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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Vitti lays it on think in an effort to salvage his plans.

Both the school board and the community are pushing back against Superintendent Vitti's ideas to fundamentally change many of the districts schools.

In an attempt to regain traction he laid it on pretty thick.

From the Times Union:  Vitti proposed the changes be phased in during the next school year, but the School Board and various “working groups” may push some or all those plans back to the 2017-18 school year. The School Board plans to re-set its deadline to vote on the changes to June, instead of February, to give the “working groups” and the public more time.
Vitti warned the School Board not to lose the opportunity to reshape the schools, most of which have such low scores that the state could decide to turn them over to a charter or private operator in a few years if they don’t change, he said.
The district also can’t build new schools in its fast-growing neighborhoods because those in declining neighborhoods have low utilization, he added; 41 percent of Duval’s schools are below 75 percent utilized and 11 percent are below 50 percent.
Vitti said he wants to fill those seats by giving parents and students more educational choices. The district loses more than 12,000 students and $50 million a year to charter schools, he said.
“This is about the long-term viability for traditional public schools, “ he said. “We are dying on the vine.”
First it is almost comical that he laments about charter schools when much of the damage they have done has happened on his watch. This isn't to say we don't have hard choices to make in the upcoming years but he's a big reason where we find ourselves and I think step one for him should be to stop digging.

The community and apparently at least a few members of the school board understand that what we want is for us to fix the problems in our schools not for him to blow things up.

I wrote below a few weeks ago and it shows that he just doesn't get it.

Vitti fundamentally misunderstands why families are leaving for charter schools (rough draft)

 For a guy that likes to remind us he went to Harvard Vitti often just doesn’t get it.  He fundamentally misunderstands why families are leaving for charter schools though I think them leaving for the surrounding counties is a bigger problem, counties by the way that have very little in the form of charter schools..

The superintendent thinks if he creates more magnets and more choice options kids will return from charter schools but the reason families are leaving for charter schools isn’t about magnets or choices it is because charters are public schools with a private school field and they aren’t district run. People are over the district and that is both fair and unfair.

Think about it. Very few charter schools are innovative and offer special programs, though supposedly that is why they were created, and none of the local charter schools can compare with the district magnets and many of the neighborhood schools but parents are electing to send their children to them anyways. Why is that? 

They hear in the checkout lines at Publix how miserable and unsupported many teachers are, they see on television all the violence in our schools and they are bombarded by stories about inappropriate relationships between teachers and students and the the district disciplining teachers. Some families think they can escape common core or testing or they have bought the hype that public schools or failing a sentiment pushed by people who profit off of the destruction of public schools. Then they see and hear about all his plans and it reeks of desperation.  Better academics and specialized programs for the most part has little to do with them leaving.  

Instead of blowing the district up and I like some of the ideas, Vitti and the district should just go back to the basics, which is something we have sadly never tried. Let’s have disciplined schools and respected and supported teachers, those two things alone would lead to incredible improvement and those things not a 6-12 military magnet or a medical middle school or most of Vitti’s ideas will bring kids back.

It’s not a lack of choice sir, it’s they just don’t like the district and all the magnets or special programs in the world is not going to change that. Give them a safe school with a happy and supported staff and watch them return in droves.


  1. In 2013, we went into Vitti's first full year as Superintendent. He was surprised to see enrollment 2000+ over projections. I said then that was the community wanting their children in our public schools and giving him a chance. Since then, Duval schools have gone back into decline. People are voting with their children's feet about their confidence in DCPS. Vitti has some good ideas and has a good sense of the environment of school choice and charters when he tells us we need to market ourselves. But he never sticks to anything long enough to see if it works. Yes, we have a new & improved laundry powder, but when the number of washes in the city doesn't go up fast enough, Vitti wants to change the laundry powder to an auto wash, then a nutrition drink, then baby formula, then an asphalt treatment. Wait, what? the city goes. We can never count on consistency or stability from this man. His leadership is unstable and unviable. He is on the usual trajectory--midway through his term he now has the Board and community expressing dissatisfaction. But I tremble at the continuing damage that will take place as the cycle runs its course and we search for a new superintendent to take over in 2019.

  2. We can't build new schools in these fast growing neighborhoods? Ok, then just keep letting Duval Charter take students away, which is exactly why parents in Bartram are sending their students there. Twin Lakes is overcrowded and has the biggest attendance area out of any of the middle schools. But parents want choice. yea right.