The Jefferson County Teachers Association has responded to radio ads attacking the union ahead of contract negotiations with ads of their own.
The group Kids First Louisville paid for the ads that claim the JCTA’s contract creates barriers to improving student success.
Kids First Louisville Chair David Nicklies says the group has support from teachers, parents and community members but it’s unclear who exactly these individuals are.
The ads also echo comments made by Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. Holliday has been critical of the JCTA this year, and who used the words “academic genocide” when referring to some of Jefferson County Public Schools lowest achieving schools.
JCTA president Brent McKim has maintained the ads are a political ploy to push for charter school legislation, and McKim relayed those sentiments in an e-mail to union members last month.
In the email McKim says, “there are others in our community who do not believe in our public schools and would like, instead, to move toward privatization, vouchers, and charter schools. These individuals have organized a political organization which they are cleverly calling ‘Kids First.’ A more accurate name would have been ‘Pretending to Care About Kids That We Have Never Cared About So We Can Privatize Schools and End Teacher Unions.’ Kids First is shorter. I will give them that.”
In the new ads, the union addresses outside groups like Kids First Louisville directly.
“As educators we teach our students not to name call or bully others. We don’t put up with it on the playground or the classroom. We also will not put up with it as we work to keep the best teachers possible and the best learning environment to help our student succeed.” (Listen to the ad below)
Both sides maintain that they’re putting students first.
JCPS and union officials are expected to be in discussions for the next couple weeks. The school district is also under increased pressure from the education department. Commissioner Holliday said the district must address the perceived barriers created by the teacher’s union, among a list of other expectations. If these issues aren’t addressed it could play a part later this year when Holliday decides whether more state invention is necessary.
The JCTA contract hasn’t been updated since 2005.