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Dear Superintendent Vitti, please give my child a chance.

From a reader

Dr. Vitti,

While I understand that change is necessary to move forward, I am having a hard time understanding why anyone would believe this new system is moving in the right direction. My son attends New Berlin Elementary and is in the 1st Grade. He is a bright, sweet, too-busy-for-his-own-good little boy. He is an ace at Math, which he did not inherit from me, and does very well in all other subjects (aside from conduct, which we are working on). I said all of that because we have had several tests/assessments (call them what you want, the kids still know) that he has flat-out failed. He makes 100’s on almost everything, yet gets a zero on a test…because it only had 4 questions (4 QUESTIONS!!!) and they were on labeling the Body Systems…in the 1st Grade! When other teachers (friends of mine) are telling me that at least half of their class failed that test with a 50% or less, there’s a problem with the curriculum, not the teachers!! I let that one go (although I shouldn’t have), thinking that he still had time to bring his grade back up. But, yesterday he made a 62 on another test…and do you know what? Due to this new curriculum, I have no idea what he was even being tested on! By the way, he didn’t bring home anything from school related to any of the materials he was tested on, so I had NO WAY of reviewing any of that with him before his test! I go on Field Trips and help out in the classroom when needed. I help him with his homework, review any papers he brings home, sign his agenda every night, and we read books together. I also make sure he does i-Ready weekly (that is a whole other issue) so believe me, I am active in his school life and education.

With that said, where did the policy of excluding parents from their children's education come from? I really hate not knowing what my child is doing at school and not sending graded papers home only punishes the parents that want to be active in their children's education. I have no idea what his last test was even on, other than his teachers weekly newsletter referenced fables and folklore. (And before you go there, I understand I can set up a parent-teacher conference to see his graded papers, but I shouldn’t have to. If I need a P/T conference, it should be for other reasons, not to review a file!) Why are there no books or review sheets to help reinforce at home what they are learning in school? What happened to parents being the #1 educator in a child’s life? I can't even do a review with him because I have no idea what is being taught. I am extremely disappointed that the DCPS system would enact such an absurd policy! Parents deserve to know what is being taught and how it is being administered! I feel like parents are being systematically cut out of their children’s education. Maybe that is not what the policy was enacted for, but it leaves me feeling lost and like I can’t help my own child, because I have no idea what to help him with, until after the fact…and several times that has been too late. I have many friends that are teachers in Duval County, and they have all told me the same thing… the new materials are terrible and confusing to kids. The tests do not match the curriculum as it is written. Pictures and charts do not match the tests, and for a 1st grader, that is so important!

**By the way...this has nothing to do with his teacher. She is a FANTASTIC teacher, stuck with a ridiculous policy to adhere to. She sends a newsletter home and emails parents weekly to let us know what is going on. Unfortunately, she is in the same boat as us, as she isn’t provided with any resources to send home.**

Here’s a much better idea…go back to letting teachers actually teach!
Make learning fun again! What happened to hands-on learning and using imagination and creativity?
Stop micromanaging every second of the day for teachers and let education flow, not everything can be taught in a certain time-period and some ideas need to be heard and discussed for longer amounts of time!

Please take the time and really listen to your teachers and parents, and their concerns with this curriculum and policy. Unfortunately, I know for a fact that I am not the only parent that feels this way. There is a reason why so many, including teachers, are leaving our school system.

This is not meant to be disrespectful to anyone in any way. I have an immense amount of respect for teachers and our School Board, but this policy and curriculum has missed the mark and I have real concerns for my 1st grader and 2016 kindergartner. This system is failing them, but as their parent, I will not!



  1. Wonderfully said! Chris, can you give her the link to the 1st grade learning schedule or whatever the heck we are calling it this year? Quarter 2 should be good through January.

  2. I could have written this, but I didn't. I also have a 1st grader at New Berlin and feel exactly the same way she does. To add, why are we teaching first graders about Mesopotamia and not about the history surrounding Thanksgiving? If not that, then what about the history of the United States or Florida? I have serious reservations about what is being taught, and none that have anything to do with my sons teachers. I will not post anonymous. Feel free to email me at

    1. I completely agree. We should be teaching our kids about America first. They need to understand who they are, where they come from, and their place in this world, before they learn about the history of the rest of the world.

