Florida’s commissioner of education Richard Corcoran blasted superintendent Greene at the state board of education meeting about the status of some of Duval’s low performing, re: don’t do well on the high stakes test, schools.
Despite Corcoran’s bombastic and bordering on rude comments, one might confuse the exchange as two educators having a disagreement on what’s best for Duval’s children. It wasn’t, it was political theater on the part of Corcoran who nobody should believe for a second cares about the fate of our poor and minority children on the north and west sides of town.
First nobody should confuse Corcoran as an educator, he is not. The closest he came to education before being appointed commissioner was his wife runs charter schools and while he in the legislature he routinely championed bills that would benefit him and his family. Green on the other hand has two plus decades of experienced and has risen from teacher all the way to superintendent of one of the largest school districts in the nation. In a state that cared about education and exchange like what happened never would have.
During the meeting Corcoran asked Greene why she didn’t just give the low performing schools to charter schools something of which Duval already has 40 of. Most of these charter schools however aren’t set up in the neighborhoods that serve our poor and mostly minority students because most of the ones that did have failed and are closed. The truth of the matter is charters that set up in areas mired in poverty often do considerably worse than the public schools there.
Now some might point to the crown jewel of the local charter school movement the KIPP school as evidence they can succeed, but you would be wrong. One of the schools they opened had to merge with another to avoid a failing grade. It’s school day and school year are longer, it serves a smaller percentage of free and reduced lunch and minority students than the nearby schools and it spends about a third more per student than traditional public schools do. Despite all these advantages it’s grade goes up and down more often than your typical yo yo.
Corcoran who despite routinely disparaged DeSantis before he became the republican nominee was appointed to his job as commissioner doesn’t really care about things like above because his goal is not to improve our schools, it is to replace them with charters, a goal that another local politician and political ally of his, Lenny Curry seems to have as well.
Curry has never been a supporter of our local public schools, as evidenced by him funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to his super donor, Gary Chartrand’s charter school, or vetoing an unanimously passed City Council resolution asking the state board of education not to raise algebra cut scores because it would lead to more, and again poor and mostly minority, students failing. Then instead of supporting the tax referendum, that would have the side benefits of creating jobs and increasing property values, something most mayors have traditionally supported, he has undermined the efforts by directing the city’s legal counsel to come out with a laughably bad ruling which says the board must ask the City council for permission.
Now with the formation of the Charter Review Commission a once a decade exercise the city does to supposedly improve the city, Curry sees an opening to take over our schools and replace them with the charter school network that his mega donor Gary Chartrand and others have envisioned. If you think this is hyperbole, this was actually floated during the last CRW when Duval only had a handful of charters and the Chamber of Commerce’s most recent legislative education agenda stated they wanted to, “Advocate for reform of the current Duval County School Board governance structure to ensure, Jacksonville has the foundation to build a world class educational system” This in short means they think the school board has done a poor job and they want the city to go from an elected school board to an appointed one, flowery language aside. Oh and who works for the Chamber of Commerce? Why it is city council president Aaron Bowman who undoubtedly along with Curry packed the CRC with foes of public education.
Ask yourself, why would Corcoran go so hard after a superintendent on the job just ten months who has infinitely more experience in education than him? Why wouldn’t Curry support a referendum to help our chronically underfunded schools? Why would they appoint so many charter school proponents to the Charter Review Commission? Individually they might be explained away but collectively they represent a coordinated effort to replace our board and our public schools.
I can see the pitch now, Education Commissioner Corcoran says DCPS can’t manage its schools, and the charter review commission says the same thing, it’s time to let the mayor do it.