Survey Results: Student Assignment Plan needs a tune up - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Survey Results: Student Assignment Plan needs a tune up

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - 

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Members of the Jefferson County School Board listened to a presentation from a UCLA integration consultant who they hired to review the district's student assignment plan.

The school board approved $50,000 for research to help consultant Gary Orfield. Two surveys were issued. One for parents and another for high school students. About 1,000 people were surveyed in each group.

"There's a really strong and really unchanging level of support showing from earlier surveys and these surveys in the Greater Louisville community for diverse schools," Orfield said.

"I think that there's been a perception spread around the community and in the state legislature that there's a tremendous amount of discontent with the plan and the city. I think our survey says that's not true," Orfield said.

Some of the key findings indicate less than a fifth of students favored ending the plan, more than two-thirds of parents are satisfied with their child's assigned school, and 90 percent of parents support a policy that allows family choice. The biggest concern about the student assignment plan is on how it is being implemented, including the long bus rides for students.

Some JCPS members told WAVE 3 the results were not much different than what they already knew. "I think it was important to start there so that you can go from there. I think transportation is a problem," School Board Member Carol Haddad said.

Meanwhile School Board Member Larry Hujo said: "I don't think you're ever going to make 100-percent of the people happy that's just not the way things work, but I think we can minimize the disruption".

For many families, the biggest issue is seeing their child on a bus for a longer amount of time to go to another school for the purpose of diversity instead of attending their neighborhood school. Carmen Weathers is a parent who filed a lawsuit against the district over the student assignment plan attended the special school board meeting. "The student assignment plan is...it's put on to make a certain population feel good," he said.

Then there are parents like Eric Allen who support the student assignment plan. His 9-year-old son takes a bus across town to go to Farmer Elementary. "It's a new school and it's a very good school. It's actually better than the traditional school my other son goes to," Allen said.

"With the diversity, he's able to see different people. He's able to see different things. He's exposed to different cultures," Allen added.

But, if you ask Carmen Weathers his thoughts, he questions the results and wants stats on the kids performance.

"Did you hear one person say that academically as a result of this diversity that black kids are learning more? Did you hear that? I didn't hear you?" he questioned.

Reporter: "What did you hear?"

Carmen Weathers: "I didn't hear that."

The school board did not vote on the issue Thursday night. Orfield said they plan to meet with more staff members tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the next step is tackling the transportation problems. WAVE 3 took questions to Transportation Director Rick Caple. He said the district hired a consultant team. He said his office has already spent 70 hours answering their questions ahead of their visit next month.

Links to survey results:

JCPS: http://www.jefferson.k12.ky.us/News/Archive/spotlight/DiversitySurvey.pdf

The Civil Rights Project: http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/news/experiencing-integration-in-louisville-how-parents-and-students-see-the-gains-and-challenges

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