A Duval County middle-school teacher is helping shape minds far beyond his science and math classroom — with his widely read blog.
Chris Guerrieri has been teaching in Duval County for 14 years. He started writing a blog about Duval’s education system five years ago.
“It started off real slow,” Guerrieri said. “That first month I had like 300 hits, and that next month I had like 700 hits.”
Guerrieri says he often writes what teachers are afraid to put their name on.
“I can't speak for every teacher at all but I really feel like I give a lot of teachers who think they're voiceless, a voice,” Guerrieri said.
Last month his blog was viewed 60,000 times. And, other, well-established outlets cite him. Last year, his views appeared in the Florida Times-Union, Folio Weekly, The Miami Herald, and most recently The Washington Post.
“Half are letters to the editor,” Guerrieri said. “But half are op-eds, this is what I think should happen, or this is what could happen.”
The blog takes on what Guerrieri says isn’t working for students and teachers:
“I talk about charter schools a lot. I talk about vouchers a lot. I talk about the Quality Education for All initiative,” he said. “I don't think they're improving the city at all”
And he targets specific school officials, including Superintendent Nikolai Vitti and School Board member Scott Shine. Shine says he’s seen the criticism.
“It's interesting because I found this blog by accident when I was running for school board,” Guerrieri said. “I did a search on my name to see what was being printed.”
In a blog post from March, Guerrieri accused Shine of seeking nothing more than a “line on a resume” and questioned his lack of institutional knowledge and experience. Shine says the blog isn’t constructive.
“They're generally insults to members of the school board, the teachers union, or the philanthropic community that supports charities for children,” Shine said. “I think it's a detriment to the education movement.”
Shine says, as far as he’s concerned, the media gives Guerrieri a cyberbullying platform.
Mike Clark is the Editorial Page Editor for the Florida Times-Union. He says he’s published three of Guerrieri’s letters this year, and many more appeared before that.
“Because he's currently teaching in the system, he has a point of view that we don't often hear,” Clark said. “Especially since he's willing to be critical, so that's one of the main reasons we would use his letters.”
Clark says his team is careful to choose content that fosters a healthy debate, and they stray away from Guerrieri’s more outrageous letters.
Guerrieri says he writes what the mainstream media won’t.
“I don't talk about all the amazing things that are going on in the district,” he said. “So for the future, I hope the blog goes out of business. I would hope I don't have to write the blog.”
In the mean time, Guerrieri says he still has plenty to write about.