The Bevin administration is up to something. He didn’t campaign on it, he never announced it as part of his agenda, he certainly hasn’t begun a public dialogue with constituents… but everything he has done relating to Jefferson County Public Schools is what one would do if they intend to end student busing — to re-segregate JCPS.
While students, parents, teachers and would-be protesters were on summer vacation, Bevin was busy lining up the dominoes waiting to push the first one over.
In the last few weeks, Bevin, by executive order, abolished and reorganized 11 state boards and panels — replacing all of the state’s education authority with an all-new, all-Bevin-appointed education board; by extension he appointed Hal Heiner to be the chairman of the state education board — Heiner, who is a regular critic of JCPS and the student assignment plan that requires busing.
All while interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis was preparing a settlement offer for JCPS, which, he asserts, would avoid a total state takeover. Bullshit.
This latest proposal, the coup de grâce, is to broker a deal with the school system wherein the Bevin administration gets a fraction of what it threatened and 100 percent of what they wanted. A textbook Trumpian tactic, for certain. The state, through Lewis, is engaging in both hostage-taking and incredibly disingenuous negotiating with JCPS.
Lewis’ proposal would give the state “enhanced oversight” and veto power over specific JCPS programs and plans. Seeing as Lewis cited the student assignment plan — busing — as one of the reasons the state needed to take over the district, one could safely assume that it will be one of Lewis’ areas of interest for enhanced oversight.
In other words, they never wanted all of JCPS — they just wanted the pieces that could help accomplish their agenda. And, what better way to achieve your objective (both politically and expeditiously) than to take JCPS hostage, force it to the negotiating table and make it think that it’s getting off easy?
How can people be upset when JCPS becomes a network of exclusive charter schools and vouchers suck money from public schools… and the district is re-segregated, when the school board agreed to this deal?
It’s important to understand that supporters of re-segregation don’t necessarily follow party lines or, ironically, racial lines. For some, there may be a historical amnesia for why desegregation is the law of the land — why the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against segregation in Brown v. Board. For others, it is the belief that kids shouldn’t have to spend more time on buses. There is also the position that, since our community suffers from de facto segregation anyway, why not own up to it and at least treat kids equally.
These opinions are fair for a philosophical policy debate, but the forces behind the desire to re-segregate JCPS schools are real and moving so fast that the opportunity for public debate will be long past. And it’s not safe to assume that Lewis is going to be a defender of desegregation just because he is African-American.
In fact, Lewis will not be a defender of integrated schools. He, along with Bevin and Heiner, are lining up the dominoes to reshape JCPS in a pre-1954 model… you know, when America was allegedly great, unless you were a minority… or a woman.
Bevin and his Radio Flyer wagon full of sycophants will point to a number of problems and issues with JCPS in the coming weeks: special education, violence and racial-success disparities… and dungeons.
And we can argue about whether this is the group that will provide the right leadership to completely overhaul a school system for over 100,000 kids; a group with more experience in conservative and religious policy think tanks than in a classroom; a group that has offered no proposals, plans of action or reforms, other than threaten a takeover; and, a group that is openly hostile toward public schools and school teachers.
But there is a more specific malevolence at work.
They are going to separate the wealthy, entitled white kids from the poor, underachieving black kids. And, when they’re finished doing that, those left behind will be too poor and disenfranchised to cause any trouble.
If JCPS agrees to some sort of bargain, where they will “avoid state takeover” in exchange for agreeing to enhanced oversight of particular programs, it will lead to a re-segregation of JCPS.