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Greg Tison's ad misleading but not ilegal

That's what supervisor of elections Mike Hogan told me when he got back to me about a Greg Tison Ad that I sent him. He said he checked with the city attorney and that was the attorney's opinion.

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What's misleading there? It's not a republican primary on August 30th for school board it is just a primary where everyone regardless of political affiliation can vote. Furthermore school board races are supposed to be non-partisan and he has to know it. Which means with a wink and a nod he is telling people hey, looking for a republican to vote for, then I am your guy.

I think above is despicable behavior especial for someone who wants to be involved with children.

Mr. Hogan told me I could follow up with the state supervisor of elections which is the investigative body but having dealt with election and ethics offices in Florida you basically have to catch somebody with their hand in the cookie jar and then if you have pictures and witnesses then they may do something, that's to say the bar is set way to high.

That being said, we all know that Mr. Tison tried to mislead the people of district 7 and I hope they reward him by not voting for him.    

Cheryl Grymes improperly uses her school board position to enrich her and her (other) employer (rough draft)

I will just get to the nuts and bolts first.

The school board contracted with the Jacksonville Children’s Commission (JCC) to run an after school program and the Jacksonville Children’s Commission hired Big Brothers and Big Sisters (BB&BS) who Mrs. Grimes also works for and pays a hefty salary, to run it. Mrs. Grimes voted three times for this to happen.    

From the Jacksonville Children’s Commission

JCC Appropriation to Big Brothers Big Sisters
7/1/11 – 6/30/12 - $237,444.00
7/1/11 – 9/30/11 - $  47,155.00 (paid during contract period for 7/1/11 – 6/30/12)
7/1/12 – 6/30/13 - $284,597.99   
7/1/13 – 6/30/14 - $284,598.00
7/1/14 – 6/30/15 - $284,597.99

Funds collected from DCPS (on City’s fiscal year):
2011-12 - $294,300
2012-13 - $294,300
2013-14 - $294,300
2014-15 - $225,000      


From DCPS, this shows the Votes Mrs. Grymes made to send the money to JCC


  
Let me just say I think JCC and Big Brother and Big Sisters do good work

Furthermore I think we need even more after school programs, they are a great investment but I can’t help but wonder why the district chose it to do it this way. I mean what has happened here is basically a pass through grant, we have given money to one organization (JCC) to give to another (BB&BS) to provide a service. Why have a middle man who probably keeps a small cut to pass the money through? Why not partner directly with Big Brothers and Big Sisters?

There is a right way and a wrong way to do things and at the very least Grymes voted three times to send the money that directly benefited her employer did it the wrong way but that's not where this story ends.

A few months back I received a tip that said Cheryl Grimes was getting rich off Big Brothers and Big Sisters and her position with the district. Doing some diligence I asked the district how much they gave to Big Brothers and Big Sister and they said nothing so I just blew off the tip as silly and conjecture. Well it turns out that what the district told me wasn’t completely accurate as they give money to the JCC and then they give it to Big Brothers and Big Sisters. (that being said I want to thank the district and JCC for answering my questions).

Fast forward to Mrs. Grymes running for reelection and I saw all the for profit education companies looking to get a foothold into Duval that had donated to her and my curiosity about the tip returned.


So I pulled Mrs. Grymes finical statements for the last 4 years and they said she has averaged over 80 thousand dollars a year from Big Brothers Big Sisters.


Read that again or look it up yourself, she makes 80 grand plus annually from BB&BS and to me that seemed like a crazy high amount and combined with her school board salary means she is taking home about 120 thousand dollars a year.

But hey what do I know, maybe everybody at Big Brothers Big Sisters make that much money so I pulled Big Brothers Big Sisters financial disclosures on which there is a section which talks about how much the top people in the organization get paid and even though Mrs. Grymes made more than everyone but her husband she wasn't mentioned, which I thought was very strange.


The Grymes family, her huband makes a salary of 114,000 is taking home nearly ten percent of Big Brothers Big Sisters total annual budget and at least last year the percentage was even bigger.  

My second complaint is where is the media? I am not digging through people’s trash, I am not a trained investigative reporter. If I don’t get a tip and can’t find it on google then I have basically gone as far as I can go.    

