Officials Cancel School's 'Broad' Political Activity; All Baldwin High School Students Were Told to Write Letters

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Byline: TOPHER SANDERS

Calling it too political, Duval County Public Schools officials abruptly canceled a Baldwin Middle-Senior High School write-your-lawmakers assignment aimed at helping preserve state education funding.

The three-day activity was scheduled to begin Monday and would have required all high school students to write letters to state representatives.

Duval schools face as much as a $125 million shortfall next year. The estimate includes $25 million to pay for potential class-size amendment requirements. To bridge the gap, the district may have to cut art, music, physical education and guidance counselor positions, officials said.

Baldwin's teaching staff was told about the mandatory assignment in a Friday e-mail from Jessica Parrish, a school standards coach.

Parrish expressed concern over her "livelihood" because of potential funding cuts and told teachers the activity would channel students' pre-spring break energy into something educational.

"We, as a school, are going to try to circumvent some of this energy into an authentic learning experience," Parrish wrote in the e-mail. "Next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, all teachers will use their disciplines to teach students about the budget shortfall, ultimately resulting in well-written, polished letters that we can send our representatives."

Students in Advanced Placement classes were going to be exempt during those classes so they could continue preparing for AP exams. …