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Quality Education for All Fund Ready To Support Duval School Reforms

Cyd Hoskinson

A fund created last year to improve student achievement in Duval County is ready to start spending some of the millions of dollars raised so far. 

Gary Chartrand, local businessman and chairman of the Florida Board of Education, announced the creation of the Quality Education for All fund at the first Champions for Education Conference at TPC Sawgrass last year. 

He returned this year with an update.

"Our plan is to raise $50 million locally from the private sector and then pursue national funding in a dollar-for-dollar matching grant," Chartrand told the conference. "And, I'm happy to report that we've successfully raised over half our goal."

Once fundraising efforts were underway, Chartrand turned to The Community Foundation of Northeast Florida for guidance on how best to spend the money to ensure the biggest return. 

Enter the Bridgespan Group, a national consulting firm with expertise in education reform.

In addition to identifying successful strategies other districts had used to improve their schools, the researchers also looked at previous reform efforts in Duval County to find out what had worked here.

They found those efforts were scarcest in the one area where, research shows, they could have done the most good: improving the effectiveness of teachers and leaders.

"Education research convincingly shows that the quality of a teacher is far and away the the most important in-school factor contributing to student achievement," the study by the Bridgespan Group says. "Research has (also) found that having a great principal alone has a significant impact on student achievement, and, when paired with great teachers, that impact is compounded."

Based on the work by the Bridgespan Group, Quality Education for All identified five top priorities to fund over the next five years:

  1. TEACH FOR AMERICA: The fund will provide support for about 100 TFA teachers each year.
  2. NEW TEACHER FELLOWSHIP: The fund will create a program to recruit, develop and retain fifty-five of the best, homegrown teachers each year.
  3. LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE: The fund will create an administrator pipeline to help great teachers become great principals and assistant principals.
  4. EXPERT TEACHER RECOGNITION: The fund will reward and retain high-performing teachers.
  5. NEW DATA SYSTEM: The fund will create a data management system that will provide real-time feed back on student progress and strengthen transparency and accountability across the district.
Credit Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT
Governor Jeb Bush speaking at Champions for Education Conference, TPC Sawgrass

Organizers say they plan to create an "Innovation Fund" to use for promising ideas and programs that may pop up in the future. They will also put 10% of the money raised into an endowment so that the Quality Education for All fund can continue.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who was the keynote speaker at this year's Champions for Education Conference, offered his take on the Quality Education for All fund.

"I really don't think there's a national model. There's a lot of generosity. Mark Zuckerberg stroked a $100 million check in Newark (N.J.). I mean there are great things being done but this, your plan, is excellent. This investment in human capital, I think, is going to yield a good result as long as the whole system is geared toward student learning."

Bush’s one caveat was that Duval County put benchmarks in place to make sure progress is actually being made.

The fund is expected to start spending money during the 2013-14 school year.

The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida will continue to have financial oversight of the Quality Education for All fund. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund will handle the day-to-day management.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.