‘Louminati,’ David Jones Sr.’s agitated defiance, JCPS is well run

Presumably you weren’t invited to join the Louisville illuminati. No faux communists allowed, I should think.

I’m not a faux communist, I’m a genuine, free-market socialist. But I was NFI, which is a pity for them because they could use some of my wit and wisdom, plus I could’ve claimed I came up with “The Louminati.” However, as it happens I don’t have time for steering committees on Louisville’s future on account of I’ve got an actual job to go to.

Weird how defensive they got once the cat was out the bag, as if they’d all been caught with their trousers around their ankles while looking at Playboy. I don’t believe for one second some of the rubbish I’ve read about them being driven by a desire to loot the education budget, I think they’re genuinely interested in making this city better. But this is a crap way to go about it, and David Jones Sr.’s agitated defiance shows he knows it too.

I think what upsets people is the arrogance of it all. The idea that these folk, because they’ve been independently successful in one walk of life — and that doesn’t apply to all of them, by the way — are able to just wave their magic wands at the city’s problems and make them vanish, as long as the peasants do what they say. Besides, a group of 70 people? What made any of them think that was a good idea? Herding cats. The 70 biggest egos in Louisville too, mind.

I thought you said you weren’t involved?

How droll. Another oddity is that this coterie formed just as Jr. lost his seat on the school board. Just a coincidence, surely.

Only the worst kind of cynic would think it might have anything to do with Jr.’s bitterness about losing a public election to someone who has actually spent time teaching in a classroom. Only the worst kind of cynic would think that.

Probably, but Jr. is very far from stupid, I’ll give him that. And having taught in a classroom shouldn’t be a litmus test for roles in education management. But skepticism about Sr.’s claim that it was set up in response to the lack of leadership during the Wal-Mart saga in The West End is wholly justified.

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“Lack of leadership.” There was leadership during the Wal-Mart negotiations; just not enlightened liberal leadership, politely urging the locals to be grateful for whatever crumbs Massah was offering, and be a good chap, don’t make a fuss about it. The leadership came from local people who weren’t interested in being shoved around by Wal-Mart in exchange for some hideous monstrosity. And we can’t have that now, can we?

Course not. If any of the Louminati had wanted to get involved they could’ve. But they chose not to. Each and every one of these self-styled powerbrokers has been part of Louisville’s equivalent to the Freemasons for years — and to my knowledge did sweet-fuck-all, unless sneering from the touchline counts. But hey, they convinced themselves that The West End could really use an organic farm-produce wholesaler, so what do we know?

What The West End needs is jobs that pay livable wages, not nine bucks an hour. That’s the best way to build neighbourhoods, just as taking them away is the best way to destroy neighbourhoods. The West End needs help getting that sort of investment, I don’t think anyone would deny that. Almost any of this Louminati could help provide it, but to do it effectively means spending time in communities finding out what’s needed and wanted, not sitting in a fancy boardroom patting yourself on the back.

Hence the first thing this gang’s doing is trying to dismantle JCPS. Nothing says we want to help with investment in The West End quite like dismantling the school system. Back to the arrogance — what makes them think it’s for them to do? Do they think you could run their businesses? Of course not. So why do they think they can run JCPS? One of them runs one of the colleges in town, and who’d want a church leader, especially this particular church leader, anywhere near their kids?

I wonder how many of them went to JCPS schools or currently send their children to them? Not many would be my bet.

OK, you want to hear something controversial? JCPS gets bloody good results compared to other national school systems; it’s full of teachers who’re incredibly dedicated to their kids and who get infinitely more stick than they deserve; and, although there’s always room for improvement, it’s also run pretty damn well too. If Louisvillians would accept that, instead of the tedious, insecure mantra that JCPS is a disaster — which comes from both sides of the aisle — then it could even be improved. Let’s be honest, if your kid’s too unintelligent to get into Male or Manual, you send him to Trinity or St X. Our best public schools are better than our best private ones. End of.

Right, and people seem to think the way to improve it is to tell teachers that the beatings will continue until morale improves. Of course, education could be run better and could get better results, as could any organisation. But I think our friends at SCALA would find that tearing an institution down and handing it to well-intentioned-but-hapless nabobs doesn’t usually get you the results you hoped for.

Yep. Now, if only there were an allusion to national politics I could make here.

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