Archives for category: Kentucky

Kentucky launched its new school rating system, based on federal law requiring states to rate schools and identify the “lowest” 5 percent. 

Instead of letter grades (the Jeb Bush model), Kentucky will award stars.

Is this a distinction without a difference?

Most of the rating will be based on test scores and growth in test scores and graduation rates and other measures.

The experience of other states is that the ratings invariably show that the schools with the highest proportions of poor students get the lowest ratings.

No one should be surprised, since standardized tests are normed on a bell curve and highly correlated with family income.

Schools with affluent kids get high ratings, and schools with poor kids get low ratings.

Will Kentucky be any different?

Doubtful.

This mandate to rate schools based on test scores is baked into the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Its purpose is supposedly informational, but in fact it is used to identify schools to close. Their students are directed elsewhere, or their school becomes a charter, and vast resources are wasted on structural changes that should have been spent reducing class sizes, promoting arts education, paying teachers more, and supporting strategies that help students do better in school and encourage teacher retention.

But we live in a time of stupid mandates. This law should be rewritten before we write off another generation of students.

I posted Gay Adelmann’s account of her efforts to see the financial records of the Kentucky PTA. Both sides ended up in court.

https://dianeravitch.net/2019/09/09/kentucky-what-is-the-state-pta-hiding/

I heard from S. Coy Travis, whose law firm represents the Kentucky PTA. He wanted readers to know both sides. I invited him to write a commentary, and he did.

He wrote:

Isn’t Kentucky PTA subject to the Open Records Act? Why does Kentucky PTA think that it doesn’t need to follow a lawful Open Records Act request.

Kentucky PTA is a private nonprofit corporation. While PTAs do work closely with schools, they are not simply an extension of the public school or generally under the control of the school district. As best said by Betsy Landers, past National PTA President, “PTA doesn’t work for the school – it works on behalf of children and families.”

The Kentucky Open Records Act, KRS 61.880 et seq., only applies to public agencies. School districts are clearly public agencies subject to the Open Records Act.

Under the Kentucky Open Records Act, public records of public agencies are subject to inspection unless they fall within a particular exclusion. One of the exclusions are records (a) that are required by a public agency to be disclosed to it by a private entity, (b) that are generally recognized as confidential or proprietary, and (c) that would permit an unfair competitive advantage against the private entity disclosing the records.

Breaking down that analysis:

(a) Kentucky PTA is required by the Accounting Procedures for School Activity Funds a/k/a Redbook to provide the requested records to the school. The school is a public agency under the Kentucky Open Records Act. There is little dispute that this portion of the analysis is satisfied.

(b) Financial records of private entities are generally considered to be confidential or proprietary. There is case law in Kentucky that acknowledges that a private entity’s financial records – including budgets and annual financial reports – are typically considered confidential and proprietary. While there may be great interest in these records, that does not change the fact that they are, generally speaking, considered to be confidential or proprietary. This point is explored more below.

(c) Entities that might be competitors or adverse to Kentucky PTA could use these records to gain an advantage on Kentucky PTA. As one example illustrating this point:

Suppose that a group wishes to reduce the influence of Kentucky PTA by forming unaffiliated parent teacher organizations (PTOs), which focus on the local school only and do not have the advocacy aims of PTA. The PTO organizers, if given access to Kentucky PTA financial records, could use those records to identify PTA chapters with fewer members and/or financial resources. The PTO organizers could then target those schools for development of a PTO instead of a PTA. As another example: Suppose that a charter school advocate wishes to build support for charter schools by pointing out schools with “weak” PTAs in an effort to show that public schools have not fostered parental involvement. This would clearly be detrimental to PTA.

So, while Kentucky PTA respects the goals of the Open Records Act, Kentucky PTA does not agree that the Open Records Act legally applies to Kentucky PTA or that the records that Kentucky PTA (through its local units) is required to disclose by law should be subject to an Open Records Request. Kentucky PTA believes that the current request is not supported by a correct interpretation of the law. For Kentucky PTA, this case is entirely about the “how” and not the “what” that is at issue.

How can Kentucky PTA claim its financial records are confidential when it discloses that information to members at local meetings?

