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EDUCATION; Wrong Direction

Article excerpt

Slicing and dicing Duval County schools is a fantastic idea -- if you like segregation, big government and bureaucracies.

A couple of weeks ago a committee in the Florida House of Representatives voted to offer a plan for a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would divide school districts into pieces -- as many as six in Duval County.

The proposal calls for counties with more than 45,000 students to break up into smaller districts, with their own school boards and support services. No district could have more than 20,000 students.

Sen. Steve Wise, the co-sponsor in the Senate, says the bill is going nowhere. He has received many calls in opposition from his constituents. That's good, because if the intention is to create more efficient school units, this will not do it.

Gov. Jeb Bush has been widely quoted as saying this proposal might create smaller, more manageable schools. What hasn't been quoted is this statement from Bush, in the Tampa Tribune: "Splitting the largest districts is worth considering, but it ought to be done very thoughtfully and cautiously, [with] a lot of hearings, a lot of discussion, because it may have some unintended consequences."

Here is what breaking up the Duval County schools could do:

-- Dismantle Jacksonville's thriving magnet programs. Some of the most prominent are in economically depressed areas. …