Lies Louisville voters believe about school choice

Lies Louisville voters believe about school choice

In 2020, I moved into a new neighborhood of Louisville. As a mother of children in a JCPS school and a taxpayer funding JCPS schools, I naturally looked up the JCPS options for school-age children based on my address. Imagine my shock to discover that only two of the six options had more than half of the children testing proficient in math and reading. The best elementary school in the Highlands, the one everyone around me hopes their children get into, at that point had 61% students proficient.

Isn’t that amazing? 61%! Here’s a major highlight of the problem: Bloom had, at that time, a 97% approval among parents and was widely considered the best elementary school in the Highlands, an area of Louisville with one of the highest income levels and the highest levels of college education among adults. And they overwhelmingly approved of an elementary school that was failing 4 out of 10 of its little learners. This is, quite frankly, the definition of gaslighting. Our schools are so bad that we’ve been gaslit to believe that 61% is a successful outcome.

For the last several years, the Kentucky legislature, dominated by a Republican supermajority, has been trying to provide state-funded options for families whose children are trapped in failing public schools. These families can’t afford to put their children in private schools. There may not have been a place for their child at a better public school. There are simply not enough private scholarship funds to go around for all the children that these schools are failing. So, we’ve tried offering a tax credit for scholarships. We’ve tried starting a charter-school pilot program. Not so fast. Every time the legislature attempts to increase school choice in Kentucky, the law gets shut down because of one big problem: some wording in the Kentucky Constitution.

The Kentucky Constitution says this:

The General Assembly shall, by appropriate legislation, provide for an efficient system of common schools throughout the State.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean that laws regarding education provisions cannot single out particular groups. So when charter schools were restricted to geographical location, that law couldn’t go into effect. When scholarship accounts were limited to those families with particular incomes, that law couldn’t take effect. These laws were deemed to not support an “efficient system of common schools” because they didn’t make similar education available to every child.

Recognizing that the problem is the wording in Kentucky’s Constitution Section 183, ratified in 1891, the legislature is turning to the people of Kentucky. This session, legislators will vote on whether to ask Kentucky’s voters to amend the Constitution to allow bills related to school choice to move forward.

Predictably, special interest groups have shown up in droves every time school choice has come up in Kentucky. Charter school companies, of course, have a vested interest in promoting this option in Kentucky. Families have banded together to advocate as well, including those who already struggle to send their children to a private option because they deem it worth it to keep them out of public schools offering sub-par education. And most predictably, the teachers’ unions and all who align with them (particularly the Democratic officials whose campaigns these unions overwhelmingly favor monetarily) have slammed the idea day after day, in venue after venue, with all manner of deception and accusations.

For my part, I encourage all Kentucky voters to take a hard look at the issues and decide whether a school choice funding option would benefit Kentucky’s kids, as I believe is the case. Regardless of where you fall on the issue, I want you to decide based on the truth. Accordingly, I write this post to help you weed through the lies that opponents will be sending your way nonstop between now and the fall ballot.

Without further ado, I present the truth to combat six lies Louisvillians (and other Kentuckians) believe about school choice.

1. Public funds are for public entities.

    This is perhaps the top lie regurgitated by everyone from governors to teachers’ union activists. It makes sense on the surface, right? But when you dig into what it means, surely you’ll recognize that this argument is a total fallacy. It’s so full of holes, I know you’ll be able to see right through it.

    First, what are “public funds”? Opponents sometimes use the term “public dollars” and of course, they mean taxpayer funds. Be clear about this: “public funds” means the money that the government has confiscated from you to fund what they want. Often, what they want is what we the people want also: safe roads, public parks, and yes, good public schools.

    I believe in the idea of public education. I believe free, quality education benefits all of society and so all of society is responsible to fund it. This opinion actually puts me at odds with many of my fellow homeschoolers, who believe that because they do not have children in the public schools, they should not have to pay school taxes. I disagree. Our society as a whole benefits from quality free education for our children. The real question, to me, is not whether the government should spend our money on education, but where it spends it. In other words, where should the money go?

    Here’s where I cry foul: no one believes in restricting taxpayer money to public entities. No one. Not even Democratic Socialists. No one. How do I know this? Because JCPS doesn’t own a construction company. When they need to build a building, pave a parking lot, or replace a roof, they hire a private company. And what kind of dollars pay for it? You guessed it– “public dollars.” And Chris Kolb, the JCPS board’s resident Democratic Socialist, approves it.

    Other private entities that receive taxpayer money routed through the public school system include curriculum suppliers, travel agents, furniture companies, library suppliers, educational consultants, electronics stores, bookstores– the list is nearly endless. As a curriculum consultant, once upon a time I worked on a project to develop elementary Spanish curriculum for JCPS and I, as a private individual with a small business, received as payment these so-called public dollars.

    Here’s the question we must ask when someone tries to make this argument:

    Among private companies that receive public education dollars, why is that fine for a company that writes the curriculum and not for a company that runs the school?

    2. School choice is a Republican effort to destroy public schools.

      This lie is so, so easy to dispel, but you wouldn’t know it if you listened to Kentucky’s Democrats. I’ve listened to the Kentucky Democrats rail for three years against school choice measures, and one thing they agree on: it’s all the Republicans’ secret plot to kill public schools. It will destroy public education. It will defund public schools. But is there any truth to that?

      Let’s tackle this by looking at that first issue, whether school choice destroys public schools.

      Below is a list of the top 15 education systems in the United States, by state, according to U.S. News and World Report. Next to each state, I list 1) the party affiliation of the governor, as well as the party dominating the legislature(s), and 2) what the school choice options are in that state, according to Ballotpedia (info is from the 2015-16 school year, so it has likely changed).

