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Saturday, September 22, 2018

One quarter of voucher students regress, wasting lives and hundreds of millions of dollars


For the 2018-2019 fiscal year $873,565,674 is the cap on what can be diverted from our schools to private schools that take vouchers. It joins billions more lost to the black hole that the voucher program is.

The problem with vouchers are legion. They can use certified teachers and teachers without degrees, they can teach junk science and history and most don't even have to report how they use the money. The over site on these schools is so low it is practically non existent. Well now we can add kids at a quarter of the schools regressed, REGRESSED, in math or reading skills. They actually lost knowledge.     

I am just going to get right to it.

From the Orlando Sentinel,

There are no consequences, however, for the students or schools when the studies show some schools leave children worse off academically. More than 70 schools, out of about 280 studied, showed declines in students’ math or reading skills, according to the most recent report.

Now some of you might be saying well Chris aren't there nearly 3000 private schools that take vouchers? Yes there are but when people do polls they don't ask everyone the question they take a sample and 280 out of nearly 3000 is a pretty good sample.

Here is the thing, what if it is only 20 percent or 15 percent, though isn't it just as likely its 30 percent or higher, of kids that regress, isn't that too much? Public schools get slammed when the poorest of the poor, the most disadvantaged of the disadvantaged don't show a years worth of growth, let alone no growth or as in the case of these schools, reverse growth. 

Can you imagine what would happen to a public school where the kids lost knowledge in reading and math?

How is this permissible?

Oh wait that's right, its because the republican party is determined to dismantle public education and who cares if only a quarter of the kids regress, heck they don't even care that hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted in the pursuit.

We need a change friends, this cannot be allowed to continue. 

Are school board candidates, Willie, Chauncey and Howland lying to you or their donors. (rough draft)

I spoke to a guy I like and whose opinion I respect. A real smart guy too and he said he was going to support Darryl Willie in the district 4 school board race. I pointed out Willie's dubious connections and policy positions and he wasn't moved and it boiled down he had talked to Willie numerous times and he felt like he was the advocate that district 4 needed.

Here is the thing Willie along with Howland and Chauncey are taking tons of money from people who want them to be the advocate they need. They are pro charter schools despite story after story of waste and malfeasance and how the promise of charter schools has been corrupted by mercenaries seeking a buck and zealots who hate the public school system.

Their donors consist of voucher school interests, that divert public money to schools with no over site who can do whatever they want, heck the vast majority of them don't even have to report how they spend the money.  

Their donors are behind the blame the teacher movement which has deflated salaries and made it harder to become and stay a teacher, and this despite they think it is okay teachers at voucher schools don't have to have degrees let alone certifications. 

These are the people supporting Howland, Willie and Chauncey. 

Now these guys aren't out on the stump saying, what we need is more charter schools staffed by low paid, temporary teachers, despite the fact that's what their donors want, which makes me wonder who are they lying to? Us or the people giving them tens of thousands of dollars?

This is what I think after ten years of closely following the education scene in Jacksonville, I think Howland buys hook line and sinker, get rid of the public schools, business influences will figure it out and where there might be some pain for some it won't affect his kids so it's all good. His ties to charters are to vast to overlook. 

Chauncey, I considered he doesn't know what he doesn't know or what to believe. This guy is thirty years old and has only lived in town for a couple years and please don't get me started about how unqualified this guy is but I guess at the end of the day he is going to agree with whatever Chartrand and his ilk tell him though I am willing to consider he agrees with whatever the last person tells him too.

Then their is Willie. he has been in the game the longest what with this being his second run and I think he will tell whoever is in front of them whatever he thinks they want to hear. I think he has a gift for the gab, sorry bull shit. He will tell Gary Chartrand, sure we need some more KIPP schools and he will tell Mrs. Brown we need to get the kids back from charter schools. How he flip flops on positions is already well documented. 

I disagree vehemently with Howland but I think he has beliefs, beliefs he thinks is is better to hide, I think Chauncey is a useful dupe for the privatization crowd but I believe Willie has no core, he is the Alexander Hamilton of the story.    

But ask yourself this, why would Chartrand, Kirtley and the rest support these guys just because? It has it be because they know they supporting the same causes, or they believe they do. There are no other options.