I begged the local media to look into and report who was giving Grymes money, literally begged but other than a few light mentions here and there and a back page article in the Folio, a piece I put on the blog first and suggested the author send out, it’s been radio silence.

Now we have learned that she has voted for things the last three years that have benefited her and her other employer in addition to the rogues gallery of donors.

I believe I am seeing a pattern of behavior here where Mrs. Grymes seeks to enrich herself that I find distasteful.

What would have happened had the media done its job and reported above? Would somebody in her district decided to run against her? The people of her district and the city deserved to know what is happening.

Finally I have met Mrs. Grymes several times and always found her nice and affable but in my estimation she has been a disaster on the school board and she makes me nostalgic for the halcyon days of Martha BarrettWe deserve a school board member who is going to do the right thing and we deserve a media who is going to inform the people of Jacksonville when they don't. 

On just about every metric Van Zant has failed Clay County!

Van Zant has had a lot of notable low-lights.

In 2012 and this cycle he has sought to disenfranchise much of the electorate in Clay County and he arguably stole the election in 2012.

Teacher morale is rock bottom?

He has shown an open disdain for transgender children.  

He has hired his cronies and sycophants.

He has pressured at will employees into supporting him.

Even though there have been budget problems he supported a new charter school in Clay county, a school whose two grades have been F and D. 

Clay's financial rating was downgraded under his watch.
http://jacksonville.com/community/clay/2016-01-12/story/clay-county-school-district-financial-rating-downgraded

Even if all that is okay with you the academic performance that Clay County has dropped considerably under his leadership, in short it has been has been abysmal.

Look at these numbers from the Clay Today.

On July 8, the Florida Department of Education reported that the Clay County School District had dropped from an “A” to a “B” district and its ranking overall had dropped from 11th to 20th. A number of schools dropped in letter grade and the district’s first charter school went from a “D” to an “F.” (Remember, charter schools are funded by public tax dollars.)

http://claytodayonline.com/stories/anger-is-downright-ugly,3080

Van Zant's performance on arguably ever metric has been poor. How can anybody in good conscious support him and if you are doing so just because of what church he goes to then you are letting Clay County's children, teachers and schools down.

If you want to watch the debate where only one of the candidates looks professional, hint its not Van Zant, click below.




Is Hillary Clinton the national version of Charlie Crist? (rough draft)

Rick Scott is the twice elected governor of Florida. The first go around he spent 70 million of his own dollars and road the tea party wave to get elected and the second time he defeated former governor Charlie Crist who was now running as a democrat.

I thought when Crist was governor he was serviceable. We had some large investments in education and he vetoed the terrible teacher profession kneecapping senate bill 606.

That being said, I didn't think for a second he should have been the democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2014. No I thought that should have been Nan Rich. Now its true she didn't have the name recognition of Crist but she was a life long progressive who worked tirelessly for the states children and environment. The establishment however threw their weight behind the career politician who had a bit of whatever it takes to get elected stench on him.  

Is any of this sounding familiar? It's not a direct correlation with what is happening nationally but come on, there are enough similarities that it has me worried.

Scott went on to win in 2014 by 91,000 votes and here is the thing, the only demographic he won going away was the same demographic that Trump is cleaning up on and that is the over fifty white vote.

I think most of the scandals that Hillary has had to endure are just smoke and manufactured smoke at that though I also think she has used her positions or former positions to enrich herself but is that really a bad thing?

I also have to say I feel like her having her own server was lazy and potentially dangerous on her part. I think we dodged a bullet there but the real damage is she has given the right a ton of ammunition that they shouldn't have.

Finally she also gives off the same vibe that Crist did/does, he's running for Congress now, and that's I am a career politician looking to head up the next rung of the ladder.

I will say I think she would be a far better president than Trump and has a chance to be a good president too, I just worry that despite the fact she should be dominating, Trump is hanging around and I worry that there may be enough angry white folks to put him over the top especially if enough people stay home or consider a third party.

People say they have to choose between the best of two bad options and I disagree with that. I think we have one horrific option and one that has some significant baggage but has significant potential as well, my fear however is the baggage will way her down.

