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Jason Fischer's appalling voucher defense.

I am appalled, a school board member coming out in favor of vouchers but since Jason Fischer has long advocated for charter schools and even taken money from them I shouldn’t be surprised.
Let me just say, the problem isn’t choice; the problem is the terrible choices that Florida wants to substitute for public schools. Voucher schools and proponents resist accountability. Voucher school proponents say high stakes testing is paramount to evaluate schools and teachers alike, and they say we need STEM and common core for our kids to be competitive but for all those things they give voucher schools a pass.
Let’s forget that vouchers since most go to religious schools obliterate the first amendment but lets think about their cost. Fischer apparently disagrees with the superintendent who has often lamented the loss of resources but since businesses get a tax credit that means Florida’s treasury suffers as well, money that has to be made up by Florida’s citizens.
He then mentions that the Florida school board association, the teacher unions and other organizations trying to kill the program appall him. The other organizations by the way are the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and the PTA among numerous other grassroots organizations. The members of those organizations are appalled too, appalled by vouchers taking away resources and resisting accountability. Appalled by high stakes testing and common core. Appalled by the lack of resources that schools have, but Fischer thinks it is okay to ignore them and their concerns. Why isn’t he speaking for them? Don’t they matter? Or is it because the wealthy republicans that champion vouchers don’t champion them.
Then we should all be appalled how he is trying to obfuscate the facts. In the coming years vouchers won’t be just for kids below poverty but for families making as much as 62,000 dollars and the value of the scholarship will continue to rise. The tests they have been required to take don’t compare to the tests given in public schools. Then unlike Fischer who was just regurgitating every other pro voucher piece out there I have actually talked to the states voucher expert David Figilo and he said there were some great voucher schools but some really bad ones too but instead of weeding but the bad ones and making sure all are high quality, Fischer wants to keep the program expanding.  
Fischer sums up the problem as one of turfism but what it really involves is privatization. Jason Fischer and his voucher friends want to privatize our schools to replace them with charter schools and private schools that take vouchers that despite distinct advantages, being able to pick who they take and keep, under perform when compared to public schools and I can prove it too. 
If Fischer and his ilk truly cared about children they would be fighting to improve public education for all of our children, not trying to outsource their futures to generally substandard options. They would be fighting to make sure our schools had adequate resources, that teachers were well treated and we had proper programs and leadership in place or the exact opposite of what is now occurring.
I mentioned leadership last above because district 7 deserves an education leader who loves and wants to improve public education, not one that wants to replace it.  

The silence of voucher supporters is deafening.

The same groups that support vouchers have remained amazingly quiet while Florida starved its pubic schools of resources, blamed teachers and demonized their representatives and decided it was wise to depend on high stakes testing for just about decision made.  Everything was fine until groups like the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, the PTA and the Florida school board association, hardly kid unfriendly organizations, finally had enough and said no, filing a lawsuit. Since then the people who support vouchers have ratcheted up the hyperbole to new heights

I find it amazing though how they had to twist themselves into knots to do so. These are the same people who 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. Who scream about school accountability and how it is so important teachers and schools are evaluated using high stakes tests and say our kids need common core and STEM to compete internationally. They want all these things for public schools but at the same time want private schools that except vouchers to be exempt. 

We should all support the lawsuit filed by the Florida School Board questioning the validity of Florida’s voucher program which by the way torpedoes the first amendment because 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. We should not let those people who hate public schools and want to privatize them win. 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 as well.

What has Corey Booker done for Education? Or hey Corey, mind your own %^&ing business.

What has Corey Booker done for Education? Or hey Corey, mind your own %^&ing business.

I get it, he buys his staff hot pockets, he helps old ladies shovel snow and he gives good face time on the Sunday Morning talk shows but if we are being honest what has he done for education.

With great fanfare he took a hundred million dollars form the founder of Facebook and then nothing happened. People were so fed up of the way things were going they went against the status quo candidate and elected somebody who cares about and wants to fix their schools when he left.

Since this is the case I find it incredulous that he thought to weigh in on a lawsuit filed in Florida by the PTA, the NAACP, the State School Board Association and the League of Women voters, you know all those child hating organizations, when they said no more to the states voucher program.

From Booker's Twitter Feed: FL Senate Ed Chair declines school board award after they sue to throw 70,000 poor kids out of schools

FL school boards asks court 2 end scholarships, remove 70,000 poor kids from schools chosen by parents

He joined Bobby Jindal and numerous other anti-public education republicans in questioning the suit.

