Letters to the Editor

Schools of hope are not the answer

How can our legislators be so misguided?

I read the April 1 article, “Are ‘schools of hope’ the solution to perpetually failing public schools” and the attendant House Bill 5105, which tries to address the problem of low performing schools.

As someone who has worked for the past 25 years in Miami-Dade Public Schools, including specifically in one of the schools mentioned, it staggers the mind to think that our legislators think the problem can be solved by bringing in “schools of hope” as a way of changing student outcomes.

As a school social worker who works on the frontlines of the educational establishment, it is clear to me, and as the article wisely mentions, that unless we address our societal inequalities, our institutionalized poverty, and our underpaid public school staff members (starting with para-professionals and ending with teachers and administrators) we will not get the results that we want.

The $200 million would be much better utilized by bringing in additional staff, improving teacher salaries, and strengthening parental involvement and reading-readiness initiatives.

Think about this: social workers like myself are assigned to five schools. I am at one school a day during a week. How much can I accomplish, especially if trying to reach children whose parents are newly arrived immigrants, and have no personal transportation?

People would rather not address the real nature of the problem, in great part because it’s just too costly, and instead offer short-term, band-aid approaches so that it will appear as if something is being done. Those in the know won’t be fooled.

And trust me, the more it appears to change, the more it will stay the same. I hope legislators watch the Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” conceived and filmed right here in Miami, to get a better sense of the types of situations we deal with on a daily basis.

Javier Berezdivin,