      1. Florida (R-R-R) (656 charter schools, tax credit scholarship program, vouchers)
      2. New Jersey (D-D-D) (89 charter schools)
      3. Massachusetts (D-D-D) (81 charter schools)
      4. Colorado (D-D-D) (226 charter schools)
      5. Utah (R-R-R) (111 charter schools, vouchers for special needs learners)
      6. Wisconsin (D-R-R) (244 charter schools, tax deduction for private tuition, 4 voucher programs)
      7. Nebraska (R-R) (none)
      8. Connecticut (D-D-D) (24 charter schools)
      9. New York (D-D-D) (257 charter schools)
      10. Washington (D-D-D) (16 charter schools)
      11. Virginia (R-D-D) (9 charter schools, inter-district open enrollment)
      12. Illinois (D-D-D) (145 charter schools, $500 tax credit for educational expenses)
      13. Iowa (R-R-R) (3 charter schools, $250 tax credit for educational expenses)
      14. Wyoming (R-R-R) (4 charter schools)
      15. Vermont (R-D-D) (vouchers for non-religious private school if resident town does not have a public school)

      Do you see a pattern that correlates with the party of the government? Do you see a pattern that shows school choice is a death knell for the quality of public school education? Me neither. 

      We can’t deny the facts: in the state that is both top-ranked in that list and arguably has the most robust funding mechanisms for both charter schools and voucher programs, Florida, not even 13 percent of the school-age population attends private schools. In Jefferson County, this is 23 percent. Quite frankly, JCPS is doing a fine job of killing our public schools by itself

      Dear rural legislators, I understand that you are concerned about what school choice will do to public education in your area. Likely, it will do little, but for families in Kentucky’s population centers with children mired in schools that are not serving them, who don’t have a better path to follow, who don’t even know they could be on a better path, it could change so much.

      As a parent in Jefferson County, I cannot tolerate this argument. The quality of education, for those of us in Jefferson County, cannot be part of a serious argument. When I hear the argument that school choice is anti-public education, I cannot help but hear it in the context of where I live. When I moved in 2020 to a neighborhood with one of the highest income brackets in the county, four of six of the schools in my JCPS cluster did not even have half of the students proficient in reading and math. For two of them, the proficiency rate was below 15 in 100. This situation has so gaslit the parents of Jefferson County that we think that a school with a 50-something proficiency rate is a good school – nay, one of the best schools.

      I am not sure what could be done to worsen JCPS outcomes. With school choice, could we possibly depress proficient rates any farther in Jefferson County? If “it could get worse” is your defense, you do not understand the situation here.

      As a conservative, I’m a believer in the free market. Let the competition begin. Perhaps the threat of losing more students to private and charter schools will finally make JCPS invest more in teachers and less in the Central Office, more in research-backed reading initiatives and less in professional development on “identity reflection,” and improve outcomes. 

      Private-school funding aside, you must understand that charter schools are public schools. They cannot be religious, they cannot discriminate in admissions, and they are accountable to specific quality regulations. Also, they have gotten much, much better at figuring out how to serve learners (not so much with children with disabilities, unfortunately), and I don’t know how someone can read this from this 2023 study of charter school outcomes and not champion making them part of the public school options in Jefferson County:

      Hundreds of charter schools were not only outperforming traditional public schools, but had also lifted the achievement of Black and Hispanic students so much that they were learning as much in math and reading as white students and sometimes more, the study found. Racial gaps in learning – a stubborn problem in education – had been eliminated at these charters, which the researchers dubbed ‘gap busters.’ Those findings may provide the best justification for establishing charters, which were intended to be laboratories of experimentation to improve public education.

      3. Kentucky already has school choice.

      School-choice opponents will be shouting this from the rooftops: You already have school choice. If you want to send your kids to a private school, send them.

      What a classist, elitist take, from the top echelons of teacher union power. When people like KEA’s Campbell say that we already have school choice, they mean that if you want to send your kids to a private school, you’re free to do so. They mean that if you have the money to decide the public school is not serving your family, and move them to a better school, go ahead and do that. They mean if you’re in a large system like JCPS, you can apply to go to a different school. If you don’t have the money, if you’re working hard just to keep food on the table and the lights on, if you don’t understand the application system at JCPS or you don’t have transportation, and your child’s school is failing your family, tough luck for you.

      When I criticize our family’s experience within JCPS, I am told that I should have had my oldest skip a grade so she’d be more challenged. People point to the magnet schools and say we should have applied to a magnet school. Pushing aside the issue that JCPS has been obligated to limit transportation and thus further restrict that option to people with more means and flexibility, my children were in a magnet school and my oldest had skipped kindergarten. She entered JCPS in the fifth grade at age 9 and three months.

      Swallowing our distaste for the topic of families gaming the JCPS system to get their kids into “better” schools, know that JCPS is a district so committed to serving its students that even when it talks about choice, the ending goes like this:

      No promises are made, as demand generally exceeds open spots, inevitably leaving several families seeking a backup plan, [but they end up with no] good second or third options.

      That quote was specific to West Louisville, but if you think a higher tax bracket improves your options, put in a “better” address in the school finder and let me know if you think real school choice is available.

      Kentucky doesn’t have school choice. Iowa, Florida, Indiana, Utah, Montana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Carolina do. Illinois, California, and Wisconsin do. New York and Arizona do. But not you, you Kentucky poors. You don’t. And the elites in the system want to keep it that way.

