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Duval's big discipline lie

From a reader:

The Discipline Lie

Before the school year ended in June, I paid a visit to an administrator’s office and one thing was clear with all of the referrals I saw spread everywhere – they were not being processed timely or not at all. To be clear, the referrals were available on the secretary’s desk for anyone, including another student, to take a slow walk to a trash can. The referrals were visible as far as my eyes could see. Ironically, my purpose for visiting was to find out why the signature on the referral that I got back did not match the administrator who was suppose to sign it. 

Of course the secretary stated that everything regarding the referral was handled. Dumbfounded, I approached the administrator and this person also stated that it was okay because there simply was not enough time to handle everything. I will add that on the last day of school, this secretary’s desk looked the same way. Nevertheless, here we are in another school year and already kids are creating challenges by walking out of class, attending an extra lunch, texting, and even fighting. So, what kind of response did I get from a referral I was forced to write about a Class II offense? I got a statement from another office secretary indicating that I needed to withdraw my referral although the student clearly used his phone more than once in violation of the code of conduct. 

The secretary went on to indicate that a conference was held with the parent and the student is a “good kid”. So, what are we as teachers suppose to do when we are constantly being disrespected by students and undermined by folks that have no business dealing with discipline issues. Let’s not even talk about ineffective administrators who believe it is better to let a kid spin out of control and send them back to class with the belief I can teach them when they are not interested in learning. 

We need an electronic referral system so these lies can stop. It will give more transparency to the entire process, will be more reflective of what problems are actually occurring, and will provide statistical data that will identify where funding may be needed. In addition, too many teachers are being forced to copy referrals, take photos of referrals, and walk them to the administrator just to make sure that everyone knows that “Johnny has been a bad boy and needs to be dealt with today”. 

As for the folks downtown in the ivory tower, they need to burn any report that they have received that shows discipline issues are decreasing. They have been fooled and the problem is not getting any better, it is simply being hidden, and teacher’s need for help with out of control kids is being ignored. Finally, make no mistake about it, we do not write referrals because we want to or we don’t know discipline issues when we see them; we write referrals as a last resort. If nothing is going to be done with problem kids, let’s just erase the code of conduct, and stop leaving teachers to guess what the office secretary is going to do to address a discipline issue.

Just because Gary Chartrand is rich, it doesn’t mean he should be able to try to decieve people.

Last week I wrote a piece about a flyer filled with lies that the Willie campaign had sent out.

And I asked why candidates associated with Chartrand felt the need to deceive people.  

Well it turns out it was a PAC, the Citizens for Florida Prosperity, that had sent the flyer out and to answer my question it is because birds of a feather flock together. Look below to see who was funding the PAC. . 

Now I am sure they will say they just donated to the PAC and had nothing to do with the flyer but don't we all know the truth here.

Just because they are rich it doesn't mean they should be able to try and decieve people. 

The crazy juxtaposition of Florida’s voucher supporters.

Many of the people who support vouchers often point to the disintegration of the family as a reason we have so many problems, but then say, families know what’s best for their children.

They scream about school accountability and how it is so important except with the private schools that take vouchers.

They want teachers to be evaluated using high stakes tests because if not how can we know how they are doing, again except for the teachers that work at the private schools that take vouchers.

They say our kids need common core and STEM to compete internationally, say it with me, except for the private schools that take vouchers.

We should all support the lawsuit filed by the Florida School Board association and supported by the PTA and the League of Women voters questioning the validity of Florida’s voucher program which by the way torpedoes the first amendment.

Society should not be paying for some families’ irrational fear of Gov’Ment schools, hatred of unions or if they want their child to have a religious education. Instead we should be striving to improve our public schools and if people who oppose the lawsuit really cared that is what they would be fighting to do.

To read an alternate opinion, click the link"

District 4 rejects Willie and reelects Wright

I have to tell you I was worried about this race. Willie had a ton of cash and the support of the cities "so called" elite. At the end of the day however enough people saw through Willie's deceptive campaign tactics and were turned off by his lack of ideas and supporters. I like to think I helped too.

