Lori Hershey’s disturbing opening statement

I like Lori Hershey, a lot. Her first two years on the board which saw her elevated to chairman at the beginning of year three have been impressive.  I think Paula Wright and Becki Couch did an amazing job on the board but that’s how they finished, because they both started off slow. Mrs. Hershey hasn’t, she has hit the ground running.

In spite of all this or maybe because of all this I was very disturbed by her opening statement as chair person of the Duval County School Board.

From the Times Union,

She also vowed to work to improve the district’s relationships with community leaders who have long supported schools, including members of the Northeast Florida Community Foundation, the Quality Education for All initiative and the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. Over the years, donors involved with them have pumped millions of dollars into efforts to improve teaching and educational leadership in Duval Schools.
In recent years, relationships with some donors showed strain after Superintendent Nikolai Vitti’s departure to head Detroit’s public schools.
“We’ve seen superintendents change over the last 10 years and every two years there’s change on the School Board, which sometimes can produce a lapse in understanding of that work,” Hershey said.

You know why they liked Vitti so much? It’s because he gave them access and control. It’s because he was more interested in cultivating relationships with them rather than teachers and parents. Why have relationships been strained? It’s because they have had that control and access taken back.

Reading this I feel like I was hit by a ton of bricks. I have been in the wilderness for so long banging my drum, warning about charters, teach for america, and the wealthy who have sought to control our schools, and finally after the last election where, Andersen and Joyce won and Smith barely lost, I felt that people were finally getting it. That it’s our public schools and professional teachers we should be investing it and then Hershey comes along and says, nope we need to reconnect with the people who have been trying to tear down our schools and who have worked to injure the profession.

Where not a monolithic block, the people behind the QEA, JPEF and the Community Foundation are the ones that fought to keep her off the board. They fought to have Chauncey and Howland people who had no business being on the school board, elected instead of Andersen and Joyce who do.  They support charters and think anybody can be a teacher and kids don’t need professional ones. This was disappointing to say the least.

I will tell Mrs. Hershey the same thing that I told Vitti, that sadly fell on deaf ears. A philanthropic community that gives to our schools is great, though them doing so with strings attached isn’t. What’s priceless however is a staff that’s engaged and supported, mending the bridges with them not the ultra rich is where she and the board should concentrate their efforts. 

One Reply to “Lori Hershey’s disturbing opening statement”

  1. Her conciliatory tone makes more sense to me now.
    In response to this part:
    the people behind the QEA, JPEF and the Community Foundation are the ones that fought to keep her off the board

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