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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gary Chartrand, I ran a grocery store, I should be able to run Duval’s schools too.

Let me be clear, as far as I know he didn’t say those exact words. Though that was his sentiment as he announced from Ponte Vedra beach in St. Johns County that him and his millionaire buddies were going to spend 50 million dollars to help us poor rubes in Jacksonville out.

Look at the optics here. First he was in St. Johns County, not Duval, you know the county that is too good for charter schools or at least that’s what John thrasher said a couple weeks ago. Charter schools in case you didn’t know it are just for poor kids. Then in St.Johns County, again not Duval, he made the announcement in Ponte Vedra as people are gathering for the TPC, the game of kings. I guess he couldn’t have been bothered to come to Jacksonville and make the announcement at one of the schools he says he wants to help. No, that would have messed up his tee time.

It’s symptomatic of the education reform movement’s biggest problem, hubris. They would rather sit back in their country clubs and go with their guts, their guts must be great after all they are at country clubs, and throw money at starved schools and districts as long as they do things their way. Desperate for any help at all many go along. The problem is most of their ideas are wrong, just ask Gates about his small school initiative. Look at the studies about charter schools, vouchers and merit pay too, the evidence is legion that those things don’t lead to better educational out comes. That doesn’t stop Chartand and his ilk though, more like it emboldens them, they don’t need evidence and facts to be right after all they have money. They in their zeal to blame teachers and destroy the bodies that represent them would rather go with untested or erroneous reforms than roll up their sleeves and tackle the number one problem in our schools, poverty.

I find it Ironic that Chartrand, Jeb Bush and our own superintendent Vitti met in one of the richest places in the nation to discuss helping our schools and never mentioned the effects that poverty play, instead talking incessantly about how we need to improve the quality of our teachers (I guess they think the quality of our leadership has been just fine), all while they sipped from their Champaign classes with their fingers in the air.

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