First, it’s important to again remember that Kentucky PTA is a private entity, not a government agency or program. Second, Kentucky PTA has roughly 105,000 members, and we encourage our members to engage with local units. And yes, our local units regularly share financial information with members during PTA meetings. But, to put the Kentucky PTA membership number in context, there are approximately 4,468,000 people in Kentucky. This means that, out of Kentucky’s entire population, only 2.3% of the people in our state are Kentucky PTA members. While we gladly share information with our members, Kentucky PTA does not regularly share detailed financial information with the general public except as otherwise required by law. The essence of privacy rights is that private entities get to control how their information gets disseminated to the general public. In other words, the private entity gets to decide what to share, what not to share, how to share it, etc. Kentucky PTA takes its role in the public education sphere seriously and carefully balances its privacy interests against the goal of being transparent and ensuring public confidence in PTA.

Put into a different context: Just because a person might choose to share information with the person’s friends and family does not mean that the person does not still consider the information confidential to anyone outside those groups.

Why did Kentucky PTA sue an activist?

Technically, the named defendant in the lawsuit is the public agency – the school district. This is because the public agency currently possesses the records, and as such, is the defendant in an Open Records Act lawsuit. Ms. Adelmann was named not as a defendant but as a “real party in interest.” This means that Kentucky PTA acknowledged, from the outset, that Ms. Adelmann has a legal interest in the legal question at issue in the case and deserves a full and fair opportunity to be heard on the issue. Contrary to the narrative that Kentucky PTA has tried to keep Ms. Adelmann in the dark or hide anything, Kentucky PTA wanted to ensure that she had the chance to say whatever she wanted to say and be a part of this process.

Why doesn’t Kentucky PTA want to see the activist get these records? Why didn’t Kentucky PTA just give the records to the activist?

Actually, Kentucky PTA has already agreed to provide the requested records to Ms. Adelmann. Kentucky PTA is currently in the process of gathering those records and digitizing them so that they can be produced to Ms. Adelmann. However, Kentucky PTA is almost exclusively made up of volunteers, so it will take time to get these records. Additionally, many of the requested records, though produced to the schools, are not produced to the state PTA office, so we will have to collect those from our local units.

We have also heard that Ms. Adelmann feels that she did not get a sufficient response from Kentucky PTA when she requested these records from local units. Kentucky PTA is not aware of any request made at the state level or the specifics of who in local PTAs Ms. Adelmann asked for these records. To date, she has not provided Kentucky PTA with any corroboration of the efforts she made to get these records directly from PTA at any level before resorting to her request under the Open Records Act, and she has repeatedly acknowledged that she did so more for her own convenience. Regardless, Kentucky PTA is currently working on developing written protocols to ensure that there are more clearly-established and understood procedures for member document requests in the future.

Is this a good use of Kentucky PTA’s resources?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” Likely, those who have children or have worked with children have stressed this lesson many times. Kentucky PTA fully agrees with this assessment, and that is the driving belief behind this legal action. Again, Kentucky PTA is not trying to hide anything – it fully intends to produce the requested records to Ms. Adelmann. However, we do believe that the question of “how” those records are produced has been completely overlooked. Using an analogy that education activists in Kentucky can appreciate, Kentucky PTA believes that trying to get the records of a private entity through an Open Records Act request is a lot like trying to pass a pension reform bill by calling it a wastewater bill – no matter what anyone may believe about the merits, the process is flawed.

Additionally, much of the legal work performed for Kentucky PTA, including most of the time spent on this litigation, has been done on a pro bono basis. As a supporter of public education and its allies, Kentucky PTA’s general counsel has done his absolute best to keep the costs on this case as low as possible, including substantially reducing the hourly rate when work has been billed.

Why didn’t Kentucky PTA take action in the past in response to other Open Records Act requests?

There was a previous Open Records Act request made by a local newspaper a couple of years ago for PTA records. However, there is no evidence that Kentucky PTA knew about the request prior to the school district releasing the records. In an Open Records Act case, once the records have been released, there is really no remedy. In the current instance, Kentucky PTA was made aware of the request through local PTAs contacting the state office before the records were produced, giving Kentucky PTA the opportunity to intervene for the above-stated reasons.

If Kentucky PTA is giving the activist the records, why is it planning to appeal the trial court decision?

The decision by the trial court in this case has no precedential value for any future requests. Until there is a published appellate opinion, there is no controlling law on this question. Kentucky PTA believes that it and other entities required to produce records to the government by law would benefit from an analysis of this portion of the Open Records Act.

Gay Adelmann, founder of the parent activist group called Dear JCPS, recently requested the financial records of the Kentucky PTA. The PTA refused to turn them over, although they are supposed to be a matter of public record. (Jefferson County is synonymous with Louisville.)

