This from Craig J. Richard and David P. Calzi in the Courier-Journal:
The evidence is indisputable; the future of our community depends on ensuring that every child in Jefferson County gets a quality education. It’s an economic imperative … and it’s the right thing to do. To paraphrase Bill Gates, “making sure our children get a great education, find a career that’s fulfilling and rewarding, and have a chance to live out their dreams, wouldn’t just make us a more successful country — it would also make us a more fair and just one too.”
On behalf of the more than 100,000 students currently enrolled in Jefferson County Public Schools, the time for us to answer this call is now. If we, as business and community leaders — and as citizens — want Louisville to fulfill its destiny of being a great city, then we must be willing to do whatever it takes to make JCPS one of the best school districts in the country.
There is broad agreement that the mandate for the district must be student achievement — ensuring all students graduate from high school with the core academic knowledge and skills necessary for success in college, career and whatever life throws their way.
We all have something to gain from an outstanding public school system.
• At Greater Louisville Inc., we know that the reputation of our local school system can either be an asset or a drawback for economic development decision-makers. An even more important advantage is the quality and availability of talent — a key factor when companies make a choice about where to expand or relocate their operations.
• As business owners know, their success is dependent on finding the right employees with the right education and skills to fill open positions. Whether you are a manufacturer looking for a welder or a service company looking for an information technology specialist, human capital is consistently a top priority.
• As citizens, we all have many reasons to want the best for our current and future generations. Even if you aren’t convinced for altruistic reasons, consider the cost-benefit analysis. Children who drop out of high school are more likely to end up dependent on public assistance or incarcerated, costing us more as taxpayers in the long run.
As a community, we have a timely opportunity to address some of the challenges facing the district in its pursuit of success for all students.
For the first time in nearly a decade, the contract between JCPS and the Jefferson County Teachers Association is being renegotiated. There are several critical areas in the contract that need to be revised and modernized to better reflect today’s education realities, such as teacher assignments, including transfer policies and how vacancies are addressed; teacher work rules and hours; teacher performance evaluations; and teacher compensation.
Further, we believe that the contract must be designed to achieve systemic changes to be truly effective. There has been a lot of conversation about making changes for the 18 priority schools, where improvement is absolutely an imperative. However, the answer to lasting, comprehensive progress at JCPS is system-wide policies and practices focused on increases in student achievement across the entire district.
We do not doubt that the district, the Board of Education, JCTA, and the professional teaching community all believe in creating the right environment for student success. What we expect is for all sides to work together in finding solutions that remove any barriers that keep us from reaching that goal.
All eyes will be on JCPS, the Board of Education, and JCTA in the next few weeks as they renew their commitment to our next generation. We encourage you to get interested, speak up and stay involved in the success of JCPS. There is no more important investment that we can make than the education of our children.