Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Speaker Puts Challenge to Duval Schools; REPUTATION Steve Perry's School Has Been Featured on CNN and BET for Sending All Students to College. MESSAGE Educators Too Easily Blame Family, and the Community, for a Student's Poor Showing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Speaker Puts Challenge to Duval Schools; REPUTATION Steve Perry's School Has Been Featured on CNN and BET for Sending All Students to College. MESSAGE Educators Too Easily Blame Family, and the Community, for a Student's Poor Showing

Article excerpt

Byline: TOPHER SANDERS

Famed educator Steve Perry told about 400 community members and Jacksonville educators Saturday that good teaching can trump demographics, and parents need to re-evaluate their priorities.

Perry, who achieved national recognition as the principal of the successful Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., was the keynote speaker for the Urban Education Symposium II: Reclaiming Young Black Males for Jacksonville's Future at the Jacksonville Main Library.

The Jacksonville Community Engagement Group, an informal organization of about 80 corporate, elected and education leaders looking to improve the education of black males in Jacksonville, sponsored the event.

Perry's school has been featured on CNN and BET for sending all graduates to college.

He addressed a litany of issues Saturday: Improving black children's manners and dress, taking deadbeat fathers to task, and asking for "warning labels" to be placed on schools with underachieving test scores.

Educators too easily blame families and communities for the academic performance of their students, Perry said.

"We know good schools can mitigate the impact of poverty and race and gender," he said. "We know that when you send a child to a good school, children learn."

He said parents and community members have the wrong priorities because they've put sports and their child's "sneaker budget" above education and tutoring.

"You know that there are raggedy schools here in Jacksonville," he said. "And you let them stay open, and you let the teachers keep getting paid, keep getting their annual raises."

Perry also took issue with the president.

"I'll believe that President Barack Obama supports public education when he sends his own children to a public school," Perry said. "Don't sit there and say that you want me to eat it, if you ain't gonna taste it yourself, brother. …

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