Dear Superintendent Vitti, please give my child a chance.

From a reader

Dr. Vitti,

While I understand that change is necessary to move forward, I am having a hard time understanding why anyone would believe this new system is moving in the right direction. My son attends New Berlin Elementary and is in the 1st Grade. He is a bright, sweet, too-busy-for-his-own-good little boy. He is an ace at Math, which he did not inherit from me, and does very well in all other subjects (aside from conduct, which we are working on). I said all of that because we have had several tests/assessments (call them what you want, the kids still know) that he has flat-out failed. He makes 100’s on almost everything, yet gets a zero on a test…because it only had 4 questions (4 QUESTIONS!!!) and they were on labeling the Body Systems…in the 1st Grade! When other teachers (friends of mine) are telling me that at least half of their class failed that test with a 50% or less, there’s a problem with the curriculum, not the teachers!! I let that one go (although I shouldn’t have), thinking that he still had time to bring his grade back up. But, yesterday he made a 62 on another test…and do you know what? Due to this new curriculum, I have no idea what he was even being tested on! By the way, he didn’t bring home anything from school related to any of the materials he was tested on, so I had NO WAY of reviewing any of that with him before his test! I go on Field Trips and help out in the classroom when needed. I help him with his homework, review any papers he brings home, sign his agenda every night, and we read books together. I also make sure he does i-Ready weekly (that is a whole other issue) so believe me, I am active in his school life and education.

With that said, where did the policy of excluding parents from their children's education come from? I really hate not knowing what my child is doing at school and not sending graded papers home only punishes the parents that want to be active in their children's education. I have no idea what his last test was even on, other than his teachers weekly newsletter referenced fables and folklore. (And before you go there, I understand I can set up a parent-teacher conference to see his graded papers, but I shouldn’t have to. If I need a P/T conference, it should be for other reasons, not to review a file!) Why are there no books or review sheets to help reinforce at home what they are learning in school? What happened to parents being the #1 educator in a child’s life? I can't even do a review with him because I have no idea what is being taught. I am extremely disappointed that the DCPS system would enact such an absurd policy! Parents deserve to know what is being taught and how it is being administered! I feel like parents are being systematically cut out of their children’s education. Maybe that is not what the policy was enacted for, but it leaves me feeling lost and like I can’t help my own child, because I have no idea what to help him with, until after the fact…and several times that has been too late. I have many friends that are teachers in Duval County, and they have all told me the same thing… the new materials are terrible and confusing to kids. The tests do not match the curriculum as it is written. Pictures and charts do not match the tests, and for a 1st grader, that is so important!

**By the way...this has nothing to do with his teacher. She is a FANTASTIC teacher, stuck with a ridiculous policy to adhere to. She sends a newsletter home and emails parents weekly to let us know what is going on. Unfortunately, she is in the same boat as us, as she isn’t provided with any resources to send home.**

Here’s a much better idea…go back to letting teachers actually teach!
Make learning fun again! What happened to hands-on learning and using imagination and creativity?
Stop micromanaging every second of the day for teachers and let education flow, not everything can be taught in a certain time-period and some ideas need to be heard and discussed for longer amounts of time!

Please take the time and really listen to your teachers and parents, and their concerns with this curriculum and policy. Unfortunately, I know for a fact that I am not the only parent that feels this way. There is a reason why so many, including teachers, are leaving our school system.

This is not meant to be disrespectful to anyone in any way. I have an immense amount of respect for teachers and our School Board, but this policy and curriculum has missed the mark and I have real concerns for my 1st grader and 2016 kindergartner. This system is failing them, but as their parent, I will not!



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