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Saturday, December 29, 2012

When did public schools in Duval County become second-class citizens? (rough draft)

A couple things school board members have said over the last few months have really bothered me.

At the end of last summer when discussing the renewal of Education Directions Fel Lee said to the owner, we are appreciative of all you have done but at some point we need to stand on our own, we need you to give us a template for what to do.

Then more recently Jason Fischer said he wants to compare the data of comparable public and charter schools to see which is being more successful so we can duplicate it.

On the surface there is nothing wrong with wanting to duplicate success. It is even laudable. My problem is whom theses two school board members want to copy. Instead of copying the model at one of our successful public schools and we have many, they would rather copy the model from an Education Management Company or a charter school. It’s as if the successes that our public schools are having and once again there are many don’t matter.   

They say, great job public school so and so but instead of doing what you are doing in our schools that are struggling, we would rather pay somebody to tell us what to do or copy what schools that erodes local control are doing. I think we have plenty of great schools and we should be copying what they are doing instead. The only problem with that is it is impossible.

Most of our schools that are truly doing well are magnet schools and just by their nature we can only have a finite amount of them or are in more affluent neighborhoods that tend to have more parental involvement.

Sadly we can’t replicate income and parents that care from neighborhoods that are doing well to neighborhoods that aren’t. You know who else can’t do that? EMOs and charter schools.

If we want to have real success we must put in place programs that mitigate poverty. Everything else is just window dressing or kicking the can down the road. Unfortunately EMOs and charter schools won’t tell you that. 

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