July 2, 2011

Across The Educational Tracks

Going across the tracks to save failing schools and students.
John F. Kennedy said: "A child miseducated is
a child lost." The irony to this for failing schools
is that Raines, Ribault, Jackson and North Shore
are across the tracks figuratively and literally.
Each school is within five (5) miles of each
other in the Northwest quadrant of Jacksonville,

Railroad tracks are crossed to get to all of them,
how ironic, was this intentional or just an act of
infrastructure construction? It would be a literal
slap in the face to say that most who reside in
these areas are impoverished and poor, which
some claim to be one of the main issues
(although there are elements of poverty). It would
also be a literal slap in the face to those who life
in these areas to say that most are uneducated,
apathetic and do not value education.  In my
neighborhood in the Northern part of Jacksonville
are at least ten (10) families of retired educators
and over ten (10) families of current educators
both Black and White.

These educators are teachers, administrators, coaches,
and support persons, they are seen as "successful and
role models in the community" because of their
professional achievements. Retired educators,
administrators and support staff had dedicated years
in our challenged schools before they were considered
challenged. Many students graduated with academic
successes; the support staff and custodians have
performed over and beyond their job qualifications 
many do not complain they look at the benefits to
the children working to be a positive
influence and contribute to educational success.

Ironically, students from our challenged schools from
past have obtained higher educational success and
excellent military careers, even those working in
various medical and civil servant, government jobs
are success stories.
Many have asked what has happened over the last decade.
It will take a fundamental change mentally and actions
of parents, guardians, grandparents and the influence they
have on their children for a paradigm shift to be made
for our challenged schools to change.

What has happened to the mentality of the students who
are failing and why can't we change these behaviors with
ALL these educated folk  in Jacksonville, Florida and role
models? If Ever Bank can spend millions, our ship yards
that employ thousands can spend billions and our military
can spend trillions what is the problem on supporting our
schools that provide workers that support the tax base for
our city to run. It is all about leadership and vision;
we must have leadership and vision in our homes first;
we must have equitable leadership for all schools and
equability in opportunities to learn for all students.

In a recent interview by Katie Ross with Senator Bob Graham,
Sen. Graham stated about education that," education is
what will determine whether Florida has the opportunity
to change its economic profile. A change that can't be
done by cutting funding to lower level schools..".

Viewing the recent Recession, Recovery and Beyond
study by JCCI, if students continue to fail they will not
be prepared to fill the "Fastest Growing Occupations"
page 21, but will be relegated (stuck) in low paying jobs
with none or minimum health insurance, along with
minimal hope for educational and economic growth.

Looking at the International Educational Scores for
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
for eight graders, page 20 our country is number 11,
but how can that be with so much technology that our
youth use and have access? Maybe if our society changes
from just giving our children cell phones, iPads,
Smartphone's, but requiring them to apply a skill-set
our youth will not be at the bottom.

In my opinion, solutions to help our challenged schools to
change the "across the track" mentality of failing students
and their families by changing the educational mindset of
traditional education. Return to educating the whole family,
even if someone dropped out, encourage them to come
back mentor and finish, to be a role model and a success story.

Local colleges can contribute like Edward Waters College that
have a recognized and respected face on the Northside and
throughout Jacksonville.  Treat failing schools equitably like
our passing schools with business, corporate, sports,
medical and military role models, sponsorships, mentors
and volunteers. The Jacksonville Giants have already
stepped up to the plate in our community.
Schools in Europe and Asia do this, look at the
results, they are ahead of us.

The community must cease in a mind set of "those poor black
or minority kids". The mindset that minority children are
ghetto and will always be ghetto has to change.
How can Willie Barron, a Ribault senior, and Brion Eason,
a Raines senior earn Gates Foundation Scholarshipa that
thousands apply for nationwide. 169 Raines seniors this
year earned scholarships worth $2.9 million, is this a
sign of total failure? Maybe if we remove the railroad
tracks (figuratively and mentally)  it will remove the
tracked minds of apathy, maybe if the abandoned
buildings, boarded-up stores and dilapidated
structures are removed in our challenged neighborhoods,
more students will see that there is progress, there is growth
and are encouraged that progress and growth is in them.

To change our students we are all accountable as a
community, change must come in their environments,
the tracks, the bars, the walls must be removed.
John F. Kennedy said:
"A child miseducated is a child lost," Jacksonville,
Florida cannot afford any more miseducated
and lost children if we continue children will grow into the
bars of prison cells,  unemployment and homelessness,
emotional and mental depression. We now have an African
American Mayor in Alvin Brown, as of Friday, July 1st,
what more role model do our children need to make that change. 
They can see him every day making positive changes in
Jacksonville, Florida, will our children and their parents  follow?
Parents are now more accountable because history has been made,
a change has come, now is a time for a change in our homes, with
our children and for our schools.

Michael Jackson who many idealize said it best with the song
Man In The Mirror
Interview by Katie Ross with U.S. Senator Bob Graham
JCCI - Jacksonville Community Council Inc
JCCI Releases Latest Study - Recession Recovery and Beyond

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