Now we just need Mrs. Wright to be the school board member that we know she can be. Especially now that she doesn't have to run for reelection. We need her to stand up against the bad ideas and policies that are infecting our city like a virus. I also don't care if the votes are symbolic. Often change starts with just one person saying no and I hope to hear that a lot from her until we turn things around.

Our students, teachers and families desperately need her to do so.

Teachers are losing the "Teacher Wars"!

In Alexander Nazaryan’s New York Times book review of Teacher Wars by Dana Goldstein he spoke as if she was being fair and balanced to both sides and we see how well that has worked in cable news. He gives the impresion the book is about how there is an equivolancy between teachers and their represenatives and those trying to reform education. The problem is there isn’t.

He wrote, While Ms. Goldstein is sympathetic to the unionized public-school teacher, she also thinks the profession is hamstrung by a defensive selfishness, harboring too fine a memory for ancient wounds. By ancient does he mean ongoing? Teachers are given all of the responsibility but none of the authority to educate our children in an era of diminishing resources, where they are blamed for not being able to overcome the problems of society, poverty, violence and apathy, while being saddled with experimental curriculums like common core and subjected to VAM evaluations the department of education admits to being wrong over a third of the time. I’m a teacher and I ask you just when am I supposed to get over this?  

He then went on to use Albert Shanker a former union boss, who never gets praised by the right for coming up with charter schools but who is often criticized for saying, I don’t represent children I represent teachers, to prove his and the books point that unions have been out of touch. The problem is he never said it and for either Nazarryan or Goldstein to perpetrate this myth is irresponsible and bad journalism and may just show their biases.

But worst of all where are the mentions of the hundreds and hundreds of charter schools that have opened, taken public money and closed leaving families in a lurch, over 260 of them have done so in my home state of Florida alone.  Or how about the charter schools that council out poor performers and kids with academic problems, don’t take disabled or ESOL students, suffer from massive staff turnover or the millions they spend to influence policy? Nowhere, but I’m supposed to get over some ancient slights.

I found his last statement the most repugnant of all. “Watching a great teacher at work can feel like watching a magic show,” Ms. Goldstein writes after visiting an elementary school in Newark. Her book is, above all, a tribute to these magicians, a plea for more wizards in the classroom. As if this makes up for union and teacher bashing for several paragraphs.

A plea for more wizards in the classroom? Teaching is hard work not magic and we will see less and less of it as the teaching profession is being reduced to a service profession. At the same time magic solutions are often all that the reform movement is offering.  

There are problems in education, problems created by inadequate resources and by pretending poverty does not exist. The answer is not to demonize and marginalize teachers but to fix the problems.  Siphoning away even more resources and outsourcing our children’s education to the reform movement who often is more concerned with bottom line than educating our children something the review also fails to mention, are not solution we should entertain.  

There is a war against public school teachers and public education going on, and sadly those seeking to profit off it, including "fair and balanced" authors are winning.

The JPEF “Greatly Concerned” by Willie’s actions.

Yesterday I wrote they didn’t care and I was apparently too hasty. I am sure their on-call Sunday Facebook person doesn’t have much power.

Well today they got back to me and said: Hi Chris, we looked up the claims on the portion of the mailer you sent us. Some of the information that is attributed to us is inaccurate, and that concerns us greatly. We'd encourage everyone to visit for current and accurate information.

The only thing that Willie got right is there is currently 16 F and D schools in district 4 everything else he straight made up.

Now we just have to see if the Times Union who endorsed Willie and who I informed about his deception, including the JPEF’s reaction, cares.

Finally cheers to the JPEF. I am pretty hard on them but at least here they saw something wrong and they acknowledged it. 

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund doesn’t care that Willie is using their site to mislead people.

I contacted the JPEF to ask them their thoughts about Darryl Willie using their site to mislead people. This was their response.

