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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Jacksonville Public Education Fund tells teachers just find a way.

JPEF had Aaron Bean one of the worst enemies’ public schools and school teachers have ever had, tell a favorite memory of a teacher.

With soulful music playing in the background, he told the story of his dad who worked as a shop teacher for a school that had no supplies. His father first had the kids bring in broken things to fix and then went and begged the community to help with supplies.

This is the story, about teacher out begging for what should be staples that JPEF thought would celebrate teachers. Spoiler alert not much has changed since when Bean's dad taught.

He should have said,  Hi, my names Aaron bean my fondest memory of a teacher is when one had to beg the community for supplies because legislators like me refused to adequately fund his classroom, that would have been honest.  Geeze JPEF so much for thank a teacher. 

The entire system survives because teachers work millions of unpaid hours of overtime and then use their money to shore up the sieve like holes in the budget, because politicians, like Bean won't properly fund it and JPEF just celebrated that on FACEBOOK. The irony is not lost on me.

Hey JPEF was Johnathan Hague charter schools USA CEO or Gary Chartrand not available? No wonder Bean hates public schools so much, he saw his father have to go door to door begging for supplies.   


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Scandal follows Greene from Manatee county

I have to say I have generally been pleased with Greene. Now I think she has spent too much time hobnobbing with her new friends at JPEF rather than rebuilding relationships with the staff and communication continues to be an issue but she’s off to a good start.

That however doesn’t make the news form Manatee county less troubling especially after we went 
through years of parlor tricks with Vitti.

From the Bradenton Herald: 

Cynthia Saunders, interim superintendent for the School District of Manatee County, is accused of abusing her power and inflating graduation rates, according to a notice from the Florida Department of Education.

In a letter dated Dec. 6, Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart said she found probable cause to justify sanctions against Saunders’ educator certificate, citing alleged misconduct between 2014 and 2016.
Saunders was named interim superintendent after Diana Greene left to become superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in late June…
Earlier in the day, Hopes said any allegations should be directed at the former superintendent.
“Diana Greene was in charge, not Cynthia Saunders,” Hopes said. “I have every expectation that she’s going to challenge it, and she’ll have her day in court.”
The state accused Saunders of: 
Personal conduct which seriously reduces effectiveness as an employee of the school board, in violation of Florida Statutes. 
An offense against the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession, in violation of Florida Statutes. 
Intentionally distorting or misrepresenting facts concerning an educational matter in direct or indirect public expression, in violation of Florida Administrative Code. 
Using institutional privileges for personal gain or advantage, in violation of Florida Administrative Code. 
Failing to maintain honesty in all professional dealings, in violation of Florida Administrative Code. 
Using coercive means or promised special treatment to influence professional judgments of colleagues, in violation of Florida Administrative Code. 
Submitting fraudulent information on a document in connection with professional activities, in violation of Florida Administrative Code.  
Those are some pretty troubling accusations, which sadly have been all to typical from a lot of administrators over the years.
I guess the bottom line is if these allegations prove to be true it’s not really credible to think they happened without Greene knowing about them, unless she was willfully ignorant after imposing her will on her subordinates to "get it done" at any cost. Though even if that wasn’t the case, and there was just a rogue employee it’s still bad management. The thought her number two could carry on in such a way for so long without Greene's knowledge. 
There were whispers that Vitti greatly inflated his performance before he came up here that weren’t taken seriously by the board. I hope we are not having a repeat with Greene.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Darryl Willie should resign from Teach for America, he is rife with conflicts of interests

One of the first things Darryl Willie did after being elected to the school board was to go on WJCT and and shill for Teach for America which currently pays him six figures. He said, I am a little biased because I came through the program, but I think at this point in time, especially within our district, we have to utilize all the resources we can to put quality people in front our kids. And I think Teach for America can do that.  

I think many people would disagree with Mr. Willie there but the bigger question is shouldn't Daryl Willie have to resign from Teach for America? The city charter has a provision that says public workers can't hold elected offices. Now you might be asking isn't Teach for America a non profit and the answer is sort of. Tim Groulx a professor at the University of North Florida filed to run against Scott Shine but was later told he would have to resign from UNF if he was elected.  

