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  1. The Education Gradebook

Hooper: It's time to act on failures of Pinellas County School District

It's time. In the wake of the unvarnished report by Times staffers Cara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Gartner and Michael LaForgia on how the Pinellas County School District is failing black students, it's time to act.

It's not time for the status quo. Anyone who believes this crisis doesn't demand a sea change isn't paying attention.

It's not time to lay all the blame on past and present superintendents and board members, but they certainly share in this failure.

It's not time to unload racially tinged accusations and pin this solely on parents and students, but race and socioeconomic factors can't be ignored.

It's not time to cast aspersions on under-supported and unprepared teachers, but it's past time to ask how they are being trained, paid and guided.

It's not time for elected officials, outside observers and even columnists to pretend they have the answers. We can't grasp the complexities better than frontline teachers, hardened administrators and education experts just because we came through the system years ago. Let's listen to them.

It's not time for voucher proponents to step up and claim they have the solutions. While they provide an education outlet for a few, they do nothing to improve the overall public school system that desperately needs to be successful for all.

It's not time to say, "Glad my kids are in a good school," or "Glad I don't have kids."

It's time for independent accountability. It's time to put every great idea on the table.

It's time for everybody who cares. About anything. To rally.

It's time to recognize when we fail students, we're destined for failure as a community. It's time.

That's all I'm saying.

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