I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What is a "Failure Factory?"

When I was contacted yesterday afternoon by the PNJ to give my reaction to the news that the final challenge to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship had been overcome--I immediately thought about an amazingly powerful article I read two years ago.  It was an outstanding piece of Journalism in the Tampa Bay Times that everyone in education should have read....  It had a simple title:

Failure Factories 

The story was familiar and not isolated to Pinellas County. Dozens and dozens of Failure Factories are found throughout the state of Florida (and nationwide, for that matter)....

So, what are "Failure Factories?"

Failure Factories are public schools in poor neighborhoods that underperform for decades, trapping their populations in mediocrity. Entire families pass through these schools as they do not have the resources to attend better schools.   Pressure is applied from all directions to keep student suspensions and referral numbers down at failure factories, which creates lawlessness and a loss of focus on academics.  Good students and good parents flee, exacerbating the issue.  Soon, teachers leave and such schools have complete staff turnovers every 2-3 years.  Money is dumped in by feckless administrators and other educrats for programs that never succeed long term, yet these schools do not improve or display sustained improvement despite huge sums of money being dumped into the mix.

Everyone wrings their hands collectively and nothing changes.

Then along came a statewide program that allowed students and parents stuck in such failing schools to receive a scholarship to attend a better performing school and break the cycle---and the establishment types freaked out.  Then they sued.  (This is when I took action and said enough!)

Yesterday, after a nearly three year battle, the entrenched special interests that fought so hard and sued to stop this program (ACLU, NAACP, NEA/FEA, FSBA) were handed a humbling defeat as the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear this case.

Now, nearly 100,000 students (primarily poor, minority students) who were stuck in failure factories will have a shot at a better education and better educational outcomes.  These students will be able to choose to go to a better performing school thanks to this scholarship program.  (Although this program does not utilize one dime of taxpayer money--establishment educrats still HATE this program.)

To the people (feckless educrats, Teacher Unions, and FSBA types) who HATE this program--- I say this:

Had you collectively done your jobs, this scholarship program probably never would have been established, as it would not have been needed.  If you are mad about this, look in the mirror and take your anger out on that person, that person in the mirror who had the power and ability to fix the problems that led to failure factories but that who did nothing.

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