It was a cheesy series and the acting was questionable, but there’s no doubt it touched a nerve in its time. A ratings bust, during its brief run on 1960s television, Star Trek faced cancellation only to have the network brass relent as the petitions rolled in. GOT remembers a time when he couldn’t get on a school bus without his peers demanding he sign another petition.

To boldly go where no school system has ever gone before …

Thursday, December 27, 2018 my local newspaper offered what they called a bold vision for the school system. It featured these points:

  • Safer schools
  • Continue better graduation rates
  • Renovate (and consolidate*) old schools
  • Better oversight for charter schools
  • More vocational education

Why did no one else think of these points?

Are the editorial writers running for political office that they offer us the equivalent of Mom, Chevrolet, and Apple Pie?

We all want safer schools. How do we get there? Do we revert to a no-excuses suspension policy that ignores causes and instigation and tosses out students for a maximum of 10 days with no ATOSS to keep the suspendees off the streets? Or do we embrace a vision of breaking the school-to-prison pipeline and work within our schools and with Melissa Nelson to treat the root causes of student misbehavior before it turns into serious crimes?

What say you, Times-Union?

We all want 100% of our students to graduate. But the Florida State Board of Education has made it much harder with the elimination of the PERT exam as a substitute for the FSA Algebra 1 End of Course Exam requirement.

Should we continue with the test and punish regimes? Even though we recognize its cancerous effects on learning and student curiosity?

Or should we call for elimination of barriers to graduation and free our schools to produce the young adult that the business community demands? Testing is in the way. A bold vision would call for eliminating state testing and find a new means of accountability.

What say you, Times-Union?

We all want a choice. But if we are to provide that choice through state funding (and taxes), that requires hard choices. We cannot run multiple school systems with the resources that are sufficient for only one.

For school choice, more resources are needed and that means more taxes. If we are offered a choice to tax ourselves in Duval County, like a previous measure that passed in Manatee County (yes, that is an indirect reference to the current superintendent) and the ones that passed in November in Palm Beach, Dade, and other counties, will Duval citizens vote for it? Will the editorial board back it? (You know who won’t, T-U.)

What say you, Times-Union?

Our buildings are old and don’t work well for 21st century education. Bathrooms are located outside the buildings where no one can provide effective supervision of students because we have cut paraprofessionals and security personnel who could do that.

Nothing gets painted without a special request. Roofs leak. Student desks need repair.

But the real problem is that the classrooms are too small for what we ask teachers to do.

The tab for capital needs is one billion dollars.

Do we put a tax referendum on the next ballot, Times-Union editorial writers? What say you?

The last two items on your list you did not expand on. It might be you ran out of space because paper has a limited area and, in these days of shrunken newspapers, you couldn’t fit it in much as a student runs up against the maximum word count of an assigned essay.

Maybe you whiffed on better oversight for charters because you knew that is a minefield given the corporate connections of your ownership. You mentioned it, but with no details, there’s nothing anyone can confront you with.

And vocational ed is Mom, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet. Cue the video of flags waving against a background of patriotic music. Everyone wants vocational ed, but the problem is we don’t know what vocations to educate for as traditional trades are rendered obsolete by technology.

Others have offered a vision for Duval, for example, this one:

GOT has much on the plate, but in the days to come, may offer one of his own.

Whatever we do, let’s hear those immortal words as we create a strategy for the future: To boldly go where no one has ever gone before.

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