Jacksonville has traditionally ignored and marginalized its teachers.

I think we should all be optimistic about our new
superintendent. Superintendent Vitti has come in and made numerous changes that
have reversed the course of the last few years and many of us teachers, those
in the trenches feel as if we are heading in the right direction after years of
malaise.

He has relaxed the learning schedule, which leads to more
creativity and innovation and while doing so told administrators that they
would no longer be allowed to intimidate and cajole teachers. He has clamped
down on standardized testing which routinely stop learning for weeks of the
school year. He has implemented a plan that will see administrators working in
the classroom teaching, thus assuring they don’t get so far removed that they
forget what teachers go through. He has said our district needs the arts in all
our schools and this will give school more meaning to many kids. He is having
numerous district people reapply for their positions and I suspect the reason
is because he knows that for years who one knew rather ones ability determined
advancement. Finally he has come out against the waste of the Schultz Center,
which was siphoning millions out of our classrooms and providing at best
marginal returns.
What do all these changes have in common? I have been
writing about them for years in the Times Union, Victims Advocate, Folio and on
my blog Education Matters and they went largely ignored. The main problem with
that, I mean besides stopping our city from reaching its potential is most of
these ideas were not mine in the first place. They came from thousands of
conversations with thousands of teachers in hallways, at happy hours, in
grocery stores and all across the city. These were not my ideas that went
ignored; they were the teachers of Jacksonville’s ideas. 
Education is the one profession where those people that do
it, teachers, are often marginalized and ignored. In fact over the last few
years teachers have become the target of those that are running it and ruining
it. They never say look at us, we have under funded it and saddled it with bad
policies, no instead they blame the teachers for not being to completely
overcome poverty while simultaneously saddled with bad policies and a lack of
resources.   
So what Vitti is doing is great but can you imagine where we
might be if teachers were listened to years ago? If instead of marginalized and
ignored they were treated as equals at the table and if their ideas were
listened to? I feel confident that we would be in a much better place and Vtti
since he is now doing many of them them obviously agrees.

So Vitti keep up the good work and could you please
tackle student accountability next? We need discipline in our schools and to
allow our teachers to instill a work ethic in our students. There will be some
growing pains after years of letting students slip by but if we really want to
get to the next level it is an issue we should tackle. That is what most
teachers are saying anyways.



Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher

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