Not only does the states Voucher program obliterate the first amendment but it takes hundreds of millions out of our schools and even more out of the states general fund and filters kids into schools that resist accountability, like I resist Ebola. They are a bad deal all around

Where are Booker’s tweets about common core and how it doesn’t address poverty, the shoddy treatment of Florida’s teachers, the hundreds of charter schools that have opened taken public money and closed leaving families and communities in a lurch in Florida and the cognitive dissonance that voucher supporters have? They say our public schools must have common core, STEM, high stakes testing, and evaluations based on tests while private schools that take vouchers are exempt.

Well Corey, where are they?

Nowhere, so Corey unles you are going to get a clue, why don’t you shut the &^%$ up and worry about New Jersey, last I saw you had plenty of problems there. 

Does anybody really believe Gary Chartrand wants to help kids?

Gary Chartrand is the guy who went from running grocery stores to running our schools as the Chair of the State Board of Education, using donations, instead of knowledge and experience to get the position.

He has made my blog a lot recently, supporting candidates who aren’t above misleading people and donating to a PAC that straight up lies.  

Well today’s installment of, Mr. Chartrand please climb back into your hole, you are hurting kids, involves his reaction to a lawsuit filed by the the State School Board Association, FEA, the PTA, the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, the most vile of children hating groups around (sic) according to his rhetoric anyways, that wants to stop Florida’s voucher program.

“I believe in choice and in freedom especially for those children that have limited mobility and limited financial resources. The Florida tax credit scholarships provide this freedom for our most underserved population to choose a school that best serves their needs.  The FSBA “is acting without consideration for this population by filing a law suit against this program. This is surprising and disheartening, and I call on them to rethink their position and withdraw the lawsuit.” –

This from the millionaire who sent his children to exclusive prep schools unlike the schools that he wants to filter Florida’s poorest children into. Now I fully admit there are some great private schools that take vouchers but you must fully admit some are operated out of abandoned strip malls where their teachers with their AA degrees teach creationism as science and everything in between.

The thing is Chartrand doesn’t care because they aren’t public schools staffed by union employees and in his mind that makes them better.

If he really cared about kids then instead of trying to privatize public education he would be striving to improve it but he’s not and that should tell you all you need to know.

Mr. Chartrand it’s time to go away. 

Pittsburgh and Durham end their contracts with Teach for America, when will Jacksonville get a clue?

From the Diane Rvitch blog

Shortly after posting that the school board of Durham, North Carolina, voted not to renew its contract with Teach for America, I recalled that another major city had done the same, reversing the previous board’s decision to bring in 30 TFA recruits.
Last December, the newly elected majority on the Pittsburgh school board voted 6-2 not to renew its contract with TFA. The issue was how to fill positions at hard-to-staff schools. One of the board members who voted not to renew TFA said, “Board members said they’re concerned resignations from teachers in those schools stem from a lack of support for the educators. “People will come to hard-to-staff buildings if they know they will have support there.”

Jeb Bush really hates local control of education

Common Core, charter schools, high stakes testing all wrest control away from local communities and Jeb Bush love them all. Funny because I thought local control was a plank of the Republican Party but it turns out it is just one more of those things they talk about but don’t really believe in. 
Patricia Levesque of Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (re: privatization), weighed in and it’s significant because I bet she doesn’t go to the restroom without running it by the old Jebster, when Lee County decided to exercise local control and opt-out at least temporarily of the states standardized testing system.
"We are deeply disappointed by the Lee County School Board's vote to abandon Florida's academic tests and with it, their responsibility for the success of the community's students.
"Not only do these academic checkups provide an honest assessment to parents of how their children are progressing in school, they also prepare students for the future because tests are a part of life.
"Measuring student achievement is the cornerstone of a strong accountability system that allows our children to learn to their full potential and be competitive with their peers across the state, nation and around the globe. Tests also shine a light on where school systems need to improve, where they need to invest more resources. Without them some schools and students would fall through the cracks.
"The Lee County School Board is neglecting its duty to ensure a meaningful education for their students and uphold state law."
"Instead of refusing to participate in a small number of state tests which actually provide taxpayers and the public with some meaningful measure of how schools and districts are performing across the state, Lee County should first look locally. Last year, the county required more than 160 tests over and above state required assessments. A better choice would be focusing on fewer and better tests in their own community instead of using the state as a scapegoat."
Dripping with self-serving hyperbole, basically she is saying, hey Jeb knows what’s best for your children and you’re worse than pond scum if you question him. 
Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence tells us to stand up to unjust laws and in my mind that’s exactly what the Lee County School board is doing, and doing it because they both know and care about their children something we definitely can't say about Bush and his cronies. 

