School Crisis: Tampa Bay Times.

Why are these five black schools far behind supposedly equivalent schools in other parts of the state? Should we blame the school board? Based on my own research, I believe part of the problem is that our school board has done a marvelous job of creating special programs such as magnet schools –– but there is a downside because students whose parents are unaware of these programs or don’t have the transportation available for their children to attend, become a residue of kids who are less likely to achieve academically.

The adjacent article in Tuesday’s edition showing 25 Hillsborough County schools with much unused space is equally significant. People don’t realize that almost half of Florida’s students are in schools of choice. These are the students who are “creamed” off for a “better world,” but this leaves a greater proportion of low achieving students in neighborhood schools. The Teacher’s Union warned us about this many years ago. These neighborhood schools need help now and many of these students need an opportunity to enter career training in middle school and high school.

Tampa Bay Times researchers are to be congratulated for calling attention to this unacceptable situation, but the school system’s solution to  turn these schools into magnets for the International Baccalaureate, and STEM courses doesn’t make sense because these are the students who cannot read or do math and who are the least likely to benefit from these programs. I would propose two solutions: Turn them into magnets that teach the basic skills, which means reading and math and not the esoteric courses demanded by state and federal politicians. A second solution would be an ombudsman who would get some of these kids into existing magnet schools by signing them up and providing transportation.

Let’s get real!  Read and purchase The Elephant in the Classroom. (E-book is $1.99).

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