'It is vital that we succeed'
The next president of the United States should support national education standards, differential and performance pay for teachers, increased funding for public schools and a major revamp No Child Left Behind, according to this open letter from the Council of the Great City Schools.
The letter is signed by Hillsborough School Board member Candy Olson (left), Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia and top officials at 65 other districts nationwide.
"Too often, our schools have reflected –- even perpetuated -– some of the problems that we face, rather than overcoming them and teaching all our children to the highest standards," the letter says. "Turning this situation around so that public schools are the engine of problem solving rather than being viewed as the problem itself is one of our highest priorities as urban school leaders."
The letter goes on to list 11 ways the next president can help. The topper is "Setting a positive tone":
"We deserve to be criticized when we fail and acknowledged when we improve. But the gratuitous denigration of urban education is neither motivating nor effective, and it sends destructive messages to the community about issues of race and class that are inaccurate and counterproductive."
The council includes six of the seven largest districts in Florida. Only Pinellas is not a member.
Ron Matus, state education reporter