Now this is a city provision and its a little vague so Groulx went to his city councilman Bill Guildford who agreed to introduce legislation defining what a public employee is, in 2022, after Scott Shine, who he said was doing a fine job, was term limited.

A UNF professor, who doesn't work for the city, who works for the state university system had to choose between his job and being on the school board, ultimately he choose the latter and that brings us to Teach for America.

TFA gets most of its money through Americorps which means most of the money he gets is public money, and gets it to provide teachers to public schools, not private schools, why we don't give this money directly to school districts is beyond me. So since Willie runs the local office, is paid for with public money and whose entire gig is to provide services to local public schools wouldn't this make him a public employee? 

Now I don't expect him to resign, like Guildford wanted to protect Shine, the local power structure likes to protects its own, but please explain to my how he should be allowed to serve both on the school board and with TFA? There are numerous potential conflicts of interests with Willie and the district and its not just with TFA, as he has taken tons of money and has numerous close contacts with charter schools as well. 

You might be saying, well he should certainly recuse himself if he shouldn't resign but the truth is he really cared about children and the district then he should let TFA which already on life support in Jacksonville anyway, die, and let me explain why.

First you have to separate yourself from the program and the teacher. Anybody whether they are a college of ed grad, a business person starting a second career or a TFA teacher deserves respect and support for showing up. It’s the program not the individual teachers that is dreadful.

What would you tell me if I came to you with the following plan.

Okay here is the plan, let’s take recent college grads, most won’t be education majors but that’s okay, because we will put them through a five-week teacher boot camp. Then we will put them in our neediest schools where they are supposed to serve two years though they can serve for more if they want to. It’s true about one in six won’t make it to two years and most won’t stay beyond their initial commitment but that’s okay these things happen. And all it is going to cost you is 2500 bucks a year so about 5k per teacher for a finder’s fee, then we will give them an extra 11 grand for grad school or to pay off student loans after their two years is up. , regular teachers leave too. Now it’s true evidence says our neediest students really need experience teachers, we will spend a bit more on training because new teachers receive more and the program creates kind of a revolving door of new teacher and this will exacerbate teacher turnover but no plan is perfect. Oh and I need a staff of about a dozen and I want to get paid 120 k a year. Plus do you think we can get the local philanthropic community to give me 5 million, and the state legislature to throw me a million every so often too. What do you think? Should we do it?

I think you would tell me I was out of my $#% $#%& mind. The thing is that is exactly what Teach for America does.   

But it gets even worse.

TFA was brought to town by a man named Gary Chartrand. Despite the fact he is a grocer, all be it though, a very rich grocer, he routinely inserts himself in local education.  He also brought KIPP to town, has given Dave Chauncey 4,000 dollars a violation of the spirit of campaign donation laws, and has backed a candidate in every school board race since 2012 despite the fact he lives in Ponte Vedra including people like Scott Shine and Jason Fischer. 

He is on record saying it is a good thing that teachers no longer have work protections, used his position on the state board of education to ratchet up testing requirements for both students and teachers while supporting vouchers where teachers and students take no tests and is a notorious detractor of organized labor once funding the faux teacher group PEN and he undoubtedly supports amendment 8 which would end home rule and takes representation away from the people. 

He envisions a district full of KIPP charters staffed by TFA teachers and when the candidates of district 6 lavished praise on TFA, that is who they sided with while siding against professional teachers.

TFA says anybody can be a teachers and experience does not matter and we all know or should know that is far from the truth.  It’s also insulting to people who have made teaching a career.

TFA also allows those who would seek to dismantle public ed to seem like they care. It allows them to say, well were not going to invest in doing things the right way, but hey have you checked out this program that puts teachers in inner city schools?

I would ask you all the following questions.

Shouldn’t’ we strive to put professional teachers in all our classrooms?

Why won’t the legislature fund money for loan forgiveness or grad school for traditional teachers after two years?

Can we afford all the extra costs of this very expensive program?

Does experience matter?

Don’t our neediest children, heck all our children deserve better than an ever revolving door of novice teachers?

Darryl Willie would have you believe he cares about our children but the truth is if he continues to push TFA then the only thing he really cares about is his six figure salary. I hope he proves me wrong but if his interview on WJCT is any indication he has no plans to do so.    




