An end to Friday night lights

I don’t get it; will
somebody please explain it to me. Jacksonville’s schools, which mean
Jacksonville’s children, are facing 62 million dollars in cuts, yet I don’t see
any public outrage. There is no clamoring in the streets and no shouts that
something must be done. All people seem to muster is a barely audible sigh and
a shrug of their shoulders. Don’t people know how catastrophic a 62-million-dollar
shortfall will be or is it they just don’t care.

The district will be expected to provide the same services it did this year
with 62 million fewer dollars, and this as prices have risen, the legislature has burdened the district with one
unfunded mandate after another and siphoned more money to charter schools.
Could you do the same with considerably less money? Well the legislature, and
by extension us through our inaction think it’s okay that our schools and our
children do.
With the financial
mess left behind by Superintendent Vitti, wouldn’t he have some explaining to
do had he stayed and with the state allocating just an additional forty-seven
cents per pupil, we are about to be in real trouble.
Let me describe to you
what 62 million dollars in cuts is going to look like, and please don’t think I
exaggerate for dramatic effect. Dozens if not hundreds of teachers and support
staff will lose their jobs. Those that remain will have their workloads which
are already daunting increased. Programs like art, music, physical education
and other electives will most likely see huge cuts Class sizes may be expanded as
field trips, extracurricular activities, most supplies, teacher training and
after school programs are cut to the bone. These are some of the changes your
children and the district are facing if nothing is done.

In effect education in Jacksonville will be done by fewer already over worked
teachers, doing more with less, servicing more kids who will have fewer options.
Is that the future you want for our schools and our children, don’t they
deserve better?

Which brings me back to the part I don’t get, shouldn’t people specifically parents
be outraged by the prospect of this? Why aren’t they in mass writing letters or
calling their elected officials and demanding a special session that increases
funding to our schools?

This isn’t eight years
ago when we had a massive shortfall during the great recession. Times are good,
and the state is flush with cash yet for some reason Tallahassee won’t properly fund our public
schools? I ask you again, what is more important than our children; perhaps
just one thing, football. 

If the residents of Jacksonville don’t demand the republican members of the Duval delegation call for a special session to properly fund education then the district should cancel the 2018 football season.  

Every Friday night in the fall thousands of local children will suit up and
play the game of football, they will be watched by tens of thousands of fans
and coached by hundreds of teacher/coaches and these games all will cost the
district money and when you include all the other sports, the costs are in the
millions; millions of dollars that could be used to fund needed reading and
after school programs, to save teachers jobs and a whole host of other things
that will have to be cut if we stand idly by and nothing is done. 

I played sports while in high school and I believe they have been and can be
very important to the development of many children. As for me they kept me off
the streets and gave me a purpose, I felt like a member of my community when I played,
and they taught me about things like discipline and team work. Furthermore I
developed a work ethic by playing sports as I knew if I wanted to be successful
I needed to work hard to do so, and I with all sincerity say cancel them all,
cancel every single one of them if it saves one art teacher or one music
teacher their job or if it allows a group of third graders to have PE. more than once a

I urge the superintendent and the school board to let the citizens and parents
of Jacksonville know that before one teacher loses their job, before we assign
one class to have more than forty students, or before we get rid of any art,
music or physical education program we will get rid of all extracurricular
sports including football. Hopefully that will motivate them to get involved and fight for proper education funding.

This would be an unpopular decision, but leaders often need the courage not to
just do the popular thing but to do the right thing as well. Before jobs are
lost and necessary academic programs are impacted, extracurricular activities
should be cut, because even though they are important and do serve a function
in the end they are extra, it’s right there in the word. 

Nobody wants to see this happen, but the school board, Jacksonville’s teachers
and students need the parents and citizens of Jacksonville to understand there
is a pending disaster on the horizon; that parents must get involved before we are
forced to endure the impending financial crisis. We need them to let the
legislature know it’s not all right that they continue to under-fund education. We
likewise need parents to let the city council know we want them to pass similar
measures to the ones that have been passed in south Florida and other places
that invest in our children. We need parents to do it because neither the
legislature nor the city council is listening to the people on the front lines
and in the trenches of education and that’s the teachers.

The facts that Florida is routinely at the bottom when it comes to per pupil
spending, when we factor in inflation we spend less than we did before the
great recession and that we spend more on testing and mandated items than ever
before meant we were heading for a disaster and with a looming 62 million
dollar shortfall, I would say it is here.

The legislature
expects schools to get by on an extra 47 cents per pupil which tells me they
don’t care about our students, but I must believe the parents and citizens of
Jacksonville do, they just don’t know how bad it will be. I must believe that
because the thought that they do know but just don’t care is too terrible to

It’s time the citizens of Jacksonville got it and realized how dire the
situation is and realized that things are only going to get fixed if they stand
up and demand that the powers that be, and start with the republican members of
the Duval delegation all voted for the woeful funding, do something, that not
funding our schools will no longer be tolerated.

If you want to contact the Duval delegation and demand they call for a special session to properly fund education, here is a link to find them:

One Reply to “An end to Friday night lights”

  1. Many other countries in the world do not have organized sports in their schools. Sports for young people in other countries are managed by the city. We may need to take a hard look at cutting sports programs in public schools.

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