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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why JU's public policy forum was bad for public policy

Jacksonville University had a public policy forum on education, one that it turns out was very bad for both public policy and education.

First it was held when most of the public could not attend. Those people most affected, teachers and parents were overwhelmingly at work.

Only one voice was represented and that was that of the pro corporate reform chair of the board of education Gary Chartrand, who was never a teacher nor worked in a school. Not only is Chartrand on the Public Policy advisory board and donated money to the Public Policy director, Rick Mullaney's 2010 Mayoral campaign but all the other members of the panel had a direct and close relationship to him assuring only one voice was heard.

It celebrated the QEA initiative which saw millions donated to our local public schools. The problem is the QEA board set policy for the district and did so behind closed doors where the public could neither comment nor make sure anything inappropriate was going on. Like or dislike the QEA it was bad for democracy as we elect school board members to create policy in front of us.

Not one member of the eight person panel ever taught in Duval County and overall only one member of the panel had any extensive teaching experience and no it was not superintendent Vitti but commissioner Pam Stewart, who Gary Chartrand also helped hire. Her experience by the way is decades old and took place in St. Johns County.

How can we have a serious discussion about education, when parents and educators aren't included and only the pro-privatization view point is offered? How can we improve education when those charged with doing the actual educating, teachers, are so marginalized.

These are questions JU and Jacksonville itself should be asking if they and we truly are interested in improving our schools.

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