Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Good, Bad Grades Report: Crime Rate Falls, Education Lacking

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Good, Bad Grades Report: Crime Rate Falls, Education Lacking

Article excerpt

With a declining public school graduation rate, education loomed

as a sore spot in a report released yesterday on Jacksonville's

quality of life.

The report also said not enough teachers are getting advanced

degrees and achievement test scores aren't improving.

"We're not getting any gold stars in education," Mayor John

Delaney said in response to the report. "Improving the education

system in our city is the key to keeping Jacksonville strong in

the future."

But the 1996 Quality of Life report from the Jacksonville

Community Council Inc. also brought good news, most notably that

the city's streets are safer.

Not only has the crime rate gone down statistically, but people

feel safer walking along Jacksonville's streets at night, the

report said.

"That's been a priority for us, to put more officers on the

street so we can lower the crime statistics but also make people

feel safer," Sheriff Nat Glover said. "We've also been trying to

improve internally by improving management techniques and

focusing on more effective supervision and accountability."

The JCCI report touches on dozens of issues as varied as

numbers of teenage mothers to park space per person, retail

sales rates and packs of cigarettes sold per capita.

But in responding to the findings yesterday, Delaney and other

officials focused on public safety and education as the most

significant good and bad points, respectively, in 1996.

In education, the JCCI gave two of its negative "red flag"

indicators, for the graduation rate and low number of teachers

with advanced degrees, but none of its positive "gold star"

indicators.

But the report said public expenditures per student have been

climbing steadily since 1982, that average teacher salaries have

increased, albeit slightly, and that the numbers of students

attending desegregated schools has climbed significantly in the

last several years.

In response to the report that the public school graduation

rate was 77.4 percent in 1995 compared with JCCI's target of 90

percent by 2000, Schools Superintendent Larry Zenke said

yesterday, "We're making efforts to turn the trend around. …

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