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Friday, December 7, 2018

Ron DeSantis appoints Swamp Dweller and Political insider to be commissioner of education

Before you think I am being disrespectful I just want to point out that those are DeSantis's words

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Sigh, well it's not like we didn't know elections had consequences, but I wonder if my republican friends thought one would be the appointment of a man whose wife runs a charter school, a man who is rife with conflicts of interests, who thumbed his nose at the legislative process and who has done everything in his power to dismantle public education and teaching as a profession, and lets not forget how utterly unqualified for the position he is. 

At some point people have to pick a side, the children and teachers and their own self interests or a few rich republicans looking to get richer.

I don't know what else to say.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The beginning of the end of public education in Florida

On December 5th long time Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart resigned, this was somewhat surprising as not two weeks ago she agreed to postpone her retirement and serve for another year. The motivation behind her sudden re-retirement is the inevitable appointment of outgoing speaker of the house Richard Corcoran to the Commissioner of Education position.  

What are his credentials to undertake such a huge and important position? … Oh did you think I was going to talk about his extensive back ground in education? I was actually asking you because Corcoran is an attorney by trade and doesn't have any relevant education experience.

Now as speaker he did oversee some of the most controversial and draconian public education bills in Florida history. Under his watch Florida per pupil spending fell to 45th and its teachers continued to be some of the worst paid in the nation.  He expanded the best and brightest teacher bonus program that rewarded teachers that had high S.A.T. scores and yes that is as stupid as it sounds and he did so despite the fact the program isn’t evidenced base and disproportionately disadvantaged minority and veteran teachers.

Evidence based however has never been a requirement for Corcoran as he also expanded numerous school choice, privatization programs that would further drain public schools of resources without demonstrating a need. Private schools that take vouchers have been in the news a lot recently after the Orlando Sentinel did an expose which showed many of the schools hired teachers without degrees, the occasional felon and used curriculums that would be laughably bad, man existed with dinosaurs, slaves were free if they had Jesus in their heart, if they wouldn’t have been being taught to children.

He also did most of these as part of train bills, or large bills with nominally related topics passed at the end of sessions. Process, schmossess.

Corcoran’s house also attacked teachers’ unions making it easier to decertify them, made it harder for local districts to raise property taxes and thus fund their schools, and forced districts to share their already meager resources with for profit charter schools.

I am not sure if any of that is relevant education experience or not though his wife Anne Corcoran might have some as she founded the Classical Preparatory School a charter school, a school that benefited from legislation pushed by her husband.

You might think it was unethical to push legislation that benefited you or your family members but since this is Florida you would be wrong. This man who has done all he can to injure the public school system and the teaching profession, as well as champion legislation that personally benefited him and his family is now on the cusp of running the entire Florida Department of Education, and sadly this is just where we are getting started.

Newly elected senator Manny Diaz was appointed chair of the senate education committee. He  is also paid six figures to be the chief operator officer of Doral College which runs a charter school that funnels its students to the college and yes that sounds convoluted but this is Florida where we bend over backwards to charters or the legislators and their family members that run them anyways.

Diaz, Corcoran and another legislator, Micheal Bileca whose day job is executive director of the foundation that funds True North Classical Academy which he also founded, helped pass massive and financially beneficial to their charter schools, legislation during the last session.

