Press Release: Jefferson County advocate receives Raimondo Leadership Award

November 27, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information, Contact:
Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Executive Director
(office) 859-233-9849
(cell) 859-322-8999
brigitte.blomramsey@prichardcommittee.org

Jefferson County advocate receives Raimondo Leadership Award

Recognized by Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

LEXINGTON, Ky. – An education advocate described as a passionate champion for giving every student access to educational excellence is the recipient of the 2018 Beverly Nickell Raimondo Leadership Award presented by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

Judith Bradley of Louisville, the parent of a high school student with special needs, has become a resource and advocate for all students with disabilities and their families.

Her conviction about her son’s potential “had her keeping up with laws on how Kentucky schools are supposed to work, reaching out to university researchers, educating teachers and administrators about strategies for supporting students with special needs and encouraging her son to identify and articulate his needs,” Prichard Committee Executive Director Brigitte Blom Ramsey said in announcing the award.

Bradley’s son, Jack, became the first Inclusion Ambassador for the Prichard Committee’s Student Voice Team where he helped interview students at the Kentucky School for the Blind, participated in strategy sessions, presented at conferences, testified before state and local school boards, and wrote commentaries for the local and national media.

In 2016, Bradley launched JackBeNimble, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the community with tools to, as she describes it, “bridge the empathy gap between students, families, educators and policymakers.”

The award, presented at the committee’s recent annual meeting, recognizes the legacy of Beverly Raimondo, who developed the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership more than 20 years ago. Since its creation, the institute has trained more than 2,500 parents and guardians in Kentucky to effect positive change in schools for their own children and all other students.

One of Bradley’s nominators noted: “If ever there was a person who embodies Bev Raimondo’s vision of a parent leader who understands that success means working to improve the system for all children, beyond one’s own, it would be difficult to find a parent more fitting than Judith Bradley.”

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The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is an independent, nonpartisan, citizen-led organization working to improve education in Kentucky – early childhood through postsecondary.

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Adequacy Gap, Equity Failure: Kentucky’s School Transportation Funding

Transportation funding is not the biggest injustice in Kentucky school finance, but it is probably the easiest one to prove. Here comes a short demonstration of how last year’s funding was $225 less per pupil than needed, with the impact on individual students ranging from over $300 to under $100 depending on where those students lived.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IS NOT ADEQUATE
$360.4 million was the cost to transport all bus riders during the 2017-2018 school year.

$225.5 million of that cost was met by state funding.

$134.9 million was, therefore, the amount by which Kentucky transportation funding was inadequate.

Often, there is room for big debate about what amount will provide adequate funding, but in this case, the proof is much simpler. For transportation, the General Assembly itself set the formula for deciding what is needed, and the $360.4 million cost was calculated by the Department of Education those exact rules. The $225.5 million is straight from the General Assembly’s budget legislation for the 2016-2018 biennium, and that means the $134.9 million is simple subtractions to prove the student need that went unmet.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING IS NOT EQUITABLE
The unfunded $134.9 million could have meant a gap of $225 per pupil all across the state, but it wasn’t handled that way. Instead, the losses varied dramatically depending on where students lived.

$300 or more per pupil was denied to students in 15 Kentucky districts, all of them rural counties.

$100 or less was denied to students in 16 districts, all of them independent districts named for their cities and towns.

In between, $200 to $299 was denied to students in 105 additional districts, and $100 to $199 was denied to students in 37 districts.

Below is a look at the districts that lost the most and the least money per student, and the impact on every district statewide can be seen in this short report.

A BIT MORE EXPLANATION
Why are there differences? The more rural the district and the more spread out the students, the more transportation costs. When the department hands out the cuts, it takes the same percentage from each district’s need. That means that the more a district needs, the more they take away.

Why doesn’t the Department take the same amount for each student? State law says to hand out the cuts on a “pro rata” basis and the Department interprets that to mean the same percent (and therefore different dollar amounts) from each district.

Why isn’t taking more from those who need more unconstitutional? There isn’t a good answer there. On the facts above, the method violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution and the requirements of Rose v. Council for Better Education. Accordingly, it looks like the Department would be acting lawfully as well as justly if it made the same cut per pupil to every district. Of course, the General Assembly has the ultimate responsibility here, and they would be acting lawfully as well as fairly if they provided the adequate funding required by its own formula. Short of that, the legislature could fix the inequity by directing the Department to make the cuts match per pupil rather than by the current pro rata method.

