How SCALA Can Be Part of JCPS Progress

I am so pleased with the positive news coming out of JCPS these days.

The school district news includes progress on achievement, innovation, collaboration and leadership cohesiveness.

Just a few years ago, there was more dissension and negativity; some earned, some unearned.

In every phase, the passion of our community to provide the best education possible for the county’s kids has been consistent. Sometimes, however, disagreement on how to get that done has hindered even the best efforts.

So, my call to the leaders of the newly-rebooted SCALA (Steering Committee for Action on Louisville’s Agenda) is to recognize what has occurred at JCPS: more positive energy and real movement on removing barriers that can affect achievement.

SCALA came together a year or so ago, with one of its goals the improvement of JCPS, and its renewed three-pronged agenda still includes the school system.

Positive energy can be dragged down by a drumbeat of negativity. Being positive doesn’t mean being Pollyanna; it means feeding the progress with your support, rather than focusing on the imperfections. While it might be counterintuitive, that strategy has the most impact on really addressing the imperfections.

Ask Superintendent Polio and the JCPS Board members what they need. There are many ways you can help. Local business leaders have historically been dependable sources of support for schools.  Ask about the recent news on MAP testing – that’s the mid-year check at schools to make sure kids are progressing. You’ll find the results are good news.

We know that many kids leave JCPS very well prepared and educated; many do not. Much of the reason students don’t succeed is caused more by what’s going on in their lives outside of school, rather than what goes on in the classroom.

Our schools are getting better at engaging these kids in learning by addressing their needs. Schools provide food, mental health services, counseling, before- and after-school tutoring, strategies to deal with anger they can’t control, resources to stop substance abuse, programs to identify and manage bullying, connections to potential careers, even choices of different types of school…. the list goes on. Now that list even includes suicide prevention.

I have been a mentor for a teen who will be the first in four generations to graduate from high school. That’s if they make it. This student has changed schools about five times since a little over a year ago – not just within Jefferson County. I fear this child is just waiting to turn 18 – the age you can legally drop out.  It’s hard to keep catching up.

Don’t take the focus off this student and many like them.

The news coming out of JCPS and its elected Board of Education is that they know these problems are the ones that need to be addressed. When we remove barriers to learning – and really support educators as professionals –more students will graduate “prepared, empowered, and inspired to reach their full potential,” as the JPCS Vision declares.

So, to the members of SCALA: support JCPS and its leaders. They are on the right track. That’s what I hear when I’m out in the community. The positive buzz matters; feed that energy by focusing on the good work underway.



About Debbie Wesslund

I served on the Jefferson County Board of Education, Louisville, KY, from 2007-2014 and continue to be an advocate for public schools. There’s a high-level dialogue about public education that swings from positive to negative, with many who seek the spotlight voicing an inaccurate picture of our public schools. Words matter. They get lodged in our public perceptions, creating a narrative that doesn’t reflect the real story. There’s so much more to public education, and much worth applauding in Kentucky and across the country. The stakes are high: public education is the most serious public business we are about as a community, a state and a nation. We must continually renew our resolve to support public education. There’s always more promise in building something up, than in tearing it down.
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