Teachers, the district has run off and lost a lot of quality teachers over the last few years as it has sought to get younger in the classroom. St.Johns and Clay Counties have benefitted greatly from the lack of respect the district has heaped upon our teachers as they went from valued colleagues to easily replaceable cogs under the previous administration. One way to start rectifying this is by limiting our association with Teach for America. I don’t understand how a district interested in best practices can look to them first when professional teachers and college of education graduates are available.
Discipline, the district made an important first step this year when it said it would no longer tie principals evaluations to referrals and suspensions something I have been calling for for years. However that is just an important first step. We should take every available step to make sure teachers are supported and maladaptive students get what they need to improve their behavior or are removed from the regular education environment. We could have serious addition with just a little bit of subtraction.
Rigor, teachers are counseled all the time to watch their Fs and Ds. This should stop immediately. Somewhere along the way we gutted student accountability and we must get it back. Perhaps the most important thing a child can learn in school is a work ethic and through grade recovery and harassing teachers to pass kids along we have destroyed that for many of our graduates and students.
Schedule, in high school many students are taking too many classes (7 or 8) that are too long (90 minutes) and that students are not interested in. We have gutted our elective and trades and skills classes. We have to stop putting kids in situations where success is unlikely and then scratching our head wondering why they are doing so poorly.
Message, we have to end the all is well message that the district has been forcing down the city’s throat. There is nothing wrong with celebrating our successes but when we gloss over or ignore our problems they don’t go away, they get worse.