Our community has a shared obligation to work toward a brighter future for our city. By contributing our voices to the superintendent search process, we demonstrate our commitment to making Jacksonville a city where students receive an excellent education and the knowledge and skills to become responsible, contributing citizens.
This past May, close to 400 students, parents and community members attended the ONE by ONE Convention where they identified what they believe the next superintendent’s priorities should be, reflected on the most important characteristics they expect in the next Duval County Superintendent and discussed what they would like the next leader of Duval’s public schools to know about our community.
We want to share the summary of that discussion and encourage you to further reflect on what you want to see in our next superintendent.
What should our next superintendent prioritize?
Priorities identified by education stakeholders (meaning students, parents, and community members) for the next superintendent include:
- Personally engage and communicate with the many education stakeholders with transparency and foster stakeholder relationships with intention. The stakeholders felt a lot of knowledge can be gained from listening, learning and sharing within and between stakeholder groups.
- Work to offer a variety of classes, activities and experiential learning opportunities. Stakeholders highlighted a desire for practical course offerings that reflected the skills and knowledge that would be needed to succeed in modern-day careers.
- The equitable distribution of resources and services. The conversation included capital infrastructure and the allocation of resources to certain schools, but also covered topics related to students who have special needs or need special accommodations.
- Prioritize the attraction and retention of high-quality teachers by investing in our educators. Education stakeholders defined this investment as both salary and opportunities for professional development. Similar investments should be extended to school leaders so that they can have more autonomy and provision in the curriculum that could entice other educators to stay.
- Use marketing to change the negative perceptions associated with some of the schools in the district. There is a desire to shift the climate and culture of the schools from negative to positive. Education stakeholders identified tools and strategies that could help to create more favorable school culture, which you can learn more about here.
- Prioritize action. Build capacity to help achieve the results we all want to see.
- Prioritize political engagement. Education stakeholders want the next superintendent to be proactively involved and to inform them.
What are the characteristics of an excellent superintendent?
In addition to the seven priorities above, Convention attendees also discussed the characteristics of an excellent superintendent. Three characteristics of an excellent superintendent surfaced from the common themes:
- The ability to authentically listen to diverse stakeholders, especially students;
- Have a permanent and constant interaction with school-level personnel and incorporate their perspective in his or her decisionmaking;
- Be a transformational leader with a proven record of effectiveness.
What does the next superintendent need to know or learn about Duval?
Finally, participants discussed what they would like the next superintendent to know or learn about our community. Participants would like the next superintendent to be aware of the issue of teacher retention in our district as well as the importance of authentically engaging and listening to the diverse perspectives of all education stakeholders to drive decision-making. Most participants felt that the district is moving in the right direction. While some adjustments are needed, radical change with limited knowledge can set us back.
In the words of one ONE by ONE Convention attendee: “Come in and see what [it] is like to be a student or teacher. Get a perspective. [The next superintendent] need[s] to come in or send representatives to see what is going on. See what it takes to work the program….”
In addition to upholding our commitment to keep the community informed about the Superintendent Search, we want to continue providing research and resourcesto the Duval County School Board, and we hope the school board will find this feedback helpful as they work to ensure that Jacksonville hires the right superintendent for our district.
How can you help? Raise your voice.
The more the community engages in important education decisions like the selection of a new superintendent, the better. The Duval County School Board recently announced multiple community meetings where the public is invited to share their opinions about the district’s new Strategic Plan and Superintendent search process.
Don’t let your voice go unheard in this conversation! Make sure you attend one of the upcoming meetings:
- Nov. 6, 6:00-7:30 PM -- Terry Parker High School
- Nov. 8, 6:00-7:30 PM -- Edward White High School
- Nov. 13, 6:00-7:30 PM -- Atlantic Coast High School
- Nov. 16, 6:00-7:30 PM -- William Raines High School
In order for Jacksonville to reach its potential, we must work together to strengthen our education system. These meetings are an opportunity for each neighborhood to share what our local schools need in the next superintendent. Community participation is therefore critical to the selection process. We look forward to seeing you there!