The out of control rhetoric from Voucher Supporters.

First don’t think for a second these people care about children. If they did instead of filtering them into sub-standard options that resist accountability they would be working night and day to help improve our schools, to make sure they had proper resources and programs and that their staff members were well provided for and treated with respect, or you know the exact opposite of what is happening now.  

John Legg, who to be honest has been the best of the worst when it comes to education.

“It is now apparent to me that the Association’s stance on educating low income students and access to choice in education is too conflicting with my own. “It saddens me that the FSBA would take a position that looks to eliminate customization in education.”
“Over the years and in particular the last legislative session, I have worked, in good faith, with many that now wish to eliminate school choice for all,” he said. “It is apparent that these groups were disingenuous with their efforts and have put their political views over that of our students’ needs.”

Gov. Rick Scott, "It is unconscionable that trial lawyers and unions have ganged up to use these children as a political ploy. Quite simply, this careless action could have terrible consequences on the lives of Florida's poorest children, who with the help of this program have a chance to escape poverty."
Patricia Levesque of former Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education: "If these organizations sat down and talked to the families benefiting from this hugely popular program, I think they'd be humbled and embarrassed by their actions."

John Kirtley, the millionaire bully behind Step up fro Students threatened to play a larger role in Florida school board races in the future.
"If the FSBA moves forward with this reckless suit, the Florida Federation for Children will actively serve the interests of parents and become involved in more school board races for years to come,"
Gary Chartrand, who sent his children to exclusive prep schools completely unlike the ones vouchers pay for, “I believe in choice and in freedom especially for those children that have limited mobility and limited financial resources. The Florida tax credit scholarships provide this freedom for our most underserved population to choose a school that best serves their needs.  The FSBA “is acting without consideration for this population by filing a law suit against this program. This is surprising and disheartening, and I call on them to rethink their position and withdraw the lawsuit.” –
Florida House Speaker-Designate Steve Crisafulli: “This proven, popular program is essential for preparing children for success in college and the workforce.  I hope School Board members will reconsider their actions and put the needs of children first.”
This is the same group who have starved pubic schools of resources, blamed teachers and deamonized their representatives. They have subjugated the children to high stakes testing and teachers to VAM based evaluations, which nobody who is knowledgeable thinks.
For the children? Not even close. 

Education Matters looking for more First Coast High School parents and teachers to tell their story

I have already talked to numerous members of the faculty at First Coast high school, those not to afraid to speak  but I would like to talk to more and to get their stories of bullying and abuse of power out there and that goes for any parents who may have been disrespected or slighted by the principal as well.

You can leave a comment here or send a note to and I promise to be discreet.

I know some people are afraid but I am reminded of the old saying all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Abuse and disrespect rarely stop just because you hope it does. 

Duval County makes a big mistake hiring Brennan at First Coast High

From a reader responding to the principal at First Coast High School's bullying of his staff:

Abusers have no concept of the damage they perpetuate, as the boss bullies the employees, the students suffer. If he talks like that to grown, educated adults, imagine how he speaks to and about students and parents. A school should be a Safe Space for all. One must wonder why the district chose to rehire a man with a reputation for bullying, is it ignorance or do they simply believe that the school deserves to be punished? 

Under the leadership of Vincent Hall the school improved in safety and improved the C grade to an A. Perhaps if the district explored stability in the administration by keeping the effective leaders at the schools they are in, like our neighbor Clay County (ex: Clay High), we would not watch schools repeatedly plummet. Ineffective administration shouldn't be put on action plans and/or moved to other schools or district jobs, they should be either formally trained or fired. This school in particular has also had the unlucky fortune of being saddled with an administrator that had been demoted from her principal throne after tanking an elementary school. I suppose giving her a stab at a large high school is First Coast's reward for all their hardwork. 

The bottom line is that he believes First Coast teachers just don't give a damn, according to his statements to the superintendent. On the contrary, they care so much they are staying despite the hostility and desperately trying to save a school that one man hates. No one wants the situation to be true, but only he can change it.

Florida's failing charter school industry. Students, families and tax payers paying the price.

From the Sun Times Editorial Board
Why do we let charter school owners get away with so much?
Private charter schools are funded by taxpayers, yet Florida law does not require their operators and key staff to undergo background checks — financial or criminal. And unlike traditional public schools, charters are paid to serve special-needs students, yet are not required to actually offer the services. And as the Sun Sentinel discovered this summer, many don't bother.