The Orlando Sentinel reported, these three legislators were chief architects in the passage of a $419 million education bill that takes away millions of dollars from public schools to expand the charter-school industry in Florida at taxpayer expense.
They crafted the most important parts of education bill HB 7069 in secret, acting in possible violation of the open government laws the Legislature is perennially seeking to weaken. There was no debate allowed and educators all across the state were left without a voice in the process.
Though since this is Florida, the hits, they keep coming as Tea Party darling Jennifer Sullivan was appointed chair of the powerful house education committee. It’s not her being part of the Tea Party that has me down, it’s the fact she is completely unqualified for the position.
Sullivan is a 27-year-old home schooled high school graduate who worked in a Tea room before being elected, while taking classes here and there from a Christian college. In effect she will be in charge of making policy for schools she would not be qualified to work in. Though since private schools that take vouchers don’t require degrees let alone certification, she could probably find employment at one of them.
She has even said her lack of knowledge is a strength, “There is something to be said, in my opinion, for someone who has not been subjected to good teachers or bad teachers, good schools and bad schools, or unions vs charters. My perspective is a unique one and one that lends itself to being more concerned with what works than with who benefits.
Sigh, deep sigh, so arguably the three most powerful people in Florida’s education landscape, are the husband of a charter school operator who has shown a disdain for public schools, and teachers and who has shown an even greater disdain for transparency and process, the chief financial operator of a private college that runs a charter school that funnels the students to that private college, both of whom aren't against pushing legislation that openly benefits them and a millennial who thinks ignorance is bliss. Where after Andrew Gillum wasn’t elected I was depressed I am now downright suicidal about the future of education.   
Public education and the teaching profession have weathered blow after blow, attack after attack, but can it survive these three?
Now you might be saying well elections have consequences and if the people of Florida did not want to dismantle public education and tear down the teaching profession they would have voted differently.
Except you would be wrong.
Every time education itself has been on the ballot it has won. In 2002 the voters said having a high quality education system was the paramount duty of the state and twice the voters have backed the class size amendment, though sadly both ideas have been gutted by the legislature.
Then this year ultra conservative Clay County and Dade County passes resolutions for higher taxes to benefit education joining a half dozen other counties that have done so because they know Tallahassee has abdicated their responsibility to adequately fund education. Education wins over and over when it’s alone on the ballot.  
Though it’s not like the game isn’t rigged. The recent state wide elections were decided by razor thin margins, tenths on one percentage point. Since that is the case why is it 47-73 in the house 17-23 in the senate, with the republicans holding near super majorities? The answer is gerrymandering which is bad for democracy no matter which side of the aisle you sit on.
Then there was some fanfare that Jacksonville finally turned blue with fifty-two percent of the city voting democrat. However, that didn’t change the 4 republicans, 2 democrats’ makeup of the Duval delegation to the house and it turns out only one of those races was competitive.  Also if we are being honest Kimberly Daniels is really a republican in democrats clothing.
Finally, I would like to point out two things, for a state with a teacher shortage crisis, Tallahassee sure seems like it is doing everything they can to further injure the profession. Then ninety percent of Florida’s students attend public schools, and just ten percent attend charters or receive vouchers, yet charters and vouchers are like the obese owners of the orphanage feasting while public schools are the orphans barely subsisting on gruel.    
None of this is right, this is not how it is supposed to be.   

Shine just can't quit Vitti, complains about Becki Couch and Paula Wright

The Times Union did a piece today which I think started out a bit misleading.

 Two of the people who hired Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene last summer are set to be hired by her and the rest of the School Board.

Reading that I was a bit taken back, thinking here we go, more high priced special assistants but the thing is if you read the article you find they took positions that they were more than qualified for. What just because someone leaves the board they can't work in education any more?

I think it was a sad day when Couch and Wright turned off the lights. They had really come to be great advocates and fierce defenders or our schools. I would say they are going to be missed but it turns out we are lucky to still have them.

Scott Shine though had a different take.

From the Times Union:  

Former board member Scott Shine, who sometimes clashed with Wright and Couch on board matters over the past four years, said he recently emailed Greene warning that hiring former board members would be “frowned upon by some in the community.”
“This is a colossal conflict of interest,” he said.
“I know of board members in the past who had sought out positions with the district and the superintendent said no. I’m shocked that the superintendent would do this. We haven’t even gone four weeks since (our) last board meeting.”
Shine said the timing of these hires is important.
He, along with some business leaders and members of the Jacksonville Civic Council, urged the School Board not to hire a new superintendent last spring, but to wait until November, when new board members would fill some of the seven seats.
But a majority of the board disagreed, including Wright and Couch, and voted unanimously to hire Green to replace former Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, who now heads Detroit schools, and outgoing interim superintendent Patricia Willis. Greene’s first day on the job was July 1.
“These two individuals were largely responsible for the departure of Dr. Vitti and now we’re going to reward them with a job,” Shine asked.
Hoo boy, Shine never got over Vitti leaving did he, this shook him. I wonder what is he going to do with all those notebooks that he wrote "I heart Vitti" on.  
The thing is where Shine may not have known how bad Vitti was for the teaching staff, I doubt he ever talked to a teacher, he had to know the shambles and mismanagement that Vitt left in his wake.  Vitti spent like the proverbial drunken sailor and was interested in parlor tricks, moving kids around and changing schools, rather than real solutions. Shine had to know that but there he is still bemoaning him leaving.
Also I think there is some jealousy there, the realization those two women were respected and appreciated while nobody misses him. I wrote it was a sad day when the ladies left but it was a good day for the district when he did.
Also don't forget he conspired with the business community to hijack the superintendent process. The white, male, and uber rich business community that is. If it was up to Shine we would just now be looking for a super,  and who wants to bet an independent minded African-American women wouldn't have fit their bill.
Scott, it's time to move on, the rest of the city has and we are the better off for it.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