      4. School choice decreases diversity.

      For the record, I think everyone benefits from a diverse society. When people around you don’t look, act, or speak like you, you are forced to become either more empathetic or a lousy human being. The diversity of learners at my son’s Louisville private school is one of my favorite features of the school. People who think that all private schools are serving elite white families for $20,000+ a year need to tour the Academy for Individual Excellence in Jeffersontown.

      Regardless, we hear this argument, that school choice will decrease diversity because the people who will take advantage of it are the middle-class white families. I heard this at a recent school choice forum, with someone proposing statistics from Indiana about minority representation among school choice beneficiaries.

      Take a look at the diversity statistics in JCPS:

      • 37% Black
      • 35% White
      • 17% Hispanic
      • 11% Other

      But don’t let those numbers tell you the story. Depending on your address or your skills in navigating complicated entry processes in JCPS schools, your elementary child might end up in Brandeis, where 55% of the learners are Black, or Camp Taylor, where that number is 22%, with 43% White and 31% Hispanic. Audubon is 5% Hispanic, and Okolona is 37%. Bloom in the Highlands is 7% Black, and Byck is 88%, Stonestreet is 15%, and Mill Creek is 80%. 

      Many things decrease diversity, and school choice isn’t one of them. What decreases school diversity? Poverty. What solves the poverty barrier to better schools? School choice funding. Also, when we foster a love of diversity in our community, people will deliberately choose schools that showcase it. I have friends that deliberately send their kids to one school over another because their choice is more diverse.

      Anecdotally, I was encouraged when my history-teacher brother said after Florida’s voucher system went into place, the student population at his private school in Jacksonville became much more diverse. But we need data, and the general consensus is that good, controlled school choice policies contribute to integration in schools. But we can’t even craft those policies without amending our Constitution.

      Still, you can’t take data from much more diverse places and apply it here. Kentucky is 87% white. Your “less diversity” line is not a strong argument here.

      5. School choice reroutes tax dollars to “unaccountable” private schools.

      This is the favorite line of the Lieutenant Governor, Jacqueline Coleman. Please, I beg you, ask what “accountable” means. What makes public schools accountable and private schools not? You can find the fallacies in this lie by asking yourself a few simple questions.

      First, what happens when a public school fails? The short answer is: nothing. There’s a system of “school intervention” in place in Kentucky, where the state department of education is supposed to step in with support for a school that is deemed failing. If they spend a certain amount of time on a lower level of support, and they’re still failing, the level of intervention is stepped up. That’s it. That’s the accountability. No one gets fired. Schools don’t (or very rarely) get shut down. And meanwhile, Nya in first grade at Maupin has moved to second grade, to third, and still can’t read or do math on level. She’s getting marginalized into a pathway of failure because no one has the guts or power to step in and do something drastic.

      A friend of mine was recently volunteering in a public school in Kentucky and sent me photos of these poster charts leadership put up. They’re meant to encourage the kids to try harder at their tests. These are nice people who mean well, but can you believe the sinister undertone here?

      Hey kids, our failing scores are really your fault. If you were motivated enough, you’d do better.

      Check this out:

      Chart describes what 5th grade students will get if they can raise their 22-23 scores from 14% to 29% proficient in math. They will get a water balloon fight if scores are up 15 percentage points. If they increase by 10, they get popcorn and a movie day. If it goes up by 5, they get extra recess.
      This is your accountability. Don’t do better on tests? You don’t get… a water balloon fight.

      On the other hand, what happens if a charter school isn’t accomplishing its goals? It closes. What happens when a private school fails to educate a child? The parents withdraw. Charter and private schools are more immediately accountable directly to their stakeholders than public schools have been or ever will be.

      On a random weekday in November of 2019, I picked up my son in car line, parked the car, walked in and told the assistant principal that he would not return for the remainder of the year. (Then NTI happened and he just never went back.) His JCPS school was not serving his educational needs, and so I fired them. I had been in the homeschool community for 30 years and was well aware of my rights as a parent. But quite frequently on homeschool groups on Facebook and the like, I see questions about how to withdraw children from public school, whether you’re “allowed” to do it within a certain amount of time relative to the beginning of the year, if you have to notify the district of intent to homeschool first, etc. I’m astonished by these questions. Do parents really not know that you are a client of a public school system, and if that system is failing you, you simply walk out the door? Yes, we send in a letter of intent, but you literally have the right to pick up your child at lunch on Tuesday and never return.

      My point is this: I could leave a system that was failing my son and find alternatives because I know what I’m doing and I can figure out the resources to do something different. What about others who aren’t like me? What about Nya’s grandma working two jobs and trying to raise three grandkids? Imagine the strides the district would take to make forward progress fast if every “client” were empowered to know and achieve real alternatives. That would be accountability.

      6. “My” JCPS experience was phenomenal.

      This is the most fallacious argument and it shouldn’t be presented in a serious conversation. It’s a logical fallacy called “argument from anecdote.” Essentially, someone argues against changes in public schools because they are a product of public schools and after all, they turned out okay. It’s a tempting argument, but it doesn’t hold water. Public school activists in the Kentucky legislature particularly like to go this route. Tina Bojanowski consistently does it, and in her case, it proves less than nothing.  How can she possibly compare her JCPS experience from more than four decades ago to the landscape facing my children today? Even the governor gets in the game, touting how he’s the proud parent of two public-school attendees. But those of us stuck behind with our JCPS options remember that he did not put his children in public school until he left Jefferson County.

