Former Rep. Bob Heleringer, R-Louisville, responded to the recent state audit of Jefferson County Public Schools by stating two important observations: (1) Money is not the problem and (2) Kentucky parents need choices when it comes to educating their children.
And speaking of six figures, here in Louisville, those searching for steady employment with high income, generous benefits and absolutely zero chance of layoff or those nitpicking job evaluations need look no further than the offices of the Jefferson County Public Schools system. As announced last week in a scathing report by state Auditor Adam Edelen, our public school’s administration is, to borrow a real estate euphemism, “under water,” in that as the list of “low-performing” (read: failing) schools continues to climb, and the achievement gaps for minority students continue to widen, the salaries of those overseeing this debacle are growing faster than the dandelions in one’s springtime lawn.
Fresh on the heels of the death penalty meted out to Myers Middle School and with no real progress in sight for six of the state’s 10 worst-performing high schools located in Jefferson County (2010 Kentucky Department of Education audit), life goes on sublimely at the Van Hoose Education Center, where 370 people pull down $100,000 annual salaries and never is heard a discouraging word.
What will our school board members do about this crisis? Well, not much, apparently. Board member Carol Haddad shockingly labeled the devastating audit a ploy by the state auditor to gild his resume for higher office. And, she harrumphed, “I think that is terrible.”
What’s really “terrible” is a see-hear-say-no-evil JCPS board member who refuses to be galvanized into action by the extremely troubling results of a study that JCPS originally requested. And how about this gem from board Chairwoman Diane Porter: “This guidance (the audit) is coupled with several things we are already doing to ensure transparency and efficiency.” Translation: “Taxpayers, get lost. We’re not doing a blessed thing about Mr. Edelen’s findings — but we will put our blind intransigence online for you.”
In the final analysis, the auditor’s report confirms two unassailable truths: (1) The failures of the Jefferson County Public Schools system are definitely not the result of inadequate funding, and (2) things will never change unless a reform-minded (next) governor and General Assembly empower parents to direct their education tax dollars to the public, private, religious schools of their choice without the assistance of even a single $88,281.89-per-year JCPS “placement specialist.”