So who are they lying too? Is it to us or their donors? Does it really matter? If they are lying to us then they shouldn't be allowed anywhere close to the school board. If they are lying to their donors to get money then they don't have a core and shouldn't be allowed either. 

I hope my friend considers who is supporting Willie and why. They aren't doing it for no reason and whether its because he agrees with them or is just telling them what they want to hear, he and all of us should be troubled.  

Please consider giving these their opponents your support.

Cynthia Smith in 4,

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Karen Nuland picks Joyce over Chauncey in district 6 school board race

Former president of the Duval County Council of PTAs and life long public school servant, Karen Nuland endorsed Charlotte Joyce over David Chauncey for the district 6 School Board seat today.

A tireless advocate for our schools Nuland believes Joyce is a much better choice than Chauncey who has taken tens of thousands of dollars from interests related to charter schools and vouchers. 

It couldn't have been lost on Nuland that Joyce is a life long resident of Jacksonville who not only gradated from DCPS schools but has been volunteering and working in them for nearly two decades, a trio of things Chauncey cannot come close to saying.

In District 6 people have two distinct choices, a woman who has dedicated her life to DCPS schools, and a man who recently moved to town with barely any education experience, backed by the privatization movement. If you care about our schools then Joyce is the only real choice.

Nuland joins Becki Couch the current district 6 school board member in endorsing Charlotte Joyce.

Please consider joining Karen Nuland and supporting Mrs. Joyce in the district 6 school board race.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

People are waking up to how corrupt the Florida Charter School system is

Jason Fischer a house rep out of Jacksonville inserted 2 million into the budget for his super donor, Gary Chartrand's charter school the KIPP school in Jacksonville. Does Gary Chartrand's name sound familiar? He is is also on the state board of education.

Here are some more random facts. Over 370 charter schools have taken public money and closed leaving communities and students in a lurch and most charter schools now open in affluent neighborhoods, the pretense of helping poor students trapped by zip codes all but abandoned.

A recent report outlined just how bad and corrupt the charter industry and Tallahassee have become.

From the Orlando Weekly

A new report from a Tallahassee-based research group raises questions about the growing role of charter schools in Florida, including citing the closure of 373 charter schools since 1998. 

Ben Wilcox, research director for the group Integrity Florida, said the closure of charter schools has averaged nearly 20 a year “and that comes with a cost to taxpayers.” 

“When a charter school closes, it is often difficult to get taxpayer funds back,” Wilcox said. “A closure can cause severe problems for a school district which must absorb the displaced students.” 

The report showed 160 charter schools failed between 2012 and 2017, with 35 closing in 2015-2016. 

“Some have failed because they faced financial pressure due to overestimated enrollment, others because of financial mismanagement and others for academic reasons,” the report said. 

Another trend cited in the report is the rise of for-profit companies that manage the schools and can also be involved in leasing school sites. As of 2017, the report showed 294, or 45 percent, of the schools were being managed by for-profit companies. The for-profit schools have nearly doubled since 2010-2011, when there were 150 charter schools operated by for-profit entities. 

Wilcox said “lax regulation of charter schools has created opportunities for corporate profiteering, financial mismanagement, fraud and criminal corruption.” 

“In regards to campaign finance, we found that charter school interests have given $13 million in Florida to candidates, committees and parties since 1998,” Ashwell said. Ashwell says that doesn’t include the cost of hiring lobbyists. “The lobbyist expenditures, we found they spent more than $8 million on legislative lobbyists in Florida between 2007 and 2017,” Ashwell said. “Spending has increased steadily overtime, with spikes in 2013 and 2015. During this period, 10 companies alone spent $5 million hiring 262 lobbyists.”


From the report,

Efforts by the charter school industry to shape policies in their favor have been aided in recent years by officials in the Florida Legislature who stand to benefit directly from the expansion of this education model. A number of high-powered legislators have either worked for charter schools or charter companies or had immediate family members involved with charters.

Despite all the advantages, despite the fact many pick who they take and keep, charter schools as a group perform worse than our public schools, but still the republican legislature treats our public schools like a red headed step child who drank the last diet coke.