As Darryl Willie uses his position on the school board to bring back TFA we need a reminder about how bad the program actually is

As Darryl Willie has already been pushing a return of teach for America to Duval County Public schools I think we need a reminder of why this is such a terrible idea.

Teach for America is a dreadful program and let me explain why.

First you have to separate yourself from the program and the teacher. Anybody whether they are a college of ed grad, a business person starting a second career or a TFA teacher deserves respect and support for showing up. It’s the program not the individual teachers that is dreadful.

What would you tell me if I came to you with the following plan.

Okay here is the plan, let’s take recent college grads, most won’t be education majors but that’s okay, because we will put them through a five-week teacher boot camp. Then we will put them in our neediest schools where they are supposed to serve two years though they can serve for more if they want to. It’s true about one in six won’t make it to two years and most won’t stay beyond their initial commitment but that’s okay these things happen. And all it is going to cost you is 2500 bucks a year so about 5k per teacher for a finder’s fee, then we will give them an extra 11 grand for grad school or to pay off student loans after their two years is up. , regular teachers leave too. Now it’s true evidence says our neediest students really need experience teachers, we will spend a bit more on training because new teachers receive more and the program creates kind of a revolving door of new teacher and this will exacerbate teacher turnover but no plan is perfect. Oh and I need a staff of about a dozen and I want to get paid 120 k a year. Plus do you think we can get the local philanthropic community to give me 5 million, and the state legislature to throw me a million every so often too. What do you think? Should we do it?

I think you would tell me I was out of my $#% $#%& mind. The thing is that is exactly what Teach for America does.   

But it gets even worse.

TFA was brought to town by a man named Gary Chartrand. Despite the fact he is a grocer, all be it though, a very rich grocer, he routinely inserts himself in local education.  He also brought KIPP to town, has given Dave Chauncey 4,000 dollars a violation of the spirit of campaign donation laws, and has backed a candidate in every school board race since 2012 despite the fact he lives in Ponte Vedra including people like Scott Shine and Jason Fischer. 

He is on record saying it is a good thing that teachers no longer have work protections, used his position on the state board of education to ratchet up testing requirements for both students and teachers while supporting vouchers where teachers and students take no tests and is a notorious detractor of organized labor once funding the faux teacher group PEN and he undoubtedly supports amendment 8 which would end home rule and takes representation away from the people. 

He envisions a district full of KIPP charters staffed by TFA teachers and when the candidates of district 6 lavished praise on TFA, that is who they sided with while siding against professional teachers.

TFA says anybody can be a teachers and experience does not matter and we all know or should know that is far from the truth.  It’s also insulting to people who have made teaching a career.

TFA also allows those who would seek to dismantle public ed to seem like they care. It allows them to say, well were not going to invest in doing things the right way, but hey have you checked out this program that puts teachers in inner city schools?

I would ask you all the following questions.

Shouldn’t’ we strive to put professional teachers in all our classrooms?

Why won’t the legislature fund money for loan forgiveness or grad school for traditional teachers after two years?

Can we afford all the extra costs of this very expensive program?

Does experience matter?

Don’t our neediest children, heck all our children deserve better than an ever revolving door of novice teachers?

Darryl Willie would have you believe he cares about our children but the truth is if he continues to push TFA the only thing he really cares about is his six figure salary. I hope he proves me wrong.    



