"Academic genocide" commenter meets JCPS supt. face-to-face - WDRB 41 Louisville News

"Academic genocide" commenter meets JCPS supt. face-to-face

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The man who described the problems of JCPS as "academic genocide" went face-to-face with the woman in charge of the school district. 

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday makes no apologies for his assessment:  "What I saw was a whole group of children being removed from the economy and probably ending up in your prison system."

To which JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens replied, "I invite you to come into a Jefferson County public school, so if you think you know, come and see for yourself."

Terry Holiday said 18 of the 41 lowest performing schools in Kentucky are in JCPS, and most of the students who are graduating from these schools are not college or career ready.

An event at the St. Stephen Family Life Center at 15th & Kentucky was intended to be a lunchtime conversation on the data that suggests the school district's underperforming students may be on a quick path to prison -- it's a route that runs right through Louisville's West End.

"We absolutely offer no excuses," Hargens said. "We are about helping every child, child by child."

As controversial as the comments that brought the panel of education experts together are some suggestions for solutions:  "Stop b-----ing and moaning," Pastor C.B. Akins of Black Males Working Academy said to gasps, "and do something about the deplorable situation that's causing your kids to go down the tubes."

Pastor Akins suggested more after-school and even weekend programs.  He helped lead a successful turnaround in Fayette County Schools.

The Education Commissioner himself said to address the teachers union. 

"Let's have a collective bargaining agreement with low-performing schools that begins to help the people with the how (to turn schools around) and provides incentives for teachers to want to go to these schools and stay in these schools and help these kids," he said.

The crowd overflowed from Saint Stephen's Family Life Center.  Teachers and school board members mixed with principals and parents and people with everyday concerns.

Parent Terra Leavell said the idea of, "bridging us all together to talk about what's needed is critical.  This was excellent."

Holliday said he hoped the conversation would, "Get community action, not community talking."

"I'm excited about the momentum," Hargens said.  Holliday complimented Hargens' commitment to addressing and changing the problem, but he will evaluate the 18 low-achieving schools again this summer.

If he's still not satisfied with their growth, the state could eventually step in and run the turnaround.

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