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WFPL News Special Today: Challenges of the Urban School District

Jefferson County Public Schools is among the top 30 largest school districts in the nation. Its $1 billion budget is the largest in the state but its test scores are often some of the lowest in Kentucky.

JCPS is not the only large school district struggling. Many large metropolitan districts perform lower on standardized tests when compared to their state averages and graduation rates mirror that same trend.It’s no surprise that urban school districts have different challenges than suburban and rural districts. They often have more diversity and more low-income students--defined in schools as receiving free or reduced lunches--attending their schools. So how are some urban districts making it work?Find out at 1 p.m. Tuesday with a WFPL News special. We ask the questions and we’ll be taking your calls. Listen at 89.3 or stream online at WFPL.org.We’ll be joined by University of Louisville’s Craig Hochbein who has worked with low-performing schools in JCPS and has researched school decline, improvement and turnaround. Also in studio will be JCPS school board Chair Diane Porter.We'll speak with Jean Anyon, a national scholar in the field of urban education, by phone. Anyon is a professor of social and educational policy at the City University of New York. She’s written numerous books and academic articles looking at how public policy decisions affect public education.Finally, we’ll be joined by UCLA professor Dr. Gary Orfield, who is co-director of The Civil Rights Project at UCLA. Orfield’s research includes looking at the “impact of policy on equal opportunity for success in American society.”Orfield’s 2011 report to JCPS led to the most recent changes to the district’s student assignment plan. “Now the challenge is up to the people in Jefferson County and their elected officials and their education leaders to take what would be helpful in this report and to make it into reality,” Orfield said in a video released by JCPS.This news special is part of The Next Louisville education project.