Duval County is a penny wise but a pound foolish

By Greg Sampson


When A School System
Runs on Dollars and Cents (or no-cents) 
Can You Think of the
Pun? 

I signed up to teach summer
school. It was not for the money; after three years as an instructional coach,
I felt the need to be a teacher again to remain authentic in my work with
teachers. I wanted the struggle: how can I deliver a year’s worth of
instruction, day after day, to engage and motivate struggling learners to make
progress and find success?

After
eight days, I was surplused. That’s the way it works in Duval County and across
the nation: too few students, why let two teachers work with ten and nine
students apiece when we can combine this into one class, one teacher, nineteen
students, that’s an efficient use of resources, right?

I can’t
argue with that. And, since I didn’t need the money, I can easily enjoy
vacation rather than work.

BUT,
this is what I want you to think about. This method of “doing business” is
detrimental to students.

They
don’t understand why they lose their teachers. Students are like puppies; they
form an emotional attachment to their first teacher of the year/term. You can
move them to a new one, but it’s never the same.

 My students
were not happy yesterday when I went to the school to talk to them and explain
the situation.
You see, I do more than teach math; I teach students how to be
successful in life. To get summer school students to buy into the process, I
talked to them about why their presence, when they would rather hang with their
friends, would help them. It was not only about getting that last core credit
to move to high school; I would help them position themselves so they would
succeed in their next course—algebra.

You
know, the one course that has the requirement to pass the state EOC or else
they can’t graduate with a high school diploma.

They
believed me. We were moving. But now, the surplus.

Duval
County Public Schools is penny-wise and pound foolish. What is the cost of a
couple of thousand dollars of salary versus the societal cost of students who
give up because they come to believe the system is against them?

The
Superintendent arrived promising a new way of work and a new way of doing
things. But all I see is the same ol’, same ol’. New players; same game.


No
one who has a management position of importance, or an oversight position
(yeah, that’s you, Board members), seems to understand the psychological
distress inflicted on students when they lose the teacher they liked and
believed in. 

How long has DCPS been in
existence? They can’t statistically predict student populations and decide on
appropriate staffing levels before a year/term begins? They can’t make the
necessary teacher movements over the summer? They have to wait to conduct head
counts the first two weeks of school, take another two to four weeks to make
adjustments—so that we really don’t get started on a new school year until
OCTOBER 1?

And
then they talk endlessly about being data driven. Really—seriously?


Our
students deserve better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *