Mara Powell

Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates

Many of the conclusions reached by the state audit are incontrovertible. Inefficiencies in administration and lack of student achievement – especially amongst vulnerable populations – are undeniable.

The most significant reality that the audit recognizes is that Marty Pollio is not like recent superintendents. Dr. Pollio brings leadership; exudes a laser focus on kids; and has galvanized the community within and without JCPS with hope that has been absent for more than two decades. I am pleased that the audit seemingly recognizes that there has been a sea change in the superintendent’s chair, and as this process unfolds, it is essential that the state give Marty autonomy to work his magic.

There are ambiguities in this report that we simply are going to have to wait to see how things develop. As an example, what are the parameters of the advisory function that is ascribed to the elected board?

Or, what will the state’s intervention be around the teacher contract? I believe that with the right attitude on all sides, some of these ambiguities may become positives. As an example, a common ground innovation is just waiting around the teacher contract. What if current provisions around differentiated assignment of faculty to priority schools were implemented? That could mean the best of the best teachers working with young people who most need that valuable expertise. And that could usher in an effort in which the state, the JCPS administration and JCTA were all on the same page working for kids.

And speaking of kids, during Derby Week there is only one safe bet – None of us have seen anything yetToday’s report will be followed by a storm of political innuendo from every side; litigation in multiple venues; and, the easy temptation to turn this into a side show. I am counting on Drs. Pollio and Lewis to ensure that the best interests of kids doesn’t get lost in that collateral soap opera.

I have had experience at the national level with state take-overs in multiple places. They are all different, but in one aspect, they are all the same – and that commonality is that the formal takeover is never the real take-over.  Here’s hoping that the real take-over is not about politics and power, but about kids and learning.


Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at