Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jacksonville Presentation

I was in Jacksonville last Thursday to give testimony to the city charter commission, which is considering a proposal to switch away from a school board to mayoral accountability.  I presented 100 slides: the first 49 were from my regular school reform presentation (which is always posted at: www.tilsonfunds.com/Personal/SchoolReform) and the rest of the slides (posted at www.tilsonfunds.com/Jacksonville.pdf) had data on Jacksonville, the experience with mayoral accountability in many cities (esp. NYC), and rebuttals to arguments against it.  The second half of the deck was created by the ED of the new KIPP school (opening in Aug) in Jacksonville, Tom Majdanics.  Thanks to those of you who helped provide the data and arguments! 
Here's a blurb in the local paper about my testimony.


The commission is still examining other issues, including a possible switch to an appointed School Board, redefining the role of the Ethics Commission and pension reform. Its list of non-binding recommendations are due to the council next month.

A New York City businessman and education-reform advocate spoke to the commission about mayoral control of the school system and why he believes it's the best approach to improving student achievement.

Whitney  Tilson outlined New York's efforts to turn around its schools, led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has the power to appoint the school chancellor and eight of 13 members of its school board equivalent.

Comparing Duval County to other Florida school districts, Tilson said the contrast is startling. "I've rarely seen such consistently poor performance in any city or district I've looked at," he said.

Tilson said mayoral control of the school system would create better accountability and should be considered a catalyst for positive change. Different cities have accomplished the goal in various ways, he said, and Jacksonville should look for a strategy that fits its own needs.

The Duval County School Board and superintendent have been vocal opponents of changing how board members are selected.

Peyton hasn't taken a stance but said the issue should be put on the ballot for voters to decide.

Former Mayor John Delaney told the commission an appointed school board model should be pursued.

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