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The best the republicans can do is put a home schooled high school graduate in charge of public education?

I know I know, my republican friends will read the title and be outraged, why is this guy always picking on us, well read below and I believe even you will think I am justified.

From the Orlando Sentinel,

And in one of the most powerful spots — chair of the Florida House’s Education Committee — is Central Florida’s own Tea Party darling, Jennifer Sullivan.
Sullivan, 27, a Mount Dora Republican whose district covers north Orange County and most of Lake, was home-schooled. She lived with her mom and worked as a tea room waitress and babysitter before she was elected.
What little education she may have beyond a high school diploma is a muddle. She has claimed through the House Speaker’s communications director — poor dear thing can’t answer simple questions on her own — that she has more credits than the evangelical Christian universities where she was enrolled will confirm. So far, she has provided no documentation.
“My (Sullivan) goals are to create a system that is student centered by putting what’s best for those same students first. That starts by giving parents choice in the education of their children,” stated an email that the communications director for the Speaker of the House said could be attributed to her.
That’s kind of an ignis fatuus. Parents always have had the choice of homeschooling or enrolling their children in any private school they desire — they still do. No one is taking it away. The issue is whether taxpayers should ante up for what usually is religious education.
Last year, public school supporters screamed as right-wing legislators pumped up the dollars for charter and voucher schools, where accountability is slim, while short-changing schools that 90 percent of Florida students attend.
This is shortsighted, lousy policy. When schools are bad — and Florida’s are circling the drain in nearly every way — the strategy should be to learn from the best schools in the country and improve the ones here, not to take away more money to give to voucher schools and charters.
Sullivan is basically in charge of creating policy for schools she is not qualified to teach in, um how the %$#^ does that make any sense?
The answer is it doesn't if you want to help and improve public education, but if you want to dismantle it, well then it makes complete sense.
Something like 90 percent of the states children attend traditional public school, but you would think they were like a zombie infestation the way that Tallahassee constantly attacks them and tries to tear them, and the teaching profession down.
Shouldn't it be the opposite, shouldn't our elected representatives be working on their behalf rather than against them?
Elections have consequences and public education and public school teachers are going to pay the price, exhibit number one is Sullivan.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Darryl Willie is already trying to save his six figure job by pushing Teach for America

Mr. Willie said some really interesting things on WJCT, the other day, which I encourage you to check out.

http://news.wjct.org/post/qa-duval-county-district-4-school-board-elect-darryl-willie

One of the things he said was millennials leave their jobs after just a few years and yes some do.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2018/05/22/millennials-quit-job/#2c0bfd1f57f1

The thing is more and more people regardless of age are quitting their jobs more frequently but that doesn't play into Willie's hey we need Teach for America narrative.

https://www.inc.com/robbie-abed/more-people-are-quitting-their-jobs-than-ever-before-heres-why.html

Lets talk about millennials for a second though. Maybe they would be more prone to stay at a job, a teaching job maybe, if they weren't saddled with a ridiculous amount of student debt? Though I think more would stay if they weren't forced to teach to the test and had more opportunities for creativity and flexibility, then there is the pay too. Sadly teachers don't make much.

Anybody notice anything about above? They are all fixable. He says millennials won't stay, well I am saying pay them more, let them be creative and flexible don't make them teach to the test and help them with their student loans and we won't have a teaching shortage.

The thing is the teaching shortage benefits Darryl Willie, to the tune of 120,000 dollars a year. An absolutely ridiculous sum for what he does. He has no incentive to work on fixing it, because he is profiting off of it.

Then he says people need more opportunities to enter leadership and that will make them stay. Well some people like teaching, to them its a calling and a passion but sure some people do want to work their way up, but how many openings does he think there are? There are less than a thousand principals, assistant principals and administrators in the district. Even if you throw in academic coaches and ese leads we still don't break three digits. Plus friends who wants a 27 year old vice principal telling them what to do.

It's insulting when he implies that people that "just want to be teachers" are somehow deficient.

One last thing, he taught for three years over a decade ago, in Arkansas, but he knows teaching, oy vey, the chutzpah of this guy,

I have said several times that Willie is all flash no substance and he's very light on real ideas and his interview with WJCT  just reinforced that.

