US Department of Education lambastes Pinellas County for educational disparities

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Last Friday afternoon U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Campbell Park Elementary, one of the South Saint Petersburg schools singled out in a Tampa Bay Times investigation noting severely underperforming schools.

John King jr. (L) & Arne Ducan (R) photo by Samuel Johnson

John King jr. (L) & Arne Ducan (R)
photo by Samuel Johnson

Outgoing US secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, emphasized the educational disparity in Pinellas schools is man made. Duncan opines that probable causes were either a series of bad decisions or no decisions and or broken promises. He also said the negative impact of frequent leadership changes has shaped the current situation.

I think you need stability of leadership. And this was as district that was wracked with instability. Whether it’s a school system or business or nonprofit; that is no way to run a railroad. It’s…I don’t know the history (but) I’ll just say everyone is poorly served: principles, teachers, parents and students when you have multiple superintendents over a short number of years. To have stability and to have a strategy; a theory of action, and not chop and change every year or year and a half; whatever it was.”

John King, the incoming US Secretary of Education, maintained that access to an equal quality of education is a civil rights issue. He said all levels of government are not providing for that civil right.

access to a quality education is a civil rights issue. In the extent that we as a country, Florida as a state and this county aren’t providing a quality of opportunity for every student; we are failing to deliver on America’s promise of civil rights to every child and every individual.”

Pinellas County Schools Superintendent, Michael Grego, said the county is fully committed to monitoring the progress of changes already in place.

…Last year and now they’re fully engaged. And we’re measuring each quarter the progress we’re making. We are measuring through student assessment but we’re also measuring through the reduction of disruptive behavior in our schools. Also the time on task with teaching.