Scott Shine blames teachers or Dear Jacksonville, it’s poverty

At the district 2 school board debate a question about
bridging the achievement gap in our low performing schools came up and Scott
Shine blamed the teachers for the achievement gap saying we needed to improve
our teacher quality.
I let out an audible moan, which I am sure made the people
around me wonder what was going on.
Now it is true many or our low performing schools are staffed
with a constant revolving door of rookies and novices, something exasperated by
the districts BFF Teach for America but to demean teacher quality, is both
insulting and ridiculous, quite frankly its something people with limited
experience in education do.
Our schools that are low performing and by low performing I
mean do poorly on standardized tests are invariably in the poorer parts of town
and even our best and most experienced teachers will have a hard time bridging
the gap unless we put in place things to mitigate poverty. Though in Shine’s
defense neither of his opponents mentioned poverty or how to overcome it
either.
We overcome the achievement gap by putting our most
experienced teachers in those schools, but we don’t stop there because we also have to address the entire
child by putting in social workers and mental health counselors because often
why a kid acts up or does poorly in school has nothing to do with school. Then
we make the classes smaller so students can get more individualized instruction
and put in both behavioral and academic supports for students and teachers
alike.
We don’t just blame the teachers and then smile. 

Friends it’s poverty, we need to address the poverty
that many of these kids come from and we can do it or we can continue to ignore
it and come up with other excuses that are wrong or other ideas that won’t
work. Are options are success or failure and thus far we have chosen failure.

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