PBC parents, teachers protest new academic policies - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

PBC parents, teachers protest new academic policies

By John Bachman - bio | email
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - The Palm Beach School District implemented radical new changes this year to improve the quality of the education and the overall quality of the schools.

But are those changes working? Not if you talk to parents, students and teachers who met Tuesday outside the Classroom Teachers Association office in West Palm Beach.

The county's chief academic officer, Jeffrey Hernandez, said he wanted to clear the air by meeting with the local teacher union the CTA. Still pretty much everyone there, except Hernandez, said these new standards are not helping the kids learn.

"We want our teachers to know that we are behind them and we would like to see some of these issues changed and go back to teaching," said Lisa Goldman.

She has four students in Palm Beach county schools, and she's concerned because her kids have been taking tests almost every day in school this year. She says one of her kids has taken 11 tests in 14 days. That includes Diagnostic tests, embedded assessments, all of that on top regular exams and the F-Cat.

"We have to rush through all the lessons to get time for the test to study," said Lisa's son, Michael.

Students, parents and even some teachers tell us, they have no choice, but to teach the answers to the tests and not the actual lessons.

John Stelluto, a teacher, says that's not the only problem with this new program. "They pulled teachers out of the classrooms to create coaching jobs. Coaching teachers that would go around and coach other teachers in science and math and everything else, and yet we are not meeting the needs of the students."

These were just some of the concerns expressed to Palm Beach County's Chief Academic officer Jeffery Hernandez. He says the new programs are necessary to meet federal and state standards and improve the quality of the schools.

And after visiting 75 schools in the county during the last two weeks, he says, they are working.

"If the students and the teachers and the parents all say this is not an improvement, how can it be an improvement?" Bachman asked Hernandez.

"It's not that all the teachers and all the parents. You have a sampling of parents and teachers out here compared to the number of parents and students we have," replied Hernandez.

Superintendent Art Johnson did send home a letter to parents explaining the changes, but parents say they are going to keep pushing for changes of their own.

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