Highland Middle School is in #KY41

When children have access to an education that sets them up for a joyful and prosperous path forward, we all win.

Education is at the heart of Kentucky House District 41, which includes Bellarmine University, Sullivan University, the Kentucky School for the Blind, Atherton High School, Assumption High School, Highland Middle School, Hawthorne Elementary, Klondike Elementary, St. Xavier High School, and more. An effective District 41 representative must love education and know the field well.

I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was 14. I love children, and I love education. I love a country that offers free public education, and I believe everyone has a responsibility to support quality public education for every child. My bachelor’s degree is in English Education and Spanish Education, and I’ve taught for sixteen years, to children from 2-year-old preschool up through AP classes to seniors and even the college level. This is my wheelhouse, and right now in Kentucky, particularly in Jefferson County, we need change.

If elected, the following are my legislative priorities related to education:

    For families in Jefferson County, JCPS spends around $19,000 per child. For that cost to taxpayers, not far from triple the price of the average private school tuition, Jefferson County families suffer in a system in which:

    Over 60% of children are not proficient in reading
    Almost 70% of children are not proficient in math
    65% of children are not proficient in science
    Almost 60% of children are not proficient in social studies
    Almost 60% of children are not proficient in writing
    ACT scores have dropped despite increased investment

    This from a district so disastrously mismanaged at the central office that even after draconian COVID closures that dragged on far past comparable district counterparts, we saw a nationally ridiculed 2023 first-day disaster that never quite eased up as bused students were chronically late and almost 4 in 10 learners are still chronically absent.
    I have nothing to hide. My children do not attend JCPS. When the system failed us during the COVID pandemic, we fired them. I want to see more families empowered to leave failing systems to choose the best education for their children. JCPS’s version of “school choice” is not choice for the neediest among us. Representative Tina Bojanowsi (D-Louisville) came out and said it on KET as if it were a plus for the system: the parents who are least equipped to navigate the confusing maze of “choice” in JCPS are the ones whose children get automatically assigned to failing schools. Parents who get the system and have the time to work it, on the other hand, get their kids into the “best” schools.
    • Accordingly, I support the November ballot initiative to amend the Kentucky Constitution to allow the Legislature to implement school choice.
    • I support carefully crafted charter school and voucher legislation to bring Kentucky on par with other states with robust school choice (including quality public schools). 
    • Charter schools have improved immensely over time, learning how to bridge the gap especially for underprivileged students
    • An uncapped voucher system in which 50% of a district’s per-student spend is rebated to parents who choose a private school, would enable the district to lower class size and address the teacher shortage without an extra dime of property tax.
    I mostly agree with Alfie Kohn on the issue of testing. These tests discourage our kids, waste instructional time, were not developed to measure learning, encourage superficial thinking, have little to do with the quality of instruction, and hurt our most vulnerable learners the worst.
    As Kohn says, these tests are “a force of politics- and political decisions can be questioned, challenged, and ultimately reversed.” I agree– let’s elect officials who will start questioning, challenging, and reversing the testing disaster.
    Prior to third grade, children in JCPS take the MAP test. It is billed as a test that is not standardized, but parents still receive a report comparing their child to other children in the school and district at tender ages with wild variations in developmental progress.
    It’s absurd to put 5-year-old children in front of computer adaptive testing for hours.
    • I support eliminating testing for kindergarten or first-grade learners except by special request from a parent or teacher.
    • I support allowing parent opt-out of testing at every level. It is a colossal waste of time and resources when spent on the children who don’t need it, with parents who don’t want it.
      Opting out is not radical, not partisan, not shocking. Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, Minnesota, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, Utah, Wisconsin allow some level of opt-out. Parents and educators often fear that opting out of testing will cause the schools to lose funding, but that has never happened. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) authorizes states to allow opting out of testing, and it’s time for Kentucky to take that action.
    The amount of energy schools are expending on supposed social justice initiatives, deep breathing exercises, and social-emotional learning is beyond reason. I support continued focus and investment in skills areas that have a high return on investment in education:
    In many ways, implementing the SBDM model, wherein a panel of teachers and parents make critical curriculum decisions for individual schools, was a well-intentioned disaster, because it took curriculum decision-making influence away from those who know the options the best. Parents and teachers are amazing, but there is no way they can stay on top of the best options available in every subject.
    • I support amending recent changes that improved the influence superintendents have over curriculum options to include the “district or school specialists in a given field, where such exist.”
    • I support any changes that consolidate bureaucratic, superfluous high-level district administrative positions into area-specific expertise advisors, including hiring and empowering district subject specialists and identifying and incentivizing teachers who specialize in innovation in specific areas.
    JCPS problems are not all the district’s or teachers’ fault. The blame is on all of us. I support initiatives that boost family and community involvement in our children’s education:
    • Educate and equip parents on what boosts kids’ learning, especially for kindergarten readiness. Many times, public funding is not even needed for this, as advocating for Kentucky’s employers to create and implement such initiatives often has a widely felt impact.
    • Encourage service hours spent reading with and tutoring our most vulnerable learners. When we get the most successful students, like those in Beta clubs and other service organizations, into classrooms with our kids who need the most support, we all win.
    • Incentivize employees to take paid time off to volunteer in any school (inspired by the Dads on Duty program that curbed violence in a Louisiana school).