Solve Education Problems, Don't Just Play Blame Game

By Weathersbee, Tonyaa | The Florida Times Union, June 30, 2010 | Go to article overview

Solve Education Problems, Don't Just Play Blame Game


Weathersbee, Tonyaa, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

No surprises here.

An extensive survey by The Times-Union revealed that educators, community leaders and some of the public believe that the quality of Jacksonville's schools has eroded.

What they don't agree on, however, is whose fault it is.

More than 80 percent of Duval County Public Schools employees who completed surveys said teachers and principals do either a good or excellent job - in the same system that they say is crumbling. Among leaders, that score was lower - 43 percent. Among the public, 30.5 percent.

THE DISCONNECT

I see where this disconnect comes from.

On the one hand, you have teachers and principals who are grappling with more ill-prepared students, uninterested parents, fewer resources and testing demands. In light of those circumstances, many of them probably give themselves an A for effort or for any glimmers of progress.

What community leaders and the public see, however, are the clusters of schools that can't score higher than an F or D on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. They see the 65 percent graduation rate - 23 percent for black males - and all the other problems in between.

What I see, however, is a bleak future for this community if blame continues to suffice as a solution. In the end, it's bound to be a costly one.

THE DEMOGRAPHICS

Nat Irvin II is a professor of management at the College of Business at the University of Louisville. He is widely recognized for his research on demographics and future trends. Like me, he believes that this country will be in for a hard time if it doesn't fix education.

And the demographics show that because of immigration and high minority birth rates, 500 U.S. counties are becoming minority-majority counties.

Jacksonville has a 28 percent black population - the highest in the state. Around 44 percent of the students in the city's public schools are black. …

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