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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Was Duval County’s reading initiative a waste of time and money?

Last night at the Art-Walk I met a teacher who worked summer school teaching reading. She said when the summer started she was very excited but as it went on she became more and more disappointed.

At one point she had a class of twenty-three kids in her class, which was more than she would have had during the year, also unlike the year all of these kids were poor readers and there was nobody they could be paired up with. She continued that between the large numbers and the behavior problems that sometimes come along with poor readers it was impossible to get anything done. She said she went from being excited about teaching to being a baby sitter trying to survive the days.

I asked her why she thought the classes had become so big and she surmised it was because more kids equaled more money and that it was better for the district to say more kids were participating in the reading program.

This veteran, consistently high performing teacher could not express her disappointment enough.

If she was right this continues a disturbing pattern that the district has, where it would rather appear to do good than actually do good. Sure we would love to teach 23 kids how to read better over the summer but if we only have the resources to do it for ten then isn’t that what we should have been doing. Couldn't we have streamlined the program so that the classes were manageable and more kids would have benefitted?

According to the teacher I met, all we did was spend a lot of money and provide free babysitting for a lot of families.

Chris Guerrieri

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