Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Duval Partners good luck you are going to need it

This is how I would turn around the four struggling schools, Jackson, Ribault, Raines and North Shore K-8.

The first thing I would do is start a come home campaign. At a recent school board meeting Becki Couch said there were over 3000 students who could be attending those schools but who had chosen to go elsewhere. I would try and get those kids back and I would do so by convincing them and their families that those schools would become academically rigorous and safe schools to attend.

The next thing I would do is make those schools safe and academically rigorous schools to attend.

I would tell the teachers that I trusted them and end arbitrary amounts of students they could or could not fail. I would have them teach the material and make it rigorous, which would mean that if somebody passed their class it was because they earned it and not because a teacher gave them a grade or pushed them through. I would tell the teachers they could go as slow as they felt their kids needed, they could reteach if necessary and that the pacing guide was a suggestion, nobody was going to get in trouble for being more than five days behind. After a few weeks I would move kids around and have groups that were quickly moving through the material and groups that needed extra time.

Then at the same time I would make sure the teachers and students had positive learning environments. Rudeness, disrespect and violations of the code of conduct would not be tolerated and consequences would be swift and strict. If you came to learn you would have nothing to be afraid of. If you came to cut up or steal learning time from your peers or teachers then you would have a tough time. The adults not the children would be running the schools.

I wouldn’t dismantle the staffs but in my system everybody would be teaching. Academic coaches would have nearly full loads and even assistant principals would be expected to teach a class too. It would be all hands on deck and this would stop admins and psuedo admins from losing touch with the jobs that teachers do. It would also help keep classes smaller and hopefully allow us to have some electives.

I would tell my teachers to be prepared to work long hours. However I am not worried about volumes of data notebooks, two-page lesson plans and complicated board configurations. Put up a daily agenda and then go. Spend the time you have been doing those things the last few years figuring out how to connect with the kids and keeping the families involved. I would want my principals and A.P.s in the classrooms looking for quality instruction not word walls.

Then not only would I instruct my teachers not to teach to the F-Cat but I would tell them not to even mention it. About a week before it was taken the principals could have an assembly to discuss it’s importance and that would be it.

That is how I would turn around those schools. With our current structure in place that is what I would do but that’s not to say I wouldn’t have a wish list too.

I would like the kids to have six one-hour periods a day, with no A/B block. 90 minutes is way to long for many of our kids and teachers. If the students had class everyday I believe the transfer of knowledge would happen quicker. With A/B blocks, weekends, holidays and absences can lead to four, five and sometimes six days between class meetings.

After the first nine weeks kids failing a class would be required, not asked if they wanted to, to stay after school for tutoring.

Every student would have at least one elective each day so they could have a safe spot in their schedule. I would want the schools at a minimum to have art, graphics, shop, home economics, music/band, and drama.

If some kids would not get with the program I would suspend them for five days at a time, which could be shortened if a parent would come and spend the day with their child going to their classes.

There would be a zero tolerance policy for fighting and bullying. Kids that did so would be sent to alternative schools.

I would ban cell phones and high heels because neither are necessary for learning.

I would like to have several different curriculums that serve more of the kids needs including a skills acquisition program for kids not interested in college who would like to learn a trade.

Real summer school classes not grade recovery would be offered, where kids could get extra help, get ahead or make up credits.

I would like to have social workers and mental health counselors on campus. The social workers could provide wrap around services and the counselors could try and get to the root of some of the kids problems. Why kids do poorly in school often has nothing to do with school.

I would have monthly meetings with the community and businesses to discuss education issues and get their input. I would look for internships and mentors under every rock.

These last few suggestions are outside of what we do now but would be helpful.


  1. I like it! I especially like doing away with the A/B schedule. It is so difficult with low performing students.

  2. Oh we would regroup classes too... kids that were moving quicker would be moved to quicker moving classes and the opposite would occur too.

  3. It will never happen in these schools. There are just too many variables outside that inhibit the functioning of these schools. It has nothing to do with race either. Most of the vacancies in the Duval system occur in these schools. The teachers take a job at these schools, wait the mandatory time, and then transfer to another school. Check the teacher turnover rate at these schools. I know of at least 10 teachers who put in their years, and as soon as they were eligible, they transferred out. Offering financial incentives might possibly ease the turnover, but nothing short of that will ever make the faculties of these schools stable. After all, who would want to teach in a school designated as an "F" school. That is why I disagree with the Jeb Bush school grading system. Once you put a label on something, it is hard to change it. How do you think the students feel at this school, they failed when they walk in the door each morning. It has become expected of them to fail. Our state educators have lost touch with how the young students react today.