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.

After some skirmishing, the judge in the case ordered the PTA to release the documents. It must do so or file an appeal by September 16.

Adelmann writes:

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.

Transparency is integral to accountability. Bill Gates gave millions to the National PTA to win its support for Common Corea nd its silence on charter schools. Show your cards.

 

Clifford Wallace and Leigh Wallace, a father-daughter team of professional educators, lambaste state officials for their relentless attacks on the state’s public school teachers. 

They begin:

Leadership matters. It has the potential to influence student outcomes. Clearly, there is a lack of leadership in Frankfort. Kentucky State Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis is taking pages from the flawed and unsuccessful playbooks of his neoliberal, pro-privatization counterparts in Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin. From no longer requiring master’s degrees for teachers to maintain certification to promoting privatized for profit “charter schools” as the panacea to save the “failing public schools” – our “commissioner” is helping dismantle our public schools – and the teaching profession – in Kentucky.

Lewis continues to disparage professionally prepared – and experienced – educators through diminishing the significance of the complex work they do on a daily basis, insulting their commitment and expertise, threatening their pensions, and cutting programs and budgets. Recently, in addition to painting a negative narrative around our public schools and the professionals that work in them, he proposed a “pay for performance” incentive for Kentucky Public School teachers as a means to motivate them to “work harder” and ensure every student has access to a “quality public school.” While this may sound promising on the surface – especially if you have not read the numerous studies conducted by scholars on this practice over the past 30+ years – it is a failed solution.

Lewis’s proposal for merit pay or performance bonuses is absurd. It has been tried repeatedly and failed everywhere. It was tried in Nashville, with a bonus of $15,000 for middle school math teachers who raised test scores. It failed. It has been tried again and again over the past 100 years and has NEVER worked.
Lewis is no “Reformer.” He is being paid to demoralize professional educators and find excuses to privatize public schools. This is not “leadership.” This is Disruption.
The teachers and students of Kentucky deserve better leaders who are dedicated to improving conditionsof teaching and learning.

 

Sometimes you have to use plain words to describe a theftin broad daylight.

Read Kentucky teacher Randy Wieck’s description of the broad-daylight theft of teachers’ pension funds and what this means, not only to teachers, but to school districts across the state.

The Kentucky public pension “deform” abomination signed by Governor Bevin July 24, 2019 – opposed by all Senate Democrats and 9 Republicans in the Kentucky Senate, deforms the pensions – it does not reform them.

The essential knife-thrusts to the heart of the government retiree pension are these:

1) It clips future hires from the plan (and future pay-ins).

2) It allows 118 quasi-governmental agencies (rape crisis centers; health departments, regional universities, etc.) to buy out of the retirement plan with only vague plans to pay off their 30-year pension deb.

The amounts owed are so large it is daft to think the agencies could meet their obligations without declaring bankruptcy and then consequently cutting the benefits of retirees…

By pushing the pension obligations on to individual school districts and thereby increasing the percentage of school-district budgets that must be paid into the pension plan they force the districts to seek cover in bankruptcy.

This will result in significant job losses:

To wit, Louisville, Kentucky, where I am a teacher, recently shut all of its outdoor summer pools; cancelled the most recent police recruit class; and shuttered several libraries to cover increased pension costs. School districts will have to follow suit if this fiscal breach of faith, if this crime – goes unchallenged in the courts, our last resort.

Linda Blackford, a writer for the Lexington, Kentucky, Herald Leader asks whether Kentucky can somehow manage to avoid the charter scandals that have occurred with startling frequency in other states.

The Kentucky legislature authorized charters but has not yet funded them. The parents in SOS Kentucky have thus far stopped the funding of charters, because the money will defund the public schools that most students attend.

Blackford writes:

In 2016, Jeff Yass, the billionaire founder of a Pennsylvania global trading company donated $100,000 to a political action committee called Kentuckians for Strong Leadership.

The PAC, according to its website, is dedicated to preserving the political fortunes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and in 2016, ensuring Republican victory in the Kentucky House. [Diane’s note: Yass also contributed $2.3 million to a super PAC supporting the campaign of libertarian Senator Rand Paul, according to his Wikipedia bio, and is a member of the board of the rightwing Cato Institute.]

All kinds of people donate to McConnell, of course, but Yass is interesting because he’s most well known for his passionate advocacy of charter schools and vouchers, including a plan torevolutionize the Philadelphia schools with school choice (as well as cutting teacher pay and benefits).

