The readers’ forum

Unethical tutors cause Florida’s children to lose out

 

As a district coordinator for a tutoring company that received an ‘excellent’ rating from the Florida Department of Education (DOE) for the 10 years that we have been providing services in Florida, I must respond to the May 12 article Fight over money for tutoring went down to the wire.

We have a low tutor-to-student ratio, usually fewer than three children per tutor, and many times it actually is lower than that, depending on enrollment at particular schools.

We have been forced to compete for enrollment, year after year, with companies that do not obey and adhere to the ethical DOE guidelines. Even when these companies have been reported to the DOE by several competitors, they still remain on the approved list of providers. I’ve been disappointed in the DOE’s lack of oversight. The DOE has made it clear, by its inaction, that there are no consequences for violating the rules.

Every tutor that works in this program is put through the same background and fingerprinting process to which public school teachers are subjected. In many districts, the credentials of all tutors have to be submitted. Many of the tutors that work with me are already employed by the school district as teachers and paraprofessionals.

Other tutors come from various walks of life and professions, and they enjoy working with and mentoring children academically. For instance, one tutor is a retired lieutenant commander from the Navy. Another tutor works in a museum.

I work in Flagler County, and it is stringent in its oversight of the SES tutoring program, which is something that I welcome.

In Florida, we have to apply to be a provider each year. All of the workbooks and teaching materials have to be approved by the DOE, and the company must have insurance coverage. We are flexible as to where tutoring services are offered and will work at the student’s school, in a public library or at home.

I’m tired of all tutoring companies being portrayed as unethical. Most of my competitors are doing an excellent job, helping children here in Florida. My company does an excellent job, too. By not funding this program, the Legislature has thrown the baby out with the bath water.

Other states have opted to keep SES tutoring for their children and to provide adequate oversight by their departments of education in order to maintain the fidelity of the program. Once again, low-income children in Florida lose.

Miranda Mosley Lasure, district coordinator, JFK Tutoring, Inc., Welaka

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