In today's edition of The Florida Times-Union, we shared some of the feedback received during the ONE by ONE Convention on January 31.
The Convention was an incredibly energizing day and proof positive that, in the words of our chairman, Rev. Torin Dailey the community is ready to "turn up and turn out" in support of better public schools for all children in Duval County.
You can see the article online at jacksonville.com here, or see the full text below.
What examples do you see of the community's commitment to public education? Share in the comments below.
Community rallies for public education like never before
Over the last several years, our city has made incredible strides in rallying around public education as the key to Jacksonville's future, and it's showing.
Our annual public opinion poll shows that a growing number of Duval County residents say people here "take a lot of responsibility" for ensuring high-quality public education. A majority of residents say the superintendent and School Board are effective when it comes to improving public education, as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations.
That work is paying off as record numbers of students are graduating from Duval County Public Schools ready for college and careers.
Much remains to be done, but the energy and enthusiasm for accelerating the pace of progress is high. Nowhere was that more evident than at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund's One by One Convention on Jan. 31. Hundreds of the city's most passionate public education advocates gathered to move public education forward.
This diverse group of delegates had a chance to evaluate how far we've come in the last year, and plan to make 2015 a year of action.
Some trends have started to emerge, including:
- Delegates shared excitement about indicators, such as math and reading scores as well as the graduation rate. Many say that they see more pride in public schools, and the image of public schools has improved.
- Delegates say they see partners (such as businesses and nonprofits) working together to improve public education with a sense of common vision.
- Delegates see more business and community member engagement but still not enough. They see ONE by ONE as key to garnering this support.
- Delegates are concerned about the emphasis on testing and mentioned that many initiatives are not yet implemented countywide.
- They want to see more transparency, and they want to see the Parent Academy reach even more parents and community members.
- Delegates often said they want to see teachers getting more recognition, more support and a stronger voice in decision-making.
Like an orchestra, it takes everyone in our city working together - each of us with our own specific role to play - to ensure that students are prepared with the skills they need to succeed in the future.
In the words of one of the ONE by ONE delegates, "The amount of passion for public schools that exists in this city amazed me. At the convention, there were all kinds of people, united by one mission, and if you felt that energy and heard their excitement, you'd think they must all represent a top county full of sought-after schools that's on its way to being even better.
"In reality, however, I hear friends talk about moving to nearby counties to get their kids into 'excellent' schools, and now I want to shout, 'We have excellent schools right here, along with all the culture and convenience of a metropolitan city!' I wish I could bottle the energy and concern and optimism I felt at One by One and share it with everyone!"
With so much work to do to ensure that every child has access to a high quality public education, this energy will be vital as the work continues.
If you want to share in the momentum of the day via social media, or simply view all the resources and presentations that were given, please visit www.jaxpef.org/Convention.
And to all of you who work tirelessly every day on behalf of children in Duval County, thank you! Working together, we can move public education forward.
The Rev. Torin T. Dailey is chairman of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund Board of Directors.