      Listen, school choice isn’t going to magically solve all the problems in any public school, much less the behemoth of complicated problems that is JCPS. Between now and November, you’ll be bombarded with every reason in the book why school choice is bad for schools, bad for kids, bad for Kentucky. Don’t believe them. You’re smarter than that, Louisville. Remember that just because we can’t solve all the problems, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a shot at solving some of them. Give school choice a chance. Vote YES for on Amendment 2 this fall.

      The dumbest quotes from House Dems this GA session

      The dumbest quotes from House Dems this GA session

      The majority of big mainstream media in Kentucky is decidedly to the left. This means they’re always ready to share with you the dumb things that Republican lawmakers say in legislative sessions in Frankfort. This past General Assembly session, every news outlet was ready to tell you about these gaffes. So, what you really need is for someone to reveal and analyze the dumb quotes from the Democrats in the Kentucky House in GA ‘22.

      Enter SEC. (That’s me.) I’m here for you.

      Remember, the Democrats in Frankfort are fairly powerless. You wouldn’t know this by watching floor debates, though. I haven’t done any calculations but my impression is that the vast majority of speaking time, particularly in the House, is the Democrats railing against any given bill (or their perception of said bill) when all of them know their speeches make almost no difference at all. It’s got to be frustrating, I know. I’m not upset about it, mind you, but to try to take their perspective, it’s got to be frustrating.

      Some of the Democrats endure this frustration with remarkable restraint, offering pertinent comments or no comments or sometimes passionate comments that are at least on point. Angie Hatton speaks like one of the most compassionate, dedicated politicians I have ever seen. Patti Minter is tireless, and sometimes even effective, and most of the time quite accurate in her commentary. Joni Jenkins is another House Democrat who asks relevant, important questions, and speaks as if she cares about the truth and the people in the room with her.

      They’re not all like that, though.

      So, without further ado, for those who (unlike me) do not enjoy streaming legislative meetings more than Netflix, here are the deceptive, convoluted, and outright dumb quotes from the Kentucky House Democrats in the 2022 General Assembly session.

      HB3: The Pro-Life Omnibus Bill

      It’s a sad fact: abortion debates can bring out the worst in us. When it finally came time to pass the pro-life omnibus bill that was House Bill 3 –and there was never any doubt it would pass– the House Democrats took the opportunity to come up with some really bizarre criticism, as well as outright lies.

      Josie Raymond’s speech was simply stunning in the scope of its nonsense and deception. She started with calling abortion a “practice that’s as old as humanity itself” (is that even possible?), and then went on to say that Republicans “propose that we destroy medical privacy with public death certificates that identify the pregnant people who had abortions.” Her characterization of what was in the bill was deceptive there, but beyond that, Democrats have got to realize that one of the reasons they are hemorrhaging voters in Kentucky is their adoption of ridiculous off-the-left-deep-end phrases like “pregnant people.”

      Here’s your reminder, if you needed it, that Josie Raymond believes men can get pregnant (at the same time she wants to educate you on the history of human biology).  She also went ad hominem, saying that Republicans “want to judge and shame teenage girls over their appearance and their intellect.” I have no idea what she was talking about, but I invite you to try to find that in the bill. In the debate, she seemed to be the only one who found that in it.

      But my favorite comment from Raymond here was something she appeared to totally make up off the top of her head, implying the bill would overrule the will of the people because two-thirds of Kentuckians supposedly “support unfettered access to abortion.” The only way I can wrap my mind around where she got this is that perhaps she misspoke and said Kentuckians, but meant to say Louisvillians. There is no way we can twist any credible data to get to two thirds of Kentuckians supporting abortion. According to the (left-leaning) Pew Research Center, of Kentucky adults, only 36% believe that abortion should be legal in all or almost all cases. What math do you use to push that to two-thirds?

      Here’s a better question: If you are so careless as to weaponize a lie about Kentuckians’ position on abortion, how can you say you are representing the people?

      Moving on to Kelly Flood. Flood’s background as a Unitarian Universalist minister is almost always on display, which is to say, her fundamental theology is that everyone can have their own truth that is somehow all true at the same time, as long as it follows some rules that the person speaking at the time gets to set. In the debate on HB3, she wanted you to know that pregnancy is “such a remarkable gift, when planned.” This implies that pregnancies are not a gift when they are not planned. Speaking as a woman who has experienced 3 unplanned pregnancies out of 4 total, I beg to differ, and so do my kids.

      Her other comment that caught my ear was when she declared that “planning for pregnancy is your God-given right.” What? The thing about comments like that is that you really need a source here. Where did this truth of hers come from? Not from the Bible that describes the one true God and His plans for human life, I can tell you that.

      Another bizarre moment came when brand new Representative Keturah Herron essentially accused Nancy Tate of committing a crime. Tate had just described how she’d successfully (and far too easily) ordered a medical abortion medication over the internet that would soon be delivered to her home. Herron questioned her about it, and Tate replied “At this point it’s not illegal in the state of Kentucky.” Herron responded,

      It also is very very concerning to me that there’s someone in the legislative body that is very aware of something that is illegal that could potentially hurt women and would not report that.

      Keturah Herron – Debate on HB3

      Did she not understand Tate? Or that the point of HB3 was that this type of mail-order abortion purchase was not illegal in Kentucky, but should be?

      By far, the most egregious comment on HB3 came from the longest-running representative in Kentucky history. Unbelievably, Tom Burch at age 91 is running for another term in Kentucky’s House of Representatives. He represents a portion of southeast Louisville south of the Watterson Expressway in the Newburg/Buechel areas. He brought up the subject of foster children in Kentucky’s foster system. He had the audacity to say that

      Nobody wants to adopt them. Nobody wants them.