Darryl Willie is sworn in and the shame of it all

I went to last nights school board meeting and several religious leaders spoke giving some invocation or another. One of them and I can't remember who said, being on the school board wasn't about politics or popularity. I wish that was the case because if so Willie wouldn't be on the board.

After the primary Willie had a huge lead in both votes and money and it looked like he was going to cruise to a blow out. So some people despite the fact during the campaign he was all style zero substance jumped on his band wagon. It's sadly what people do. When the general election rolled around Willie despite out spending Smith 3-1, eeked out a two point victory. I wonder what would have happened had people supported the educator and life long resident over the tourist looking to protect his six figure income. I wonder what would have happened had people done the hard thing, supporting the better candidate who was way down, rather than hitching themselves to someone who they thought would win.

I was disappointed he won, there is no way around it. As somebody who has been tilting at Windmills for going on a decade now, I have had to take solace in the fight a lot more often than I have been able to celebrate victories but like all the other times, I have to move on. 

So at the school board meeting last night, I asked Wilie to prove me wrong about him and even told him how he could do so. He has to put public school interests above charters and he has to work to retain and recruit professional teachers rather than tourists and temps that think they will try that, teaching, before grad school, i.e. Teach for America.

I am not optimistic as he has already been pushing TFA on public radio despite the fact it does the exact opposite, assuring our neediest students have an ever revolving door of novice teachers, that research says they need.

Willie when asked to say a few words, indignantly in my opinion, ignoring the tremendous defeat that the forces of privatization experienced even with his very narrow victory, Andersen in 2 and Joyce in 6 won running away, said the election is over and he is right, I am just concerned he didn't learn anything from it.

The KiKi challenge will only get him so far now the real work begins and I will be watching.

I said at the meeting, I hope he proves me wrong, sadly I am just not optimistic he will do so.  

Lori Hershey's disturbing opening statement

I like Lori Hershey, a lot. Her first two years on the board which saw her elevated to chairman at the beginning of year three have been impressive.  I think Paula Wright and Becki Couch did an amazing job on the board but that's how they finished, because they both started off slow. Mrs. Hershey hasn't, she has hit the ground running.

In spite of all this or maybe because of all this I was very disturbed by her opening statement as chair person of the Duval County School Board.

From the Times Union,
She also vowed to work to improve the district’s relationships with community leaders who have long supported schools, including members of the Northeast Florida Community Foundation, the Quality Education for All initiative and the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. Over the years, donors involved with them have pumped millions of dollars into efforts to improve teaching and educational leadership in Duval Schools.
In recent years, relationships with some donors showed strain after Superintendent Nikolai Vitti’s departure to head Detroit’s public schools.
“We’ve seen superintendents change over the last 10 years and every two years there’s change on the School Board, which sometimes can produce a lapse in understanding of that work,” Hershey said.
You know why they liked Vitti so much? It's because he gave them access and control. It's because he was more interested in cultivating relationships with them rather than teachers and parents. Why have relationships been strained? It's because they have had that control and access taken back.

Reading this I feel like I was hit by a ton of bricks. I have been in the wilderness for so long banging my drum, warning about charters, teach for america, and the wealthy who have sought to control our schools, and finally after the last election where, Andersen and Joyce won and Smith barely lost, I felt that people were finally getting it. That it's our public schools and professional teachers we should be investing it and then Hershey comes along and says, nope we need to reconnect with the people who have been trying to tear down our schools and who have worked to injure the profession.

Where not a monolithic block, the people behind the QEA, JPEF and the Community Foundation are the ones that fought to keep her off the board. They fought to have Chauncey and Howland people who had no business being on the school board, elected instead of Andersen and Joyce who do.  They support charters and think anybody can be a teacher and kids don't need professional ones. This was disappointing to say the least.

I will tell Mrs. Hershey the same thing that I told Vitti, that sadly fell on deaf ears. A philanthropic community that gives to our schools is great, though them doing so with strings attached isn't. What's priceless however is a staff that's engaged and supported, mending the bridges with them not the ultra rich is where she and the board should concentrate their efforts. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Superintendent Green and the new school board must start thinking big

With three new members on the school board and a superintendent that is still getting their feet wet, I think it's time they started thinking big.

