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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Duval County is actively trying to push kids towards charter schools.

Ugh last year the district allowed charters to use genesis the district’s computer program to recruit kids and this year the district and its partner the Jacksonville Public Education Fund are  pushing the 8th annual urban education symposium, whose main topic is  "Charter Schools - A Viable School Choice Option".

Education activist Bradford Hall asked the super some hard questions in a letter.

Dr. Vitti, 

I received an invite to the 8th Annual Education Symposium that I had planned to attend until I learned of this year's theme-- "Charter Schools - A Viable School Choice Option." This group claims it discusses issues related to "Reclaiming the Black Male Youth." Are you in direct support of this group's cause to recruit black students to charter schools? 

Based on an article written by Denise Smith-Amos of the Florida Times-Union titled 100 young black men, youths vow to launch service projects, this group hosted a workshop for 120 black male students from North Jacksonville yesterday. "Participating schools included Raines, Ribault and Andrew Jackson high schools and Ribault, Highlands, Gilbert, and Northwestern middle schools and the Young Men’s Leadership Academy, KIPP and Valor Academy." Here is another interesting quote from the article: One Ribault High group planned to help girls set up their own clubs at the school, to cut down on fights and “drama,” the boys said.

It is no secret that the co-chairs of this group are both founders and board members of two charter schools, one located in North Jacksonville. In fact, it is in the heart of the Ribault community.

Why are students from Raines, Ribault, and Andrew Jackson high schools and Ribault , Highlands, Gilbert and Northwestern middle schools attending this event hosted by charter school operators?  

Why are only students from North Jacksonville the target? 

And if this has gone on in the past, why has it been allowed by your administration to go on considering several mailing pieces attacking neighborhood schools like Ribault? 

Are there any recruitment attempts taking place at this workshop where you give them total access to our neighborhood school students?

I am concerned about the focus of the district. You continue to say the community should embrace school choice and competition while at the same time our poor neighborhood schools in North Jacksonville have little to no competitive course offerings and no marketing resources to aggressively recruit boundary students. 

What has the district done to increase marketing resources in neighborhood schools so they can keep up with the charter and dedicated magnet schools you and the Board continue to approve? 

Do the 1300 children at Ribault deserve deep investments like the ones afforded to the Young Men's Leadership Academy and the Young Women's Leadership academy? Or the GRASP Academy? Or do those students have to sit and watch the death of neighborhood schools all around them? 

Again for the sake of consistency, where can I find a written plan for closing the reading achievement gap for black students? 

Where can I find the district's plan to improve the number of low-performing schools? 

Until I can see elsewhere, is it safe to assume the district's plan is consolidating and reconfiguring schools over fear of losing control because of low-performance? And if such, how long did you know this was your plan?

In an article written by Smith-Amos titled Vitti's proposed changes could cost Duval's school district millions, your comments support the above-referenced assumption. 

When did you and your staff discover you had a significant number of schools facing sanctions or potential sanctions from the state? When did you inform the Board? 

For the sake of transparency as I know you have stated you are committed to on several occasions, please "reply all" to this message. 

I look forward to seeing the district's plans in writing. 


Bradford Hall

At this point can there really be any doubt that the super’s overall plan is to privatize our district? On one hand the district complains about charter schools which as a group underperform when compared with the city’s public schools but on the other hand they partner with charter school operators to push our kids to them.

What the #$@%!


  1. I believe in order to raise the grade of the district, the lower performing schools either have to be chartered or magnetized. The superintendent needs to ensure his district's grade is high. It should be about the students. I worry unless something is done, our schools will continue to suffer. The students of lower performing schools will lose more than their neighborhood schools, they will lose their hope for a better tomorrow. When a school is turned into a charter or a magnet school it displaces the students who would benefit the most from a school improvement plan. I think each plan should be individualized according to student population, neighborhood demographics, and level of improvement. Rather than punish the neighborhood and the students, more resources should be funneled into the school along with an outreach program dedicated to support the surrounding neighborhood and the families. The current plan is to either close the school or transform it by bringing in students outside the boundary. If the new choice in sports bill passes, parents will have the ability to send their child to any school, in any district, within the state. In order for Duval to stay competitive, Vitti needs the grade to be high. What happens to those schools in poor neighborhoods? I can't imagine when given the choice, parents will send their children to a long-term failing school in lieu of sending them anywhere. What will happen to the schools then, they will be worse. This is a short term plan to correct a long term problem. We need real solutions and real leaders willing to improve every school, for every student, every day.

  2. Teachers have known for years that Vitti's plan is to destroy public schools and replace them with charters. All of his words and actions back up that assumption.