and make them “non negotiables”. Now you’re assigning on color.

So how does would this school help them be less at risk? I was thinking at risk academically, which wouldn’t make sense either, since they did mention something about non novice students, right?

Again, weren’t these types of students NOT what the population would look like?

Unfortunately, in this country, race jumps to the front of the line when it comes to decisions made by others. And I’m speaking from watching 2 well- off women of color raise their sons in our society. One has lost her 2 oldest to murder. The other is struggling with how to raise her boy so he’s not another statistic. Let me clarify: both moms live in middle class neighborhoods. They are employed. Active in church, school, and community. Both are married. Both have family support system. Their boys would all be shoo-ins to this academy. Except, well, 2 of them are no longer with us.

And could you imagine if it was a school for persons of non-color??? What if I said I wanted my kids with only white kids who were not living in poverty, not behavior problems, had parent accountability?? Oh my goodness, I can’t imagine the backlash!!! Of course, we do have those kinds of schools, and they are private schools where most all of the kids are white, middle to upper middle class, behavior problems are shown the door, parents ARE accountable, but you have to pay for it. This is soooooo unfair to single out one population to be given the red carpet treatment. Sorry, again ALL students deserve this type of learning environment.

I think you are forgetting that African-Americans have LONG been victims of discrimination in education. It is whites who are privileged. I object to this DuBois school for a different reason. It does NOT help the kids who need it most. Those are the kids – black AND white, Hispanic, etc. who live in poverty stricken neighborhoods, with high crime, and very limited mobility in terms of bettering themselves. If we are going to have a special school, it should be for those kids.

Perhaps JCPS is looking down the barrel of a governor who wants to hand tax dollars to men who want to create charter schools just like being proposed.

Exactly what I said yesterday. The students that would be chosen for this school are the ones who don’t really need a lot of help. If they are to implement a school of this nature it needs to be for males that have NO support system. Most of them just need to be accepted. Made to feel like they are part of something. They need to be actually held accountable for their actions. No matter how hard you try to get these parents involved for most of these kids is simply impossible. They need teachers , councilors , and the entire staff to step in for these kids. I know it’s not their job but I feel that there are plenty educators out here that would not mind to step into these roles if it meant these boys would succeed and make something out of there lives. Discipline is JCPS’s biggest problem. The students that they want to go to this school are going to succeed no matter where they are. So NO NO NO we do need this type of school.

My son goes to a middle school that was just started 3 or 4 years ago and we were promised some of the same things mentioned in the outline of this school. No resides and no high poverty. Among other things like amazing clubs and lots of things that would move along the lines of their magnet program. We were LIED to. We now have resides, hardly any discipline, and very little magnet related opportunities.

How do you pay teachers to make them teach longer and better, and what does that even mean? It’s not quantifiable.

What does “above adequate” mean? What is “stay faithful to the plan” when he didn’t even have his one PowerPoint slide ready a day before the meeting?

Is Saturday transportation provided?

My daughter went to Shawnee Middle. We got all these promises of what they would do and they did nothing. I had to put her in private school this yr.

Is there data for Carter Woodson showing it’s improving results?

And not just on the kids who attend but overall? What about the kids who get left behind in higher concentrations of poverty? Is their district as large? Full of choice like us?

The presentation seems to say “our schools and teachers suck, this won’t”.

I agree. Manual, Meyzeek, and Noe have done a lot of damage to other middle and high schools.

This list of questions and concerns is evolving. Please check back often. If you have a question and you don’t already see it listed above, please email it to moderator@dearjcps.com.

3 thoughts on “More Questions and Comments From Stakeholders”

Leave a Reply