It was all set up for the democrats in 2014 and they should have been able to kick Governor Rick Scott to the curb but they ran Charlie Crist a flawed candidate and now Florida is paying the price for it, I really hope history does not repeat itself in November.

Donald Trump and the Republicans at the convention think choice is a magic word.

I watched, probably more than I should have, the republican national convention. I heard lots of speeches that covered lots of subjects but the ones that interested me the most were the ones about education.

When Donald Trump Jr wasn't calling teachers lazy and selfish and blaming tenure for the problems in education, several of the other speeches including the one from the top of the ticket himself Donald Trump mentioned school choice, as if choice will lead us into the promised land.

They say choice like it is a magic word or that it has some special power, that parents just having choice will improved education and I don't get it.

How is diverting money and resources from schools to charter school owners bank accounts going to improve education?

How is choice going to make a hungry kid feel full or a scared kid feel safe?

How is choice going to make apathetic parents care or give parents to exhausted, uneducated themselves or who don't have time to help their kids with school the ability to do so?

How are schools not run by educators or classes not taught by real teachers going to improve education?

Parents shouldn't have to wade through charlatans and con men in the hopes of finding a great school, there should already be a great school in their neighborhood and that is the promise we should be making.

Dr. Raymond of the Stanford Credo Charter project recently said, I actually am kind of a pro-market kinda girl. But it doesn’t seem to work in a choice environment for education. I’ve studied competitive markets for much of my career. That’s my academic focus for my work. And (education) is the only industry/sector where the market mechanism just doesn’t work. I think it’s not helpful to expect parents to be the agents of quality assurance throughout the state. I think there are other supports that are needed… The policy environment really needs to focus on creating much more information and transparency about performance than we’ve had for the 20 years of the charter school movement. We need to have a greater degree of oversight of charter schools. But I also think we have to have some oversight of the overseers.

When the Trumps talk about how fortunate they were and how they want poor and mostly minority children to get a great education I believe they are straight up lying. They don't want to send poor kids to schools their kids went to, the ones with small classes and rich curriculums, no they want to put them in McCharters run by their hedge fund friends.

Choice for the Trump kids means schools that want for nothing, choice for our kids are schools lacking resources barely scraping by.



In Florida 318 charter schools have taken public money and closed leaving children and communities in a lurch. I wonder how many of those parents wish they would have made a different choice.

Choice is not a magic word that will solve our problems, its nothing more than code for privatization and our children are the ones who will pay the price.

Finally choice just for the sake of choice is a bad choice, we need to stop ignoring poverty and give our kids, students and teaches the resources they need to be successful and anything else is the equivalent of magic beans or wishing upon a star.

Dear Public School Teacher, how could you even consider voting for Trump?

I wrote a piece yesterday where I outlined Donald Trump Jr’s attack on teachers and it was fairly well received.

However a few public school teachers pushed back. They asked if I wrote the piece through a liberal lens and said they agreed with Trump Jr. A few people asked where I got my assertions which was quite flabbergasting as I put up a link to Trump Jr’s speech.  Um from his own words, I would reply.

First, Trump was wrong, it’s not the other side (Democrats) fault where we find ourselves, on the contrary this is a bipartisan mess. That being said, Trump did say public school teachers are the equivalent of lazy soviet clerks who only care about themselves and he blamed tenure while ignoring poverty, high stakes testing, punitive teacher evaluations and a lack of resources. Those sentiments come straight from the jackass’s horse’s mouth.

Let me ask you a question is it the fault of the veteran teacher their students are hungry, ill prepared, come from families that either don’t value education or don’t have the time or resources to help their child? Is it the veteran teacher’s fault that children often arrive to their class years behind? Of course not but there is Donald Trump Jr blaming teachers with tenure and sadly more than a few teachers are nodding along with him.

Make no mistake Donald Trump through his son has just told everyone America’s problems are public school teacher’s fault. That public school teachers are lazy and that they only care about themselves. He has also told you the way to improve education is to end work protections for teachers who only received them after years of able service.  

Trump is saying this, he is not hiding his disdain or blowing smoke, he is saying this to all our faces so there can be no mistake.

