Letter from our PTSA President:
After attending the Vision 2020 (JCPS strategic plan) meeting on May 8, 2015, and reading much of the information on the website , I need to make you aware that:
- The Vision 2020 process to gather taxpayer input is well organized, and there are a lot of great ideas and resources in the community for JCPS to tap into, BUT
- The Board has three sessions scheduled, including a two-day Board retreat, to work on the strategic plan BEFORE the input gathering meetings even happen at the Westport Middle School and Fairdale High School locations AND
- There is special meeting of the Board THIS MONDAY, May 11 which includes a 5:00pm work session to discuss the magnet review timeline. I do not know if taxpayers can attend these meetings, and I assume there is no opportunity to address the Board. HOWEVER,
- At the regular 7:00pm Board meeting this Monday, May 11, you may address the board. You must sign up on Monday to do that; here is how to.
On Monday, after recognizing three national award winning students (two of whom attend Manual), JCPS will present its PowerPoint: Strategies 2.1 and 2.2 to the Board. This ppt just went up on the site on Friday, and when first viewed, included the centralized admissions slide, but now that slide has been deleted from the publicly-accessed site.
I am alarmed by this, because we were specifically told, by the Chief Officer of the JCPS Data Management, Planning, and Program Evaluation Division, that beginning LAST summer, taxpayer input would be gathered and that community members (like parents and students) would be on the committee. His office released a calendar of when and how the MSA review report would be processed, including taxpayer input. We immediately responded with the names and contact information of 2 parents willing to serve on that committee, and offered to find more if needed. They were never contacted, and in last month’s Board meeting, the list of “community members” who gave input on the review were ALL JCPS employees.
SO, WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION:
- Email your input to your TWO board members (Diane Porter, who represents Manual, and Diane or whichever member represents your home address) . PLEASE cc email@example.com, so we can create a comprehensive document. Here is the link to find your Board member: http://www.jefferson.kyschools.us/board/Index.html
- Call the Board office to get on the agenda to speak. You must sign up on Monday to do that; here is how to.
- Forward this information to all parents, students, friends, community members, etc that you can. Manual’s success needs to be replicated, not disassembled. This is important for ALL JCPS families and our entire community.
The JCPS Board meets MONDAY, MAY 11, ALL, 2015 AT 7:00PM AT VANHOOSE EDUCATION CENTER, 3332 Newburg Road, 4020
Link to agendas and meeting dates (If you have trouble with the links, let me know and I will send you the documents directly. Wish I had saved that first Strategie ppt; if you did, please share it with firstname.lastname@example.org and we will distribute it.)
From the Board website:
What are the board’s goals?
The board has established several goals for the entire school district:
GOAL 1: Increased Learning Every student progresses in his or her learning and meets or exceeds proficiency in all subjects.
GOAL 2: Graduation and Beyond Every student graduates prepared for his or her postsecondary choice — for college or career, and life.
GOAL 3: Stakeholder Involvement/Engagement Parents, community, and partners enrich students’ educational experiences and support their success.
GOAL 4: Safe, Resourced, Supported, And Equipped Schools All schools are staffed, resourced, and equipped to support student needs.
The 5pm working meeting will focus on implementing several of the MSA (Magnet Schools of America) recommendations for JCPS. MSA Recommendation #11 is that “JCPS should adopt a centralized application process and conduct lotteries for all magnet schools…” Notes from the currently PowerPoint to be shown at this meeting are as follows-
The JCPS Board’s goal is to “Approve/implement in 2016-2017 centralized applications/acceptance process for magnet schools.”
The recommendation criteria for middle and high school magnets-
3- Test Scores: ACT and KPREP
Three possible admission scenarios-
1- Combine the four above criteria and do a random draw of all students that meet the threshold. (Threshold to be set low).**
2- Rank students based on above four factors and fill the slots moving down the ranked list.
3- Random draw of all students that meet each criteria. (Threshold to be set low.)
**In the PowerPoint, data shows only scenario 1 will help with school diversity.
May 2015- Board and Principal Input Sessions
May 11- Magnet Review Timeline in worksession
May 26- Magnet Steering Committee Update
June 2015- Community input sessions (no date given)
Board approval (no date given)
Work session on Magnet Review- https://portal.ksba.org/public/Meeting.aspx?PublicAgencyID=89&PublicMeetingID=13581&AgencyTypeID=
How to speak at a meeting:
- Register with the secretary of the board by calling (502) 485-3342, Mon. through Fri., between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tell the secretary the topic you would like to address. Or you may register on-site at a meeting before it starts.
- You’ll have three minutes to address the board. If that isn’t enough time, write a letter to the board members or call your representative at (502) 485-3566.
- When you’re called to speak at a meeting, approach the microphone and say your name and the name of any organization or group of citizens you’re representing.
- Explain your concern, complaint, question, or opinion. Give supporting examples or reasons.
- End your remarks by telling the board members the action you want them to take.
- If you’re reading from a script, you may want to provide copies for board members and for the superintendent.
- Avoid repeating similar views of other speakers. In the interest of time, it’s best to designate a single spokesperson to represent a group. You can show your numbers by asking those present to stand or simply by telling the board how many belong to your organization.