      Tom Burch, debate on HB3, speaking about Kentucky’s foster kids

      First, it’s an outright lie. I have several friends who love their children that they adopted out of the foster system.  Second, listen to the argument here. Does he really believe that our foster kids should have been aborted because death is preferable to a life that may not be ideal?

      God forbid anyone put Tom Burch on a suicide hotline. Or believe the signs around Buechel that proclaim his dedication to families and children.

      But he’s old and he’s been in Kentucky politics forever, so did anyone say anything? No. Only me. Every time I think about this comment, my eyes burn, and I’ve been pointing it out on social media and in conversations ever since. But no one besides a mostly unknown state rep candidate is willing to call this man out on this hateful lie – and what if there were foster kids up in the gallery that day? Hear me: you are loved. You are wanted. You can build an amazing life. God has a plan for you. Stay strong. You are a life worthy of life, worthy of an abundant life. You can change the world for the better. Be amazing.

      HB8: Decreasing/eliminating income tax

      Another set of strange and egregious comments came from the Democrats’ opposition to HB8, the bill that aims to step down the state income tax until, hopefully, eventually it is eliminated. The goal of HB8 is to shift taxes to consumption (sales) tax instead of income tax, without hurting Kentucky’s economy. Many of the law’s proponents supported the bill because they believe it will spur population growth (and thus, economic growth) in Kentucky.

      Josie Raymond had a different idea – keep the taxes up, to pay for pet government spending like free college and preschool, but on the point of population growth, the argument from this radically pro-choice representative was that “we’ve got to get the birth rate up.” I’ve debunked this argument in an extensive blog post, but to summarize, countries with paid leave, childcare, loan forgiveness, and climate protections do not have a higher birth rate than the United States. In fact, their birth rate is the same or significantly lower.

      Longtime representative from the Highlands area Mary Lou Marzian had stronger words to say. She wondered why people would want to come to Kentucky, declaring, “Kentucky is a hateful state… do not come to Kentucky!” (Thankfully, Marzian’s days in the legislature are over, because anyone who believes our state is a hateful place no one should move to, does not belong in our legislature.)

      HB215: Combatting fentanyl trafficking

      Marzian also had an interesting comment on HB215, an anti-fentanyl trafficking bill with strong bipartisan support (including Raymond’s). For perspective, this bill was intended to strengthen the penalty for those who import enough fentanyl into Kentucky to kill the entire population of Frankfort. But it wasn’t on Marzian’s agenda to hold those to account who import this poison into our state. This quote is her response to the problem:

      Locking people up is not the answer… It’s time to look at what we can do. Good jobs, good schools, pre-K, two-parent families.

      Mary Lou Marzian, debate on HB8

      So, according to Marzian, if we could provide programs like universal pre-K, we’d solve the fentanyl trafficking problem.

      Joni Jenkins, a liberal Louisville Democrat who often stands with Marzian, was so moved to support this bill that she named in her support a specific person she knew who died of a fentanyl overdose. But no, not Marzian; for her, not even high-level fentanyl traffickers deserve to spend more time in prison. Perhaps more access to preK will help.

      As I said, HB215 was a bill with bipartisan support – only 3 Senators voted against it, and they were all Republicans. But a full 9 of the 12 NAY votes in the House came from Louisville’s own radical Democrat contingent. Remember that when you vote this year. Remember someone you know who has died essentially at the hands of a fentanyl trafficker. For me, his name is Miguel.

      SB83 – Save Women’s Sports

      I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the off-base commentary offered by House Democrats on the Save Women’s Sports bill, SB83, on March 17. Kelly Flood’s Unitarian Universalist philosophies came through in her opposition to letting biological males play on girls’ sports teams. Here’s what she said:

      We know, as liberal religious people, this is why we know, fundamentally we believe in evolution, the evolving spirit of humanity, and that God’s creation, the dirt from which we all have been made by our God, is the same dirt… we believe that evolutionary process is the miracle behind it.

      Kelly Flood, debate on SB83

      Perhaps you have some insight that I don’t. Really, I’ve tried to make some sense of it, including what it has to do with biological males playing on women’s sports teams. I’ve got nothing here.

      I also have to add Josie Raymond’s straw man arguments against this bill. It was one of the most fallacious speeches on the House floor this session. She claimed that banning biological males from girls’ sports was actually detrimental to women, an argument that has no logical support. She said, “This is the most anti-girl piece of legislation I’ve ever seen. It undermines and devalues girls who were born female.” No. What the bill does is protect girls’ sports against those who would edge out their incredible achievements with the scientifically provable advantage from male growth development.

      Raymond also offered this deception: The bill “says that anyone born male could beat anyone born female, any sport, any day.” Of course, that is decidedly not what the bill says. Here is the actual text:

      For athletic teams, activities, and sports for students in grades six (6) through twelve (12), an athletic activity or sport designated as “girls” shall not be open to members of the male sex.

      Text of SB83

      I exercise at least three times as much as my husband. Still, he could beat me in any contest of physical strength or endurance, any day. But give me an obese 70-year-old male and sure, I could beat him. What this bill does, simply, is keep biological males of similar development competing against each other and not against a girl that could probably never reach their level of physical strength, no matter the amount of training, because of irrefutable differences in biology.

      Raymond also argued that the supporters of this bill were “not worried about girls who were born female scoring on boys’ teams.” At least on that point, she hit on the truth. Biological females who put up a good challenge to boys in the same sport deserve accolades, because they have actually overcome a biological disadvantage, as opposed to boys participating in that sport. All else being equal, men start out with a biological advantage over women. For an incredibly insightful look at how this would play out in elite sports, take a look at

      To shed some Kentucky light on it, no matter how a horse self-identifies, male horses are still not allowed to run in the Kentucky Oaks, and should a filly have such a combination of genetics, training, and will as to win the Kentucky Derby, we actually celebrate the obstacles she overcame.