JPEF produces a number of useful data tools for everyone in the community, including policy briefs and School Facts Jax ( The first we learned of this flyer was from you, Mr. Guerreri, and it appears he is citing our data products, just as he did the Florida Times-Union. Similarly he could have cited the Florida Department of Education or DCPS itself. In fact, more than 30,000 people did so over the past year. We always encourage community members to look at the data directly and make their own conclusions.

I.E. we don’t care he can do whatever he wants.

I wonder how they would feel if somebody their board hasn’t donated thousands of dollars to would have done it.

The JPEF pretends they are above the fray but the truth is they are in the thick of it and since their board consists of privatizers and anti-pubic school activists I believe we should all be concerned. 

Did the JPEF say our children are moving backwards?

No but that’s sure what it looks like they said on a Flyer produced by D-Willie, what Darryl Willie call’s himself on his face book page.

The exact quote is, Black and Latino students have seen marked decline in FCAT 2 scores. Our children are moving backwards!**
**Jacksonville Public Education Fund  

I contacted Trey Csar of the JPEF to ask him how he felt about D-Willie using their site for political gain in a misleading way but have yet to hear back. 

Why do candidates associated with Gary Chartrand feel the need to be deceptive?

Just call me Gary is what half a dozen people have told me he says when they first met him. He’s on the board of numerous charities, love him or hate him, he is involved in education and willing to spend huge amounts of money, and I bet he even rescues puppies and helps old ladies across the street too. 

He’s also the most dangerous man in Florida education and the people he supports feel the need to stretch the truth to get elected. First there was Ashley Smith-Juarez in 2012.

And now there is Willie, who sent out a false and despicable flyer denigrating his opponent Paula Wright.

You know what else these two have in common? The tens of thousands of dollars that Chartrand and his friends have funneled into their campaigns.

Don’t you want somebody on the school board who loves public education, who wants to work tirelessly to fix the problems, who has great ideas? Well that’s not the case with Gary’s candidates.  

Willie takes in more than 12,000 from outside the county, including 1,650 from New York’s Michael Bloomberg and family.

He received money from California, Charlotte, Washington DC and New York City among others but Ponte Vedra seemed to be his most fertile ground where he took in tons of money from the Chartrand family and their friends.  You know Ponte Vedra the district 4 of the south.

He also received very little money from District 4 and that should tell you all that you need to know.

To see his donors and where they do and don’t live, click the link.

Darryl Willie is the nastiest of the nasty. Deception fuels his campaign. Updated

I get it, he wants to be elected but to stoop to lie and spreading falsehoods is beyond the pale. It’s also what people of low character without ideas resort to.

Just look at this mailer that Willie is sending out.

He says that while teachers are spending money out of their pockets Wright went on 165,000 dollars worth of trips. First it goes unsourced, but strangely he sources other outrageous assertions later. I have scoured the school board agendas and can’t find any figures approaching anything like that.

Also doesn’t that number seem oddly specific? I am guessing his campaign divided the travel budget by 8 to come up with that number. Now you might have a problem with the board budgeting a million plus for travel, but to attribute that number without a source to Wright is ridiculous.

Next he says, Wright was the only board member who voted to protect a teacher who hit kindergarten children. This is sourced “April 8th 2013”, the Times Union. Here is the article in question and notice how it doesn't mention Mrs. Wright once.

Then he says that in 2010 there were only 4 F or D schools in the district and now there are 16. First grades don’t matter even Vitti says they have been massaged, folded, spun and mutilated into irrelevancy. But just so you can see, here are the grades of the district 4 schools since 2010 (note the most recent high school grades are not available).

