Hanna: School Choice Caused Resegregation

Hanna: School Choice Caused Resegregation

During the October 10th Leon County School Board (LCSB) meeting, Superintendent Rocky Hanna blamed school choice in Florida for Leon County’s recent ranking as one of the five most highly-segregated school districts in the state.

Hanna faced questioning from LCSB chair Georgia “Joy” Bowen on the resegregation of Leon County schools identified in a Sept. report by the LeRoy Collins Institute.

“I think an unintended consequence of school choice led to this (resegregation)’” Hanna said with a shrug, referring to the state’s implementation of school accountability standards, availability of private school vouchers, and the growth of charter schools.

He said changes to Florida law did away with traditional school zones and erased borders.

“Kids with the means and transportation could go wherever they wanted and those without are where they are,” he said.

“Kids desperately need diversity. They need to know how to assimilate — how to be around kids who don’t look like them, act like them and who don’t come from the same neighborhoods,” Hanna said.

“How do we bring diversity back to our schools? Well that’s a million dollar question, but together we can solve it,” Hanna challenged the board to think outside of the box to develop a plan with him.

“This is not an easy conversation to have as a community. We’ve all seen it but haven’t said anything. Now this report has come out and thrown it in our face.”

The LeRoy Collins Institute is a nonpartisan policy organization located at Florida State University which is affiliated with and works in collaboration with the State University of Florida.

34 Responses to "Hanna: School Choice Caused Resegregation"

  1. If anyone wishes to see what school success looks like, consider Florida High. The school is an amalgamation of the demographics of our area, the 5 surrounding counties, and is one of the better performing schools in the state.

    The interesting thing about Florida High is, you have to apply to get in (meet the demographic to fulfill their diversity requirement) but more importantly, they can KICK YOU OUT. The students are held accountable, academically and behaviorally.

    The other thing I attribute the success of Fl High to is, that because there is an application process, the parents WANT their kids there and are invested in the success of their child. This is a key piece of the pie that is missing in the “true” public system. Parents are not, by and large, invested in the success of their child and do not demand excellence from them, they see the school, simply, as a day care. Because of this attitude (one that is born from the “everyone gets a trophy mentality”) when a note gets sent home from a teacher or administrator, the parent’s first instinct is to wonder why are “they” picking on my child.

    We need to revert to the thought pattern that perhaps, the teachers and administrators might be right, and support them. Demand that our kids meet expectations and quit making excuses for them!

    I never earned the best grades in school – and never blamed my teachers for that – I earned every grade I ever received; good or bad. No teacher wants your child to fail and, with the help of the parents, success can be achieved but only through self-awareness and the willingness to take responsibility for our own (and children’s) actions is this possible.

  2. ‘School Choice’ only exists in public schools where the enrollment is not at capacity. For example, Leon High is capped at full capacity, so a non-conforming student could not gain enrollment without a special dispensation or hardship granted by the District office. Students who wish to “improve” their academic prospects must find a non-capped school or obtain a voucher for a private school. The issue mainly lies with the emphasis placed upon the value of education by parents of kids who live in low-performing school zones. For example, Indianhead Acres subdivision is zoned for Hartsfield, Fairview and Rickards. While Fairview and Rickards have pre-IB and IB programs, all three schools are underperforming in general. Some residents of Indianhead Acres may decide that while the area is nice, the school zoning isn’t up to par. School Choice would allow them to enroll their children out-of-zone in order to find a favorable academic environment. Southwood is another example of the same situation- nice area, underperforming school zoning. Mr. Hanna is correct in his statement to an extent, but he can’t state the obvious for political reasons: the kids whose parents actually care about their children’s academic development are sending their kids out-of-zone or to charter schools, while the others stay in underperforming schools and repeating the same cycle of apathetic attendance. How do you teach kids who have no desire to learn? Dooming a child to a poor education because of his address is not a good practice, and parents who care and have the means WILL move their kids. To what extent I don’t exactly know, but I do know that getting into a full-capacity school is difficult, and the below-capacity schools are underperforming. So, that leaves charter schools as the only other option besides remaining in place, otherwise they are making a lateral move. Looking for an “outside the box” solution is the only real option, because nothing else is working in the underperforming schools. It’s easy to sit back and throw darts from an ivory tower, but place yourself in the same situation as concerned parents of meager means who live in underperforming school zones. Burying your head in the sand and saying “Rocky Hanna obviously had an affair and authored a notebook” doesn’t help these kids, although it may make you feel better. At least the conversation is taking place- and I’m a Republican, in case you’re wondering.

  3. OK, you want to talk about segregation, how about this:
    Take a look at the honors classes (at Leon, or Rickards, or anywhere). I was surprised the Leroy Collins Institute report didn’t even mention it. From what I have seen, the honors system is pretty much the re-segregation of the public school system.
    What’s the problem? The problem is that liberals like Rocky have created a burgeoning underclass that they take no responsibility for.