      You know, I’ll end by pointing out what I’ve said before: Marzian and Raymond (and some of their fellow House Democrats) have gone so far off the left deep end that they sometimes won’t get behind common-sense bipartisan legislation, like this election integrity bill.

      It’s time to send someone to Frankfort who 

      • stands firm on our values without compromise, while
      • standing up for conception-to-death policies that help neighbors thrive, including paternal responsibility, maternal health, education options, and affordable housing, and who 
      • can speak respectfully to the spectrum of KY 41 voters.

      Kentucky Legislative District 41, I am that candidate.

      Marzian withdrew. Here’s what I (really) told WLKY.

      Marzian withdrew. Here’s what I (really) told WLKY.

      In a year where the primaries are pretty much the only exciting elections, the primary for the 41st House District just got… a little less exciting. After 28 years, including 14 elections (including 6 unopposed and 8 landslide wins), Mary Lou Marzian has withdrawn from this primary.

      In a press conference that was more like a temper tantrum, Marzian lashed out at the Republican establishment. She claims they are afraid of her and her colleagues and specifically targeted female lawmakers in the redistricting. In her new district, she would be opposite Josie Raymond in the new 41st Democratic primary. Of course, every political blog and radio show in the state and every news outlet covered the story. And one of them decided to talk to someone else with skin in this game – me.

      I received an email from WLKY’s Gladys Bautista asking if I would meet her to “respond to a press conference held by a group of Democratic women lawmakers from Jefferson County saying the state’s GOP party is trying to silence them with gerrymandering.” I’ve been familiar with this argument since December and was ready to share my perspective, so I agreed to meet her. We sat at Sunergos in the heart of the 41st and chatted for several minutes about this issue. What came out of it was this story.

      I readily admit it – I am very new to politics and forgot to walk into an interview with mainstream media with all my guard up. I thought, I know what I want to say on this topic. I’ll say it, and they can air what they want.

      So much for journalism.

      For the 5 o’clock news, they aired some silent video of me talking while they voiced a comment about Raymond’s Republican opponents. For the 6 o’clock news, they aired a 3-second clip that made it look like I agree. They broadcast one of the first things I said in the interview, which was that “the aggravation with the maps was valid.” 

      Here, with you, I can say what I want. I can go on the record with my full comments, and no one else gets to edit them. So let’s go.

      In the absence of facts, go ad hominem.

      When you are planning a campaign based on a specific set of circumstances, such as a map, and then you are surprised by very new circumstances, it takes you aback. I told Ms. Bautista that this is what happened to Marzian, and to me. I had decided to run in the 34th district against Marzian because she so often has no opponent, and I had no other option on my 2020 ballot. Then, I was drawn out of the 34th, and the 34th still has no Republican option. Several of my nearby friends who were excited about my candidacy suddenly were no longer in my district. It was a lot to wrap my mind around, and I just got here – imagine Marzian’s perspective, facing this change after 28 years in Frankfort.

      Still, it’s disingenuous and frankly rather immature (the phrase “hissy fit” comes to mind) for these women to continue this narrative. The GOP men did not deliberately draw the districts to target women, particularly the women of Jefferson County. They cite the incumbents that are facing each other. They mention the other female representatives who are leaving the legislature. They make all kinds of nasty accusations. In the absence of actual facts, Marzian’s comments went completely ad hominem. She called it “their sadistic and misogynist game of pitting Democratic women against each other.” She called it an “ultra-extreme, right-wing (attack) on every female in the House and every female in this commonwealth.” She told the GOP, “Shame on all of you Republicans for disgracing the legislature. Shame on you for castigating Louisville’s voice in Frankfort, and shame on you for hurting Kentucky, Kentucky’s women and children.”

      So what are the facts? We could start with the obvious one: it’s not possible for anyone to draw a political districting map that eliminates women. There are plenty of women on both sides of the aisle ready to step up and run for these offices. I’m one of them. Can you see Jerry Miller sitting down at his desk in Frankfort and telling his cronies, “Look, guys, I think I’ve figured out how we can make sure there aren’t any more vocal, Democrat women in the House.” No. The man had a complicated enough job on his hands without trying to somehow draw a district that was entirely populated by men.

      I did make that point with Ms. Bautista. Then I talked about the actual facts of who is running in these districts in 2022, and who is going to represent Louisville after this election cycle.

      Did the GOP eliminate these women?