From the Orlando Sentinel,

Yet when school grades were released this past week, not a single traditional school in Orange County received an F.
Five charter schools did.
Yes, every single “failing” school in Orange County was a charter school.
The numbers looked similar statewide. Less than 1 percent of traditional public schools earned F’s. But 3.4 percent of charter schools did.
That means charter schools were more than three times as likely to fail.
I don’t think either of these models should be classified a “failure.” But if one of them has a failure problem, it obviously isn’t traditional.
If facts matter, this should be a wake-up call. 

Charter schools are an alluring concept. I get it, but the way Florida does it, they are nothing but an abomination.

People getting rich off some of our children while cutting public schools to the bone. Dubious innovation and unfair regulations are the name of the game

It's time Florida woke up and said enough.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Remember that one time Jason Fischer gave 2 million in tax payer dollars to his donors pet charter school?

I sure hope you do!

Jason Fischer district 16 has some explaining to do.

These are irrefutable facts.

Gary Chartrand is responsible for bringing the KIPP charter school to Jacksonville.

Over the years Chartrand (and his friends and family) have given thousands of dollars to Fischer.

Fischer had a two million dollar grant given to the KIPP charter school.

Line 111

Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Jacksonville (HB 2851) (Senate Form 1756).......................... 2,000,000 

KIPP is not in Fischer's district.

He voted for a budget that gave our school district just an extra 47 cents per pupil in discretionary spending. 

Those are all irrefutable facts.

This wasn't a bill either which most likely would have failed. No he just had the money inserted into the budget because that is how broken Tallahassee has become after twenty years of republican rule. 

Now some of you might be thinking why should I care what a representative in Jacksonville does, well there are a couple reasons, first that is two million in Tax Payer dollars, that came from all of us and second, his donor, Gary Chartrand is also on the state board of education, and let that sink in.

Chartrand the founder and benefactor of the KIPP charter school gave Fischer thousands of dollars and Fischer rewarded him with two million for his charter school.

Where outrageous it is just standard operating procedure from the republicans in Tallahassee who operate as if they are above the law.

Speaker Richard Corcoran’s wife is a charter school magnet and he joins a half dozen other legislators who either they benefit or their families benefit from public school kneecapping legislation.

The republican party is not leading us, they are lording over us as they enrich themselves and their donors and they do so at the expense of the teaching profession and public education and enough is enough.

Jason Fischer has been an ardent foe of public education it's time he was replaced before he does any more damage.

Ken Organes should receive your support.

Casey Ayers explains why he is endorsing Elizabeth Andersen for school board

Five people ran to replace Scott Shine on the school board. After the very competitive primary, former teacher and current mental health counselor Elizabeth Andersen and businessman Nick Howland advanced.

The three that didn't Shannon Beckham, Sam Hall and Casey Ayers have all since endorsed Elizabeth Andersen, and here Ayers explains why. 

Running for Duval County School Board in District 2 as a first-time candidate, I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the process, or from my four opponents. I ran to share a message about how our schools can better serve our students by recommitting to career and vocational education, especially in cases where certification programs could add value to our students’ diplomas and unlock badly needed bonus funding from the state.
Over the course of many forums and public events featuring all five candidates, I had the opportunity to share this message, but also to listen to others driven to serve their community.
Given Scott Shine’s abrupt departure from a reelection campaign that at one point seemed forgone, and given how much focus other races are receiving in this election cycle, it was amazing to see firsthand the rich diversity of perspective, experience, and passion the District 2 candidates brought to this race. And while losing an election after months of work may be painful, I was at peace knowing Elizabeth Andersen would be advancing to the general election.
As a former teacher at two Duval County high schools, she understands the challenges our educators and students face, and how to best allocate resources to help them succeed. Thanks to her work as a mental health professional, she has unmatched insight into the greatest challenge of our time: ensuring our schools are safe and constructive environments for our children to learn and grow. As a successful business owner, Elizabeth understands how to wisely allocate resources and can help our school system navigate its budgetary challenges effectively.
I’m delighted to endorse such a qualified and passionate candidate, and am glad that District 2 candidates Sam Hall and Shannon Beckham have done so, as well. I’m confident that Elizabeth will be tireless in her service as a member of the Duval County School Board, ensuring our schools are safe, our teachers are empowered to succeed, and every one of our students has access to high-quality educational options, preparing them to carry our community to new heights.
Casey Signature
I thought Ayers had a great message while running and I hope we see him again.
Mrs. Andersen is also a lifelong resident of Duval and graduate of DCPS schools something Howland can't say. He also can't say he hasn't taken tons of money from charter schools and voucher interests.
If you are a supporter of public education Elizabeth Andersen is really your only choice. Please consider supporting her.

