Posted Under: Important Issues for Fort Lauderdale,Our Vision for Fort Lauderdale!
Our Vision of Fort Lauderdale, Chapter 18:
Improving Fort Lauderdale’s School system
Unfortunately, the current Broward County School Board (overseeing one of the largest school systems in the United States) has repeatedly demonstrated a level of corruption and mismanagement of funds over the years that makes one wonder how they could still be in existence.
Several “Inspector General” Reports have found multiple examples of missing funds, greed, corruption and operational failures. The Broward County School System has been broken for years. The School Board readily acknowledges significant problems, yet seems to be incapable of making any fundamental changes. Many senior staff associated with the School Board and School System have become millionaires with their salaries and compensation packages, while students go without books and even the most basic of supplies. The Unions fight any proposals for efficiencies or for changes that might have an impact on teachers. They seem to often protect even bad or incompetent teachers, to the detriment of students.
Is this an example of an organization that is “too big to fail”?
No. It has been failing for years.
Now is the time for our City to consider pulling out of the Broward County School System and establish our own charter schools as part of a new Fort Lauderdale City School system.
Look at these points:
- The revenues that Fort Lauderdale residents pay in to the Broward County School System are far in excess of what the City’s residents get back in terms of quality education of our children.
- Hundreds of millions of our tax dollars each year have gone toward financing a huge administrative bureaucracy, and paying exorbitant construction fees for new buildings, primarily in the western part of the County, NOT in providing basic education of our City’s children here.
- A regular complaint from students and parents here in Fort Lauderdale is the lack of school funds available to pay for even the basics of education (books, paper, etc.). Even the maintenance of our existing structures here seem to take a back seat to new construction in the western part of the County.
- In fact, many Fort Lauderdale families (that can afford to) are already sending their children to a charter school or to a private school, because the quality of education seems to be so much better with those alternatives.
What is the solution? Here are some suggestions:
- We need to examine how we could petition the State to allow our City to develop our own City-wide Department of Education, and base it on the “Charter School” concept.
- We would keep our Property tax dollars here and spend the money on our own children’s education, without the huge bureaucracy that exists in the rest of the County.
- Encourage any teacher who is currently part of the Broward County School system to apply for employment here, plus any individual with the qualifications to join or even start a charter school.
- Hiring would be based on credentials, not tenure. Employment would be “at-will”, teachers could be fired at any time and performance would be based in part, on student’s performance.
- Bureaucracy would be minimal. Teachers would have more authority and freedom to build an educational model for their students, without having to get permission from a larger organization.
- We should consider matching teachers with students, so that teachers and students both “graduate” to the next grade and students would stay with the same teacher for several years. This helps to foster an additional level of “bonding” between students and teachers, giving students an additional long-term adult influence in their lives. This is missing in many student’s lives today. It would also insure that teachers don’t just “dump” failing students on to the next teacher by sending them, (unqualified), to the next grade.
- We should consider changing hours of our classrooms to align more with a working family’s schedules, with classes staring at 8am and ending later, at 4-5pm.
- We need to also re-examine the curriculum of students in High School to insure that students graduate with the skills necessary to get a good paying job, (in case they choose not to go to college).
- We need to remember that the quality of education is not based upon the size of the bureacracy or the size (or newness) of the buildings or the infrastructure; it is based upon the interaction between the parent, the student, and the teacher. Some of the best education can come from the poorest of facilities.
Now, while we do have some existing Fort Lauderdale schools that have done well in educating our students, our costs are too high, the bureaucracy is too large and too small a percentage of our monies go directly to helping the students. The teachers Unions and the overpaid school board have too much influence in dictating how students should be taught. We will never be able to see wholesale improvement in our educational system here unless we separate ourselves from the existing corrupt organization in Broward County and start fresh.
New Orleans and many other cities have had excellent success with Charter schools. We need to do the same thing here.