Before you read this transcript, here are a few important tidbits about Brandeis Elementary which is a respectably-ranked math and science magnet school located in the West End. It’s a feeder school to math and science magnet middle school, Meyzeek, which is a feeder to Manual. You have to connect the dots. I know you can do it!
Here’s a map of Brandeis. Its zip code is 40211.
Here’s the 2010 census data:
Look at this! The West End has a terrific elementary school that’s in the top 20% of Kentucky’s elementary schools. (Data below is from schooldigger.com) Oh, but here are the enrollment numbers which show that a WHOLE LOT of neighborhood children in the West End are forcibly bused to other schools to make room for white, middle-class students. This is diversity at work – for the white kids, anyway. Meep! Study the column headers!
While you read the transcript, you’ll note that Jones (and his BFF Pam Platt) has a serious problem with the term forced busing. That’s because (1) he was never forcibly bused, (2) his children attended some of the best schools JCPS could offer (How wonderful for them! I’m serious!) and (3) he is endorsed by the teachers’ union so you know what that means. Eyeroll.
Funny how he can’t grasp the very simple concept that parents should be able to enroll their children in their neighborhood schools as their first choice. The idea is totally baffling to this guy!
Just remember these simple facts:
* Louisville has the worst schools in the state of Kentucky. That means we have some of the worst schools in the nation.
* We are the last school district in the nation with district-wide forced busing.
* We have a teachers’ union contract that has hijacked the hiring process from the school district. JCPS does not staff the schools with equitable levels of teaching experience because the teachers pick where they want to work.
Our schools have HUGE problems but Jones wants to play semantics games instead.
Are you going to let him get away with that?
And, as I promised, here’s Jones, Jr., running his big mouth with the folks at the Crapola-Journal. WINDBAG ALERT!
DAVID JONES JR.: I understand a lot of people are passionate about neighborhood schools. But I think the political cries about stopping the buses and treating transportation as if it’s the No. 1 issues in the school district are misguided. My experience was we chose to put our kids on a bus and send them down to Brandeis Elementary because it had a program that was, we thought, promising. The data says that half of parents choose their neighborhood school, and half of parents choose something other than their neighborhood school. And I think we have to recognize that our community includes a lot of different sorts of families and a lot of different sorts of kids, and that choice is really important. We have a lot of choice compared to most urban school districts today. And a lot of people value that. Now one reason why a neighborhood school is not the first choice of half the people in the community is that a lot of our schools are not performing very well. So my view is the No. 1 issue that we have to focus on is student achievement. We’ve got to bring the lower-performing schools up to par and when we have a larger number of neighborhood schools that people want to attend, we will at least have the possibility of moving away from this concept of a [inaudible] neighborhood schools and busing. The idea that in 2012 it’s some kind of catastrophe for people to go from one neighborhood to another for something that they value highly, I really don’t buy. People move all around, all the time for different things that are important to them. Just look at the sports teams that we’ve got. So, you know, I hear people’s desire for neighborhood schools, but the path out to me is improve the schools, and then we can begin to have more people choosing and having a good opportunity in their neighborhood.
When I first met David, I asked him how he felt about neighborhood schools. His answer was he felt every neighborhood should have a good school. Well, one has to come before the other. First we have to save some money on the busing, in order to improve the underperforming schools. If we go into the least-performing school in the district, I want to reduce those class sizes in elementary down to 15 or 20 if necessary in the least-performing school. I want to give every teacher a teacher’s aide, a smart board, a laptop, 24-hour security, whatever it takes to improve that neighborhood school. But we can’t do that until we save some money on the buses. We’ve got 1,000 buses a day running around this town. And nobody values diversity more than me. Like I said in my opening statement, I thought it would’ve been a knee-jerk decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court had they mandated neighborhood schools last week. This has to be done incrementally. If we start with the elementary grades — right now, Elizabeth (Berfield, candidate) has a daughter, if you don’t mind me saying, that is going to be entering elementary school in the next couple of years, and she’s concerned about where she’s going to school. She lives about 4-5 blocks from Hawthorne Elementary, but she doesn’t know right now whether she’s going to get into Hawthorne or be sent halfway across town. Now, again, if we reduce class sizes and give the parents, again, an opportunity to be a part of the school, then they’re going to be successful. I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again. I did my student teaching at Carrithers Middle School back in 1992. One of my students got in trouble in class and I had to call the parent to pick them up. When I called the parent and told them you have to pick your child up at 4 o’clock, the parent said, “Where are you located?” I said, “We’re out here on Billtown Road in J’town.” The parent asked me where J’town was. She didn’t know if it was Jeffersonville or Jeffersontown. And that’s just an example of how some parents are unconnected from their school. Neighborhood schools are about more than just the classroom. It’s also about getting parents involved. When every child on the street is going to a different school, and that school is 17 miles away, it’s difficult to get them all there for parent-teacher night. So let’s give each child a quality education in elementary school. We’re going to maintain diversity, like I said, with programs that get these schools together, so that they get together. But we’re not going to go back to 1955 or 1965. A lot of our neighborhoods are more diverse now than they were in those days. So we can do this. We can save money and we can improve the education if we reduce class size, get the ADHD and LD and BD kids the individual attention they need by hiring more ECE teachers. Again, for every bus we take off the street, we can hire an ECE teacher. That’s eight more students that we can get them the individual attention they need.
