- Faith & Family
Last year, four organizations joined together to try and find concrete answers to a critical question for the children of our community: how can we improve the schools in Liberty City so that a majority of the children graduate from high school and go on to live productive lives? The partners: the Miami-Dade County (M-DC) Public Schools, the Beacon Council, the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League of Greater Miami, commissioned the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) to do a study, analyzing how the school district’s policies toward teachers has impacted the quality of schools in DCPS, which includes Liberty City — and where all four of the local high schools have underperformed for years.
Low performing schools have real consequences for the children of Liberty City and their families. Low graduation rates lead directly to increased rates of joblessness, crime and disease in a community that has seen little of the good news that Florida as a whole has experienced when it comes to education in recent years. The gains made by Florida students statewide have included impressive gains in reading and math scores for Black and Hispanic students. However, the study found areas where improvements could be made, and the most important of those areas involves teachers. The truth is that while M-DC schools are performing better, many students in Liberty City are being left behind, in part because of policies that keep them from having access to the best teachers. And because there is a direct correlation between teacher quality and student performance, students in Liberty City will be at a permanent disadvantage if the quality of the teachers in their schools is not addressed at a policy level.
With the report now public, and at a time when all community stakeholders should be banding together to embrace the recommendations we called for, our partners have turned away. Today, the Urban League of Greater Miami stands alone behind the results of the NCTQ study, calling for its findings to be implemented. At no time have our onetime partners expressed doubt about the soundness of the study, or about its methodology. All we are left with is the sick feeling that what they object to is the result: which is a call to action, rather than a pat on the back.
We must determine why there are a disproportionate number of low performing schools in our community. We must figure out how to reverse that destructive trend. And we must do it together. For that reason, the Urban League of Greater Miami will ask the community to join us on February 15th at Freedom Hall, 8500 NW 25th Avenue in Miami, as we present the findings of the NCTQ report. We are calling on the community to demand that a teacher quality study be conducted, specifically for District 2 schools. It’s time for Liberty City parents and stakeholders — our parents, friends and neighbors, our pastors and our community leaders — to stand with us as we prepare for the most important fight of our lives: the fight to save our children.
By T. Willard Fair
President/CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami