Sunday, November 8, 2009

The uncertain C-J

Of particular concern to Kentucky is to ensure that educational progress is experienced throughout the state. The overall improvements that served to move Kentucky up in the rankings were not felt by all areas, or all schools, and the task force should work to see that all boats are lifted in the suggestions it makes.
That's from the Courier-Journal's Sunday editorial about the Governor's new education task force.

The editorial speaks part of the truth:"not all areas" have felt the overall improvement.

The editorial omits a central feature of that truth: The C-J's home turf is by far the largest of the "areas" that have not participated fully in the transformation all our schools need. In Jefferson County, the school system now ranks in the bottom fifth of districts statewide.

And the editorial leaves out another, closely-related truth: Jefferson County has financial, educational, and cultural wealth most Kentucky districts can barely imagine. Its schools ought to be the envy of the state. Excellence is entirely within their reach, but only with leadership that speaks frankly about current weak performance and boldly about the need for much higher achievement in the coming years. It is past time for that sort of leadership to arise and be heard in our largest school district.

"For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?"


  1. I have only been a teacher in Jefferson County for a little over a year, but this is my seventh year teaching. I came into Jefferson County after teaching out-of-state for several years. This transition has been overwhelming. As a high school teacher, I have been appalled by students' lack of reading and math skills. Frankly, as a hard-working teacher, I am discouraged about whether or not I can actually accomplish the massive amounts that need to be accomplished. It is hard to articulate the challenges that the teachers face here with such a diverse population with severaly diverse needs. While the county does contain a lot of wealth, it also contains some of the highest concentrations of poverty. There is also a seemingly insurmountable amount of negative peer pressure regarding academic achievement. In our assessments of Jefferson County, we also can not ignore the large presence of a private school system.

  2. I have been a parent of Jefferson County students for the past 14 years. I have only seen change when outside forces demand change of our school system. It never comes from within, which is the crux of the problem.

    I started to pay attention to KCCT results in 2000. In my child's elementary school, only 44% of 4th graders who receive free/reduced lunch were proficient in reading. Today at that school 60% of the 4th graders who receive free/reduced lunch are proficient. Did that demographic of students get smarter over the past 9 years? NO, what changed was NCLB required schools to report out how well each subgroup was performing. In 2003, Greater Louisville Inc. formed a task force to engage the community to work with the schools to improve test scores because the 2000 data was not acceptable to the community. Our students would have made better progress but expectations keep getting watered down by adults who don't want to be held accountable. It is hard work that will require each of us to participate. But we can't do the hard work if there is no honesty in reporting what the problem is and the magnitude of resources needed to fix the problem. We have the wealth of resouces, but not the courage of conviction.

  3. I have traveled around the state and have heard the trumpet sound loud and clear and folks are responding to the call; where all stakeholders are taking responsibility for the education of their children, their future.

    Many places that is, except for my own district, Jefferson County where the search for prominence of the JCPS district means something other than high student achievement for all.

    In response to the teacher's comment above
    "There is also a seemingly insurmountable amount of negative peer pressure regarding academic achievement" - this statement is like a cancer...continues to spread if not stopped and removed. I hope the teacher is able to survive this kind of cynicism.

    The only thing I am sure of is if we expect less, we will not be disappointed. Hoping that the leadership of this fine district will challenge all stakeholders in taking responsibility to ensure ALL students achieve...and that this will begin as a solid belief statement engrained in the fabric of all for the sake of our children - our future. Then will the prominence of Jefferson County be lifted to new heights.

  4. It is impossible to be satisfied, let alone proud of your school system when it ranks in the bottom fifth of all those in the state. The Courier Journal has been very supportive of the need for Kentucky's education improvement prior to the passage of our legislative reform and has continued to be so since that time. For that we are very grateful. However the JCPSs have been handled very gently by the C-J and this community. We should be having exposés literally weekly about the situations that exist here and the editorial board should be coming down on them likewise, on a regular basis.

    This is obviously the wealthy area in this state, the schools have been funded as have the four fiths above JCPS, we have had study after study over the years and still we sit in the bottom fifth of schools in the state.

    Where is the outrage?

    It's been nearly 2 decades and we still aren't educating many of the children in this school system. Why is it that after all this time we have very successful schools here in this district for some children but also have lousy schools here for other children? With the wealth of this community and the other resources available to the school system we should be in the top 10%, not at the bottom.

    I hope I live long enough to see that happen in the Jefferson County Public Schools!


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