Educational opportunities not equal for Northview students
To the Editor:
Florida's Constitution states in Article IX, Section 1 that "the education of children is a fundamental right of the people of the State of Florida," and that "provision shall be made by law for a uniform" and "high quality of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education." This promised uniform (or equal) education of "high quality" is not happening for students attending Northview High School.
Here are supportive facts:
Since its opening in 1995, there have been cutbacks in curriculum every year. In 2000-01, NHS will operate with four fewer teaching units than 99-00. At this time, there is no teacher at NHS certified to teach chemistry. There are fewer dual enrollment courses at NHS than any other district high school. Vital college prep courses routinely offered at other high schools such as pre-calculus and calculus are not offered unless parents specifically complain. NHS offers two years of Spanish at this time; other district high schools offer four years of three to four languages. There is no chorus offered at NHS. Our students always had an opportunity for chorus at the two closed schools. Other glaring inequities exist in the fine arts. Vocational-technical offerings are not at all what was promised when consolidation was discussed. George Stone Vocational Center and the IB program are available for our students, but would you really want your child on the road daily for 80-plus miles and for hours at a time just for travel to these programs? The few who do participate give up many extracurricular activities to make the trip. Distance learning was promised to our students, but scrapped later with no real explanation. There has been such a reduction in curriculum that we basically have the same courses that were offered before consolidation. The only real exception is the excellent ROTC program.
The school district and board need to check into the school's decreasing enrollment. Northview opened in 1995 with 541 students. In 1999, this dipped to 480 and this year went to 460. When Century and Ernest Ward closed in 1994, combined enrollment was 521.
The choice for location of the school was poor at best. Had it been sited farther south, toward McDavid or Bogia, some of the crowding at Tate could have been eased and student population would be high enough to provide more teaching units and expanded curriculum. Citizens were promised that consolidation would result in increased curriculum because there would be twice as many students in one place. We were told lies. We, the citizens of the north end, gave up our community schools and provided the "grass-roots" push for consolidation. Our students are not being prepared in the "uniform" and "high quality" way guaranteed by our state constitution.
Have we tried to communicate these concerns to the school district leadership? Indeed, yes, and many, many times were just given fancy lip service and advice mainly to "be more creative" with the scheduling. It is impossible to do this with less and less teacher units. Northview's Advisory Council and other concerned citizens have met with the principal, the superintendent, the director of curriculum and instruction, Mr. Gene Pettis, director of secondary education, Robin Largue, school board members, and state legislators. We get no results from these efforts.
In closing, let me say that we do not expect the identical curriculum of much larger schools; however, we do expect a better curriculum than before consolidation. The lack of vocational and college preparatory courses is alarming when compared to the courses at other district high schools. It would appear that new district leadership may be the only hope for the shocking curriculum inequities at Northview.
Roy E. Chancery