- Limit your comments to one item or issue.
- Always be polite. Avoid name calling, finger pointing, accusations, or demeaning language.
Once again there are rumors swirling that duPont Manual’s current admissions process and, perhaps, its composition may be changed by the District Board and District administration. It is important for our community to educate these and other parties about the wonderful and cohesive school we have here and how important it is that the District not attempt to sever some section of the school and move it elsewhere, or to take our admissions process to an offsite office that has not had the time, experience, or success in meeting students’ needs that Manual has.
There is a misconception in the community that Manual is a school without challenges. That is simply not true. We have students with physical and mental challenges who participate in our ECE program and many who are mainstreamed. Our school includes ESL students as well as a significant number who benefit from the Free and Reduced Lunch program. Manual has a very large number of students who might not be able to be served at ANY other JCPS school. <cut?> The notion that all who attend Manual are from privileged families is simply untrue.
What we do have is students and families who believe strongly in the importance of education and hard work to attain educational goals. We have many really talented students and we also have even more students who tap into the talents they possess and work really hard to master the subjects that interest them. We also have many parents who put their child’s (and, sometimes, other children’s) education attainment ahead of their own interests.
We are also fortunate that our students are not one dimensional. They thrive in the academic environment here but also treasure the opportunity to explore the fine arts. Our artists also want to excellent academics available in the core curriculum. Not only are our students scholars and artists, they are volunteers in the community and athletes after school. We are blessed with a well rounded student body and Manual would not be the same without any of these elements.
Although there is a claim circulating that Manual is responsible for depleting the numbers of students who attend their home school, the fact is that there are other schools in each district that lose more of their resides students to schools other than Manual. None of these other schools are under the scrutiny that Manual is facing. For details, take a look at JCPS data: http://www.jefferson.k12.ky.us/departments/acctresplan/databook/Databook1314/High_Data_Book.html
If a lottery is used, to maintain diversity the standards will need to be lowered. If the standards are lowered, the quality of the educational experience will be diminished at Manual. The academic rigor in the classrooms will decrease since the student body will not be able to keep pace with the current level of teaching at Manual. The number of AP classes will decrease since less students will be enrolling in AP classes. The number of academic extracurricular activities will decrease along with the success of the current academic extracurricular activities due to the change in the student population.
The families that were looking for the peer interaction magic that currently exists at Manual will begin to migrate to private and catholic schools decreasing JCPS enrollment/market share or to other JCPS schools. This will continue the downward spiral since less people will be wanting to commute to Manual since it will not be any different from any other high school. The kids that stay within the JCPS system will be spread among the other high schools. These students WILL NOT raise up the academic level of the school they attend. Studies have shown that a few advanced students in a population will actually gravitate down to the norm since they are not challenged.
As a student, parent, taxpayer, community member, we encourage you to contact your elected Board members. Many Manual families have two Board members – Diane Porter, in whose area Manual is located, and the representative from the area where they live. Please let them know how important it is to you and to your school choice that the Board maintain what is working at Manual; promote what is working at other fine schools in JCPS; and increase resources so that there are MORE spaces for hard working students, rather than continuing to send taxpayers to private schools.
The more people that speak out against the lottery, the bigger the impact we will have. Please remember to be polite and do not speak poorly of other JCPS schools whose staffs work very hard to provide a good education, sometimes in very challenging environments. You do not want to alienate any potential supporters. We do not need to make other schools look bad to show how great Manual is!
Every Manual family should keep in mind that the job of the JCPS school board is to serve the best interests of all JCPS students. As such, the lottery issue revolves around Manual as a school CHOICE and not as a GOOD SCHOOL. Every JCPS student deserves a good school. And it is offensive to other JCPS principals and teachers to say that Manual is a better school. There are many principals and teachers throughout JCPS who are doing the best job they can with the talent and resources they have available. These teachers would love to have the current Manual students in their own classrooms. And the board members who represent those schools would love to have the Manual students test scores in their district.
Manual has better test scores because Manual has selective admissions. So, the questions is ‘Why should JCPS allow one school to have selective admissions? The answer is to maintain school choice in JCPS.
The best reason for JCPS to keep Manual as a selective school is to maintain CHOICES for JCPS families. Offering MST or HSU programs through a lottery is, effectively, not a choice. And, ultimately, neither program will even survive in its current form if it is made up of students selected by a lottery.
In the case of MST, you could also argue that Manual offers a school choice not available anywhere else in Jefferson County, including private and parochial schools. Arguably none of the private or parochial schools offer the rigor or STEM curriculum choices available in MST.
JCPS also benefits from a selective admission at Manual because it incentivizes students to perform both in and out of school. There is no incentive to work hard in middle school if high school is a lottery.
But, ultimately, the greatest loss in a lottery would be the loss of SCHOOL CHOICE. After all, from JCPS’ perspective, distributing Manual students throughout the school district would still keep those test scores in JCPS assuming familes don’t leave JCPS. And that is the second best argument against a lottery; FAMILIES WILL LEAVE JCPS.