The Decision-Making Council for the Coalition for the People’s Agenda Education Committee votes YES to support the JCPS tax referendum on the 2020 ballot.

Contact: Gay Adelmann, Chair
(502) 565-8397

Posted October 19, 2020

For generations, JCPS has denied its non-white and West End students the same educational opportunities and outcomes as the rest of Louisville’s residents. After decades of broken promises and wasteful spending, voters have good reasons to want to deny district administrators more of their hard-earned tax dollars. 

However, recent pressure from education-focused grassroots groups has created opportunities for change. In 2016, voters successfully derailed two predatory school board members from controlling the school board and in 2017, the new board was able to remove and replace the superintendent with someone who had been in the trenches with us for over 20 years, serving as a coach, teacher and principal in some of JCPS’s lowest-performing, high-needs schools. During his three years at the helm, he has demonstrated a commitment to racial equity. Engaged stakeholders have also thwarted a state takeover of our district, held charter schools and vouchers at bay state-wide, and impacted numerous pieces of legislation for the better. 

Outsiders and infiltrators who attack our public schools do so in an effort to deny funding so they can divert these dollars away from serving our community and toward their own interests. We may not always appreciate how our district has served our community, but we love our schools and we love our students. And when you come for one of us, you come for all of us.

Last night, our Coalition’s 17-member Council, which consists of community leaders and stakeholders representing a broad range of organizations and experiences, voted 13-4 in favor of the tax levy. This support, however, is not “unconditional.” The Council evaluated the district’s response to the demands of the Coalition and while more needs to be done, the majority of our members feel that JCPS has demonstrated that they are working in good faith to meet the demands of the Coalition at this time. The other organizations that have taken a position on the tax levy have been overwhelmingly white, business-oriented, with little to no stake in the system. The Council, in contrast, is made up of mostly black, authentic stakeholders, taxpayers and grassroots voices of the district.

Our message of support will be conveyed across the community through a strategic grassroots marketing campaign. In addition, the Coalition’s PAC will be focused on the two contested school board races, as well as local and state races up and down the November 3 ballot. School board candidates Sarah Cole McIntosh and Jody Hurt are the only two candidates in contested school board races that have agreed to support a Resolution for the People’s Agenda and the ongoing work of the Coalition.

The Coalition for the People’s Agenda Education Committee has been meeting for the past several months to refine the following list of reasonable demands in an effort to demand accountability and transparency necessary from district leadership in order to bring meaningful transformation to our schools.  These four reasonable demands to “EARN” the People’s vote are:

Evaluation of the current Student Assignment Plan in its entirety.

Anti-racist budget (national divest/invest conversation)

Resolution to Support the Coalition for the People’s Agenda

No wholesale return to in-person schooling until it’s safe

These demands were presented to JCPS leadership ahead of the vote by the Decision-Making Council for the Education Committee of the People’s Agenda, an ad hoc subcommittee that consists of community leaders representing a broad array of Black and Black-allied grassroots voices. The 17 members’ profiles are available here.

This is our moment to flip the script. Not only by DIVESTING from over-policing of black and brown bodies in our community, and INVESTING in education and community supports, but also flip the script on the district’s decades-old, structurally racist student assignment plan. 

Louisville, Kentucky is ground zero for the movement for Black Lives, and in particular for Black female lives. Through this proposed tax increase and changes to the structurally racist student assignment plan, we have, for the first time in decades, a real opportunity for transformative change in our community. Let’s not forget Breonna Taylor was a JCPS graduate. We demand justice for Breonna across ALL levels of government, including our school system, the 29th largest in the country! We want taxpayers and voters to know that the Coalition for the People’s Agenda is woke, and with education and youth empowerment as one of nine key areas of concern, we intend to seize this time and take back our schools! And we are asking for your help.

Beginning tomorrow, and over the next two weeks, we are ramping up our “get out the vote” efforts.  We are asking individuals and organizations to adopt the four main polling locations to educate voters. We also need volunteers to assist with canvassing and literature drops in key school board races and in the West End. We also have a presentation available to organizations, businesses, community groups who want to share the message regarding the disparities caused by the current inequitable student assignment plan, the generations of harm that have been caused, and solutions to flip the script. 

Visit the Voter Education Sign Up page to volunteer or for more information.

Donations to support the coalition’s tax increase campaign can be made to Dear JCPS, LLC. The Coalition’s PAC, Kentuckians for Real Options, is also accepting donations. The Council will also continue to demand accountability and transparency from district leaders after the ballot measure passes.