Growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s in Cleveland, Ohio, I can still remember the difficulty I had with tuning the dial on the small AM transistor radio which I would sneak into class in late September to listen to the World Series through a small hidden earpiece. Over the years, I have often wondered if the idiom “stay tuned” had its origin in the fact that it was an unbelievable task to keep the station dialed to the radio station which was broadcasting the game.
Regardless of the origin of the idiom stay-tuned, I could almost kick myself for not closing my column on the debate about public schools vs. public charter schools with those now famous two words, stay-tuned. Had I done so, I might have been labeled a genius for my prediction that there was much more to Gov. Matt Bevin’s war against teachers. At the risk of being labeled a thief, allow me to steal an idiom from the Bible when Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall and predicted that something bad was going to happen to King Belshazzar. After the legislative session, I should have been able to interpret that the writing on the wall was that something bad was about to happen, and that something bad was going to be the state takeover of the Jefferson County Public Schools.
So why should any of us care? I mean at the end of the day Gov. Bevin and our new Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis have assured us that the state takeover was necessary in order to save Jefferson County’s public school children from those meanspirited, selfish public school teachers who only care about themselves.
If anything, Jefferson County public school leaders should consider themselves blessed that in less than two weeks, Commissioner Lewis has apparently concocted a salvation plan which overnight will reverse all of the social issues which contribute to the success or failure of students attending Jefferson County public schools.
Although neither Gov. Bevin nor Commissioner Lewis have announced their plan to save the school children in Jefferson County, I would suspect that any plan they intend to implement to save the public schools in Jefferson County will not have any more success than if Gov. Bevin and Commissioner Lewis simply took a helicopter flight over Jefferson County while one them waves an imaginary magic wand and the other sprinkles imaginary fairy dust while shouting to the students below another famous idiom, never fear, we are here; help is on the way!
So, what does all of this mean in political double speak when it comes to saving Kentucky public schools? Well, for anyone who has listened to Gov. Bevin and his merry band of charter school advocates, it means exactly what we all fear, soon many public schools in Jefferson County, and likely other school districts across the Commonwealth, will be a thing of the past. To borrow from another famous idiom, now that the proverbial charter school camel has been able to get its nose under the public school tent, it is only a matter of time before a majority of the school district’s public schools will be replaced with for-profit charter schools funded with public taxpayer money.
Finally, as I often do, I would invite each of you who share my frustration and shock over this unprecedented takeover of the Jefferson County public schools to join me on my imaginary mountaintop and help me shout as loudly as possible to anyone who cares about the future of public education and Kentucky’s school children that each of us needs to hang on, buckle up, stay tuned, and rest assured the debate over who pays the tab for the coming bill to fund for-profit so-called public charter schools should not surprise any of us.
So, as I opened, let me close with an old the old English idiom, get ready, stay tuned, the best is yet to come.
Mark Wohlander, a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor, practices law in Lexington.
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