By Krista Johnson, Louisville Courier Journal

Jefferson County Public School leaders have homed in on a literacy program that will likely be implemented across the district next year, but one community organization is urging district leaders to reconsider the selection.

Hundreds of people showed up at Male High on Monday night for the annual “Nehemiah Action Assembly,” hosted by CLOUT (Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together). While multiple topics were discussed, the section of the night regarding JCPS focused on CLOUT’s research on literacy programs and the organization’s stance that the program favored by the district lacks enough evidence that it will successfully improve its dismal reading scores.

The audience laughed when organizers directed their questions to an empty chair brought on stage, adorned with a sign bearing the name of JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio, who did not attend the event.

In an op-ed published in The Courier Journal last week, CLOUT leaders Tom Gardner and Jonathan Berkley outlined their issues with the Expeditionary Learning literacy program that JCPS favors and their reasons for instead supporting the Direct Instruction program. Both are rooted in the science of reading but take different approaches.

The organization invited Pollio to the meeting to ask if he would commit to pausing the Expeditionary Learning implementation and to implementing the Direct Instruction model in 15 schools.

The explanation for Pollio’s absence, CLOUT leadership said, was that he said he didn’t want to come to the meeting and say no to their requests on stage. The organization insinuated it was a surprise Pollio didn’t show − repeating that he did not decline his invitation until 4:30 p.m. Monday − but there also was no indication Pollio ever showed agreement with their requests.

View the original story here.