Cynthia Smith candidate school board district 4 is better than her opponent Darryl Willie and let me explain why

I had a Facebook conversation with an irate Darryl Willie supporter yesterday. They accused me of smearing Willie and of having a hidden agenda.

I replied, by smearing do you mean pointing out the things he has said or done? And I let him know that I definitely have an agenda and I hope its not hidden, I want the best person for the job on the school board who is going to appreciate and respect the teaching profession. 

We went back and forth and they were dismissive of the importance of the race, saying its just a school board race, well friends the 7 school board members control a budget, more real estate and employ more people than the mayor and city council does, and money doesn't matter. Friends do you think money doesn't matter in elections?

They were unswayed by all the things Willie has said and done and by all his dubious connections but then they said something really interesting, it's not like I think Cynthia Smith would be bad on the school board I just think Darryl Willie would be better.

Now I think Willie would be a disaster on the board and serve the people who pay his substantial salary rather than the people in district 4 but I wondered if other people thought the same way.

Well friends, if you are the fence and think both would be acceptable, shouldn't the tie go to the lifelong resident of Duval, Cynthia Smith not Willie who has been here for 7 years and is running for the school board for the second time?

Shouldn't the tie go to somebody who graduated from DCPS schools like Smith did, who has a better understand of what its like to be a student in Duval?

Shouldn't the tie go to somebody who actually worked in DCPS schools like Smith did for 16 years rising from book keeper to assistant principal, rather than Willie who only taught for three years over a decade ago in Arkansas? Isn't her experience a lot more relevant and extensive than his?

Shouldn't the tie go to the candidate, Smith, that the League of Women Voters doesn't have concerns about? The #$%^ing League of Women Voters think people should be wary of Willie, that should say a lot.

Shouldn't the tie go to the candidate who is really making a difference by running a preschool, Smith, rather than the candidate who is hurting our children by making sure they have an ever revolving door of novice teachers, the exact opposite of what research says they need.

Shouldn't the tie go to the candidate who thinks school teachers are professionals, Smith, rather than the candidate, Willie, who thinks anybody can be a teacher and who doesn't respect experience?

Shouldn't the tie go to the candidate, Smith, the current school board member, Paula Wright, is backing?

Shouldn't the tie go to the candidate, Smith, who hasn't taken huge sums of money from charter schools and the privatization movement?

How is this race even close? Oh that's right, money, as in all the money the privatization side has thrown into the race behind Willie. Though like his supporter you might not think money in politics matters.

I think Smith is by far the better candidate, but if you are on the fence I hope I have given you some things to think about.

I also hope you will consider supporting Cynthia Smith,  

Monday, September 17, 2018

Willie SB candidate district 4 contradicts himself at nearly every turn

A few weeks back Willie was pretty hard on the charter school movement despite taking a lot of money from them.

Willie also presents himself as a democrat, but he has no problem taking all that sweet, sweet republican money.

This disturbing patern continued in a recent article in the Times Union about the pervasive influence of public school privatization money working its way into the school board races.

From the Times Union:

Willie said his donors know and trust he’ll represent his community. “A check or a donation is not going to drive how I make decisions,” he said. “Most folks said they believe in me as a person, they believe in my being able to make sound decisions about what my constituents want.”

He also said,

Willie said many of his donors know him from his times teaching in California and the Mississippi Delta region before coming to Jacksonville. He also has family and friends out of state.

“I’m a military kid: I’m from all over,” he said.

So many of his donors know him from elsewhere and he has lots of friends and family from out of state. Um what? How do they know he'll represent district 4? Because he tells them he will? Well if his track record is any example his word isn't worth much.

He might have well as said, if it wasn't for Teach for America and Charters I wouldn't have a nickle, vote for me because I can do the KiKi challenge, that at least would be honest.

