South Pinellas schools are a civil rights problem said Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education. The Tampa Bay Times series ‘Failure Factories’ on the five schools seemingly abandoned by the district received national attention. Secretary Duncan, his heir apparent, John King, U.S. Representative Kathy Castor met with parents and district officials yesterday.
Duncan said that the children were not failures, but the adults had failed the children. They praised the efforts of the current superintendent to improve the schools, but much is yet to be done. Duncan acknowledged that there were ‘tremendous unmet needs’ for family services and early childhood education. A parent called for after school services and more experienced, quality teachers.
What happens next remains to be seen. The Florida Department of Education is investigating whether or not their has been misuse of federal Title I funds designated for children from poor families.
Even though some progress has been made under the direction of the current superintendent, the schools cannot solve the impact of their neglect by themselves. The solution to the problems at the schools will require intensive community involvement. Yet, only two school board members attended the event. The Chair of the board said she was not invited. One former parent simply called the event a ‘press conference’. Let’s hope it was more than that.
You can watch the video and read the Tampa Bay article here.