Log in Subscribe

pinion Letter to the Editor: Use 9-digit Zip Codes Rather than Race


Dear Editor,

As you point out, the teaching problem is demographics, not race. In a teacher education program taught by Florida to all teachers a few years back, they showed that detailed zip codes was the SINGLE most significant factor (80%), not teachers, in determining progress, grades, drop-outs, college entry.
After reading that, I used a zip code address lookup web page to look up my good and poor students. It "predicted" them perfectly. Given this information, it is strange that to date, Florida intends to pay or fire teachers for student progress as if they were the sole, or at least major determinant, instead of a distant but vital number 2. No wonder teachers break out in a cold sweat at the thought of beng assigned to a school with "bad demographics" if they are to be fired when the students underperform.
If they believe their own data, Florida should plan and spend based on demographics, and should pay bonuses and fire for statistically significant performance above or below that predicted by the school demographics.
The budget cutbacks caused by the recession, and the multiyear decline in average family spending power suggest that Florida's educational success should have undergone a serous decline in recent years. Instead, Florida has gone from a nadir of 43 to recently being 8th in the nation. This can only continue if we shift spending to better focus on the real barriers to educational achievement. Poor teachers will stand out as the problem they really are only after the demographic elephant in the room is gone.
James Mathews
Manatee County


Florida's Race-based Education Goals Address Problem from Wrong Angle


No comments on this item

Only paid subscribers can comment
Please log in to comment by clicking here.