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The Kentucky General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Education is reviewing complaints against for-profit and proprietary colleges in Kentucky, including Spencerian College in Louisville.

The hearing comes at a time of growing complaints against such institutions. Evidence of fraud at some for-profits has led to new debates on whether the schools should receive federal funding or grants.

The Jefferson County Teachers Association has withdrawn its endorsement of Third District School Board candidate David Toborowsky.

Brent McKim, president of the teachers association, said that over the last few days, the union’s political action committee, Better Schools Kentucky, “learned of some new information that raises questions about Mr. Toborowsky’s candidacy.”

“After looking into this matter further, Better Schools Kentucky has decided, at this time, to withdraw the endorsement of David Toborowsky and to discontinue its independent expenditures backing his endorsement, effective immediately,” McKim said in a statement.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, McKim told a Courier-Journal reporter the key issue pertains to Toborowsky’s residency status in District 3, which was questioned during a news report on WAVE-TV Monday evening.

It turns out that Toborowsky says he’s living with Chris ThienemanFrom WAVE3:

Toborowsky listed the address on Alia Circle in his election filing and his voter registration card to qualify to run for the school board’s 3rd district seat, but a teen, whom we can’t identify, told us Toborowsky didn’t live there.

The teen told us former mayoral candidate and real estate developer Chris Thienamen did.

When Thienamen showed up, he told us Toborowsky asked to move in shortly before the election’s filing deadline.

“He asked me. He said: ‘Listen, you know I want to run for this thing and I need a place to stay. Would you care if I lived with you?’ I said: ‘Absolutely not. You’re my best friend,'” said Thienamen.

“I just think it’s the wrong reasons, to move in to run,” said Steve Neal, former Executive Director of Jefferson County Teachers Association. “It’s just wrong.”

Neal says he heard about Toborowsky’s plan to move into the district at the last minute from JCTA President Brent McKim.

In fact, records show Toborowsky filed to run just hours before the deadline closed.

As the Education Voodoo blog points out, Thieneman’s address has been used for various political purposes.

A quick search on The Courier-Journal’s campaign contribution database turned up a BOATLOAD OF DONORS associated with 2606 Alia Circle. Maybe there is a glitch in the database search but it’s so crazy I can’t explain it.

Almost two months ago, the new blog JCPS Confidential made news across the local blogosphere. But nothing has been posted to the site since. The same welcome message from August 20th remains.

Does anyone know what happened?

Republican mayoral candidate Hal Heiner has a new television ad that hits Democrat candidate Greg Fischer for following Heiner on calls to change the student assignment plan.

Heiner was the first candidate to discuss the JCPS student assignment plan on television*. He ran an ad that called for an end to the plan, which Heiner later said has not improved education (though he still supports diversity goals in the schools). Fischer criticized the spot, but, as Heiner points out in his latest ad, Fischer soon after said the assignment plan should be fixed. Fischer again says the plan should be fixed in his latest TV ad.

The mayor has no direct authority over JCPS, but both candidates say they will try to lead the conversation about changing the assignment plan. They differ on how they would lead the conversation and in how detailed they’ve been about their plans.

Heiner’s campaign has frequently accused Fischer of co-opting Heiner’s ideas.

*Although, if my research is correct, independent Jackie Green was the first candidate in the general election to call for an end to the assignment plan.



If yesterday’s dose of campaign ads wasn’t enough…

First, the NRSC has a new ad accusing Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway of waffling (flip-flopping, etc) on the Bush tax cuts (which Conway wants to extend). The spot swipes the Waffle House theme Conway’s supporters used at Fancy Farm to mock Republican candidate Rand Paul, who is no stranger to accusations of backtracking.

Next, incumbent Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth (who is running against Todd Lally) emphasizes jobs and GE in his latest ad.

And finally (for now), Democratic mayoral candidate Greg Fischer talks about education in his new ad. He says it’s time to fix the JCPS student assignment plan. Republican Hal Heiner and independent Jackie Green both favor scrapping the plan. Heiner says school diversity is still important, but he is calling for a new approach to education that would expand the magnet school program and offer incentives to teachers who work in under-performing schools. Green, however, says affordable housing should be more evenly distributed across the city. That, he says, would make neighborhoods and schools diverse.

Republican candidate for mayor Hal Heiner Thursday discussed his plans for improving Jefferson County Public Schools, and announced his latest endorsement.

Heiner recently called for an end to the current student assignment plan in a television ad. The spot drew criticism from Democratic candidate Greg Fischer, among others. Heiner says he still supports diversity, but the assignment plan has not improved schools. He said scrapping the plan is only part of his education platform, which calls for more magnet schools and incentives for teachers at underperforming schools.

“What we need is a comprehensive re-look at how we go about education in this community, determine what resources are necessary to get there, then get about the business of improving these schools. We really have no time to waste in that regard,” said Heiner.

Former Democratic mayoral candidate Lisa Moxley announced her support for Heiner at the press conference. The mayor has no direct authority over JCPS, but Moxley said the mayor should lead efforts to improve schools.

“I think it’s absolutely appropriate for the mayor to take a leadership role for issues that impact the city and this is an issue that impacts the city. It impacts the families and the communities and the people who live here,” she said.

Fischer has proposed using public-private partnerships and after-school programs to improve education.


Here is the raw audio of the announcement. (MP3)

And here is Fischer’s response:

“Like many people in Louisville, I am frustrated with the lack of significant improvement in our schools. The student assignment plan and our school system are not working the way we expect and demand they must.

