Watching the news articles about Duval County Public Schools begin ‘open enrollment’ in such a hasty way has caused me to have many concerns. Why the rush? Or has this been a plan of Dr. Vitti’s all along and he is just now making it public?
I just read RHEMA THOMPSON’s article “Duval School Board Tweaking New Open Enrollment Proposal” on the WJCT News website. http://news.wjct.org/post/duval-school-board-tweaking-new-open-enrollment-proposal
I am glad to see some of the tweaking that is being discussed. These include “The first amendment would prevent principals from sending transfer students back to their home schools due to academic or disciplinary reasons. However, exception would be granted to principals wishing to revoke transfers in cases when a student is frequently tardy, absent or overly disruptive, Vitti said.”
Since I strongly oppose charter schools being allowed to remove students from their attendance rolls and send them back to their neighborhood public schools, I guess it is best to not allow traditional public schools to do this to unruly or poor academically performing students. I am very glad that attendance of these students will be monitored. Attendance of students that are in my elementary school’s neighborhood boundaries is very poor already. On any given day, in my team (3 classes) alone, we will have three to five absences and seven or more tardies. Then two or three of them will be picked up early. Not only are those children falling behind, all of the students have their education interrupted by all the coming and going. These attendance issues are rarely addressed.
I doubt if we will be able to remove anyone for being “overly disruptive” since we are strongly discouraged from writing any referrals now. So when a student does something that should warrant discipline from administration, we are told nothing can be done since there is ‘no record’ of behavior problems in the past. Our weekly reports to parents and anecdotal logs do not count, only the referrals that we are told not to write. So behavior may become a serious problem with the “open enrollment” plan.
There are some other very real problems that are being discussed such as “Some school board members have also raised concerns that the move will prompt more students to leave underperforming and already underutilized schools. Wood said, while choice is important all of the issues need to be weighed.”
I can anticipate some schools becoming more underutilized than ever and ultimately being closed, despite Superintendent Vitti’s promise in another article that no school would be closed. “Vitti said he doesn’t intend on closing any schools in the coming years, and the plan provides families with more options.” http://www.news4jax.com/news/duval-county-school-board-voices-open-enrollment-concerns/24960798
With new legislation passing through Tallahassee that would require school districts to make empty buildings available to charter schools, it seems that Dr. Vitti is simply setting up DCPS to allow more charters into the district within a few years. So I wonder if we are considering open enrollment to combat the loss of students to charter schools as claimed “…Vitti said more problematic are the thousands of students already leaving district schools for charter schools and taking an estimated $50 million in district revenue with them”, or if this is being done to support an even stronger charter movement in the future.
Just think about who is making recommendations to DCPS ~ the Jacksonville Public Education Commission, whose staff and board include many Teach for America alumni and charter school supporters. “Trey Csar has been the President of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund since May 2009…He taught in an inner-city elementary school in Houston with Teach For America and served as an assistant principal at KIPP New Orleans West (NOW).” http://www.jaxpef.org/about-us/staff-directory.aspx#pos
Even our school board members include folks who were supported by Jeb Bush “I am proud to endorse Jason Fischer for Duval County School Board in District 7,” Bush said in a release. “Jason and I share a commitment to ensuring every student’s education experience prepares them for success.” http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/403455/matt-dixon/2012-06-21/jeb-bush-endorses-duval-county-school-board-race
Former Gov. Bush has made it quite clear that he considers public education failing. “Jeb Bush praised charter schools and slammed traditional public schools and teachers unions in a speech here Wednesday, saying that public education “dumbs down standards to make adults look better,” a phrase often used by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/29/jeb-bush-talks-education-mackinac-charter-schools-michigan_n_3354180.html
So it should come as no surprise that Mr. Fischer is a strong supporter of Dr. Vitti’s plan. “Jason Fischer, a board member who long has favored more school choice, said he’d like the district to talk about funding transportation for school choice in the future, especially for low-income parents who can’t afford it.” http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2014-03-12/story/parents-may-have-complete-school-choice-duval
Consider who the state school board chairman, Gary Chartrand, a strong supporter of Kipp Schools. From the FLDOE website “Gary currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Chartrand Foundation, Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation… He is on the board of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and a director on the board of the KIPP schools in Jacksonville, FL. Gary was appointed to the State Board Of Education by Governor Rick Scott in 2011.” http://www.fldoe.org/board/bios/chartrand.asp
“The school board will vote on the open enrollment proposal April 1.” What will they really be voting for? Improving opportunities for public school students or improving opportunities for corporations?