Education Reform for Jacksonville

January 24, 2012 3 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Armed with staggering statistics indicating 5% of low income 9th graders in Jacksonville eventually graduate with a college degree, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) has embarked on a plan to completely overhaul Duval County's public education system. Metro Jacksonville shares a recent presentation on education reform by JPEF to the Jacksonville Civic Council.

To date, education reform in Jacksonville is not occurring with the Duval County Public School (DCPS) system.  Instead the focus has been on private and charter schools.

3,500 low income students entered the 9th grade in DCPS in 1998.  Only 172 or 5% graduated with an AA degree or higher by 2008.

Staggering statistics illustrating economic gains if half of Florida's 2010 dropouts earned a high school diploma.

Statistics illustrating economic gains if 60% of those new graduates earned a college credential or degree.

Today's rapidly changing economy suggests that in most cases, we doom our children to poverty if we can't get them into college.

By 2018, it is projected that over 60% of jobs will require a post secondary education.

JPEF seeks to reform DCPS by focusing on five core areas for reform.

DCPS's spends less money per pupil than several peer communities.

However DCPS spends less on central office and more on instruction than many peer communities.

DCPS's teacher pay raises are based on experience instead of education, performance, and leadership responsibilities.

This chart should be alarming for every urban core advocate.  Urban planning, economic revitalization, and the future of our public school system should go hand in hand.  It is believed that larger schools (enrollments of 500 students and above) are the most cost efficient for DCPS going forward.  However, the majority of smaller schools are located in established urban core communities, many which are in a state of economic decline.  As the discussion to possibly consolidate and close smaller schools comes up, a comprehensive perspective that evaluates the consequences of proposed decisions as they impact the community outside of DCSP's system should be taken.

50% of non-proficient students attend only 27 schools.  However, less than 25% of those schools are "turnaround."

Mobilizing the community is a major element to JPEF's public education reform plans.

Mobile, AL is an example of a Sunbelt community that has had recent public education reform success.

A major component of JPEF's plan involves focusing on getting the qualified school board candidates elected in August 2012.  With four of the school board's seven seats available, it is the perfect opportunity to change the direction of public education in Duval County.

About Jacksonville Public Education Fund

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is committed to increasing the academic achievement of all students in Duval County Public Schools with a special emphasis on at-risk students and low-performing public schools through advocacy, community engagement and data analysis.

The vision of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund is that every student in Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) will graduate prepared for success in post-secondary education, work and citizenship.

JPEF is a member of the Public Education Network, a national association of local education funds working to advance public school reform in low-income communities across our country. Members of PEN operate in 32 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and five foreign countries, serving more than 12 million students in the United States alone and 24 percent of America’s public school population.

As an education foundation in Florida, JPEF is one of 60 members of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, which represents the interests of more than 2.6 million public school students and 295,000 educators throughout Florida's 67 counties. Through the Consortium, JPEF serves as a conduit for private sector grant-making to Duval County Schools as well as for critical state funds, including the School District Matching Grant program and the License For Learning specialty license plates.

For more information, contact Jacksonville Public Education Fund at

Commentary by Ennis Davis