Achievement gap recommendations fail to force school district to look in the mirror

July 17, 2014

Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas has a problem. His schools have failed to educate a vast number of the students in his district. He and the school board formed the Closing the Achievement Gap Task Force, made up of city, county, community and school district representatives.

The group came up with five proposals: mandatory tutoring, peer-to-peer tutoring, mandatory parent participation, mandatory teacher cultural diversity training and mandatory school social worker resource training. Thomas told to come back with one that the district could focus on.

I suggest they buy mirrors for the district administration. Any solution starts there.

We need more African-American and minority teachers, principals and administrators. We need to stop closing schools in the minority neighborhoods and busing those children away from their homes. We need to take best practices and mandate them through out the district – why can’t the successes at Oakcrest Elementary expand across the system? We need to support the teachers and make their classrooms safer. We need to establish a ombudsman that teachers and parents can turn to for resolution of problems without fear of reprisal.

Any other “solutions” that don’t address leadership at the district level will fail. Superintendent Thomas needs to stop playing the blame game and look internally.

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