    1. UMMMM — You have to perform, have the grades, to enroll in an honors class. If you are a “C” student in a “regular” class, your are NOT going to be invited to participate in an honors class.

      If you want your child in an honors class, at any school, hold that child accountable, demand excellence, and have them achieve the requisite grades to able to included in the classes with others who truly value their educations!

      1. A little off topic, but the students at the poorly performing schools are being placed in honors classes just to avoid them having to take the end of course exams. Their principals would rather have a kid in a class he’s not ready for at all, than to have the kid earn a failing grade on an end of course exam—and reported by the state. That’s pure fraud in my book. It shouldn’t be allowed at all. There should be an entrance exam to test whether or not the student is qualified for honors courses.

        Back to the topic: Honors courses are there for advanced students. The diversity will come once the diverse students have caught up to normal standards. It may seem segregated now, but simply being in the school with a diverse student body is helpful. They don’t necessarily need to be in the exact same class to reap the benefits. With a few years of holding principals/teachers truly accountable, those honors classes should be a bit more representative.

  4. With all of the news coverage about sexual harassment and bullying can someone tell me why the allegations in the affidavit and signed settlement involving a teacher that Mr. Hannah supervised, evaluated and dated and then had her transfered when she broke off the relationship with a monetary settlement is not being looked into?

  5. School segregation is a really difficult problem, and I’m not sure there is a solution. I am not on the school board, I didn’t vote for RH, and I don’t have any say in how things have been, are, or will be done in Leon County schools. The only “school choice” I have is sending my gifted child to an impoverished Title I school or a private school without much diversity. It’s not a choice I enjoy making! If there were a diverse and well-funded school choice available, I would choose it! But that choice simply doesn’t exist, and it’s a shame.

  6. What Hanna and other school administrators need to do is develop programs for boys to ensure success in college and in life. Our boys are falling behind. Dropping out, graduating without functional skills. Wandering aimlessly, with no goals or purpose. And I am talking about white middle and upper income boys, as well as low income. There is a crisis. They are falling through the cracks.

  7. I am at a loss for words. Why haven’t school board members publicly admonished Mr. Hanna? I wonder what kind of legal jeaporordy this places Mr. Hanna in with knowingly false allegations that cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. The local media is silent? Why?

  8. From Hank Coxe…”I think its fair to say the persons who originally created the materials that triggered these events had no direct knowledge of anything, wrong, or good or bad, or anything,” Coxe responded.

    The crafters of the notebook, former Leon High School Principal Rocky Hanna and former Lively Technical Center Principal Woody Hildebrant, have claimed whistleblower protection for their role in compiling and distributing the documents.

    Really Rocky? How can anyone trust anything you say?

  9. Each of the 5 Associate Spetintendents were promoted by Hanna. None of them interviewed for a position. This is an example of promote for payback. Hanna handpicked his team and he handpicked who was not rehired. I know that the authorities at FLDOE were made aware of this and of possible intimidation tactics that may have used to get back at employees.

  10. Carol, all of Mr. Hanna’s asst. supt. were in top positions with Supt. Pons. All of them supported Mr. Hanna undercover and got promoted by Mr. Hanna. They control the agenda and Mr. Hanna cannot tell any of them to do any thing. They do as they please. Because of their actions, Mr. Hanna is the first Supt. not to bring in a new team. Now he must live with it.

  11. Regarding the assistant superintendents, Try leaving Michelle Gayle a voice message or send an email and you will not get a reply. I guarantee it.

  12. Rocky you are great at holding “conversations that are not easy.” Was it a “an easy conversation to have when you and Woody worked together to develop your notebook with no first had knowledge of wrongdoing? Hey didn’t Woody use this same tactic on DJ Wright years earlier?

    “This is not an easy conversation to have…hmm must have been what Rocky was thinking when he admitted to Hank Cox former president of the Florida Bar, that he wrote the 100% misleading summaries of each section in the notebook”

    “This is not an easy conversation to have…must have thinking Rocky when he violated professional ethics by dating a teacher he supervised, then had her transferred with a monetary settlement.

    “This is not an easy conversation to have as Rocky promoted more than 5 high ranking administrators into higher positions without interviews…

    “This is not an easy conversation as you said to parents at numerous graduation ceremonoes” have g no children of my own”…ummm really?

    How about the really hard conversation where you brought back retired folks that you said you would not.

    So much for trust.

  13. Since someone else brought it up let’s remember that all five associate superintendents were never interviewed and were given jobs as political payback. Anyone care to count the number of minutes that each one of the five associate superintendent spends at work? Someone ought to look into the hours they keep, the social messages they post during the day using School District phones and check out the very long lunches that each of them take each day.

  14. Diversion from One real problem Leon County Schools need to address is Nepotism and Transparency. Gillian Gregory definitely has a trust issue and vindictive. Shelly Bell and Ricky jumped parties and both are running a school and entire departments. Randy Pridgeon new wife Lisa Pridgeon has more promotions without an interview that anyone in the district.

