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The bill that would dismantle Jefferson County Public Schools’ student assignment plan has passed the state Senate. But Superintendent Sheldon Berman doesn’t think it will clear the House.

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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.

Update:

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.”

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.

[edit]

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.

Republican mayoral candidate Hal Heiner‘s latest TV ad says “It’s time to end the failed student assignment plan.” In the spot (watch here), Heiner makes suggestions for improving Jefferson County Public Schools, such as offering teachers incentives to work in poor-performing schools. In a debate earlier this month, Heiner said he wanted the mayor to be “directly involved in improving education.”

At the same debate, Democratic candidate Greg Fischer said he wants to involve parents more in schools, but didn’t say he wants to end the assignment plan.

Independent Jackie Green favors ending the assignment plan, but said he would make neighborhoods diverse by spreading public housing across the city.

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)

Here’s what we reported on today:

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