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Thursday, February 14, 2019

DCPS needs to get creative to solve it's school take over problem.

It is time DCPS started playing the game

Spoiler alert, I did not care for former superintendent Vitti, okay not much of a spoiler, and I won’t go into the reasons here, and instead I will pay him a bit of a compliment. That guy could play the game.

He changed entire schools around in order to beat the test and change their school grades. Below are some of the changes he made.

From the Times Union
Making new magnet or specialized schools from Andrew Jackson High (computer science, robotics), Wolfson High (international studies), Ed White High (military), A. Philip Randolph High (vocational trades), Matthew Gilbert Middle (medical magnet), Stilwell Middle (performing arts) and Northwestern Middle (vocational trade or performing arts)
Changing Oak Hill Elementary into an autism center and R.L. Brown into a gifted and talented school

Creating primary schools - for preschool through second grades - at West Jacksonville, Long Branch, and Hyde Grove elementaries while converting Hyde Park to grades 3-6

» Moving the Young Men’s Leadership Academy from Butler Middle to Fort Caroline Middle

He knew education in Florida has become a game, which boils down to passing a test and getting a certain amount of points. It doesn’t matter that great things are happening at all our schools even the ones that struggle on standardized tests, you just have to get so many points.

This man got it. Tip my hat, kudos.

Now I could question the ways he went about it and the results, but I am not, especially since I think superintendent Greene and the school board should follow suit… sort of.

I talked to a teacher at a small elementary teacher and asked them what’s the difference between a F and a C, and at first they didn’t understand so I tried to narrow it down, how many kids, I said and still they didn’t understand, so I finally said, if you could get rid of your lowest performers, how many would it take for your school grade to go up. They thought about it for a second and replied 15-20 students.

Now I am not saying we get rid of kids, that’s what charters do, I am saying, we give them another option. I am saying we transfer them to A or B schools.

Now there is already a program in place that allows students at certain habitually low performing, and just so you know when I say low performing, I mean on the test, schools, to higher performing ones.

I am going to digress for a moment. Years ago when I was at Ed White we were a C school and took in three hundred Ribault kids on whatever they called the transfer at the time and within two years we were an F school and in another 2 we were on the same list Ribault had been on that allowed the kids to transfer to Ed White. Three hundred was to many, now 30 we could have done and not missed a beat.

Okay let’s get back to what we can call voluntary transfers.  Schools could identify their 20 or so lowest performers and meet with their families and offer the transfers, but here is the inducement, they would offer door to door service, and a spot in team up or whatever after school programs they have at their new schools too.

Their kids have been languishing in their current environment, sad but true, so maybe a change of scenery is what they need and there is evidence my Ed White story non withstanding that it works.

From the Christian Science Monitor,

"The socioeconomic approach offers two advantages," says Richard Kahlenberg, author of a new report detailing such plans and a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, a progressive policy group in Washington. First, districts that have done it most successfully give families a choice of magnet schools with special programs, "so there are incentives for middle-class people to buy into socioeconomic integration," says Mr. Kahlenberg. Second, "as a legal matter, it's clearly fine to use income to distinguish people."

Such balance creates a more equitable environment that promotes higher achievement, he and others say. One study found that schools with less than 50 percent low-income students were 22 times more likely to be high-performing than schools with a majority of low-income students.

In short, Wake county took poor kids and bused them to richer schools, and for a time all the schools did better.

And look we all know the larger problem is poverty, well I mean except Tallahassee, who ignores it like I do the last spoon in the sink.

Okay back to the transfers, I get it, these will cost money, but the district is already planning to spend 500,000 dollars to hire a management company to run three schools.

How much do you think it would cost for a half dozen buses to provide door to door service? By the way we already do door to door service for many of our special needs children so it is doable.  Ten grand a month, 20 maybe?

That means we still would have three hundred grand to play with, where we can add a few mental health counselors or social workers because often why a child acts up or does poorly in school has nothing to do with school.

I have no doubt six bus routes and 5 staff would be appreciably cheaper and more effective than whatever management company the district brought in.

Let’s go back to Ed White for a minute. When the school dropped to a F, a few years later an education management company was brought in and that was the final straw for a lot of teachers, they didn’t like being micromanaged and having someone constantly standing over their shoulder. Some retired, more transferred and a few said, this teaching thing isn’t for me and here is the big thing, they didn't tell the staff anything they didn't know.  

Did the grade go up at Ed White? Yes, but that had more to do with kids matriculating out as the attendance dropped by about a thousand students.

Will the kids improve at their new school? I don’t know, I sure hope so, but their new school will be able to absorb the hit even if they don’t. Their old schools should improve grade wise anyway, as well.

You see friends school grades, test and punish, it’s a game Tallahassee has set up, because if they really cared they would allocate a lot more resources to those schools rather than threaten to take them over or force districts to spend money they don’t have to hire a management company that’s going to tell them things that they already know.    

I didn’t like Vitti, on the way out the door he admitted he thought teachers were easily replaceable widget, but boy, that guy could play the game. It’s time DCPS learned to play the game too.  

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