Yass, along with his business partners, Joel Greenberg and Arthur Dantchik, are major players in political circles in Pennsylvania, donating to pro-school choice candidates. He obviously thought $100,000 was a good investment here, and while it might be pocket change to him, it’s a pretty big donation by Kentucky standards.

I bring this up because in the past two or three years of incessant discussion about charter schools, and Kentucky’s legislation to approve them, we’ve heard a lot about the pros and cons of charter schools, but we haven’t heard that much about what other states have discovered: the vast potential that charter school management has for making money off public tax dollars.

Our charter school legislation, passed in 2017, allows interested parties to start nonprofit charter schools. Less discussed is that the law also allows for-profit management companies to operate them. This is the model around the country, and it’s caused plenty of problems. ProPublica has also detailed numerous examples of management companies that make millions because they rent space and equipment to charter schools, with little oversight or competitive bidding…

Right now, of course, any potential Kentucky charter schools are on hold because the General Assembly hasn’t been able to agree on just how much money they should be allowed to take out of public schools. That’s in part due to the work of Save Our Schools Kentucky, a group of feisty teachers and moms who have followed the money and the politics of Gov. Matt Bevin and wanna-be governor Hal Heiner as they stacked the state Board of Education with pro-charter candidates, then dumped the commissioner for a pro-charter academic with sincere beliefs about charter schools but no experience in running a statewide education system. They’ve met often with legislators to explain how much public schools have to lose from charters.

“This is really all about financial gain,” said Tiffany Dunn, a life-long Republican and teacher. “The public school system and pension system in their mind represents money and they’re all about the free market, competition will take care of everything and we know in education that competition does not improve education.”

Read more here: https://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article232401187.html#storylink=cpy
I have two points to add to Blackford’s article. One of Jeff Yass’s hedge fund partners is billionaire Joel Greenblatt, who lives in New York City and is a major donor to Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter chain.
The other point is that competition creates a few winners and many losers. Which children will be the winners, and which will be the losers? The Kentucky legislature should debate that question too. Given the high rate of charter school failure every year, the legislation may create losers and losers, with no winners at all.

On May 16, Public Education Partners of Ohio hosted a conference that featured a dialogue between me and Bill Phillis, the former deputy state superintendent who has been fighting for adequate and equitable funding of the state’s public schools for many years.

The main event of the day was the discussion between Bill Phillis and me. Bill talked about his intention to keep going until his work is finished, his work being the adequate and equitable funding of Ohio’s public schools. He spoke eloquently about the State Constitution’s requirement of a “thorough and efficient” system of “common schools” and explained that charter schools and religious schools are not common schools. Yet Ohio’s politicians blatantly ignore the foundational language of the Constitution by endorsing its scandal-ridden charter schools (which underperform public schools, even in the Big 8 urban districts), and vouchers (which received a negative evaluation commissioned by a rightwing think tank). The state plans to expand the failing voucher program.

I won’t recount my remarks, because readers of this blog know my views. I did express surprise that so many Republicans regularly vote to defund public schools even though most of their constituents’ children are enrolled in public schools. Nearly 90% of American children go to public schools, despite the plethora of choices, and that 90% surely represents both people who vote both Republican and Democratic. That makes for a puzzlement as to the anti-public education stance of state and national Republican leaders.

Bill and I agreed that the public schools will ultimately prevail because he believes in the innate common sense of the American people, and I believe that the nonstop, persistent failure of every privatization venture will persuade their funders to find another hobby. When the funding stops, the privatization “movement” collapses.

One of the features of the Day was the appearance of student journalists from the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky. The school offers an excellent and innovative journalism program. Four of its journalists attended the dialogue between me and William Phillis in Columbus, Ohio, on May 16, thanks to two of our readers, Laura Chapman and Linda Brick, along with their journalism teacher Wendy Turner..

Wendy Turner is a former journalist who has been teaching for 20 years. She clearly loves her work. She talked about the importance of “student voice.” She emphasized how much she respects student voice and why that voice deserves to be heard and included in decision-making.

Ms. Turner surprised me with a gift of a T-shirt from the school newspaper, “The Lamplighter,” and if I remember correctly, she told me I was an honorary staff member.

The two co-editors-in-chief—Abigail Wheatley and Olivia Doyle—took turns telling the audience of Ohio educators about how they got national coverage.

