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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

St. Pete NAACP blasts legal agreement on black students



The new legal agreement regarding black students in Pinellas County is getting harsh criticism from an unexpected source: The St. Petersburg NAACP.

Ray Tampa, the organization’s president, told The Gradebook today that the agreement doesn’t go far enough. It’s too vague on what instructional strategies will be used and too vague on how any changes will be funded, he said.

“We want to attach a sense of urgency to the matter, and we want more specifics,” said Tampa, a former Pinellas teacher and principal. “We need some bold, new initiatives. And there’s nothing new here.”

The agreement – which the school board is expected to approve next week – requires individual schools to spell out the specific teaching and intervention strategies they’ll use to narrow the black-white achievement gap. That information should be included in each school’s improvement plan, which is due in early September. But Tampa said Superintendent Julie Janssen and the school board should already be offering more specifics on the kinds of changes that will be coming – if they are coming.

“There should be an outrage in the community,” Tampa said. “There should be people demanding more.”

Tampa also criticized the three-year mediation that led to the agreement. For years, the local NAACP had worked closely with the plaintiffs in the long-running legal case that led to the mediation. But during the mediation, another community group, the Concerned Organizations for Quality Education for Black Students, acted as advisers to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

The mediation continues on other issues regarding black students, including student discipline.

“We cannot continue to wait and allow these negotiations to continue at a snail’s pace when our kids are failing at a meteoric pace,” he said.

- Ron Matus, state education reporter 

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:29am]


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