May 24th Teacher Town Hall on WJCT | Community Spirit

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May 24th Teacher Town Hall on WJCT
May 24th Teacher Town Hall on WJCT

The recorded Teacher Town Hall will be shown tonight on WJCT Public Broadcasting at 9pm

Educators from across the state of Florida gathered
to share their experiences, challenges,  
frustrations, and professional skill sets in a state
wide dialogue on the high school dropout rate in
the Florida educational system of high schools.

Florida is unique in its graduation standards for
students and state wide assessment tool FCAT
Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
The test is designed to challenge students learning,
prepare students for the work force and entrance
into  higher education. The use of higher order
thinking skills, critical thinking skills and
reasoning are assessed based on standards of
academic progression.

The best intentions of the state legislature is
assessing student growth, student performance
and the ability of students to show AYP or
Annual Yearly Progress, but the results are
tragic and demoralizing for many students.
There are many successes, but the road
to student success is paved with students that
are frustrated, feel unsupported, and
stressed, there are is a growing minds set
 there is a one size fits all to education.
Many students moral is lowered or crushed
because their academic
lives when they enter third grade and progress
to 12th grade are ruled by one assessment FCAT.

Teachers are rarely provided the opportunity
to share their experiences and wisdom even though
they are the important link and are professionals
in education. Teachers are expected to provide
all the necessary services to students even though
a teacher’s profession is to teach. Teachers are
certified to be professional educators, but
sometimes not listened to by the politicians of
state and national government that neither
understand or are willing to listen to dedicated
professionals with years of experience, professional
development and higher educational degrees.

The experience level attending the Teacher Town
Hall at WJCT ranged from college students like
those attending
Edward Waters College (Michelle McNealy and
Brittany Glover) to professional educators,
administrators, guidance counselors, teachers
of the Arts, Sciences, Physical Education and
other disciplines. Several educators attending had
over 30 years of teaching experience. It was asked
how can someone in political office tell an educated
professional educator with over 15, 20 and 25 years
how to manage and teach students and legislative
members have never visited a classroom long
enough to learn the environment or know the curriculum.

Al Letson (a product of Clay County School District)
hosted the conversations, he expertly guided the
energy of the professional educators making sure that
key points were addressed and important elements
elaborated upon. Questions asked were relevant to
the classrooms of schools. Teachers from Tampa,
Daytona Beach and other schools districts were even
provided transportation so their collective voices
could be heard.

American Graduate’s Teacher Town Hall
“Addressing Florida’s Dropout Rate” had teachers
from Duval, Clay, Volusia, Orange, and those located
in Tampa, Daytona Beach as stated and other districts
expressed and demonstrated their solidarity to
their profession.  The admiration and respect to
each other as professional educators not “baby sitters”
as some negatively address teachers was evident in their
combined agreement on key issues.

During the discussion many key areas were addressed:
Students should be directed to higher education after
high school, but also to vocational skills that are still
needed in society. The importance of The Arts in
education; The Arts help students to think on different
levels that help creativity in academics subject areas.
 The importance of Physical Education programs to
curve obesity in children and teach about additional
health related issues. Instead of focusing on
STEM – Science Technology Engineering Mathematics
Focus on:  
STEAM – Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics

The importance of technology integration in schools
because that is the direction the country and world is going.
The need for more Professional Development and attendance
at educational conferences. Smaller classes sizes are need
not just for elementary schools, but middle and high
because many students require a teacher’s attention, but
cannot get it.
Legislators before they make any changes should teach
for two weeks in public schools, not show up for photo
opportunities in selected educational environments like
Charter Schools, but in inner city schools with
real challenges.

Too many legislators are scared to get their hands dirty
and do not see the reality of real teaching. They are not
involved in the real learning environments so are
disconnected to what teachers are actually experiencing
from day to day. Student’s moral is declining because
they only see learning is geared to testing
not for real world application.

More students claim to hate going to school because
they are being made to learn testing strategies and bench
marks that focus on testing.  Emphasis on more field trips
for career choices and mentors increased presence
 in schools is needed.

The discussions continued even past the designed time
of the event. What was needed were the ears of those in
the political environment of Tallahassee to really learn
from professional educators. Not just to react to angry
parents that do not have public education best interest
at heart. $40,000 dollars a year is spent on prison inmates,
spending on education per pupil is not even close.
The understanding is that if even $20,000 or $30,000
dollars is spent on students then incarceration rates
would drop and graduation rates would
increase. There would be more services to help struggling
students and their families. The danger of equitability is
that challenges school do not receive the “real” resources
needed. Not that money can solve all problems, but the
need for parents, businesses and community stakeholders
and politicians to be visible, involved and concerned.

There are over 180,000 teachers in the state of Florida, but
legislators and the Governor  may not  be listening to teachers.
If this disconnect continues then drop out rates will increase,
and potentially incarceration rates will increase, because the
value for education will be lost. Damaging an already
economic system because of the decrease in a
skilled workforce and tax foundation that supports schools,
law enforcement and other services that communities
and cities depend on to survive. 

The recorded Teacher Town Hall
will be shown tonight on WJCT
Public Broadcasting at 9pm

Five Florida stations:
WFSU/Tallahassee, WJCT/Jacksonville,
 WDSC/Daytona  and WLRN/Miami are providing
their resources and services to raise awareness,
coordinate action with community partners
and educators while working directly with students, parents,
teachers, mentors, volunteers and leaders to develop locally
based solutions to address the dropout crisis in their
respective communities.

For more information contact:
Email: or
Call: Circe LeNoble at 904-358-6329

Kelly Seay, M.Ed.
Teacher Liaison Florida Department of Education
Office of Communications

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