The student journalists won national attention when they attempted to cover a”Roundtable” discussion between Betsy DeVos and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

Paul Laurence Dunbar is a famous African-American poet of the Harlem Renaissance. I own first editions of his poetry.

The event was sponsored by Public Education Partners, an all-volunteer group led by retired teacher Jeanne Melvin. Many BATS were there. The audience was teachers (the starting time was 4:30 pm), retired teachers, principals, school board members, union leaders. There was a surprising optimism in the air, a hopefulness that the Governor and Legislature will finally enact a good school funding bill.

 

In Columbus, Ohio, with student journalists Abigail Wheatley and Olivia Doyle from “The Lamplighter” at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky

 

David Weigel wrote this in the Washington Post. I could not find a link. A great story about the odoriferous Gov. Matt Bevin, scourge of teachers:

 

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — On Friday night, the three leading Democrats in the race for governor of Kentucky stood under a portrait of Colonel Sanders to answer their state’s biggest political question. Who could beat Gov. Matt Bevin, the Republican who had been making their lives miserable?

“I got in this race because of Matt Bevin’s agenda,” Rocky Adkins, the Democratic leader in the state House, told the hundred Shelby County Democrats who’d gathered in a replica of one of Sanders’s homes.

“We absolutely must beat Matt Bevin this fall, and if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s beat this governor,” said Andy Beshear, the state’s attorney general, referring to a run of successful lawsuits.

“I’m running for governor not to beat Matt Bevin, though it’s a hell of a fringe benefit,” said Adam Edelen, a former state auditor turned solar-energy entrepreneur. “I am running for the opportunity to build a modern Kentucky.”

Bevin, whose years-long battles with teachers and public-sector unions has made him wildly unpopular, is seen as vulnerable despite his party’s political dominance in the state. He has been tied up in court over an attempt to add work requirements for Medicaid recipients and over bipartisan efforts to ban abortion; he earned the wrong kind of national attention after speculating that a teacher’s strike led to a child’s death. He’s facing a primary challenge from Robert Goforth, a state legislator who says Bevin has squandered his opportunities; at the same time, he has presided over Republican gains that replaced a Democratic state House with a GOP supermajority.

Lesson: Teachers are popular. Bevin is not.

Betsy DeVos held a “roundtable” with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin at a public community college in Lexington, Kentucky.

When student journalists at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School heard that they were meeting, they went to the event, presented their press credentials, and were barred from covering it.

The only student invited to speak at the roundtable attends a religious school. The other participants represented Kentucky organizations that support privatization of public funds. That is, supporters of Betsy DeVos’s anti-public school agenda.

The students were on deadline, and they were on a mission.

They piled into a car last Wednesday and pulled away from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, their public school in Lexington, Ky. With permission, they drove across town to a community college where their Republican governor, Matt Bevin, was hosting a roundtable discussion on education featuring Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The high schoolers — writers and editors for their school paper, the PLD Lamplighter — believed they were following the advice offered by DeVos last fall when she counseled, “It is easy to be nasty hiding behind screens and Twitter handles. It’s not so easy face to face.”

So the student journalists turned away from their screens and social media apps. They went in pursuit, they would later say, of “that face-to-face opportunity.”

But DeVos had no intention of admitting anyone who did not agree with her “freedom” agenda. In her view, “freedom” means her freedom only to hear what she already believes and freedom from anyone who disagrees with her. She was there to promote her agenda of defunding public schools, the schools that 90% of children in Kentucky attend. Why would she want students to hear her explain why she wants to force budget cuts on their schools?

The students discovered that the open roundtable was only open to those who were invited, and they were not invited.

So they wrote this editorial.

“No Seat at the Roundtable.”

The students were trapped in a Catch 22. They couldn’t attend the event because they were not invited. They presented their press credentials but they were still denied entry to what was billed as a public discussion.

We presented our school identification badges and showed him our press credentials. He nodded as if that would be enough, but then asked us if we had an invitation. We looked at each other, eyes wide with surprise. Invitation? For a roundtable discussion on education?

“Yes, this event is invitation only,” he said and then waved us away.

Carson Sweeney
Unable to even leave our car, we settled for a picture of the campus taken through the window.

At that point, we pulled over and contacted our adviser, Mrs. Wendy Turner. She instructed us to try again and to explain that we were there as press to cover the event for our school newspaper. We at least needed to understand why we were not allowed in, and why it was never publicized as “invitation only.”

