In just eight years, Pinellas County School Board members turned five schools in the county’s black neighborhoods into some of the worst in Florida.
First they abandoned integration, leaving the schools overwhelmingly poor and black.
Then they broke promises of more money and resources.
Then — as black children started failing at outrageous rates, as overstressed teachers walked off the job, as middle class families fled en masse — the board stood by and did nothing.
Today thousands of children are paying the price, a Tampa Bay Timesinvestigation has found.
They are trapped at Campbell Park, Fairmount Park, Lakewood, Maximo and Melrose — five neighborhood elementary schools that the board has transformed into failure factories.
Every year, they turn out a staggering number of children who don’t know the basics.
Eight in 10 fail reading, according to state standardized test scores. Nine in 10 fail math.
Ranked by the state Department of Education, Melrose is the worst elementary school in Florida. Fairmount Park is No. 2. Maximo is No. 10. Lakewood is No. 12. Campbell Park is No. 15.
All of the schools operate within six square miles in one of Florida’s most affluent counties.
All of them were much better off a decade ago.
This is just one county, in one red state, but it's an example of the Republican mindset: education resources are finite, we can never raise taxes for better schools, so we're going to improve schools for the kids that matter -- affluent white kids -- at the expense of everyone else. What are those people going to do about it anyway? We've made sure they have no political power. These are our neighborhoods and our kids.
Let those black and Latino kids burn, right?
You have to look no further than Pinellas County for evidence of that.
Public education is no longer a right for American kids. It's a weapon to be used to keep them in poverty, to keep them weak, to keep them down.
Welcome to local government in Red State America.