The GNV4ALL education team has looked at our schools’ achievement gaps, disparities in school discipline, access to early learning opportunities and a need to improve college/career readiness. The group has welcomed experts from Alachua County Career and Technical Education, the Parent Academy and the System of Care program. Ideas discussed include increase marketing and promotion of career academies and other ways to improve participation of underrepresented populations in career and technical programs.
Career & Technical Education
Alachua County Public Schools should develop more school-to-work programs, working with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, Santa Fe College and other local institutions and business owners to identify skills and certifications needed for jobs projected to be in demand. Ideas include an additional health professions academy aimed at getting students jobs at local health-care facilities, a magnet to train students to work for Gainesville Regional Utilities and two-year magnet programs that students can enter as juniors and gain certifications that allow them to land quality jobs after graduation. The school district should expand marketing and outreach efforts for magnet programs to cover all parts of the community and reach students as early as middle school.
The city of Gainesville, Alachua County Public Schools, the University of Florida and other local institutions should work together to create a central clearinghouse to connect residents to volunteer opportunities at local schools, after-school programs assisting students and other nonprofits organizations. Outreach efforts should be made to get local students, retirees and other community members more involved. Data on disparities should be used to identify areas of greatest need and an emphasis should be put on recruiting volunteers to work with groups addressing these issues. A method to measure the effectiveness of volunteer efforts should be established.
Alachua County Public Schools should change the student code of conduct to move away from zero-tolerance policies to alternatives that better encourage positive behavior. Specifically, we encourage ending 10-day out-of-school suspensions, expanding alternatives to out-of-school suspensions and providing needed staffing and transportation for these programs, staffing in-school suspensions with certified teachers who provide structured agendas for students, and training teachers on implicit biases that cause disparities in discipline.
The Alachua County School Board should adopt an equity plan designed to lead the district in addressing racial and socioeconomic disparities in all facets of schooling, with specific targets and a timetable to reducing the achievement gap, racial disparities in discipline, and provide accountability through publicly available disaggregated data reporting.