You know what gets me? It's not that he has bad ideas and supports bad policy, it's that he doesn't have a moral center. He will tell you whatever he thinks you want to hear, if he thinks there is a chance he will get your vote. 

If you care about public education and the teaching profession, then in District 4 Cynthia Smith is your only choice.

 Cynthia Smith in 4,

Andersen, Smith and Joyce, lifetime residnets all went to and worked in DCPS schools, Howland and Willie didn't. Don't experience and ties matter?

There are some remarkable differences between the school board candidates.

Andersen, Smith and Joyce are supported by parents and teachers, while Howaland, Chauncey and Willie are supported by the charter school industry and the privatization movement.

Andersen (Terry Parker), Smith (Jackson) and Joyce (Ed White) all went to DCPS schools while  Howaland, Chauncey and Willie did not.

Andersen, Smith and Joyce all worked in DCPS schools while Willie and Howland didn't. Chauncey did for two years leaving the moment his two year Teach for America commitment was up.

Andersen, Smith and Joyce are life long Jacksonville residents while Howland has been here 14 years and Willie and Chauncey 7ish and 5ish respectively

How are these races close again?

It goes back to money and the fact the privatization crowd, those that support charters and vouchers and who don't think teachers are professionals support Howland, Chauncey and Willie.

Friends we have to choose who represents our schools, life long residents, current and former teachers and graduates of our schools or people who quite frankly have no business being anywhere near the board.

Please consider giving these ladies your support.

Cynthia Smith in 4,

The league of women voters calls out Chauncey, Willie and Howland, says the public should be wary.

If you have two candidates and one you know loves public education and the other you aren't sure about, now they say they love it but they have taken a heck of a lot of money from people who don't, shouldn't your choice be obvious?

Willie, Howlnd and Chauncey aren't out there saying, its time to dismantle public education and teachers shouldn't be treated like professionals but a significant amount of their donors are. Why would they support those candidates if they didn't believe they felt the same. The answer is they wouldn't and the League of Women voters thinks you should be wary.

From the Times Union

So far Duval County’s three School Board races look like a lopsided battle for money.

On one side, three candidates endorsed by a host of business and political groups have amassed many times more money than their opponents. They say their fundraising success reflects broad support for their vision for Duval public schools.

On the other side are three financial underdogs who say voters are skeptical of so much money, suspecting there are strings attached.

League of Women Voters’ blogger and leader, Sue Legg, agrees with them. She sees flush School Board campaigns across the state as signs of a long-term push to sway school boards and win more public dollars for private and charter schools.

“It’s because of the motivation behind these people contributing the money,” she said. “If they are motivated to privatize schools, you, the public, should know about it.”

There are three great candidates in districts 2,4 and 6, Andersen, Smith and Joyce who you know love and believe in public education shouldn't they get your support? It's not like they aren't qualified, an argument I could also make about Howland, Willie and Chauncey.

Please consider giving these ladies your support.

Cynthia Smith in 4,

Saturday, September 15, 2018

District 2 Candidates say why they are endorsing Elizabeth Andersen for school board

Five people ran for the district 2 spot, and after the primary the three who did not advance all decided to support Elizabeth Andersen who as a former teacher and current mental health counselor has the particular skills and back ground that this board needs.

Below are excepts from a press release due to released soon.

Sam Hall, 
“I am supporting Elizabeth Andersen for the Duval County Public School Board. Andersen has experience that is directly related to children and education. If elected, I am confident Elizabeth will make decisions that will be in the best interest of children.”

Shannon Beckham, 
“I am pleased to endorse Elizabeth Andersen, because as  a former DCPS teacher she is the only candidate in the race that has spent quality time in our schools. In a time when many of our children are in crisis, her work in the mental health field would be an asset to DCPS. District 2 would be lucky to have someone represent us who is a true champion for public education and isn’t backed by special interest groups.”

Casey Ayers,
“Elizabeth brings a wealth of mental health knowledge and experience working with children to the race, and is eminently qualified to represent our district. 

Andersen is running against Nick Howland the darling of the privatization crowd. He is literally a clone of Scott Shine who has been a disaster on the board and who has pretty much stopped showing up despite the fact he is still being paid.