Brentwood: C-F-C-C-D
Kirby Smith: A-A-A-A-A
Andrew Jackson: D-F-B-C
Henry Kite: D-C-D-C-C
Dinsmore: C-C-C-C-D
Garden City: C-C-B-C-D
Ocenaway: B-C-D-C-D
Northshore: F-D-B-C-D
John Love: C-F-B-C-D
Lake Forest: C-D-C-D-F
Sally Mathis: A-D-C-C-D
Ribault HS: D-C-A-B
Highlands: C-F-A-B-B
Long Branch: C-A-B-C-D
Saint Clair Evans: C-B-C-D-C
Darnell Cookman: A-A-A-A
Mathew Gilbert: D-C-D-D-D
Richard Brown: C-D-C-D-F
Stanton: A-A-A-A
John E. Ford: B-C-C-C-C
Northwestern: D-F-D-D-F
Ribault Middle: F-C-D-F-F
Highlands: C-F-A-B-B
Pine Estates: C-C-C-D-D
Andrew Robinson: C-D-D-F-F
First Coast HS: D-C-C-A
Lavilla: A-A-A-A-A
Biscayne: C-B-C-C-C
Ocenaway: A-B-B-C-C
A Philip Randolph: C-C-A-B

You know what I see? A lot of work needs to be done and more deception from Willie.

Finally Willie’s flyer claims, Black and Hispanic students have seen marked decline in FCAT 2 scores, our children are moving backwards. Um, what the beep does that even mean. Is he talking reading or math? Is he talking third grade or tenth, or what grade in between? Did he mean the FCAT 2.0, which schools took last year? What's he talking about? Maybe you can find something on the JPEF site because I sure as heck couldn’t.

I don’t know what is worse about Willie. That he has been bought and paid for by a cabal of rich white families who don’t live in district 4 who want to privatize our schools. His ideas are wretched, or he’s a straight up liar. Any of which should preclude people from voting for him. 

Final exams for Florida's kindergartners. We have lost our way.

From the Washington Post's Answer Sheet, by Valerie Strauss

Just when you think things can’t get any worse for kindergartners, they do.
It used to be that kindergartners could play  — which is how early childhood development experts say young children learn and are socialized best.  Today 5- and 6-year-olds are forced to sit for hours at a time doing academics, often with little or no recess, and in some places, no time for a snack. Homework goes home every day with many kindergartners.
Stories about the bastardization of kindergarten come from across the country. John Gemmill of Dodge City, Kansas, told me in an e-mail that he spent at least half of the 186 days he teaches a year giving some sort of mandated standardized assessment — with strict rubrics to follow — to kindergartners in his classes last year. One veteran educator described his granddaughter’s Houston kindergarten class as a “sweat shop.” This past spring the interim principal and four teachers at an elementary school in Elwood, N.Y., sent a letter to parents saying the annual year-end kindergarten play was  being cancelled so kids could keep working hard to be “college and career ready.” (This really happened.)
So what’s next? How about final exams for kindergartners?
In 2011 the Florida Legislature approved a statute that is to go into effect during the new 2014-15 school year requiring that school districts develop and/or administer seven or more end-of-course assessments to all students — and did not exclude kindergarten. As a result, school districts have been developing final assessments in subjects including math, language arts, music, science and social studies to give to students, including kindergartners. In Florida, the results of end-of-course exams affect the evaluation and pay of teachers.
Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder of the advocacy group Fund Education Now, said it would be outrageous to give kindergartners these new exams. “We support fair measures of accountability, but forcing 6-year-olds to take 7 potentially high stakes tests is unacceptable.”
When news of the final exams for kindergartners became public in Florida, one legislator, state Sen. David Simmons told WFTV that the legislature didn’t mean for kindergartners to have to take end-of-course exams and that he would work with colleagues to resolve the problem. WFTV said:
Simmons said all that the law requires is for a teacher to sit down with a kindergartener and ask about what he or she learned.
“To assure each one of those children is helped, that we know what the deficits are in each child, so we can address the deficits,” said Simmons.
But Christine Bramuchi, co-founder Fund Education Now, said it is Simmons who is misinterpreting the law. “Politicians may try to backtrack on end of course assessments for kindergarteners, but the law speaks louder than words. The statute clearly states that our very young children will be repeatedly assessed.”
Let’s watch what  happens.