When did, teachers become so unimportant in Jacksonville?

When did, teachers become so
unimportant in Jacksonville?

I was once told that everybody has an
opinion about education because everyone had one (of sorts) and most think they
could be teachers.  

Recently somebody I like and generally
agree with about education wrote on Facebook about the impending departure of
superintendent Vitti:

We’ve had our
ups and downs, but I think Dr. Vitti has been good for our schools and his move
would be a loss for Jacksonville.

I
responded:

Yeah,
I am going to have to disagree with you on that one. He had the occasional good
idea here and there, the parent academy, bringing back the arts though it was
ham fisted and there is no doubt this admin could write a grant too, but to
many teachers paid the price for his leadership style and overall I believe the
district has suffered under his tenure.

They
wrote back:  Morale is a problem. And I
respect (and expect) that many teachers will share your view, Chris. Any Super
is going to be between the devil and the deep blue sea, though, given funding
pressures, privatization pressures, a punitive grading system and de
eply
held neighborhood concerns. I thought the school boundary/theme changes were
fairly creative, and the various school communities rose to the occasion to
make their voices heard. It was good to see the deep discussion, even if it was
messy.

Right
there they wrote, you know it doesn’t matter how many careers he ended, how
many people he chased out of the profession, I liked that he did this. In a
second teachers went from being people with families, and bills to pay, dreams
and aspirations to nothing more than widgets.

They
even acknowledged that most teachers shared the view that the superintendent
had been terrible for our schools, but even that didn’t sway their view.

You
see it doesn’t matter what teachers think or how they feel and if you don’t
think that is a problem then you are part of the problem.

Take Nina Waters of the Community Foundation,
she said in the Times Union,
“We absolutely would prefer that Dr. Vitti remain in
Duval County,” said Nina Waters, president of the Community Foundation for
Northeast Florida, which manages millions of dollars in donations and civic
funds, including a $40 million educational effort called the Quality Education
for All initiative, designed to help the district’s most disadvantaged schools
in inner-city Jacksonville.
“He’s brought the leadership we needed to make the necessary
progress now being documented in multiple performance measures,” Waters said.
“There is clearly more work to be done, and we would be delighted to continue
to partner with him and the School Board to build on this initial success.”
True
story, years ago after I commented how the racial makeup of the Community
Foundation would make a clan rally jealous, she called me into admonish me.

The
thing is why do we care what she thinks, or Wayne Weaver, or Gary Chartrand or
any of the other go to voices on education in the community, people who never
taught a day in their lives?

Why
do we listen to them while at the same time we ignore teachers? To them like my
friend and like the superintendent admitted to thinking just a week ago,
teachers are little more than widgets.

It
might be painful to some to admit but education cannot be just about kids, it must
be about teachers too.

How
can people care about children but then not care about what happens to those who
have been given the important responsibility of teaching them?

We
overwork, marginalize, and don’t adequately compensate teachers. We ignore
their concerns, belittle and blame them too. Then society wonders why we have problems
in our schools and why we have a looming teacher shortage. This is not a recipe
for disaster, this is the disaster we are currently living in.

You
see at the end of the day, the better things are for teachers, then the better
things will be for children, and we can learn that lesson, or we can continue to
marginalize, disrespect and ignore teaches as education crumbles around us.

My
friend said, I don’t care how many careers he ruined and how many people he
chased out of the profession, I like that he did this thing over hear. I say
that’s unacceptable. I say good leaders can have both good ideas and appreciate
and support their staff and those are the type of leaders we don’t just need
but can no longer afford not to have.

One Reply to “When did, teachers become so unimportant in Jacksonville?”

  1. Thank you. I don't believe the heart of his decisions come from what is best for children. He wanted to change boundaries for the simple reason that it would hide the disadvantaged children and their needs would simply disappear into school grades of C or better. He did ruin careers and not just the careers of people who may have needed to depart, but those who challenged him or his staff with facts and the knowledge of what is best for children. He moved principals who had been effective in their schools and even some who showed they were up to the task. He did all of this while promoting bullies and people who have no idea how to teach and reach children through positive education. He has created a negative hostile environment that affects not just teachers but parents and children as well. Step into a school once in a while and you will see. So what if the teachers on his focus groups think he is great. Why do you think they are hand picked by his cabinet and regional superintendents. Take it from me, disageee and your tenure will be short lived on these committees or in your job. Wake the heck up.

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