We watched as the same man waved other drivers through without stopping them, but he stopped us again. Instead of listening to our questions, he just repeated “Sorry. It’s invitation only.”

Disappointed, we called Mrs. Turner again and explained the situation. We were missing school for this event which had been reported as a “public” event on a public college campus. Unable to ask questions, we settled for a picture from our car.

It was then that our story turned from news coverage to editorial.

After leaving campus, we started looking through social media, seeking information from other journalists’ accounts, and trying to find a live stream.

We scrambled to get ourselves together because we were caught off guard, and we were in a hurry to produce anything we could to cover the event and to meet our deadline. We called our newsroom to get assistance from our other editors. Since we were out on location, we had little to work with.

After more research, we found mentioned on the government website that the meeting needed an RSVP, but there was no mention of an invitation. How do you RSVP when there is no invitation?

On the web site, it also stated that the roundtable was an “open press event.” Doesn’t open press imply open to ALL press including students?

We are student journalists who wanted to cover an event in our community featuring the Secretary of Education, but ironically, we couldn’t get in without an invitation.

The students checked and discovered that: Of the 173 school districts in Kentucky that deal directly with students, none were represented at the table. Zero. This is interesting because the supposed intention of the event was to include stakeholders–educators, students, and parents.

They didn’t understand that DeVos does not care about the educators, students or parents at public schools. She cares only about her radical agenda of charters and vouchers.

When the meeting was over, Governor Bevin said, with no hint of irony, that the discussion was all about “the children.”

But the children were not invited nor were they allowed to watch the event or even to cover it as journalists.

What hypocrites those leaders are!

How heroic the students are!

I am putting them on the blog’s honor roll, which is reserved for heroes of public education.

 

 

The editorial board of the PLD Lamplighter (Paul Laurence Dunbar High School) in Lexington, Kentucky, wanted to confer the “Roundtable” that featured Governor Matt Bevin and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. They were turned away. What does their opinion matter? They are “only” students. 

Only one student was invited to join the Roundtable discussion about education in Kentucky. She attends a Roman Catholic girls’ school in Louisville.

“We are student journalists who wanted to cover an event in our community featuring the Secretary of Education, but ironically, we couldn’t get in without an invitation.

“We learned of this event on April 16, as others did, over social media and from our local news stations. At that point, we immediately began making plans to be there because as young journalists, we appreciate any opportunity received to demonstrate our professionalism. These types of events are where we learn, and chances like this do not come around often.

“It was heartbreaking to us, as young journalists fired up to cover an event regarding the future of education, to leave empty-handed.”

“Local news station Lex18 posted its first article regarding the event on April 16 at 10:43 a.m. It discussed how Ms. DeVos would be attending two events in Kentucky, one in Lexington, and the other in Marshall County. There was no mention of an invitation or RSVP needed to attend the event.

“Another local station, WKYT, posted its first article regarding this event at 10:44 a.m. There was no mention of an invitation or RSVP needed to attend the event in this article either.

“Why was this information only shared a little more than 24 hours before the event? When the Secretary of Education is visiting your city, you’d think you’d have a little more of a heads up.

“We can’t help but suspect that the intention was to prevent people from attending. Also, it was held at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday. What student or educator is free at that time?

“And as students, we are the ones who are going to be affected by the proposed changes discussed at the roundtable, yet we were not allowed inside. How odd is it that even though future generations of students’ experiences could be based on what was discussed, that we, actual students, were turned away?

“We expected the event to be intense. We expected there to be a lot of information to cover. But not being able to exercise our rights under the First Amendment was something we never thought would happen. We weren’t prepared for that.

“It was heartbreaking to us, as young journalists fired up to cover an event regarding the future of education, to leave empty-handed. But as we researched we learned that we were not the only ones who were disappointed and frustrated.

“There were social media posts that exhibited confusion from parents, students, and educators—especially because no public school representatives were participants in the event.

“We emailed FCPS Superintendent Manny Caulk to ask if he had been invited, and he answered that he had not.

“Of the 173 school districts in Kentucky that deal directly with students, none were represented at the table. Zero. This is interesting because the supposed intention of the event was to include stakeholders–educators, students, and parents.”

Hey, student journalists, don’t give up.

Your State Commissioner is a DeVos groupie.

Make your voices heard.

This guy is giving your futures away.

He doesn’t care about you.

He is sucking up to the Queen of Privatization.