  15. As Rocky Hanna diverts the real causal factors of possible resegregation of Leon Schools by stating “school choice is tbe cause” this from Pasco County, “As the Pasco County school district seeks to provide more traditional school choices that meet student needs and interests, one of the criticisms has been that it’s difficult to find good information about the programs.”

    Please recall Rocky.

  16. The School Board not the Superintendent, should hold a series of public meetings on this issue. Based upon public input they should craft a policy to address equity and student enrollment patterns.

    I fully understand this is not the topic at hand, but from what I have read, the school board should investigate Superintendent Hanna for his role in causing the district hundreds of thousands of dollars for his notebook full of issues that he admitted he had no first hand knowledge of any wrongdoing.

  17. Last week an article said Mr. Hanna was going to spend 33 million at Fairview and Rickards by 2022. Do you think his out-of-the-box thinking is to start busing students to the southside. I would bet no northside parents will move to the southside.

    1. Exactly what he’s planning. The smartest kids are already being bussed to Fairview and Rickards for the pre-IB and IB programs. I went to the mini-mu math competition last year and that spoke volumes. Only ONE single white kid won an award. No black kids at all. All of the winners were Asian. I told my son to pay attention and recognize who he’s really competing with. The Asian kids are blowing us out of the water. They are saturated at Fairview and Rickards. They have their own bus. Not a single one of them lives over that way. Pay attention folks.

  18. Of the 5 major high schools in Leon County only one has the largest “non-minority” population, Chiles, at approximately 82%. All the other high schools have 30% or higher minority representation. The very notion of re-segregation is utter BS and factually wrong. These high schools properly reflect the areas for which they are zoned and there is not a darn thing wrong with school choice, ask the residents of Jefferson County. ?

    1. Good point. And check the reading comprehension scores for those five schools. The majority schools are at 80 and 90% and the minority schools are at 25 and 35% last time I checked. That’s why the schools are resegregated. Nobody wants to be in an unhealthy environment that is not conducive to learning and does not receive parental support.

  19. To the extent that school choice does not provide transportation, it means that poor cannot move out of the bad schools. And there are a lot more poor people of color percentage wise than there are not.

    And it is discrimination on the basis of disparate impact that has prevented LCS over many years from doing what it takes to provide equal access to education for the poor in our community.

    1. I wonder what would happen if you switched the student bodies of the worst and best performing Leon County Schools. So the teachers and facilities would all stay the same. Only the students would move.

      1. Can we switch the parents, too??

        Teacher quality and facilities are important, but the issue isn’t the amount of money we dump into the schools. The issue is that we send the kids home to awful environments. The experiment we need is boarding schools. Period.

        1. It’s not only the environment to which the kids go home, though, that is an issue. I tutor math afterschool and have a steady stream of students from Chiles and even the private schools who need extra help beyond what they can get in 50 minutes a day from a teacher with a couple dozen students. Private tutors, Sylvan, Kumon, Mathnasium – these resources require parents with not only the money but the time and transportation to get their kid to tutoring.

    2. Rosemary if all the people with financial means go to another school wouldn’t this mean smaller class size for the remaining students. Also forcing people to stay with sub-par education is not going to help society at all.

  20. Wow “Cocky Rocky” really has that whole liberal spin/pivot – redirect the blaim – nonsense/babble speak thing so common with Democrats Going On here!!!
    Blaim the voters (parents in this case)
    “Cocky Rocky” you are an idiot.

  21. School choice did not cause resegregation. Please put the same time and effort into learning the issues as you did gathering documents and writing misleading summaries to cast suspicion on district leadership. Misleading the public only works when nobody checks your facts. School choice helps schools become a melting pot of citizens. You are factually incorrect on this issue as you were factually incorrect with no first hand knowledge of any wrongdoing yet you admitted authoring factually incorrect summaries the Hanna/Hilderbrandt notebook. Who was the lead author Hanna or Hilderbrandt?

  22. Mr. Hanna’s comments clearly illustrate that he has no command of the issues. It is not school choice that caused the issue. One could present the data for how many students left each school and what would the school look like if the students would not have used the Choice program into other schools. School choice is supported by the legislature, by our community and by the data that it provides students with opportunities that they otherwise would not have. Instead of looking at facts Mr Hanna speaks in terms that are not being challenged by school board members, Mr. Hanna’s inner circle and local media. This logic and unchallenged actions follows the logic and methodology that Mr. Hanna has used to create notebooks filled with innuendo and falsehoods. Mr Hanna admitted to writing the summaries in the notebook that were very misleading, now we see the same kind of misleading information on most topics.

    Isn’t it about time that school board members stand up and lead the district rather than relying on superintendent Hanna?

    1. Armando the board didn’t lead the district when the last Superintendent was out in the woods doing God knows what…. South side needs a high school.

      1. Not that I disagree that the Southside might need a new high school, but how is that going to solve the segregation issue? Are you proposing bussing, as that is the only way you will achieve a non-segregated HS on the Southside.

        Just trying to understand your thought process here.

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