District 2 you have a real choice, Andersen who has the knowledge and the back ground the board needs or Howland who would be more of the same ans who has dubious allegiances.

If you care about our public schools, students and teachers please consider supporting Elizabeth Anderson.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Developing Story: Shannon Beckham, Casey Ayers and Sam Hall support Elizabeth Andersen in district 2 race

District 2 had five candidates, Shannon Beckham, Casey Ayers, Sam Hall, Elizabeth Andersen and Nick Howland. In a very competitive race Anderson and Howland advanced out of the primary to the general election.

Now every candidate who didn't, representing 47.05 percent of the electorate has endorsed Elizabeth Andersen joining the 22.01 percent of the vote she received.

Howland who has proven wiling to say and do anything to get elected is still formidable. In the primary he raised more than the other candidates combined taking in thousands from charter schools, voucher schools and people who lived outside the district.     

That being said its a great sign that all the other candidates recognize that Elizabeth Andersen and her unique background as a former DCPS teacher and current mental health counselor would make a far better school member than Howland who has both questionable judgement and ties.

District 2, you have the opportunity to make a real difference, an opportunity to put somebody who knows our schools and children on the board, or sadly an opportunity to do more of the same, which hasn't exactly worked out for you. 

If you care about our schools and students, please consider supporting Elizabeth Andersen. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Rick Scott touts his education policies in new ad. What the $#@^

Rick Scott and his colleagues in the Florida congress have done all they can do harm both public education and the teaching profession. If he were to tout these as an accomplishment, I would have to shrug my shoulders and as respectfully as I could be disagree. That's however not what he did in a new TV spot. 

Did anybody else just spit out their milk? If so I apologize.

In effect Rick Scott is asking people not believe what he has said and done and to give him credit for somethings, public education and the teaching profession that he was not able to completely dismantle and have succeeded in spite of him. Here is a head scratcher, if he thinks pubic ed is so great why did he push policies that sent billions to voucher and charter schools? Could it be that is where many of his donors come from? 

Among other lies, half truths and cherry picked statements Scott touts his education funding.

From Florida Politics

A new spot from Scott, per the campaign, “highlights how Florida’s incredible economic turnaround under Governor Scott has led to unprecedented achievement and funding for education in Florida.”

Scott links that to “our highest education funding ever,” which is a claim that doesn’t necessarily hold true in terms of real dollars.”
Julie Delegal via Facebook debunked the rest of the ad.
FIRST, as AG Gancarski notes, the governor's claim of "record spending" has been debunked by Politifact Florida. In terms of real dollars, we've gone backwards in education funding in Florida.

SECOND, "Florida's children rank 40th in the nation when it comes to their health, education and economic well-being, new data suggests, and close to a million of them are living in poverty — a number that dipped slightly from a year earlier." (from Orlando Sentinel, Florida Kids Count data/ Annie E. Casey Foundation Report, 2017)

THIRD, in terms of places teachers want to work, only three
states rank lower than Florida does. (Wallethub)

FOURTH, under Gov. Scott, the state has excelled at issuing unfunded mandates, including the new "guardian program" that would arm "security assistants" in our schools. Duval's will cost $600K more than state funding provides. The Joint Budget Committee won't address it Friday. (The Florida PTA is pushing to have an item added to the agenda that would free up $58 million for this use.)

FIFTH, thanks to our lawmakers, our schools are unable to reap the benefit of steadily rebounding property values. Instead, lawmakers are actually DECREASING millage rates to keep school taxes depressed, as @damosreporter reported in today's print edition of @jaxdotcom.

SIXTH, what is this AP enrollment figure the governor cites? So what if we have more kids taking more AP tests? Here's the real scoop on the ranking that matters, i.e., which state's STUDENTS ACHIEVE best on AP tests. (It's not Florida. It's Massachusetts.) See Twitter for link.

In short, Gov. Scott's education claims don't hold water. We need new leadership altogether in Tallahassee, especially Andrew Gillum for Governor. We also need to deny Gov. Scott the opportunity to do more damage in DC. Vote to re-elect Senator Bill Nelson.

Scott has been terrible, it's time we put him out to pasture where he can spend the ill gotten loot he plundered from his health care business.