Duval County is actively trying to push kids towards charter schools.

Ugh last year the district allowed charters to use genesis the district’s computer program to recruit kids and this year the district and its partner the Jacksonville Public Education Fund are  pushing the 8th annual urban education symposium, whose main topic is  "Charter Schools - A Viable School Choice Option".

Education activist Bradford Hall asked the super some hard questions in a letter.

Dr. Vitti, 

I received an invite to the 8th Annual Education Symposium that I had planned to attend until I learned of this year's theme-- "Charter Schools - A Viable School Choice Option." This group claims it discusses issues related to "Reclaiming the Black Male Youth." Are you in direct support of this group's cause to recruit black students to charter schools? 

Based on an article written by Denise Smith-Amos of the Florida Times-Union titled 100 young black men, youths vow to launch service projects, this group hosted a workshop for 120 black male students from North Jacksonville yesterday. "Participating schools included Raines, Ribault and Andrew Jackson high schools and Ribault, Highlands, Gilbert, and Northwestern middle schools and the Young Men’s Leadership Academy, KIPP and Valor Academy." Here is another interesting quote from the article: One Ribault High group planned to help girls set up their own clubs at the school, to cut down on fights and “drama,” the boys said.

It is no secret that the co-chairs of this group are both founders and board members of two charter schools, one located in North Jacksonville. In fact, it is in the heart of the Ribault community.

Why are students from Raines, Ribault, and Andrew Jackson high schools and Ribault , Highlands, Gilbert and Northwestern middle schools attending this event hosted by charter school operators?  

Why are only students from North Jacksonville the target? 

And if this has gone on in the past, why has it been allowed by your administration to go on considering several mailing pieces attacking neighborhood schools like Ribault? 

Are there any recruitment attempts taking place at this workshop where you give them total access to our neighborhood school students?

I am concerned about the focus of the district. You continue to say the community should embrace school choice and competition while at the same time our poor neighborhood schools in North Jacksonville have little to no competitive course offerings and no marketing resources to aggressively recruit boundary students. 

What has the district done to increase marketing resources in neighborhood schools so they can keep up with the charter and dedicated magnet schools you and the Board continue to approve? 

Do the 1300 children at Ribault deserve deep investments like the ones afforded to the Young Men's Leadership Academy and the Young Women's Leadership academy? Or the GRASP Academy? Or do those students have to sit and watch the death of neighborhood schools all around them? 

Again for the sake of consistency, where can I find a written plan for closing the reading achievement gap for black students? 

Where can I find the district's plan to improve the number of low-performing schools? 

Until I can see elsewhere, is it safe to assume the district's plan is consolidating and reconfiguring schools over fear of losing control because of low-performance? And if such, how long did you know this was your plan?

In an article written by Smith-Amos titled Vitti's proposed changes could cost Duval's school district millions, your comments support the above-referenced assumption. 

When did you and your staff discover you had a significant number of schools facing sanctions or potential sanctions from the state? When did you inform the Board? 

For the sake of transparency as I know you have stated you are committed to on several occasions, please "reply all" to this message. 

I look forward to seeing the district's plans in writing. 


Bradford Hall

At this point can there really be any doubt that the super’s overall plan is to privatize our district? On one hand the district complains about charter schools which as a group underperform when compared with the city’s public schools but on the other hand they partner with charter school operators to push our kids to them.

What the #$@%!


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