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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Local educator speaks out against Duval County's policies

A recent letter writer supportive of our superintendent, Ed Pratt-Dannals, blames parents of the intervene schools for students poor attendance and behavior rather than the superintendent's failed policies, flawed philosophies about education and overall poor district climate.
While everyone needs to share responsibility it is the duty of the school district to maintain sound policies in order for student attendance, student behavior and education to improve.

The district needs to create an attendance policy and then actually enforce it. Also they need to change how they deal with student behavior. The current Student Progressive Discipline Plan actually enables those students who wish to misbehave to progressively get worse before there are any meaningful consequences (if at all).

Another failed policy which actually contributes to poor attendance and poor behavior is what the district calls the Recovery Program. This allows students who play around in class, don't do work and even skip class to later miraculously "recover" thereby passing a class in which otherwise they would fail.

Furthermore, it is not uncommon for the district to place up to 60 students in a room, expect students to behave and then advertise to parents that instruction is being differentiated and individualized.

District climate needs to change. The good-ole boy system is alive and well. Friends and relatives keep their jobs and employees who speak up because they hope to improve our schools are retaliated against.

Most importantly we need a superintendent that will respect, not blame, the teachers. The district burdens and stresses teachers with tasks that actually make them less effective. Stop the micromanaging, the obsession with data and testing, and curb the incessant coaching and training of the teachers. Is it any surprise that teacher morale has been low and the district has a teacher retention problem?

In 2007, about a hundred teachers turned out in a torrential rain storm to express their concerns at a school board meeting. Many spoke out about district issues they felt were hurting education for our children. Appears this all fell on deaf ears. Maybe if Mr. Pratt-Dannals had listened and taken the concerns seriously the county would not now be asking the question, "Is Ed Pratt-Dannals the Right Leader for the Future?"


Jane Bowman, educator

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