It’s beyond me how a public school teacher can hear those words and still think, hmm Trump is the candidate for me.

If we want change and improvement we must vote for candidates at all levels who support public education and then hold their feet to the fire to make sure they follow through with their promises. Trump’s promise is to destroy public education and the teaching profession along with it.

I can't stand it when the entitled son of a billionaire complains about teachers

I sincerely and seriously doubt Donald Trump Jr has ever stepped foot in a public school and the depth of his knowledge comes from his hedge fund manager friends looking to profit off of them. The thing I wonder is why he chose to attack public school teachers and public schools, the institution that has arguably led most to America's greatness.

During his speech he could have tackled a whole host of red meat to the base subjects but instead he went after school teachers. He blamed them for many of the nation's problems. You know all those middle class workers with their ten year old cars, crippling student loans and practically no say in the education process, they are the ones and selfishly at that letting America down.



Note: the original video was taken down, I was however able to find this.

He and sadly he is not alone does not understand that teachers and public schools are often put in no-win situations where success is elusive. Trump blaming them does not address the problems. Neither does funneling children into profit centers   charter schools and unregulated and mostly religious voucher schools, Trumps solution is nothing but a recipe for disaster.

Are there issues in education? Yes, but the truth is most of them, high stakes testing, a lack of resources, unproven curriculums and blame the teacher policies are all to often initiated by those who would dismantle public schools. It's not public schools that are letting America down, it is America that is letting its public schools and its children down.

Donald Trump Jr on day two of the republican national convention went after school teachers, he made them the enemy and I hope they all remember that come the election.



Donald Trump Jr attacks teachers in speech

From DailyKos, rturner229

The speech given by Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention tonight was easily the best one that has been delivered in the first two days.

Trump and his sister Tiffany humanized a candidate who has made himself into something of a caricature as he bullied his way to the top.

Trump's son made the case for his father as a man who had no tolerance for snobbery and who would restore the greatness of America (assuming that America isn't still great, of course).

While the younger Trump painted a portrait of his father as a friend of the middle class, apparently that middle class does not extend to public school classroom teachers,

This is what Donald Trump Jr. had to say about public education:

The other party gave us public schools that far too often fail our students, as actually those with no options. My siblings and I growing up were truly fortunate to have choices and options that others don't. We want all Americans to have those same opportunities. (Applause)

Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now they are stalled on the ground floor. For the teachers and administrators and not the students.

You know what other countries do better K-12. They let parents choose to- where to send their children to school. It's called a free market and it's what the other party fears. They fear it because they are more concerned about protecting the jobs of tenured teachers than serving the students in desperate need of a good education. (Applause)

It is not surprising that Trump's remarks were greeted with applause since attacking teachers has become a standard form of entertainment in this country.

Public schools are one of our greatest success stories, though you would never believe it by listening to candidates from either major party. A fake crisis has been created by those who would like to profit from education, people such as the testing industry and those who are selling management of allegedly public charter and online schools. The politicians who glibly talk about restoring education decisions to local school districts are the same ones who are promoting charter and online schools that do not have to open their books to the public and can spend taxpayer money with no accountability.

Our schools do remarkably well for the most part, except for those that are located in areas where crime and poverty are the norm. The public schools are handling more students to whom English is a second language, more students with physical, mental, or behavioral conditions and more students with a nomadic existence who move from one school to the next, never staying long enough to establish any type of educational normalcy.

The people who have been responsible for the successes of public education have been the teachers, many of whom have remained in the classroom despite low pay, poor working conditions, and diminishing respect as they remain under attack from self-serving politicians.

It is impossible to imagine an intelligent politician who would ever suggest that the practice of law or brain surgery should be restricted to those who just graduated from college, yet that is exactly what many have endorsed through their continued promotion of Teach for America. In some districts, TFA teachers have been hired at the expense of more experienced teachers. Only in education is experience labeled as a detriment.

I have no problem believing Donald Trump Jr. when he speaks of how his father had him learn the Trump business from the bottom up working under people who did not have degrees from Ivy League schools.

That is certainly admirable.

