Monday, January 25, 2010

Kentucky Schools: Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain

As reported by the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County last week, Superintendent Jerry Weast was the keynote speaker this Saturday at the annual conference of the Kentucky School Boards Association. The meeting's website said Dr. Weast would discuss his "ambitious comprehensive reform effort" to meet the needs of all students. When I heard that, I was compelled to write a letter to the editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal. Since the paper didn't publish it, here it is. If you have friends in Kentucky, pass it along to them too.

To the Editor:

I found it interesting that the Kentucky School Boards Association invited Dr. Jerry Weast, superintendent of schools in Montgomery County, Md., to speak at its annual meeting in Louisville Jan. 22-24 about his efforts to "invest in preschool education for both public and private providers." At the same time he is preparing his remarks on this important topic, parents like me who are raising a child with special needs are actively opposing a plan by Dr. Weast that would effectively close down a proven preschool for children with severe disabilities who need early intervention.

Before Kentucky educators decide to follow Dr. Weast's lead in the area of special education, you should know that parents whose children would be affected oppose his plan nearly unanimously. At a recent hearing, all 23 parents who testified on this topic adamantly urged the Board of Education to overturn his proposal to abandon this successful program and move children to an experimental public program with no known education model, curriculum, or parent involvement. If parents and educators in Kentucky support the right of all children to receive an appropriate education, think twice before holding up Dr. Weast as a role model.

-Mark Miller

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