Archive for November 21, 2009

Parents File Lawsuit Against State of Florida Schools

From First Coast News:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — State educators have been slapped with a lawsuit from parents, and even students. The lawsuit claims Florida public school are not properly educating children, something lawmakers and educators disagree with.

The right to an education is something Eunice Barnum of Jacksonville believes is being denied to many youngsters in her community and across the state.

“There are children who cannot read, even though they are in elementary school,” said Barnum, who is the guardian for two children attending school on the Northside.

Barnum and the children are named in the lawsuit filed against the Florida State Board of Education.

The lawsuit claims too many children are failing crucial tests and dropping out. It also points to disparities in education between Caucasians, Hispanics, and African Americans.

“I live it everyday. I help people. I see the evidence of when you do not educate them and they have to hang on street corners and cannot get employed,” said Barnum.

Senator Stephen Wise chairs the Education Committee and said students are getting a fair education. He believes the lawsuit will do more harm than good.

“We are to going to take hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend the lawsuit by the State of Florida, which could go into dollars for young people,” said Wise.

Florida Education Commissioner Eric Smith is also named in the lawsuit.

He said, “It’s unfortunate that this lawsuit diminishes the significant progress that has been made by our children over the last decade and simply ignores the performance of a state that is clearly outpacing the nation. Our African-American and Hispanic students have experienced unprecedented academic improvements and have significantly narrowed the achievement gap in Florida, our graduation rate has steadily improved, and state and national assessments all show tremendous progress. I believe Florida’s education system has achieved incredible results that clearly speak for themselves and are not represented in this complaint.”

However, Barnum stands firm, and said something has to change the state’s public schools.

“Year after year, generation after generation, the failure among African American students finally gets
addressed,” said Barnum.

Unh huh. Personal responsibility, helping children with their homework, and making sure that they are sent to school ready to learn has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Contrary to this woman’s expectation, there are not separate lesson plans for the black and white kids. The black and white kids go to the same schools and are taught the same subjects, but somehow it is the fault of the school when black students do not achieve or learn to read. Guess what? The children that achieve have parents that believe in education and are actively involved in the educational process.

If the person initiating the lawsuit is the “guardian” for two kids attending school on the northside, where are the parents of those children? The heart of the matter here has always been parental responsibility. You cannot tell me that the elderly woman who initiated the lawsuit and evidently expects the children to sit there passively and have knowledge pumped into their head without helping the children or overseeing their homework is a good substitute for a functional family.

Instead of blaming the schools, maybe she ought to take a good look at herself and her family, and at her neighbors. That is where the problem lies. Personal responsibility. If your children are not learning to read, then you step in and teach them. If your children are having problems with math, then you help them. I taught my 4-year-old son to read with Dr. Seuss books.

People such as this woman apparently believe white kids (or Asian kids, or kids of any nationality that achieve) get special grades just for showing up. Homework and industry has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Lady, it doesn’t matter WHAT schools those children you reference as standing about on street corners are in. Until those children are in a culture where doing homework is valued over standing on street corners, the results will be the same.

On the day this news story broke, I saw a black man with his son in the grocery store. The young man was dressed in a school uniform, neatly pressed. Daddy was questioning him about his history test. “I got an ‘A’, daddy!” he said.

“Unh huh. I know how you studied for that test and you were lucky. You can’t expect that luck to last. Luck comes to people that work hard for it, and nothing but trouble comes to people that are lazy.”

That is a young man that won’t be standing around on a street corner waiting for a job to fall off a truck and hit him.

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