Charters continue to grow in both popularity – and controversy.
It’s against that tense backdrop that Jacksonville prepares to host an annual event looking to improve graduation rates for the city’s young male blacks, and this year, the focus will be on charter schools as a “viable option.”
The co-founders of Jacksonville’s upcoming eighth annual Urban Education Symposium say they’re trying to help parents make an informed choice.
“We are looking at charter schools because our call to action has been focused on identifying a variety of approaches to deal with the achievement gap for young black males in Jacksonville,” said symposium co-founder Barbara Darby, the retired president of FSCJ North.
“Charter schools happen to be one of those approaches in assisting our young black males to achieve at a higher level,” Darby told WJCT.
“Our attempt through this year’s symposium is really to provide information, the good, the bad, and the ugly about charter schools, so that when parents make this very important decision they will do so armed with good information,” said Darby.
Last month, Duval County saw its overall graduation rate tick upward by 2.6 percentage points over 2014, to about 76 percent. That’s an increase of about 13 percentage points over the last five years.
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti noted at the time that the district ranks first among the seven largest urban districts in its percentage of African-American high school graduates. However, an achievement gap remains, one the symposium is dedicated to erasing.