Since posting this analysis, I've regularly heard from people that we shouldn't be "pointing fingers" or "casting blame" but rather working towards solutions on the issue of poor performing elementary schools. I hate reading this, because as social scientist, I'm not interested in casting blame - I'm looking for the source of the problem. By this same logic, we shouldn't waste our time trying to find where a leak is coming from, we should instead work on soaking up the water. It would be like a physician treating symptoms without concerning him or herself with what was causing the symptoms. Doesn't work for education either.
My analysis has suggested that, at least for three of the schools the Times calls "failure factories," the source of the problem might not be the school. I haven't said what it might be simply because my research doesn't support a source - it only supports the notion that the schools, in some cases, might not be it.
With that in mind, I actually think Mayor Kriseman is on the right track by proposing an education director - a liaison to work with Pinellas County Schools and the communities to see what can be done from within the community to improve student performance. I know that Bill Foster formerly had one in Lori Matway who I worked with during the four years I spent as a scholarship committee member for the Pinellas Education Foundation. I wasn't aware that the position had been vacated, but I'm at least glad to hear that Kriseman has a plan to fill it. This at least recognizes that the community has at least a part in the success of our students - all students, and that we should be doing more to foster growth for at risk students. It's the reason I worked on behalf of the Pinellas Education Foundation, and the reason I've taken up this blog.
Perhaps this will convince Janelle Irwin to reconsider the box I believe she's mistakenly placed me into.