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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Pratt-Dannals Disservice

I’ll just jump right to it. Superintendant Ed Pratt Dannals is doing the city, its schools and its children a tremendous disservice. Now I am not talking about his leadership and the policies and procedures he has either put in place or endorsed, though many of them are at best suspect, no I am talking about something much more dangerous and that’s the misleading words he takes every opportunity to spew.

Despite almost overwhelming evidence to the controversy the superintendant is constantly saying, look at us we have a B district and we’re heading in the right direction. He celebrates a two percent increase in the drop put rate but doesn’t mention how it only came about after the state changed its formula. He says look at Stanton and Paxon but through omissions says please ignore the other 11 D or F public high schools. Have you seen our award winning magnet programs, he asks, while deflecting attention away from the fact we have four schools on the verge of being taken over by the state? I could go on and on and on. In short he takes every opportunity to paint a rosy picture, when the picture is far from rosy and this misinformation is holding both our city and its schools and children back.

The truth is we have real problems, problems it is going to take everybody rolling up their sleeves and pitching in to solve. How are Jack and Jill public supposed to know how dire the situation actually is when the superintendant with a wink, a nod and a don’t look at my pay check says, you know what, sure we can improve but things aren’t that bad.

The public might not understand that the uptick in youthful violent crime is a direct reflection on what is happening in the hallways of many of our schools, especially when the superintendant says look how suspensions are down 49%. They might not understand that the reason many employers despite the cities obvious plusses resist coming here is because of our school system. He glosses over the fact that over half our tenth graders have been passed along without the skills they need and can’t read at grade level and the facts that many of our kids graduate woefully unprepared for college (over 70% have to take remedial classes) or for the world of employment. The people of Jacksonville are being blinded by the superintendant and his proxies saying; look at us we have all these great things going on that has made us a B district. Well friends just like the C has become the new F in many of the district’s schools making it in many cases practically meaningless and/or deceptive, being a B district on the states scoring scale just isn’t that impressive.

Mr. Superintendant I implore you, no make that I beg you, please call a press conference and after you sigh and throw your hands up in the air tell the people of Jacksonville the truth, let them know how dire things really are, the serious trouble that we are really in. Tell them how our teachers are having their morale crushed and are overwhelmed with tasks that only have a peripheral relationship to teaching, tell them how policies and procedures are squeezing the joy of learning out of many of our children and putting fewer and fewer in situations where they can actually succeed. Tell them how you have cut the budget to the bone and so many needs are going unmet and the states unfunded mandates usurp the people of Jacksonville’s ability to choose their future for themselves. Tell them how it is going to take them getting off the sidelines, them volunteering, taking an interest, and demanding their representatives in government do what is right and that is the only way our city, our schools and our children are going to have a chance. Tell the people of Jacksonville, black white, rich or poor that we must put our differences aside and start working for the good of our schools and our children. Be a leader and put a true face on things, don’t just be a guy collecting a huge paycheck trying to protect his niche anymore. Sir, I know it was a long time ago when you get into education but it was probably because you wanted to make a difference. Well again sir right now your words are making a difference unfortunately they are not making a positive one.

Superintendent Pratt-Dannals when you paint a rosy picture you have robbed the people of Jacksonville of the choice to get involved or not and this at time when we desperately need them more than ever. Why would they and why should they get involved if our top teacher says, things could be better but they really aren’t that bad after

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