THE BOTTOM LINE
Kentucky transportation funding is not adequate or equitable, and both failings are easy to demonstrate. For districts faced with these shortfalls, there is no option of not providing transportation, so these funding gaps are likely handled by spending less on books and other learning materials or less on teachers and other staff. Kentucky needs to do better.

MORE INFORMATION
This short Prichard report shows the funded and unfunded transportation costs for each district. All the numbers used here come from the Department of Education’s final 2017-18 SEEK files, with each district’s needed 2017-18 funding shown as “Un-prorated Transportation” in the Data file and the funding actually received shown as the “Adjust for Transportation” in the Summary file.

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Press Release: Prichard Committee names new board members, elects leadership

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A retired educator, a leader in gifted and talented education and the head of one of Kentucky’s major manufacturers have been named as board members of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

The three joined the board of the citizens’ advocacy organization during its recent annual meeting, where members also elected board leaders.

The new board members are:

Bonnie Lash Freeman, a retired Education/Training Specialist and Director at the National Center for Family Learning in Louisville. She currently conducts professional development sessions in family literacy, early literacy and reading. An active member of the Prichard Committee, she is a recently ordained Deacon at St. Stephen Baptist Church and is vice chair of the High Scope Educational Research Foundation, board chair of the Louisville Central Community Centers, INC, and a board member of the Kentucky Reading Association.

Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK), where she oversees a $7 billion operation that employs more than 8,000 people. TMMK is Toyota’s largest production facility globally. Elkington, who recently became a Prichard Committee member, joined TMMK in January 2017 as senior vice president overseeing the plant’s manufacturing and administrative functions. She became president in 2018 and is a board member of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, a STEP Ahead Honoree and ATHENA of Southwest Indiana Award Finalist.

Dr. Julia Link Roberts, the Mahurin Professor of Gifted Studies and Executive Director of The Center for Gifted Studies and The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at Western Kentucky University. She has been honored for her work by being named one of the 100 gifts WKU has given to the world. An award-winning advocate for gifted children at the state, national and international levels, Roberts serves on the boards of the Kentucky Association for Gifted Education and The Association for the Gifted, is president of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, and chairs The Kentucky Advisory Council for Gifted Education.

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Expanding Relevant Challenges in Louisville

OCTOBER 2018  \\\\\  MOORE MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL in LOUISVILLE EXPANDING RELEVANT CHALLENGES A school with 2,300 students might seem an unlikely place for individual voices to stand out. Still, 13-year-olds Abigail Pena Lopez and Jenny Tello Montejo feel encouraged as...

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An Absent-Minded Quest

I’ve been feeling somewhat like an adventurer on an epic quest in search of the answer to a question that, in my mind, should be fairly simple:

What is chronic absenteeism?
As part of the new accountability standards, I assumed that a functioning definition for the term MUST exist somewhere in the vast catalogues of information we now access on the Internet. After all, it was defined and utilized within the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and as part of the Office of Education Accountability (OEA) report. Yet, the more I asked, the more the answer changed.

Surely, the definition must be somewhere.

Yet, as part of my journey, slaying the dragons of red tape and being the new “guy”, I was informed – much to this researcher’s chagrin – that a singular definition of chronic absenteeism does not exist. Though the many permutations of the discussion are similar, there are nuances. On my quest, I came across these similar (yet different) definitions:

Chronic absenteeism is typically defined as missing 10 percent or more of a school year — approximately 18 days a year, or just two days every month. (Obrien, 2013)

Students who are chronically absent—meaning they miss at least 15 days of school in a year—are at serious risk of falling behind in school. (U.S. Department of Education)

Chronic absenteeism measures attendance in a different way, combining excused, unexcused and disciplinary absences to get a complete picture of how much instructional time students are missing. (Jordan, Miller, 2017)

The criteria for chronic absenteeism varies, but generally students who miss 10 or more days of school or 10% or greater of the school year are considered chronically absent. (Carter, 2018)

Chronic absenteeism—or missing 10 percent or more of school days for any reason—is a proven early warning sign of academic risk and school dropout. (Bruner, Discher, Chang, 2011)

And of course, I asked Merriam-Webster:

1: prolonged absence of an owner from his or her property 2: chronic absence (as from work or school); also: the rate of such absence.

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