But as the younger Trump noted, he and his siblings had advantages that others did not have. They attended elite schools. More power to them. You certainly cannot blame Donald Trump for making sure his children had the best possible education.

Selling the idea that you can duplicate that type of education for everyone in this country by following the shortsighted (though highly lucrative) solutions being promoted by so-called "reformers" is perpetrating an act of fraud.

Public schools are still the only educational establishments that welcome everyone through their doors and remain open and accessible to the public.

Many of the politicians who have so harshly criticized teachers and public school systems never attended a public school. It would be nice if people like Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr would take the time to get to know some public schoolteachers. These are people who often face situations few of us can imagine, with little or no support. These are people who put the children first, despite the cries that if they belong to a teacher union they are out for themselves and no one else.

They certainly do not deserve to be attacked by people who have no idea of the challenges teachers face every day.

The approach that our leaders are taking toward education is already driving talented people away from the teaching ranks. Some have left teaching careers to work elsewhere, while others are steering as far away from a career in education as possible. Someday soon, our nation's classrooms will be filled with hit-and-run teachers who stay long enough to put it on their resume and then move on to some other career.

That would truly be an educational crisis.

http://m.dailykos.com/story/2016/7/19/1550019/-Donald-Trump-Jr-Attacks-Teachers-in-Convention-Speech

Clearing up misconceptions about teachers

By Micheal Flanagan via Facebook

1. "Teachers have tenure so they can't be fired". Wrong, teachers have due process, which means we are entitled to be able to defend ourselves, which allows us to speak out on issues affecting all of our kids. 

2. "Teachers get summers off with pay" Wrong, we actually lend money to the cities and states, and let them pay us on an annual basis, rather than pay us our entire salary up front. Therefore the municipalities make a profit on the interest they gain from withholding that pay. 

3. "Teachers can retire at 55" More like be forced out by 55. Age discrimination is rampant, and there are teacher shortages throughout the country, because younger is cheaper, and of course, cheaper is better for our children. 

4. "Unions only care about protecting bad teachers and money". No, unions are the one thing that keeps wages up, and everyone benefits from that. Right to Work Laws have devastated our economy. Trump wants to "Make America Great Again", as always it depends on who you ask when America was great, but I think he means when this country had a high standard of living, and that would be when unions raised the middle class. 

5. Teachers are the reason the schools are "failing". Yeah, has nothing to do with poverty and inequality. Funny how failing schools are aligned to the zip codes of the poorest communities. Okay, not sure of the rest of the stupid arguments against teachers, but those are the good old standards that the ignorant always roll out. Just figured I would put all the nastiness in one place, save us time on moving from thread to thread defending our chosen profession. 

Information is power, if you have any thank a teacher.

What does the coup in Turkey and three local charter schools have in common

They are both run by the same guy and Florida taxpayers funded them.

Charter schools are big business in Florida and they are making their owners rich, just ask the guy who runs charter schools USA and Fethullah Gulen who owns the local River City Science Academies and dozens of other charter schools across the country.

https://dianeravitch.net/2016/07/15/coup-in-turkey-is-fetullah-gulen-behind-it/

http://turkishinvitations.weebly.com/list-of-us-schools.html

The concept of charter schools is an attractive one, the reality of charter schools however is horrific. They are profit centers for millionaires to finance their extravagant lifestyles and in the case of Turkey to fund a coup that cost hundreds of lives.

If we ever needed a reason to abandon this failed concept, we're not going to get a much better one than this.

The disappointing affiliation of the League of Women Voters

I have to say I have always liked and appreciated the League of Women Voters. Their advocating and position on issues I have always found important and reasonable, especially their recent pieces about charter schools and education.

http://thefloridavoter.org/

However their partnership with the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and its founder Gary Chartrand have me questioning their motives and sincerity on education issues.

In 2014 and again this year the League has agreed to remain silent about local education candidates while their partner JPEF through its board is endorsing charter school and corporate reform proponents.

The legue can't say they don't know either because I have reached out to them and shown them. I have provided the league with a list of donors to the various candidates, I have provided the league with a link to JPEF's site where they advertised for a symposium where not only was Gary Chartrand speaking at but whose theme was attracting more black youths to charter schools.

http://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2016/07/how-jacksonville-public-education-fund.html

The League's response has been a collective shrug on the shoulders.

