JCPS responds to Kentucky Education Commissioner's strong commen - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

JCPS responds to Kentucky Education Commissioner's strong comments

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Dr. Donna Hargens during the February 11 JCPS School Board meeting. Dr. Donna Hargens during the February 11 JCPS School Board meeting.
JCPS school board member David Jones JCPS school board member David Jones
Joe Cantrell addressing the JCPS School Board on Feb. 11. Joe Cantrell addressing the JCPS School Board on Feb. 11.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Kentucky's Education Commissioner Terry Holliday warned that the state may have to intervene because nearly all of Jefferson County's persistently low-achieving public schools are not improving. Holliday raised a lot of eyebrows when he called it "academic genocide." While JCPS Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens is aware of those statements, she is not going after the comments directly. 

"We know that the stakes are high we know that the kids are counting on us, we know that the community is counting on us, so we need to work harder to give students opportunity and access to a quality education," said Hargens.

A lot of Monday night's JCPS Board of Education meeting focused on the future, listening to principals from struggling schools. The school board members heard about what they are doing to improve and what is working. But the comments made by the Kentucky Education Commissioner were not ignored.

"Genocide to me is one of the most powerful and vicious words of the world," said David Jones, board member. "What do we need to focus on here when somebody uses those words to describe what's going on here?"

"We have a great sense of urgency in Jefferson County Public Schools," answered Hargens. "There is not a principal out there that isn't urgent because they know the stakes are high."

According to the commissioner, 16 of 18 JCPS schools that underwent overhauls in the past three years to improve academics, showed little or no progress despite receiving millions of resources to improve performance.

Three speakers went before the board to give their take on what was said.

"Is it really fair to compare Valley with Manual, Male and Butler, when those fine schools can pick and choose their students including Valley resides," said Joe Cantrell, a Valley High School alum.

"Certainly I welcome the feedback from KDE, if we could be doing something better," said Hargens.

Dr. Hargens said improving low performing schools is something that takes time, but they are dedicated to providing teachers the help they need.

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