Politics
10:30 pm
Sat May 11, 2013

Noise and Notes: The 'Herculean' JCPS Audit, Teacher's Union Blasted and Charter Schools

Jefferson County Public Schools is set to be the subject of a what observers are calling a "Herculean" state audit to review Kentucky's largest school district.

It's unclear what the JCPS audit will turn up, but most agree a review of the city's $1 billion budget with over 100,000 students is long overdue. Some school board members object to the examination by saying JCPS has been probed enough, but critics argue paying $125,000 to learn more about the district's finances and administration is important.

The review will focus on contracts, travel expenses and ethics policies, and especially the financial and administrative operations of the central office.

"This is the result of properly focused policy makers organically having conversations about how important public education is," Audit Adam Edelen has said.

In other news, the Kentucky education commissioner blasted the Jefferson County teacher’s union in a letter, accusing them of obstructing needed reforms at low-performing schools.

From The Courier-Journal:

[Education Commissioner Terry Holliday] described an atmosphere in which reform efforts by principals and state education specialists at the low-performing schools were being thwarted by JCTA members and officials who were quick to object to changes that required them to give up scheduled personal time or that required extra preparation that wasn’t spelled out in their contact.

For example, Holliday said that on Feb. 12, the state’s education recovery leader at Knight Middle School reported that her recovery specialists were not allowed by union contract to ask teachers to bring work to collaboration meetings or ask them to read articles or identify student issues in preparation for future meetings. That lack of preparation, in turn, "slows down the pace and progress of the work."

As WFPL reported this week, the union wants a larger role in shaping school policy as their contract re-negotiation approaches.

And the resignation of an influential state lawmaker is giving charter schools advocates new hope.

For this discussion, African-American Initiative spokesman Kevin Fields, Republican strategist and charter schools proponent Joe Burgan and WFPL’s Devin Katayama dropped by to talk when politics and education collide.

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