I grew up reading the old Jacksonville Journal when we had two papers, morning and afternoon editions. Then some of my fondest memories were going to these awesome parties the RailRoad which owned the paper would throw. I say parties but they were more like festivals where you could eat and drink as much as you wanted while playing a whole hose of games. As a child it was better than Christmas.
It was even a Times Union editor Phill Frentz that suggested I start the blog. He would print me twice a month like clockwork. One letter to the editor and one point of view piece. The problem was I was sending him 20 pieces a month and he said to me, Chris start a blog get it out there. He believed in public ed, something the editorial board has not done since he retired.
So I have a little history with the Times Union.
I believe the local media has constantly dropped the ball when it comes to education. That if we had fierce advocates fighting for our children, teachers and schools we wouldn’t be where we are at. You know what some of the biggest problems Jax has? It’s apathy and ignorance. With the referendum being in the news recently I can’t tell you how many times somebody has said, what about the lottery. The lottery!?! That hasn’t truly helped our schools in over a decade. Or why is the district opening all these charter schools if these other schools are falling apart. The people of Jax, a good number anyways. don’t realize that the district doesn’t have a choice in the matter. The bottom line is the media in Jacksonville has all to often treated education like an afterthought. Except the Times Union’s editorial board who has joined the war against public ed and the teaching profession.
Now you might be saying, they are editors doing opinion pieces and that’s true, but the thing is they have an undeserved credibility because they are in the paper. If Mike Clark says KIPP is good, despite the data saying its not and ignoring the fact it receives millions extra, it is suddenly good to a large swathe of the city. When Mike Clark says Teach for America, despite it being both expensive and doing the exact opposite of what poor children need, is good, it’s suddenly good to a large swathe of the city. Throw in their ridiculous attack on the school board building, charter schools, their love affair with Gary Chartrand and the civic council, and they are consistently misinforming the people of Jacksonville, contributing to the peoples apathy and ignorance.
This is what the Times Union’s editorial board wrote about the Civic Council just the other day.
The Civic Council, said CEO Jeanne Miller, has identified improving K-12 education as its top priority. Getting rid of public schools is not the Civic Council’s agenda, Miller emphasized; instead the priority is to recognize that we already have a system of schools and a widespread array of choices.
Oh she says its not on their agenda. Once again, the rep for the civic council says it’s not their agenda. One more time, the well paid rep for the Civic Council says its not their agenda. Mike Clark says, well okay sounds good.
He doesn’t mention all the civic councils close ties to charter schools, including one that owes two members 11 plus million dollars.
He doesn’t mention that the civic council doesn’t seem to have any other priorities, They haven’t weighed in on anything else in years.
He doesn’t mention Gary Chartrand’s 8 years on the state board of education where public schools and the teaching profession endured withering attacks while charters despite hundreds failing were allowed to expand and gain power.
He doesn’t mention the packing of the charter review commission with a bevy of both dubious and pro school choice people.
He doesn’t mention the huge drain on the public education system that charters have been.
He doesn’t mention all the contributions the civic council has given the mayor who regularly tweets pro charter sentiment while fighting against a referendum that would bring economic prosperity and improved schools to the city.
He doesn’t mention that we have a school board who is elected to make education choices and that the civic council when you break it down are just a bunch of guys who prefer through their history and actions charter schools.
he doesn’t mention all the times Gary Chartrand has been less than truthful, and attempted to bully the school district to get its way.
He just says, oh okay, sounds good to me.
Clark closes with a disingenuous talking point that the pro privatization crowd often use, again from the editorial.
Indeed about half of all students in Florida don’t attend their neighborhood schools, and it’s not because of force — it’s by choice.
Friends there is a huge difference between the myriad of options the elected school board gives and charters and schools that take vouchers. They are not the same. He should know that, and he probably does but repeats their talking points anyways.
We have not had the media we needed in Jacksonville, and we are not where we should or could be and a big part of that falls on the Times Union’s editorial board’s shoulders.