      In no particular order…

      • Regarding the four specific districts that were significantly redrawn to form the new 41st, there are 11 people running in the primary. Seven of them are women.
      • In addition to the 41st, Lisa Willner and Mackenzie Cantrell were drawn into a district together. (There were also two sets of Republican incumbents who would face each other, so it’s even all around.) Yes, Cantrell has decided to not run again, in order to run for a judge position. Willner will take her district completely unopposed.
      • For the 34th District seat vacated by redistricting Marzian into the new 41st, this race has no Republican. There is a Democrat man, and a Democrat woman.
      • In Raymond’s old district, the 31st, she ran unopposed in 2020, and in 2018 she won by over 19 percentage points. This year, there are two of each party running in this primary. For each primary, one candidate is a man, and one is a woman.
      • Yes, Joni Jenkins is leaving, also after a 28-year run. The story here is that the GOP lawmakers increased minority-majority districts from 3 to 5 (who is telling that story?) and Jenkins’ district now boasts a majority of residents who are part of a racial/ethnic minority. She is withdrawing to let the current mayor of Shively take that seat, and that Democratic woman will do so completely unopposed.
      • Yes, Attica Scott is leaving, because she decided to run for Yarmuth’s vacated Congressional seat. Of her old district, part is now the 42nd, which will be taken by Keturah Herron, completely unopposed. Part is now the 43rd, where Pamela Stevenson is the incumbent woman. Her challenger in the primary is a Democratic man, but there is no Republican in that race.
      • Tina Bojanowski, the progressive Democrat in the 32nd District, is completely unopposed.
      • Nima Kulkarni, the soft-spoken Democrat in the 40th District, is completely unopposed.
      • Elsewhere in the state, sometimes Kelly Flood’s name gets brought up. After 13 years representing part of Lexington, with a series of landslide or unopposed election wins, she is retiring from the legislature. There is no Republican in that race for ‘22; her successor will be a Democrat, and she has endorsed the woman running for the seat.

      Let’s review. Lisa Willner, Nima Kulkarni, Tina Bojanowski, and Keturah Herron will retake their seats with no opposition. Beverly Chester-Burton will take Jenkins’s seat. Pamela Stevenson will very likely defeat her Democrat challenger and win her seat again. A Democrat will take Marzian’s old 34th seat, with a woman vying for that one as well. If previous cycles predict correctly, in all probability a Democrat will take Raymond’s old 31st seat (50/50 chance it’s a woman). Here in our new 41st, Raymond has a strong chance to win the new 41st (well, you know I’d like to have something to say about that).

      If the men in Frankfort were trying to get Louisville’s vocal Democratic women out of the State House, they did a really lousy job of it.

      Are the GOP men afraid of women?

      As you can see from the press conference, Marzian isn’t leaving Frankfort with anything that can be called grace. Instead, she keeps the narrative of ad-hominem attacks, as well as talking about her colleagues being afraid of her. When the maps were originally released, she asked, “What are they afraid of?” Last week, she said she was “a voice that the Republicans wanted to get rid of because they were afraid of truth to power.” (I’m not even sure what that means.)

      I don’t believe this is true. I don’t believe anyone in Frankfort is afraid of Marzian or her colleagues. Before this election cycle, she didn’t even vote on half the bills. She didn’t vote on the new maps. And when I bring up my race and mention Marzian and Raymond – to sitting representatives – the reaction I often get is, “Who?

      Don’t get me wrong – I sharply disagree with both Marzian and Raymond on much of what seem to be their primary platforms. They say, spend more money. Let women do whatever they want to their unborn children. Advance the LGBTQ cause at the cost of any constitutionally guaranteed liberty. But I believe in many areas, they genuinely care about Kentuckians. I think they care about the children in our schools, the hungry on our streets, the neighbors shopping with SNAP benefits. It doesn’t matter, though. Because they camp on such widely opposed platforms the majority of the time, lawmakers ignore them on everything else, too.

      At least WLKY did print that point from my interview, buried in the print far below the video:

      They’re very vocal but at the same time, they’re extraordinarily voiceless. As soon as they open their mouths, Frankfort plugs its ears.
      If the 41st actually wants to actually be represented by someone, they need to elect someone who is not far-right, which is my primary opponents, but not on the Democratic side, because with all the valid things that Josie and Mary Lou have to say, no one is listening to them.

      Fact-checking Josie Raymond’s bizarre opposition to lower taxes

      Fact-checking Josie Raymond’s bizarre opposition to lower taxes

      Recently, the Kentucky House passed HB8, one of the most transformative bills to be considered the House floor in decades. The members who brought the bill forward had campaigned on tax modernization and worked to make this bill a reality for years, and at last, it was time to debate the facts.

      Essentially, HB8 intended to use the extra money in Kentucky’s coffers to provide tax relief to Kentucky’s workers by reducing the personal income tax from 5% to 4% in 2023. Then, if certain financial triggers were met, meaning that the increased sales tax on certain services like ride sharing and personal investment services made up for twice the triggered drop in income tax, the tax would continue to drop, until it was zero. In other words, if there was an additional $1B in the bank after a revenue cycle, Kentucky’s workers would see another 1% drop, representing approximately $500 million. These drops would continue at regular intervals until our income tax was zero.

      Much of the two-hour-plus debate centered on specific questions about inflation (answer: the trigger is twice the next drop in income, and only a war would push inflation that high), comparisons to other states with no income tax (is it all about tourism? what did Kansas get wrong?), and particular new taxes on services (why monitoring of home security?).

      The primary question on this bill is why. Why cut personal income taxes? How can that benefit a state? First, I agree with the presenting sponsor Representative Jason Petrie (District 16) who said over and over that the surplus in Kentucky’s budget, in contrast to what Jefferson County’s Democrats believe, are dollars that belong to the people of Kentucky. Our legislators’ responsible spending in Frankfort is saving us money. The answer is not to appropriate extra funds to the government for spending; the answer is to get them back to the people. Second, as many House GOP members reiterated on the floor, we must have an eye on the future. That means attracting people to move into our great Commonwealth, the way people have flocked to our neighbor Tennessee. Of the top ten fastest growing states in the last census, four of them have no income taxes (Texas, Nevada, Washington, and Florida). (In her comments on this point, Mary Lou Marzian declared Kentucky to be a “hateful state,” asked why anyone would want to come to Kentucky, and finally exclaimed, “Do not come to Kentucky!”)

      Want more people? Have more babies.

