Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Unlike CCSD, Non-Broad Louisville Superintendent Thinks Outside the Box

One of the first actions that newly appointed Jefferson County (KY) Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens took was to downsize her administrative cabinet from 23 to 6. Sure doesn't sound like a Broad-Institute graduate's action, does it?

Nancy McGinley, are you paying attention? 

Hargens recently was quoted as saying, "We all know we've got to do things differently if we're going to get different results." The remark was in support of a radical solution to raise the academic success of students from "troubled neighborhoods": public boarding schools.

Lest you assume that Hargens heads some rinky-dink system, know that she oversees 155 schools in the county that encompasses Louisville. Hargens proposes to explore the possibility of creating two 150-student residential middle schools, segregated by sex, that will take "disadvantaged" students out of the climate that breeds failure. She's not blaming their lack of success on non-motivated teachers AKA the Charleston County School District.

While sequestering during middle school addresses only part of the culture of the street, that period is crucial for those, especially boys, who are on the cusp of alienation from academics. Hargens sees the prototype in a private residential school for boys, the West End School, now operating in Louisville. See

Public boarding school for the poor will be expensive, and maybe Jefferson County will be unable to find a solution that produces one. On the other hand, throwing $24 million of Other People's Money at an imagined problem won't produce McGinley's hoped-for results either.

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