(DEBORAH YETTER INTERRUPTION: “ECE is?”)
HAMING: ECE is exceptional child education. Those are the teachers that take care of needs of kids that have special needs. And in order to do that we’ve got to come up with the money first and we can’t come up with the money until we get some of these buses off the street.
PAM PLATT, to HAMING: “In your intro, you very consciously I think used the term ‘forced busing.’
HAMING: Yes ma’am.
PLATT: Would you just very briefly explain how you justify using that when a lot of this is about school choice.
HAMING: I think we still have forced busing. For example, if Elizabeth doesn’t get her child into Hawthorne Elementary she’s going to be forced to put that child on a bus and go to a school outside of her neighborhood.
ELIZABETH BERFIELD: I would just like to clarify that we are considering a magnet downtown.
HAMING: Well if you don’t get Hawthorne or the magnet then you’re going to be looking at being bused to …
BERFIELD: I still think it comes down to choice. I’m fine with you using my geographic location or whatever or resides location … I’m just saying that we’re not, I’m …
PLATT: It has a lot of baggage that
JONES: Let me jump in (cuts of Berfield). It’s nice to . . .
PLATT: Could we just let Elizabeth finish
JONES: Okay, I thought you’d already, go ahead …
BERFIELD: I would just like to clarify that we have never said we are necessarily considering our resides school right now. We’re probably 50-50 between our reside school and a magnet option, so, it’s fine to use that as an example, but my family isn’t necessarily looking for a reside.
JONES: So, I guess, a couple of points. First, with all due respect, that’s an emotionally charged term in this community and you know that. Forced busing is something that has a long history here. And the idea that I was forced to bus my kids is not credible. A lot of people choose to put their kids on a bus because they want to go to one school instead of another, especially kids who live near a lousy school. The second thing is, it’s great for everybody to have their own opinions, but it’s not great for everybody to have their own facts. And the idea that we can save enough money from cutting busing to fund way more teachers and all this stuff, it’s not supported by the facts. If we go to this neighborhood schools plan, that the Kentucky legislature is looking at forcing on Jefferson County, we will have a massive cap ex requirement– capital expenditure — requirement, we’re going to have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building new schools, we have to do that anyway over the long term because the population of this city has spread out from the core, and our schools are in different places from our people, but we’ve got to do that over time, and thoughtfully. And the claim that cutting the bus rides is going to magically save all the money we save on transportation, are just not credible. A lot of kids are going to be riding buses, no matter what happens. They’ve got a right to ride a bus if they live more than a mile from the school, and a lot of neighborhood schools are more than a mile from the houses.
(TOLHURST COMMENTS … STUPID PAM PLATT QUESTIONS)
HAMING: Just real quickly, David has already said in two separate debates that he’s worried from a fiscal standpoint how much it would cost to build new neighborhood schools. I just want to say that I’m not talking about forcing parents to go their neighborhood school, I want to give them the opportunity to do it. And second, I’d rather spend that money on bricks and mortar and teachers than diesel fuel at $4.06 a gallon that we’re presently doing on a thousand buses a day.
Final note to readers: Neighborhood schools does not mean you will lose your ability to enroll your kid in a magnet program. Neighborhood schools means JCPS will not have the power to forcibly bus your child an hour from your home. Neighborhood schools means you will be able to enroll your child in your neighborhood school if you choose to do so. It’s being done in thousands of school districts across the nation. This is not quantum physics, people.