JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Schools Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti wants Duval County to teach its teachers. For the first time, the district is spending $3,375,000 to develop and host teacher and coaching training academies over the summer.
"We should own our professional development, and I think over the years we have drifted too far from our core mission, and that's led us not to have as much pride in what we do."
Action News has learned Duval County isn't the only district having to pay for more teacher training.
According to data gathered by the National Council on Teacher Equality at 1,100 colleges and universities nationwide, $7 billion a year goes into their education programs, but nine out of 10 programs do a "poor job" of preparing future teachers in core subjects like English, math, science and history. Instead, school districts are having to teach teachers the reality of their new positions.
Vitti says he's already working with state colleges and universities to refine their programs, and admits some Florida programs do better than others.
"It's really about transitioning from the theoretical to the actual, and I think that's the gap that needs to be filled moving forward."
He hoping new training programs will also help with retention.
On average, Duval County welcomes 400 to 600 new teachers each year, but according to a 2013 report from the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, nearly 50 percent of those teachers leave in their first five years.
"There are many changes coming in the 2013-2014 school year ... I think the mixture of all these different initiatives, in way of work, will lead teachers to stay in the classroom longer and stay in the profession longer."
Terrie Brady, President of Duval Teachers United, believes teachers enter the field wanting to do their best, and desiring to make a difference. That's why many are willing to take advantage of extra training opportunities during their off time.
"If there's something new and innovative that can help them do their work at a higher level, more sophisticated, and help move their students at a higher academic level of success, they are going to step up and do it."
And so far, Duval County teachers are.
The new academies offered this summer are almost at capacity. In addition, many local teachers are among the nearly 13,000 state educators taking part in the Common Core State Standards training this summer, which kicked off on Tuesday.
Vitti says this is the first year the state has opened a summer training option for teachers in addition to administrators.
"If we're going to transform this school district and transform the lives of kids, it happens in the classroom."
Brady says she's pleased with the direction the district is going to help improve the classroom experience for both teachers and students.
"It's time instead of making teachers and educators the scapegoat that we embrace them and say 'what can we do to help'?"
School representatives in Nassau, Clay and St. Johns counties are also offering training for educators and administrators this summer. In most cases, it's voluntary, and some teachers will receive a stipend for attending.
Dr. Vitti tells Action News he is working with colleges across Florida to help refine their programs. He says he's also pleasantly surprised at the effort that UNF has made at Duval County's most troubled schools.