Collier County Education: Put Kids Above Politics

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The Greater Naples Chamber works every day to help build and maintain a great community with a great economy. One of the most important aspects of a community is its schools. Great schools attract (and train!) great citizens. And, fortunately, we have a very successful public school system.

For the 2021-22 school year, Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) students and staff again achieved an “A” grade, continuing a streak of “A” success dating back to 2017. Additionally, the District graduation rate improved to 92.7% in 2021 from 72.5% in 2011, an increase of 20.2 percentage points.

If we are to maintain this quality of public education, we need a dedicated and competent school board – a board whose priorities are focused on high quality education for our children.

Michael Dalby

Three school board seats are pending consideration by voters in November. With a five-member school board, three members will control the votes, direction and quality of public education in Collier County.

In Florida, local school board elections are nonpartisan. It’s in our state constitution. The editors felt that the education and welfare of children should be above politics.

Unfortunately, in the upcoming CCPS school board elections, three highly partisan challengers are seeking to turn our public schools into a platform for their political beliefs. And to get there, they play fast and loose with politics against facts.

Policy: 40% of students at Collier Public School cannot read or do grade level math.

Do: Our district is ranked #5 out of Florida State’s 67 districts for fourth-grade student performance.

To say that 40% of all students cannot read or do math is simply not accurate. Florida has extremely high standards, as evidenced by our state’s performance in the National Educational Progress Assessment, where Florida is ranked #4 in math and #6 in English (ELA) in the national scale.

In Collier County Public Schools, 54% of students come from homes where English is not the primary language, and about 15% of students are English language learners. Some students may simply not have fully developed the vocabulary and fluency in the English language. exercise perfect control. For these students, intensive support is provided and, in fact, most of our students from homes where English is not the primary language graduate and go on to post-secondary education.

Policy: Schools in Collier County teach Critical Race Theory.

Do: They are not.

For a brief period in 2020, following the death of George Floyd and in response to national and local dialogue regarding perceptions around the many facets of diversity, a racial awareness book was used in training administrators and a select group of principals. The choice of book was not based on support for critical race theory, but on understanding the national discussion of race and its impacts on education. The current school board discontinued its use when staff felt they had a better understanding of the dialogue regarding perceptions around the diversity conversation. That’s another fact.

In June 2021, the School Board issued a notice advising our community that “The School Board and Superintendent do not support the teaching of Critical Race Theory (“CRT”) in its classrooms, and the CRT does not is not and will not be part of the district curriculum and teaching and learning framework.

Policy: The CCPS allows sexually explicit and age-inappropriate content in school media centers.

Do: Our school district continues to ensure that all students have access to a variety of learning resources and opportunities, not only to increase student achievement, but also to promote career and life readiness as well as university opportunities.

All media centers provide students with developmentally appropriate, highly engaging and standards-based materials. To ensure that parents retain ultimate control over what their child reads from the media center, the district is providing instructions for parents to access the online system to view the books borrowed by their child(ren). ). They also have advisory notices in the electronic circulation system notifying parents of books flagged as “concerning” by some community members.

Policy: LGBTQ and transgender material is featured to encourage gender dysphoria.

Do: Fortunately, our school district strives to educate all children in a nurturing and supportive environment.

The current school board has no policy, administrative procedure or practice that promotes gender dysphoria. They took the Parents’ Bill of Rights seriously and incorporated it into policy, while training district administrators and staff. Additionally, the Collier County Public School Administration requires teaching that meets Florida standards and provides teaching materials and instructional guides that meet those standards.

More facts: CCPS is one of five districts in the state to be rated “A” since 2017. Additionally, CCPS schools outperformed the state average in all twenty-one areas tested, positioning schools in our district among the best in the state.

Additionally, CCPS is on track to be debt-free in 2026. The district is also able to pay cash for its new high school, saving taxpayers more than $41 million in payments. interest by not taking out a loan for construction. Additionally, while more than twenty other school districts in Florida came before voters to demand a tax increase, our school board proposed a tax-neutral referendum instead of a tax increase.

We urge all voters to be informed. It makes no sense to try to fix something that isn’t broken. Worse, why try to fix something that works so well.

To be informed. Know the issues and get the facts. Go to candidate websites and review their platforms. Above all, vote! Our community relies on your vote to maintain academic excellence and dedicated leadership to better serve our children and our community.

Michael Dalby is the President and CEO of the Greater Naples Chamber.

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