“The school board must fix the student assignment plan, and they are taking steps to do so, and as mayor I will be an active partner to make sure we get it right.

“I will do everything in my power to raise both the standards and expectations we have of our schools. A great city deserves great schools, and right now we are letting some of our parents and children down. High quality schools are the key to our city’s economic future and, as mayor, I will be there to make certain we get this right.”

The Jefferson County Teachers Association has endorsed Democratic candidate Greg Fischer in the Louisville mayor’s race.

The mayor has no direct power over education, but all of the candidates have proposed various methods for improving schools. Most recently, Republican Hal Heiner proposed ending the student assignment plan and offering incentives to teachers who will work in under-performing schools.

Fischer’s plan centers on after-school programs, more nurses in schools and more parental involvement.

Independent Jackie Green has also proposed ending the student assignment plan, but he says affordable housing must be distributed evenly across the community to keep schools and neighborhoods diverse.

From the Fischer campaign:

Louisville’s teachers today endorsed Greg Fischer for Mayor, saying he has the vision, insight and experience to lead the city and help improve education.

“Teachers touch all our lives and are the foundation on which we build our community,” Fischer said. “I am honored that the teachers believe in me and my campaign.”

The Jefferson County Teachers Association represents 6,000 teachers, librarians, speech clinicians, physical therapists and occupational therapists.

Fischer has been discussing ways to improve education since his campaign began more than a year ago.

    It may be that Republican mayoral candidate Hal Heiner‘s ad calling for an end to the JCPS student assignment plan has been played in the news more than it’s aired in commercial blocks.

    On Thursday, the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition called on Heiner to end the spot.

    From WFPL:

    IMC President Reverend Frank M. Smith Jr. says Heiner’s plan would re-segregate the schools. He adds that the assignment plan should stay in place, and any problems with it should be addressed by the school board.

    “We support our school board in moving forward,” he says. “A lot of tax dollars have already been expended behind the plan and implementation of the plan and we just think some simple tweaking can get the situation improved.”

    Here is the full audio of the IMC press conference (mp3), featuring questions from Wave 3’s Jon Chrisos and LEO’s Phillip Bailey.

    WLKY reported on the spot when it debuted earlier this week. Here are clips from that story:

    On Wednesday, Heiner’s Democratic opponent, Greg Fischer, and JCPS Superintendent Sheldon Berman sharply criticized the ad.

    Heiner said he’s already received an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the campaign.


    In response, Berman said, “We’re disappointed that the campaign has chosen to politicize our public school children. …The ad distorts and misrepresents the issues facing the school district.”

    That comment was echoed by Fischer.

    “One, he’s using our kids as pawns six weeks before an election, and two, the result of his plan is the segregation of our schools here in the community,” Fischer said.

    Fischer said that, as mayor, he’d create public-private partnerships to move the school system forward. That proposal is similar to one championed by Heiner.

    Here is the response from Heiner’s campaign to the IMC’s announcement:

    Hal Heiner rejects the idea that we cannot have a discussion on education in this community.  This community has gone too long without taking a fresh look at education, and it is time to ask ourselves if this is acceptable.  Is it acceptable to have a dropout rate that is double the state average?  Is it acceptable to have 6 failing schools and to have our children riding buses for 3 hours a day?  Something has to change, and Hal Heiner is unapologetic for standing up for parents and children across this community.

    Many stories on the topic also point out that the mayor has no power over the schools. Both Heiner and Fischer say they will work closely with the school board and superintendent to influence education.

    And another note, independent candidate Jackie Green also favors ending the assignment plan. But, he has proposed spreading affordable housing across the city to make neighborhoods (and therefore neighborhood schools) more diverse.

    As Rick Howlett reported on WFPL today, “Louisville attorney Ted Gordon was back in court Monday, filing a motion that asks a judge to reopen Gordon’s suit challenging Jefferson County Public Schools student assignment plan.”

    You can read the story here.

    Superintendent Sheldon Berman and Mayor Jerry Abramson made a joint appearance today (along with Congressman John Yarmuth) and afterward, they talked about the suit and the neighborhood schools legislation.

    Berman and Gordon are quoted in the WFPL story. Here is what the mayor had to say:

    (That’s WHAS-11’s Joe Arnold asking some of the questions)

    Governor Steve Beshear released this statement about today’s Race to the Top announcement.

    While we are disappointed that Kentucky did not win an award in the second round of Race to the Top funding, we are confident that the steps we are taking in education will significantly improve the education experience for Kentucky’s students.  The fact that Kentucky was named a finalist twice for these funds speaks to the success of the combined efforts of my office, the Department of Education (KDE) and the General Assembly.

    Catch that? “…we are confident that the steps we are taking in education will significantly improve the education experience…”

    Well, that’s part of the point of Race for the Top. States push reforms to apply for the money, and even if they don’t get grants, the reforms are in place. But as Marketplace reported last month, those changes may not stick in some cash-strapped states:

    Secretary Duncan says states aren’t going to roll back the reforms they promised just because they didn’t get any money. But some cash-strapped states will have no choice.

    Jennifer Cohen analyzes education policy at the New America Foundation.

    JENNIFER COHEN: Following through on the reforms that they proposed in their Race to the Top applications may be impossible.

    Secretary Duncan says, never fear. He’s got other education grants to dole out, at least this year. Next year, may be different. Congress is in a budget-cutting mood.

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