The Courier-Journal reports that a letter from Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday to the Jefferson County Public School System (JCPS) directly identifies confusion over union contract issues as a roadblock to making badly needed changes in the school district’s Persistently Low-Achieving Schools (PLAs).
Holliday says that “perception issues” on the part of teachers in some of the schools have led to those teachers trying to hide behind the union’s contract as a way to avoid making changes.
Holliday points out that the provisions of Kentucky law regarding PLAs do not allow union contracts to interfere, but that message has not reached teachers who refused to go along with such things as allowing members of a state assistance team to monitor classes so they could provide teachers with assistance on how to improve their classroom delivery.
Holliday’s letter to the JCPS outlines other past deficiencies in PLAs management. Some key ones include “lack of clarity in the district’s vision for its persistently low-achieving schools.”
The Courier continues: “In addition, Holliday said the district has not provided turnaround training for its principals and assistant principals at its persistently low-achieving schools.”
Those sorts of activities are essential to any decent turnaround.
Hopefully, with signs that the JCPS superintendent is becoming more receptive to Holliday’s comments, things may finally get a bit better in these schools.
Still the process is terribly slow, and kids in schools now can’t wait while efforts that should have started two years ago still remain only discussions, not actions.
This brings home the sad reality that if Kentucky had charter schools, which have a proven track record of moving MUCH faster than traditional public schools when reforms are needed, those current students could already be getting benefits that somehow still remain out of reach.