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First Coast Connect

11/28/2017: Duval School Suspensions; Michael Wiley- Monument Road; Courtney Lewis; #GivingTuesday

Lindsey Kilbride

Tuesday on First Coast Connect we heard about an investigation into the Duval County Public Schools’ suspension statistics with Florida Times-Union reporter Denise Smith Amos (01:14).

Local author Michael Wiley told us about his new book “Monument Road” (29:42).        

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Music Director Courtney Lewis joined us to talk some of the upcoming concerts at the Times-Union Center (38:26).

On #GivingTuesday Rethreaded founder Kristin Keen joined us to talk about a new partnership with Southwest Airlines (46:00).    

Duval Suspensions

Members of the Jacksonville NAACP are asking why the Duval County Public Schools are still disproportionately suspending black students.

A new investigation this week by The Florida Times-Unionshows while the numbers have improved, there is still a strong discrepancy in local classrooms.

School suspensions are a known contributor to what’s called the school-to-prison pipeline. That’s a long-term national trend, where black students are nearly twice as likely as white students to be expelled from school, and 2.3 times more likely to be disciplined in a way that  involves law enforcement, including arrests at school.

Critics of the pipeline phenomenon say African-American students are being pushed out of school and pushed into prison.

Jackie Simmons is the district’s executive director of discipline and student support. He says he has found “many instances in which the infraction consequences are not equally enforced,” or in other words, where black students received harsher punishments than other students for the same infraction.

Michael Wiley- Monument Road

Jacksonville author Michael Wiley is building a national reputation for his riveting, black-as-night crime novels set right here on the First Coast.

Wiley’s latest Northeast Florida thriller, “Monument Road” is out this Friday. It’s about an exonerated death-row inmate investigating the crime that sent him to prison.

He is also part of a book talk and signing at a wine and cheese event from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m, Thursday, Dec. 7 at Chamblin’s Uptown Bookstore downtown.

Courtney Lewis

This weekend at the Jacksonville Symphony, enjoy the German Giants  as the Florida Blue Masterworks Series presents Beethoven to Schoenberg, with Music Director Courtney Lewis conducting.

Beethoven to Schoenberg, a direct line connects the two as the supreme musical revolutionaries of the early nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  In this intensely dramatic program each is represented by a symphonic work that changed the course of music history.  Mendelssohn with his winsome Violin Concerto provides a haven of repose between these two great iconoclasts.


#GivingTuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to the commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season - and the frenzy of buying we usually see on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

People typically support their favorite nonprofit on Giving Tuesday. We here atWJCT hope you will take a moment to support us.

We also heard about an exciting new partnership local charity Rethreaded has begun with Southwest Airlines to repurpose the old leather seats from airplanes being updates. Rethreaded will hold an announcement and celebration Tuesday night at their headquarters.    

Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.