Important headlines for May 10th - Money over safety in schools?
Bottom Line: These are stories you shouldn't miss and my takes on them...
Excerpt: In the first school board meeting since the revelation, Superintendent Robert Runcie on Tuesday told board members that the district’s auditing team will review school discipline records and that a letter would be sent out to schools by the end of the week reiterating the district’s “zero tolerance policy” that all discipline must be reported.
“We continue to hear comments about the lack of consistency, if you will, in terms of how discipline may or may not be implemented in school,” he said.
A former teacher at Silver Lakes Elementary School told the board that when she was faced with a student who got into fights, cursed and threw desks, an administrator returned the second referral she wrote for the offending student.
“I was told 'don’t write referrals on the same student, it makes our school look bad’,” said Julie Ganas.
Hot Take: And oh btw, the Broward School Board also voted to approve yet another property tax increase for the schools. Those never get old, especially when we're already thrilled with the product we're getting for the money we're already paying out for the education system. But here's the bigger issue/point. A listener brought up the potential for financial motivation that may have led to the Promise Program being implemented and might well be behind the lack of discipline like what's explained above.
Not only is there a financial incentive to keep as many students in the schools as possible, including potentially troubled students generally, but there could be additional incentives that may have been paid additional consideration. Consider that in October of 2016 Broward was awarded a $53.8 million grant from the US Department of Education for "performance-based compensation and other strategies to increase students’ access to effective educators in high-needs schools". That could be code for the Promise Program among other potential considerations. Broward ID'd schools that had 50% or more of their populations qualifying for free or reduced lunches as the recipients for the Teacher Incentive Fund Grant.
The idea of the Promise Program and/or different disciplinary action isn't inherently a negative. For example, upon further review, in the first three years of the Promise Program in Broward 90% of students who entered the program didn't have any reported additional problems. There's a case to be made that the longer-term outcomes of those students could be far better as a result of the program. The bigger problem comes into play with the implications of the 10%. If you have 10%, or approximately 100 students per year, who committed potentially criminal acts that aren't handled accordingly – what are the implications when problems continue with them? Additionally, you have the ancillary implications for other lax disciplinary policies as described by the teacher in the excerpt.
My biggest concern remains the rush to judgement in the wake of the shooting. There was a rush to blame guns and pass reforms. There was a rush to defend the policies of the school district and the handling of Cruz's specific situation. What there wasn't was proper evaluation of the facts first. I'm glad the evaluation is finally taking place but there needs to be additional accountability. In the meantime, a tax increase? Really?