      Democratic Representatives had various arguments why a cut in income taxes would not inspire people to move to Kentucky, mostly involving our lack of Dollywood, warm winters, and curiously, the Permian Basin. Louisville’s Josie Raymond (candidate for the new KY 41) had a different, rather bizarre line of reasoning: Stop focusing on getting to people to move here, and start having babies instead. Quote: “If we want population growth, we’ve got to get the birth rate up.”

      “We’ve got to get the birth rate up.”

      Naturally, Raymond had ulterior motives for this argument. She’s not on the front lines of promoting more procreation in the Commonwealth; in fact, I found the reasoning rather ironic for one of the legislature’s most passionate proponents of pro-choice legislation. So, why talk about getting the birth rate up? It was to put in a plug for her spending priorities in Frankfort, languishing under the GOP majority’s desire to return the extra money to the people instead of spending it.

      Specifically, Raymond wants Frankfort to spend more money on “things that can make millennials and Zoomers feel secure enough to reproduce.” In her opinion, these things are paid leave, childcare, loan forgiveness, and climate protections. The problem is that this position is completely unfounded, most notably and recently debunked in the book Empty Planet, meticulously researched and presented by two (liberal) Canadian journalists.

      Let’s take a look at real numbers, comparing our birth rate to that of countries that actually have these supposed comfort provisions for baby-making millennials. Kentucky’s birth rate is 62.6 births per 1,000 women aged 18-45. But it’s more helpful to use the U.S. fertility rate for comparison purposes, since that’s the statistic readily available for other countries as well. The United States, the only country among these 41 nations that does not offer paid parental leave, now has a fertility rate of 1.7 births per woman, significantly below the replacement rate of 2.2. If providing paid leave, childcare, loan forgiveness, and climate protections inspires more childbearing, then countries who do those things should have a higher birth rate. But that is simply not true.

      First, take Germany. It’s fairly high on that list. When you are pregnant, your employer doesn’t have to pay for your leave, but you apply to receive money from the government instead of your salary. The leave is a total of 14 weeks, 6 weeks before birth and 8 weeks after. In Berlin and Hamburg, parents receive free childcare from birth. The German government also offers paid college, and the country leads in climate-saving strategies, aiming to become greenhouse-gas neutral by 2045 and cutting emissions by at least 65 percent by 2030. What is Germany’s fertility rate? German women have 1.54 children, almost 10% lower than the U.S. rate.

      Finland and Sweden are close behind Germany in the nice, long, guaranteed leave for women having babies. In Sweden, college education is free, and additional childcare is free from ages 3 to 6. Also, it’s the land of Greta Thunberg, the land that is the leader of all the leaders in climate change action. The independent Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) ranks the world’s countries based on a variety of climate criteria. In 2020 Sweden tops the list again, for the third year in a row. What’s Sweden’s birth rate? It is 1.7. – the same as the U.S. And as Sweden has developed a socialistic society much like what I believe Raymond would like to see here in Kentucky, the socialism has decidedly not boosted the birth rate.

      Source: Google

      Let’s do one more- Finland. Finland guarantees paid leave to both parents for up to 13 weeks, with leave overall guaranteed for 164 days. Not only is attending university free in Finland, but also students are provided a monthly stipend of roughly 500 euros. On the climate issue, Finland aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. And Finland’s birth rate is an abysmal 1.37 births per woman.

      Representative Raymond, check the income level in District 41, which includes some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, which are also some of the most childless. Income is not why people are not having children. It’s because they do not want children. As Bricker and Ibbitson note in Empty Planet, people have more children because they need them, or want them, often because of a faith background. This is often actually a character issue. When we see a child as an eternal treasure that is worth losing sleep, gaining weight, and dropping a quarter of a million dollars on, then we’ll see more children playing in our yards and parks.

      What the rich will & won’t do with extra $$

      Arguing for home-grown increase in population wasn’t Raymond’s only bizarre opposition to tax cuts. She also went for the Democratic party line of tax cuts mostly benefiting the wealthy. Because these cuts are a percentage cut, of course, she’s right – the more money you make, the more money you’ll keep with these cuts to personal income tax. And like all good Democrats, Raymond seems to oppose the wealthy. She made three main points about how the wealthy use their money, and all three of them were baseless.

      First, she said, “Those folks likely won’t create jobs with it.” I’m not sure what made her an expert on what the wealthy do and don’t do in creating jobs, because she didn’t offer any background for this line of reasoning. Here’s my question: Who do you think creates jobs, people with money, or people without it? The answer is obvious, and if the rich people who save money here choose to create jobs with it, Kentucky wins.

      Her second argument was that “they won’t spend it; they’ve already got everything they need.” Again, there was no evidence for this thought. I’m not sure what she thinks the wealthy do with their money, but I see a lot of expensive landscaping, home improvements, luxury cars, pricey wine, and fancy handbags as I wander around District 41. They do spend it, and when they do, they pay sales tax – and Kentucky wins.

      Third, she declared what she thought they would do with their money: “They’re likely going to invest it and create more generational wealth for their own families.” My first thought is that’s their prerogative. It’s their money. Good for them. But within the context of the argument on sales tax, she just boosted the GOP sponsors’ point. Did you catch what I mentioned above that was added as a service sales tax within this bill? It’s personal investment services, which someone else in the debate pointed out is used primarily by wealthy people investing outside their retirement 401Ks and pensions (which are not part of this tax). So in conclusion, Representative Raymond, if you are right, and the wealthy who save money with this tax cut do not create jobs, and do not spend it, but instead choose to invest it for their families, they’ll pay taxes on that service, and you guessed it – Kentucky wins.