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Diversity, desegregation may take backseat to student achievement in new JCPS proposal

Some believe that as families from lower-income neighborhoods choose to keep their children in neighborhood schools, diversity and desegregation will likely dec
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 4:24 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The proposed School Choice plan for Jefferson County Public Schools means the end of busing for many families, particularly those in west Louisville, and it may also signal the end of desegregation in some schools.

“Believing right now that we have diversity in socioeconomics and diversity of race within our schools is not quite the picture that we have in reality,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said on Tuesday. “There is no possible way to balance out socioeconomics when you have only, nearly 30% of your students paid and 70% are free and reduced lunch. That’s a near impossibility.”

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Some believe that as families from lower-income neighborhoods choose to keep their children in neighborhood schools, diversity and desegregation will likely decline in the district.

Raoul Cunningham of the NAACP is among those who are waiting to see what happens with a plan that has yet to be fully revealed.

“I’m going to work toward diversity and will continue to work toward diversity,” Cunningham said. “But we’re also practical.”

One possible scenario is that west Louisville schools will have a high concentration of poor students and a racial composition that does not reflect the district as a whole. Student achievement is frequently pointed to as the primary goal.

“If they’re going to be segregated in the West End, then the West End is going to need all the support that they can get,” Faye Owens, a former JCPS principal, said. “They need financial support, they need good teachers. They need everything they can have.”

The presentation of the new student assignment plan is paired with pledge from Pollio to direct the most resources to schools with the highest rates of poverty.

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