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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mismangement and bad ideas define Duval County (rough draft)

That collective sigh you heard the other day may have been from the city as it realized the school board and superintendent don’t really have a plan to turn our “failing” schools around. In case you missed it twelve days ago the school board contracted Education Directions to run the original four intervene schools and then yesterday the second day back with kids it seceded control of three more schools to them. Six of these schools are neighborhood high schools and the district is shelling out 1.9 million dollars to give them away.

The district was so impressed with Education Directions that six months ago they picked random citizens off the street and formed Duval Partners to be the education management organization tot run the failing schools if it came to that.

The district was so impressed with Education Directions that two months ago with Duval Partners imploding, they sent Pratt-Dannals to beg for one more year of control.

If you are impressed with the districts decisions I have some swamp land you can buy cheap.

It’s worse than that folks as apparently Education Directions has been in the district for years so the district new them and what they could deliver. Yet still they tried to move heaven to avoid using them. The school board only went with them when it became obvious that the superintendent’s only plan was to move administrators around and they just couldn’t stomach it.

Even if we could excuse the lateness of the changeover, and does nobody at the school board building have a calendar, can we really sit back and accept this monumental waste of money. According to the Times Union, Education Directions plans to embed an administrator at each of the schools and to provide coaching services (7 administrators and some coaching services cost 1.9 million dollars?). Well friends as the grade at my last school, one of the intervene schools, plummeted, the amount of administrators and coaches already was going up. In 2010 before I was surplused, and I believe it was because it was hard for me to keep quite about all the waste and mismanagement, my school had five assistant principals and four full time coaches; we would have had more coaches if one wouldn’t have left on maternity leave. The last thing these schools need to turn around is more coaches and administrators.

Furthermore can we really over look the close ties the district has to employees of Education Directions such as former area superintendent Steve Hite an executive with the EMO. I am not saying there are any shenanigans going on but for once wouldn’t it be nice if a huge contract like this occurred without the appearance of impropriety?

Finally, I could turn these schools around in a year and for a lot less than 1.9 million dollars paid Education Directions, instead for the bargain basement price of what was already allocated to them in the first place and it wouldn’t take reinventing the wheel to do so. First improve discipline and I would do so by having on campus suspension centers where kids would both not miss school and get meaningful consequences for bad behavior. Next acquire teacher buy in by taking meaningless things off their plates and putting meaningful things on and finally by making the curriculum realistic, which would include fewer, shorter classes, grouping based on ability and by having more classes that the kids enjoyed. You know none of the things that the district just paid 1.9 million dollars to a group they initially thought a group of random citizens without education experience (Duval Partners) could do a better job than, are doing.

That wham you just heard was probably the city collectively beating its head against a wall.

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