Last week the Jefferson County Board of Education responded to criticism from Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, who referred to the district’s lowest performing schools as “academic genocide.”
At last Monday’s school board meeting District 7’s Chris Brady addressed JCPS staff members, including three principals of low performing schools, asking what the student response has been.
“So often we hear about what the parents are going to do, what the teachers are doing, what the administration’s doing. But I’d really like to know, especially after yesterday’s article, if there was any feedback you got from students and also how you’re engaging students to be able to engage their parents,” Brady said.
Knight Middle School principal Faith Stroud shared a story of a student who came to school Monday morning with a newspaper in hand, “who was looking at me and waving it. But we’re working so hard, Ms. Stroud. And all I could tell her is, we’re going to stand in our truth. We come to school. We work hard and we’re going to keep on going. We’re going to stay on the prowl and she gave me a hug and went to class,” Stroud said.
I visited the the Kentucky International Convention Center this past weekend for the city’s Youth Opportunity Showcase to speak to students about Holliday’s comments.
Most students hadn’t heard the story. Several heard about it through the media, but said it hasn’t made much of a difference to them.
Others like Moore High School’s Lavonte Evans said it gives the school district a bad reputation.
“It affects me because it gets around the world.They know that Louisville, Ky., students are not learning the same thing as other students as other states they are going to think low of us,” Evans said.
Iroquois High School student Lewis Thomas said, “I feel my school is really good. Our school is basically getting you ready for college and career. Basically, that’s what our school is inducing for us.”
Jefferson County High School senior Darianne Hudson said she agrees. Hudson, like some other students, told me teachers and staff don’t focus on the test scores and school’s performance.
“I believe that, as far as on a school level where we are at, they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Because we don’t see the numbers, they don’t show us the numbers, they don’t show us the test scores,” she said.
Fairdale High School’s Logan Traynor said, “We don’t really talk about it. We’re just trying to improve it.”
And you feel like it’s going well? I asked.
“Yes, sir. It’s going very well.”
Ariel Harris attends Western High School. She said being labeled a “priority” or low-achieving school gives off a misperception regarding individual achievement.
“They consider our schools low but some kids perform higher than they think they do. It’s turning around. It’s starting to be different,” she said.
Harris said she feels like the school has become safer and that crime has decreased. She said she can feel it among her peers.