Miami-Dade Public Schools will begin tracking improvement plans, teacher quality and resource allocation at F schools in the district under a proposal put forward by District 1 Board Member Steve Gallon.
The measure, presented at the Dec. 14 board meeting, passed unanimously. All eight of Gallon’s colleagues signed on as sponsors —- a feat that reportedly almost never happens.
The plan also calls for the district to establish an advisory board comprised of educators and community stakeholders, similar to established committees that deal with construction and audit. That board would provide input and support to schools that earn two or more consecutive letter grades of F based on required annual state assessments.
The item was the first proposal presented by Gallon as a board member. He said the issue affected children throughout the school system, which is the fourth-largest in the nation.
“This item is both a reflection of the underlying concerns of sectors of the community regarding the education of children in certain pockets from homestead to County Line Road,” said Gallon. He said the item was a “manifestation of the consensus and commitment of the board as it relates to providing for and being accountable to all schools and all children.”
The subject is one that Gallon raised numerous times while he was running for the position. Gallon, a veteran educator, had repeatedly criticized the school district for the number of failing schools in District 1. His proposal, however, involves all schools within the school system.
A public discussion about failing schools has been a rarity. Gallon said parents have a right to be heard.
“The public has to have a level of engagement when it comes to schools. We have to have an open discussion about our challenges,” he said. “These are challenges that we need the community to help us with. “
Gallon’s item attracted a lot of attention. More than 30 individuals, both high-profile and regular residents, signed up to speak on the topic. About 11 got a chance to speak, including former county Commissioner Betty T. Ferguson, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III and members of ICARE, the activist group that has monitored conditions in District 1 and 2 for more than seven years.
ICARE member Darryl Holsendolph said he was happy about the board’s decision to give attention to “fragile” schools.
“It confirms what we’ve been asking for. We didn’t have a voice. ICARE has always advocated for underperforming schools,” Holsendolph said. “The data was already there. No resources were put there to address it.”