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Monday, July 13, 2015

Superintendent Vitti makes the Washington Post, hint its not good.

From the Washington Post by Valerie Strauss

It isn’t enough, apparently, that many kindergartners today are subjected to test after test, homework, little or no play, little or no rest time, and sometimes, no snack. Now, a Florida schools superintendent is recommending a new treat for kindergartners who are not reading as well as adults want them to be (even if they aren’t developmentally ready to): summer school. Where they can do even more academic work and get less time to be kids and play.
The Florida Times-Union writes in this story that Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti has urged the School Board to consider sending kindergartners — as well as first- and second-graders too — to summer school if they aren’t reading well enough.
As it turns out, half of the county’s third-graders don’t read on grade level, he said, which is a problem given that in Florida, third-graders who are not proficient enough in reading are held back a year, a practice that began years ago when Jeb Bush was governor from 1999-2007. The county, in fact, used to require that young students go to summer school if they did poorly on a reading test, but, that stopped in 2013 when he ditched the FAIR test, saying it wasn’t student or teacher friendly, the story said. (Incidentally, the state of Florida in September 2014 at least temporarily stopped using the FAIR testfor students in grades K-2 after a teacher publicly blasted the exam, saying it was inappropriate for very young students.)
“We’ve got to make sure our kids are reading at grade level. If our kids are better prepared at the primary level, then they’ll be prepared for third grade and beyond.”
Some board members were less than convinced, and discussion will continue. The Times-Union quoted one parent, Shamane Thomas, a Northside mother of three, who succinctly explained why putting kindergartners in summer school specifically for more reading instruction is a bad idea:
“I have a 5-year-old. You can’t force a 5-year-old to focus. They still have a playful mind-set.”
No, you can’t, although plenty of schools now try, given that curriculum has been pushed down so much that kindergarten is no longer a time for kids to learn and socialize through play but rather for a lot of desk time with academic assignments. Sure, some schools break up the time so kids don’t sit there hour after hour, but the pressure on young children to learn to read and do math — even if they aren’t developmentally ready — and on teachers to ensure that they do learn — has become extraordinary.
Providing quality summer programs for young children is a laudable goal — and something school systems and city governments should offer. But requiring 5- and 6-year-olds to go to summer school so they can labor over academics is something else entirely. Some kids just aren’t ready to read at 5 years old. Forcing them to sit in summer school class sounding out words isn’t going to much help.
Chip Wood is the author of the seminal “Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14,” which says that 5-year-olds are active and receptive, take things in through their senses, and love to play. In fact, he wrote, play “is the five-year-old’s primary occupation.” Just not in kindergarten today.
As for 6-year-olds, Wood wrote that they “take on every activity, at home and at school, with unbridled enthusiasm,” “love jokes, silly songs, and guessing games,” and “love to be outdoors.” Not much time for that in many kindergartens today.
Duval certainly wouldn’t be the first school district to require very young students to go to summer school if they aren’t reading and computing well enough for the grown-ups. In 2014, for example, the Middletown school district in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley required about 600 students from kindergarten through second grade to go to summer school for five weeks, according to the Journal News and They were chosen because their scores on a computer-based test called MAP were deemed insufficient to give them a relaxing summer. The MAP, incidentally, is the same exam that sparked protests in 2013 by Seattle teachers who refused to give the test because they said it was a poor instrument for evaluation. The teachers won some concessions.
Back in 2012, the superintendent of  schools in Hartford, Conn., wanted to mandate that some kindergartners at the lowest-performing schools attend school 11 months a year working on academics. This post quoted from a storyin the Hartford Courant  that said some kindergartners were already going to school from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. — with no time for naps and no time to play. It quoted  Immacula Didier, the principal at Betances Early Reading Lab School, as saying,: ““Play? No. No, no, no. This is no longer the case. Even in pre-K, for us, it’s no longer the case.”
For years now, we’ve been pushing down curriculum so that kindergarten is the new first grade and kids who can’t read by the time they leave are already considered behind. Maybe the answer isn’t forcing kids to go to summer school but to provide enriching summer activities that spark a child’s curiosity and creativity, allow them to learn to socialize with others, and then give them the time they need to read in a developmentally appropriate manner.


  1. Like I said before dude has ADD. First he doesn't want the extra hour then he's pushing to pay for it(for two schools) out of the county's pocket. You wanna partner with JPL, MOCA, Cummer, MOSH, etc. for summer camps that's one thing. You wan't summer school for kindergarteners you need to have your head examined. It's all about the numbers for this guy. That's all he cares about.

    1. I don't think it's all about the numbers with him either. If it were, the numbers would have told him that something is wrong with regards to our curriculum because scores keep dropping across the board, not JUST at the lower levels. That would seem to indicate that it is more than a Kindergarten issue. I firmly believe he is making it up as he goes along.

  2. Ironic that this goes practically uncommented on by Jacksonville parents but the story that is getting traction and is about to blow up in Vitti's face is totally dumb and mostly false but here's what's going around Facebook tonight. "Dianne Haines Roberts
    July 11 at 9:10pm ·
    Hello parents of elementary students in Duval County Public Schools. I have been told that elementary students in the upcoming 2015 – 2016 school year will be required to read 2 books, promoting prayer to someone other than God. Nasreen’s Secret School & The Librarian of Basra. You can petition these books by going to, Depts, Consolidated Services, Instructional Material, parent petition. I urge you to do this. If we cannot promote praying to God and Jesus Christ in our public schools, how can we promote reading the Koran and praying to Muhammad? Hurry, the petition must be submitted by 4pm, Thursday July 16th. Thank you."

    So yeah. a firestorm of, ahem, biblical proportions is brewing and rather than bothering to research or correct I'm only too happy to sit back and watch it spread. if the winds of ignorance can burn this idiot's a$$ so be it. The fires of intellect never seem to have any effect at all.