    2. I just looked up the Social Studies for First Grade under the CPALMS website. There is nothing on there that states first graders need to know the difference between a Sphynx and ziggaurat, the three major religions, etc. Here are the actual social studies standards, again pulled from the CPALMS website, which was created by the FLDOE:
      Recognize that money is a method of exchanging goods and services.
      Describe the characteristics of responsible citizenship in the school community.
      Recognize symbols and individuals that represent American constitutional democracy.
      Identify people from the past who have shown character ideals and principles including honesty, courage, and responsibility.
      Compare life now with life in the past.

    3. "I just looked up the Social Studies for First Grade under the CPALMS website." ... I am not understanding what you are saying. Then why are the teaching about Mesopotamia? I know this is happening because my son's teacher sent home a sheet regarding it that my son wouldn't complete. - Ariel

  3. I'm a teacher in the county. I've been told by district personnel to move on even if kids don't get it yet, "cause they just aren't gonna get it". They've told me "You can't save them all." on multiple occasions. They only care about the test scores, nothing else.

  4. This is so sad. I can say without a doubt that NBE was and is a truly excellent school. My daughter had the most wonderful teachers in her 6 years there! She's now with me at the middle school where I teach. (she doesn't go to the local Oceanway MS) We are experiencing the same insanity on the middle school level. She keeps up with her assignments, studies and understands the material. I'm very involved and hands-on like this mother mentioned, but it's never enough.
    Here's just one example from her 8 classes. (Seriously! Last year they were in elementary and in MS there are 8 classes!!!!) She is really great in math and was placed in pre-algebra which is basically the standard for students a grade ahead of her. But.... her teacher has told me they have to move so fast to stay on the pacing guide. (Her math teacher is wonderful, BTW) This means that we can expect minimum of 1 hour of math per night. My daughter doesn't really mind because she loves math, but the problem is when she takes a test in that class she gets maybe a C. Strange, considering all her other math grades are A's. As a teacher, I can clearly see that they are moving so fast that they don't have time to truly MASTER and RETAIN the content before moving to the next concept. This is very frustrating!! This is pretty much the way it's going in all 4 of her core classes. Oh and don't get me started on the projects they expect an 11 year old to produce on their own. I'm really seeing how many of our students are set up for failure.
    All of this crazy DCPS insanity was stressful enough from a teaching standpoint, but having a front row seat to what's happening with my own child is making me angry. I'm thinking of quitting to home-school her. That might be better for both of us.

    So, here's a thought. What if all the veteran teachers that know how things should be just up and decided they're going to work one day to teach the material the way it should be taught? Like a non-strike unified effort to take back the system and give these kids the education they need and deserve!! Seriously, think about it.

  5. As a first grade teacher, I applaud this parent and other parents who are helping their children the best that they can. It's frustrating for parents to see that their children are failing simply because the content is WAY OVER THEIR HEADS. I am showing my students' parents the work that they have to do in their math binders, and even sent them electronic files of all the modules we have to do because they want to catch up at home. However, because the district cares about QUANTITY instead of QUALITY, teachers are being forced to move on to the next lesson even if kids are not getting it. We've had several district visits and that is all that has come out of their mouths: Why aren't you on THIS lesson? And, what lessons do you need to combine in order to get to where you need to be? Is this the same question that our administrators are going to ask when they formally observe us???? Because surely, they cannot say a darn thing about whether students are understanding the lessons or not when our hands are tied regarding pacing and differentiating our lessons.

  6. "Why is the District doing this to us?"

    -My fourth grade student

  7. Please tell me this letter was actually sent to Dr. Vitro and not just posted on the blog. It's perfect! As a parent and employee of DCPS I am working on my own letter.
    Anyone know how his mail is handled? Will he actually even see the letters if sent?

    1. The parent who sent it to me also sent it to Vitti and he basically blew it off.

    2. Yes, this letter was sent (emailed) to Dr. Vitti, and copied to Ms. Grymes. If you send anything to him, I strongly suggest you copy it to your Representative, or all of the Board Members. Don't send it only to him, or there is always a chance he could say he didn't get it. The more people that see it, the more he will be pressured to respond.

  8. Good to know. Although, my board member is Fisher, so I'm probably screwed.

  9. I know some parents are aware of what is going on, but I honestly believe that there is some kind of "smoke and mirrors" situation going on! AND WHY isn't THE LOCAL MEDIA involved? Why isn't anyone asking VItti why we are using ENGAGE NY curriculum when even NY has "kicked it to the curb?" The situation is beyond frustrating for teachers, parents, and administrators. WE CAN BE SURE OUR STUDENTS WILL PAY for this "free curriculum."