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KY School Reform Fallout

LOUISVILLE, KY - One of the most articulate opponents of the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) was Donna Shedd of Louisville. Last year, gay and National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) activists launched a boycott against Mrs. Shedd's husband's business, River City Distribution. Although Donna Shedd held no ownership in the company, gay and feminist advocates circulated fliers asserting that the distribution company financed the "fanatical right" because his income supported his family.

The fliers also alleged that Mrs. Shedd "supported hate" by associating with Focus on the Family, Eagle Forum, and William Bennett (who had endorsed her candidacy in 1991 when she ran for Superintendent of Public Education). This convinced Shedd's partners to oust him as president and force him to sell his share of the business, and refuse to give him a financial settlement.

"My husband's business was impugned for no better reason than that his wife has been active in the cause of preserving and protecting families," said Donna.

Despite allegations, Mrs. Shedd has never taken a public stand on gay rights, and none of the boycott leaders could cite any examples of her making any anti-gay statements.

Her stand against KERA did, however, lead to the removal of page 126 in the Kentucky Curriculum Framework, which called for middle school children to "join or contribute" to one of three organizations: N.O.W., UNICEF, or Act Up.

Meanwhile, the New York Times published a front-page news article on March 25 reporting that "five years after [KERA's] adoption, there is little definitive evidence that it is working . . . On national tests like the National Assessment of Education Progress and the ACT, there has been no measurable progress. When Louisville students took the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, a national test, last school year, their scores declined in all four reading and math categories in all three grades tested from 1990 to 1994."

(See Education Reporter, Feb. 1996)

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