What good does it do for them to on one hand talk about how insidious charter schools have become and advocate for education issues if on the other they partner with charter school proponents and people who would privatize our schools.

Are they just paying lip service to education? Are they trying to have their cake and eat it too? Are they trying to secure some extra funding, because if it is one thing Gary Chartrand will do it's throw cash around. Any of which is enough to start doubting their sincerity

The League needs to take a stand and embrace it because if not what's the point?.

Duval we need to talk here

When I started education Matters, I had a local, then state and then national philosophy, that's to say I wanted to cover local issues first and foremost but I didn't want to exclude state and national education issues either. That's why I for the most part write and repost about local issues.

I average about 1200 hits a day and this past May I had what I consider my best month ever. I only posted 17 times and the blog received over 42,000 hits which isn't bad for what is primarily a niche blog but at the same time I think it should be doing a lot better.

Here are the stats for the July posts:


Notice anything there? When I post about Clay County issues, a school system about the third of the size of Duval and arguably with less severe problems the unique views are off the chart. A blog about Duval County usually gets between 400-1500 unique views while the stuff I post about Clay County is often in the 3000-6000 range.

Why does Clay County seem to care so much more about the workings of its school system?

I think even people who often disagree with me would agree that the truth is we have problems which are going to take the community coming together to solve. Right now it's just a cadre of rich mostly white men running the show.

Duval you have to step up and one great place to do so is the upcoming elections in districts 5 and 7, it looks like we have solid candidates in both but there are also at least two candidates Greg Tison in 7 and Warren Jones in 5 that have to be stayed away from at all costs.

Unless we start to take an interest in our school system we will continue to struggle.

Johanna McKinnon, clay county school board indifferent about the plight of parents

When addressing the scheduling of open houses to correspond with the superintendent election, Johanna Mckinnon seemed quite indifferent to the plight of Clay county parents.



Sylvia Crofts is obviously a supporter of Van Zant's and rather than address people's concerns she attacks people, I don't think she should know any better but McKinnon should and another stake holder explained why.

...so parents getting off work, fighting traffic, feeding their families will have time to get to the polls before getting to their school, finding parking, and finding their child's first class by 6:30. I was told CVZ doesn't schedule open house...at the very least it was extremely poor planning.

I am not willing to give Van Zant the benefit of the doubt that open house scheduling was just poor planning what with Van Zant okaying his friend to be a write in candidate in 2012 disenfranchising half of the electorate and his cajoling of at will administrators into supporting him.

Clay County you have very important decisions to make in the next few weeks, one camp seems indifferent to the plight of parents and willing to cheat and cajole to win, while the other is more concerned with improving teacher morale and doing what is best for your children. It's time to break up the Van Zant party and time to get back to supporting your teachers and educating your children.



Charlie Van Zant reaches a new low

I get wanting to win, I do, but Charlie Van Zant is willing to do anything include cheat and that should disturb everyone including people who are considering voting for him.

Since democrats and independents have again effectively been prevented from voting for superintendent in Clay County, the election is going to hang on what the county's republicans do and a small turn out undoubtedly favors Van Zant well Van Zant is doing all he can to make sure that turnout is low.

Today he announced that that the counties high school open houses with the exception of Keystone Heights will occur on August 30th which for all intents and purposes is the day the superintendent race will be decided.

He is making some parents decide between voting and meeting their children's teachers. He is in effect making it more burdensome to vote. Imagine a parent off at 5 and they have to either vote and or go to open house along with all the other normal things they might have to do. His decision is designed to make things difficult for people in the hopes of suppressing turnout which as I stated undoubtedly benefits him.

I also want to remind you this comes on the heels of reports of how Van Zant cajoles Clay county's administrators who don't have job protections into supporting him.

What's up with these family values republicans continuously thumbing their nose at family values?

Clay county you have a very important decision to make, four more years of the petty politics, graft, teacher disrespect and quite frankly Van Zant's overall poor performance and terrible values or to make a change.

Please say no to more of Van Zant's shady way of doing things.