By now, you have probably heard about the controvery over recent goals set by the Florida Board of Education. As an organization passionate about closing the achievement gap, our board felt that we could not remain silent about this important issue. Read on for their take on what it will take to ensure that ALL students are prepared to succeed in post-secondary education and the workforce.
The recent controversy over the goals set by the Florida Board of Education that disaggregate student achievement goals by demographic group has served one useful purpose: focusing everyone on the need to close the student achievement gap that hurts our children and our community.
What is clear is that we must have equally high expectations for all children and aim for nothing less than academic success for all children - regardless of race, income or any other categorization.
What is most troubling about the public discussion, however, is the lack of attention given to just how these goals will be reached. The interim and ultimate goals set by the State Board of Education call for our schools to close the achievement gap at a rate that is three times faster in the next five years than in the past five.
If these unprecedented - and critically needed - advances are to be made, it will require a similarly unprecedented restructuring of how we educate children and far greater resources devoted to our schools.
That means that as a community, a state and a nation we must engage in a deeper discussion of what these measures will look like, and how they will be accomplished.
Over the next year, we expect to hear more both from the state and from our local Duval County Public Schools about what fundamental changes are needed in order to accelerate student achievement, especially among students who have traditionally been, as the law states, left behind. What will it take to make sure that the students struggling most receive the help they need? How will our schools be structured in a future that becomes more and more technology-oriented? What part does each member of this community play in making sure that public education is the number one priority both in words and in deeds?
The Jacksonville Public Education Fund believes that an informed and active citizenry, together with attentive and aligned community leadership, will move our schools forward to prepare our students for the future. We need more public discussion of what needs to happen to build a world-class public education system for all students in Duval County.
It will take all of us to ensure that every child in Duval County graduates from high school with the skills they need for college, citizenship and the workforce. We urge everyone to consider this question: What are you willing to do?
Board of Directors, Jacksonville Public Education Fund
Cindy Edelman, Chair
Rev. Torin T. Dailey, Vice Chair
John D. Baker, Treasurer
Ronnie Ferguson, Secretary
Dr. Jordan Baker
Judge Brian Davis
Dr. Shannon H. Perry
Delores Barr Weaver