First we need to move the school board building. For a second year in a row Jackson high school which is in a neighborhood desperate for economic development has less than 500 students. They should be folded into Ribault, Raines, Paxon, Stanton, Darnell-Cookman or A. Phillip Randolph and the central offices should be moved there. The cost plus a nice piece of change could be made up by selling the current building which is a prime piece of real estate.

Next we should change the start time for high schools. All the research indicates we are starting our high school students behind the 8 ball with our early start times. Neighboring counties are starting later in the day as well. St. Johns starts at 9:15, and Nassau county starts at 9. Forgive my pun but its past time Duval got with the times.

Then we desperately need a one cent sales tax to address local education issues. There is no help coming from Tallahassee as they have abdicated their responsibility to properly fund public education. Our teachers are some of the lowest paid in the nation and our buildings are some of the oldest. We have to give the people of Jacksonville like so many other counties have the opportunity to support our public schools, even very conservative Clay county approved a half cent sales tax for education. I get it nobody likes taxes but I hope we dislike teachers working multiple jobs to make ends meet, schools that are crumbling and ill prepared for life students more.

Finally no more charter schools or charter school expansions unless they prove they fill a need or employ some unique innovation. We have dozens and dozens of public schools which are way below capacity, negatively impacted by charter schools that bring nothing new to the table. There should be more requirements to opening a charter school than one can fill out a form.

We have a lot of great things going on in the district, a dedicated staff and amazing children, but i don't think anybody believes we are where we could or should be. Above will help us get there.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

There is something wrong with our system, Jason Fischer edition

Jason Fischer parlayed an endorsement by Jeb Bush, and despite credible reports of him lying to voters and much more qualified candidates he won a seat on the school board. which he only ran for after losing a soil and water board election.

On the board he was dreadful. Unprepared and seemingly bought by special interests were my biggest complaints. He quit before his first term was over to run for the state house barely edging out Dick Kravitz.

In the house he has been both a foe to public ed and a big giver of public money to his donors pet projects, Gary Cartrand and the KIPP school anyways.

So when Ken Organes ran against him I was excited. Sure 16 is ruby red but it's not dumb. What me and Ken didn't realize was is Ken didn't stand a chance.

https://ballotpedia.org/Jason_Fischer

Oh Jason Fischer knew it and he was so sure he didn't even campaign.

This is what the Times Union had to say,

From the Times Union:

Generally experience is the most valuable asset for a politician. 
But that’s as long as the experience is constructive.
Incumbent state Rep. Jason Fischer did not find the time to meet with the Times-Union Editorial Board.
He did not bother to provide a bio or answers to a questionnaire.
And even Fischer’s campaign website is skimpy on any achievements in Tallahassee.
In short, Fischer’s experience isn’t the plus that it should be.
Why not?
Because it is experience that Fischer appears have gained while also developing a sense of entitlement along the way. 
And that’s just not a good look for any public servant.
District 16 deserves a representative who is both knowledgeable and humble.
That’s where Fischer’s opponent, Ken Organes, comes in. 

https://www.jacksonville.com/opinion/20181023/tuesday-editorial-renner-organes-are-impressive


I live in Mandarin and didn't see one yard sign. Didn't get one mailer either.

Fischer knew he was going to win and he wasn't the only one.

Democrats received 50.68 percent of the votes.

https://www.duvalelections.com/

https://enr.electionsfl.org/DUV/Summary/1964/

Yet our Duval Delegation to the house is 4-2 republican sorry make that 5-1 because Kimberly Daniels is a republican in democrats clothing.

Democrats received 50 percent of the votes but only have a third of the representation.

http://www.coj.net/departments/duval-legislative-delegation/delegation-members-jacksonville-info

The state has so gerrymandered the house seats that it assures republican domination, in a state that should be no worse than 50-50.

That should outrage all of us, sorry all of us decent people no matter what side of the aisle they fall on.

Jason Fischer isn't qualified to run a book club not that I think he reads, but he won going away, not because of his ideas, he didn't put any out there, but because the system has been set up to make sure he wins.

If everyone's vote does not count then people aren't being led the are being ruled.