Teachers Town Hall in Florida | Schools

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Teachers Town Hall in Florida
Teachers Town Hall in Florida

Teachers Town Hall in Florida

Video Showing: http://www.wjct.tv/video/2237564192/

The recent writing scores for the Florida FCAT – Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test shows that when you change the rules and don’t include the professionals in the management and development of assessment tools children suffer. This is why the Teacher Town Hall at WJCT is an important event and more teachers,
administrators should be involved. The recorded Teacher Town Hall was shown on WJCT Public Broadcasting at 9pm on May 24th  http://wjct.org/americangraduate/
Educators from across the state of Florida
gathered to share their experiences, challenges,  
frustrations, and professional skill sets in a
statewide 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
FCATFlorida 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 is a growing
minds set there is a one size fits all to education of children.

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 http://fcat.fldoe.org/

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 nor are willing to listen to dedicated
professionals with years of experience,
professional development and higher educational

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

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 South Florida 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 edu-
cation 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 and address
sex education because of the growing birth
rates of girls from Middle and High School.
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 to educational

Smaller classes sizes are need not just for elem-
entary schools, but middle and high because
many students require a teacher’s attention,
but cannot get it because of  classrooms
with over 30 students.

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
dealing with real students and families.
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 envi-
ronments 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
assessments.  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. Monetarily, $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 challenged schools 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.  
Five Florida stations participated and should
be commended for their support of public
education and the involvement of American
Graduate’s and the Bill and Melinda Gates

Stations participating WEDU/WUSF/Tampa,
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.

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is
providing opportunities of Open Dialogue
through city wide conversations to allow parents
and interested citizens a chance to talk and share
their ideas for a better educational system.
Their recent event at The Ritz Theatre
along with “We Remember Raines Documentary”
show the need for continued
involvement of the community at large to support
public education.

Pictures can be found at: http://photobucket.com/teatownhall
Watch Video on WJCT: http://www.wjct.tv/video/2237564192

For more information contact:
Call: Circe LeNoble at 904-358-6329
Email: americangraduate@wjct.org or



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