Residents of Jefferson County in school districts 2, 4 and 7 have a crucial decision to make on Tuesday, November 6th. Do you folks want the Jefferson County Board of Education to maintain the status quo by forcibly busing children and pretending failing schools are a result of poverty and can never be fixed? Or do you want some serious change because you’re sick of hearing the same old excuses from your hand-wringing school board members?
Well, your choice can be summed up with two people named Jones.
The first is named Lexi.
She wakes up around 6 a.m. and heads to her bus stop in the dark. She begins every day with what your GPS would call a 40-minute trip — if there’s no traffic. But there’s always traffic and plenty of bus stops. Let’s be conservative and say she spends fifty minutes on her journey from one end of the county to another — commutes like Lexi’s sent local bridge-hopping professionals into a major tizzy when the Sherman Minton Bridge was shut down.
Lexi does it every day. Both ways.
And she doesn’t have a choice in the matter because JCPS makes her do it.
What is Lexi’s destination? It’s the worst middle school in the state of Kentucky, which makes it the worst middle school in Louisville — Frost Middle School. Frost ranks 315th out of 315 Kentucky middle schools. So, you know what that means. If her mother wants her in a better school, she just has to get her into ANY other school.
Two weeks ago, a red Mustang slammed into her bus at Moorman and Lower River Road on a rainy morning. The bus toppled over and skidded on its side. Lexi told local news stations she thought she was going to die.
Get this. It wasn’t her first JCPS bus wreck.
There is not a single benefit to Lexi being bused to the worst middle school in the city. Not one. In fact, some harm is done. Her time is wasted. Time that could be spent getting some extra sleep in the morning, time that could be spent with her mom in the afternoons. Lexi’s time is invested in a bus ride, twice a day, every day. You have to wonder if she’s been doing this since kindergarten. Even if she hasn’t, she has spent an extraordinary amount of her middle school days on a school bus that’s headed to an academic wasteland.
Her mother, Cherisse Jones, can’t be involved in her education as much as she likes because the school is so far from home. She told WDRB News: “If there are schools closer to where the children live, children should be able to go where they are. Just for things like this. This is the second wreck that my child has been in.”
The second Jones is named David, Jr.
He is the District 2 candidate for the school board. His father, is David Jones, Sr. Bloomberg called him the richest man in Louisville. When he stepped down as chairman of Humana in 2005, it was a $20 billion company.
Jones, Jr., says on his campaign website that he attended the “old Louisville public schools.” He never mentions attending Jefferson County Public Schools. That probably means Mr. Jones was never forcibly bused and never had to attend a school that included children who were forcibly bused.
Something he doesn’t tell you on his website is that he attended Kentucky Country Day (tuition today, $18,000). In 1979, “under the direction of Headmaster John Gernert and the assistance of [Kentucky Country Day] board members Brown-Forman Distillery executive Owsley Brown Frazier and Humana President David Jones, Sr., a new school was built on today’s campus at the intersection of Springdale Road and Brownsboro Road.”
When Jones, Jr., was a student in the late 1970s, Humana was the largest for-profit hospital system in the United States.
I’m glad Mr. Jones had a dad who was so involved with his school. And it’s especially nice that Jones, Jr., was able to attend the school of his choice.
Unlike Lexi, this Jones didn’t have to ride an hour on the bus. He walked to school. It says so right on his web site. But these two Joneses do have one thing in common. Neither one wanted to be on that long bus ride.
So we know that David Jones, Jr., left the public schools for a private school. He went to Yale, graduated from law school, did all the stuff you’d expect a son of wealth to do, and recently has been involved in some education support efforts. Now, he wants to be on our school board.
He says a lot of fancy things about education. But everything he stands for comes down to this: David Jones, Jr., thinks Lexi Jones should be on that bus. It wasn’t what was best for him, son of a healthcare tycoon, but for Lexi Jones and thousands of other children in this city who can’t opt out of public schools or just attend their neighborhood schools, forced busing is a perfectly fine idea. Because that’s what the JCPS student assignment plan really is, you know. Forced busing.
This school board election poses one question — which Jones are you with? The rich guy wanting to pad his resume and his Chrysalis portfolio while putting children on long bus rides? Or are you with the middle school girl who has survived two bus wrecks whose mother has to travel all the way across the county to be involved in her child’s school?
Which Jones are you going to choose?