A rare victory in Duval for parents and teachers

Despite overwhelming disapproval of the elementary school ELA curriculum Engage NY/Duval reads, the superintendent was poised to expand it to middle school. Then something happened.


In Cowart’s classroom at Frank H. Peterson, she said she can’t deny Paths is the most aligned with state standards, but it’s too repetitive and not engaging. She doesn’t like it.
“You spend so much time going over and over and over the same two or three pieces of literature for literally weeks, and the fact that it is so scripted,” she says. “I said in the committee meeting, 'If we are trying to make kids hate school, we couldn’t do a much better job of it than we’re doing right now.'”
The School Board shared some of Cowart’s hesitation at a January meeting. So Vitti enlisted 29 middle-school teachers to review Paths and its runner-up. This time they also looked at user-friendliness, and 70 percent of the teachers picked the runner-up, Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt Collections, or HMH.
School Board member Becki Couch says she’s more comfortable with that one because it provides more supplemental materials like online help, Weekly Reader-style booklets and textbooks.
“I think that's been a big complaint that we’ve heard with the K-through-5, and I just wanted to make sure that we don’t really go down that road with middle-school curriculum,” she says.
That elementary curriculum came from the same developer as Paths.
This week, Vitti changed his recommendation to HMH, though he says most principals prefer Paths. HMH is also a little cheaper, at around $2.2 million over three years.

What gave the board hesitation? Well it had to be all the teachers and parents speaking up letting them know what a disaster the current curriculum has been. It goes to show that the super cannot just bulldoze his way through the district. That he has bosses and the school board have bosses too, and those are the people of Jacksonville.

Now we just have to hope this is just step one and by the start of next year elementary schools will once again have a decent curriculum and Engage NY is in the dust heap where it should be with all the other latest and greatest curriculums.

So parents and teachers embrace this victory as they have been far and few between but not only that let it embolden you to not only believe things can be better but to work to make them so.   


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