Rose Revival: A Challenge for School Equity

Equitable schools are crucial for providing the world-class education that Fayette County Public Schools envision for all students.  Speaking as an advocate for social change in our education system, we have major challenges to overcome before we can realize the vision.  Our students are leading with the voice of change.

On Saturday, March 30, 2024, I participated in the Rose Revival: Securing the Right to a Quality Education hosted by the Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT), a group of young people whose mission is to co-create more just democratic Kentucky schools and communities as education research, policy, and storytelling partners. The revival, held at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, was one of several interactive forums held in regions across the Commonwealth to educate communities on the history of the 1989 Kentucky Supreme Court landmark decision in Rose v. Council for Better Education and to solicit feedback. A final report of KSVT’s findings will be released after the last forum.

According to KSVT, the decision found our entire education system unconstitutional.  It was overhauled and redesigned to focus on seven capacities of improvement for every Kentucky student: communication skills; economic, social, and political knowledge; government processes; mental and physical health; college and career readiness; arts and culture; and measuring up to students in surrounding states.  The capacities were codified through 1990 KERA legislation.  

The challenges in our district align with problems of inequity across the Commonwealth and the nation.  Present day legislation and judicial actions are spiraling us backwards to the pre-Rose days.  In Fayette County, over the past 30+ years we failed to eliminate the academic achievement gap between white and Asian students on one side and Latinx and Black students on the other side.  Support for the nearly 1,000 unhoused students in our district is inadequate.  Immigrant and refugee students, often deemed illegal, have no academic or vocational path forward.  Students fear safety and lack a sense of belonging in school because their differences are viewed as deficits.  Girls are not fully supported in pursuing their technology aspirations.  Access to mental health and disability resources are scarce.  These challenges are codified by draconian legislation that threatens lives of LGBTQIA+ youth, dismisses DEI initiatives as unnecessary and harmful, and seeks constitutional changes that will use public dollars for private charter schools, tipping the scales for wealthy families and pilfering from increases in teachers’ pay and resources needed to establish and improve upon a competitive advantage.  

Our school leadership must embrace a multi-layered, diverse perspective on addressing issues in our district.  In our majority students of color district, our leaders must maintain equity as their foremost value.  Leadership must champion resources, support, and policies needed for our students to obtain equity in the schools and a world-class education, and for our district to become the model K-12 system it can be.

Forward Ever!

Avatar for Dr. Danny Anthony Everett

Dr. Anthony Everett is a prophetic activist, public theologian, and social entrepreneur. With experience in corporate, academic, and non-profit spaces, his work honors communities of African descent, specifically Black boys and Black men, from around the world that continue to fight for good over evil while upholding the light of justice. Baptist Seminary of Kentucky - Administrative Faculty Member Fayette County Public Schools - Board of Education – Equity Council Committee Member