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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Duval Partners, a bad fit for our struggling schools

Duval Partners for Education Excellence, the fund raising/mentoring group turned educational management organization (EMO) recently lost and replaced two of its members. The times union didn’t mention that one of the members they lost was Alvin Smith the groups first chair person but did mention the professions of the replacements, one is a minister and the other is an academic from UNF.

Duval Partners did not take this opportunity to replace the departing members with the 9th grade math teacher who knows what deficits the children show up with, the 12th grade English teacher who after years knows what works and what doesn’t work or the guidance counselor who knows what the kids need. In fact they didn’t replace any members with teachers of any kind and there are no current or recent teachers in the whole organization.

At best Duval Partners is made of well meaning cronies of the school district. At worse it is made up by cronies of the school district looking for a line to put on the resume but regardless this organization is bad for the schools and the children that will attend them.

For a generation the school board made up of politicians on their way up or way down and people filled with hubris, not firsthand education knowledge has been throwing ideas, like paint against the wall hoping something sticks, at the intervening schools. So what do they do? The School Board assembles a group of politicians on the way up or way down and people filled with hubris not firsthand education knowledge to fix the schools. I cannot be the only one that sees a problem with this.

If we want to see true improvement in those schools and the dozens of schools that are pretty much in the same boat throughout the city we must engage those we have hired to teach our students in coming up with solutions. Do you know when the problems with education began to become serious? It was when those not in the classroom decided to meddle with the classroom and I believe we are doomed to continue to fail as long as we allow this to carry on. The stakes, our children’s future, are way too high to keep doing the same thing over and over while hoping for a different outcome.

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher

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