Now our reporters have found that failed charter school operators are being allowed to open new schools, under new names, despite past financial or other problems that led to previous charter closings.
No less than seven groups of applicants with ties to failed or floundering charter schools are seeking second chances and public money to open 18 more.
As reporters Karen Yi and Amy Shipley found, most will likely win approval. That's because school districts say they are restricted from turning away applicants based solely on past problems running charter schools. State laws allows district officials to evaluate what's on the application, such as academic plans, budget proposals and student services. But the application doesn't ask questions about previous school collapses or controversial professional histories.
Take a quick look at the type of folks being allowed another shot at public cash:
•A group that opened three new charter schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties this year — and shut them down on the first day of school.
•The founder of two charter schools that failed in 2007 amid accusations of stolen money, shoddy record-keeping and parent complaints, state and local records show. A state investigation later chastised school directors for next-to-nothing oversight.
•An educator who was banned from New Jersey public schools, then consulted for two schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties that shut down last year. The Palm Beach County school district closed one of the schools because of poor academics and financial difficulties; the Broward school failed due to dwindling enrollment.
The list goes on.
But according to Florida state leaders, none of that matters. Because of the political muscle of this growing industry, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott play hands off with these private, but publicly funded schools.
Keep in mind, the charter school business is booming. Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties have received 90 applications to open charter schools in 2015-16. That's not counting the 620 already operating statewide, double the number around in the last decade.
Given what's at stake, why are they not held accountable?
After all, when a charter school fails, its students start to fall behind. Parents lose, too, as they scramble to find their child a good school with an open seat.
For these reasons and more, we call on Gov. Scott to stand up for the children in failing charter schools. More attention is needed to ensure their educational gains — not to mention taxpayer dollars — are protected.
Yes, there are plenty of good charter schools. Many serve the needs of parents who want something better than low-performing public schools in their neighborhoods.
Still, charter schools shouldn't face lesser accountability standards.
Florida needs more oversight of charter schools. Operators should be forced to report sooner than later when they can no longer pay to turn on the lights or keep students enrolled. They should be required to provide a permanent address months in advance of opening, not weeks, like today. And the law should be changed to allow local officials to look beyond the black-and-white print on an application and take past failures into consideration.
The failures in the state's charter school law cannot stand.

Duval teachers blamed for things outside their control.

From a reader about the Brennan piece:

I have been fortunate to be under principals who really seem to value their teachers as much as they can with the resources they are given. I have heard horror stories like those above, and they are not hard to believe. Now, AP's have been another story; they have been varied and inconsistent in terms of quality. 

Overall, Vitti seems to support methods that make teachers feel like powerless peons, like we are the ones who created the system in the first place and now have to pay for it. WE did NOT send students to school without early learning, lunch, school supplies, or discipline. WE did NOT put people in charge who have the power to uplift or destroy teacher morale. WE did NOT create the massive paperwork or testing issues that occur every day. Those downtown don't seem to value teachers at all; otherwise, we would have our stipend right now to pay for basic supplies. We would have 2 days to give the baseline test, not 1. We would have less than 40-50 students in electives. We would have technology that actually works. We would be valued over TFA. We would be supported if students have to be sent out for ANY reason. We would be able to use our time effectively. We would have an ID machine that works. We would have an effective tardy policy. We would have a Student Code of Conduct that enforces discipline consistently. 

Seriously, I really like my principal; however, he is bound by the "gods" downtown who lord over everyone, staring down from a crumbling ivory tower of ignorance. Vitti and those with whom he surrounds himself do NOT understand how learning really works, how students can truly make gains, or that we TEACHERS will still be here when he has handed off the baton to the next person who makes promises he/she cannot or will not keep.

I will say that there is 1 thing that I can praise Vitti for, and it is the Grade Recovery policy change. It has altered how my students think about their progress in class. I wish I could think of something else that he has done to revolutionize DCPS. 

Maybe someone else can come up with something/anything for which downtown can be praised...

Principal Al Brennans most despicable comments at faculty meetings. First Coast HS parents he is in charge of your kids.

I met with numerous members of the First Coast teaching staff and sadly they are a miserable lot. It doesn't have to do with the kids either and to be honest it rarely does but with the principal who talks to them in a fashion that would get them fired if they did the same to a student. Bullying, intimidation and threats are alive and well at First Coast High School but its not kids people have to worry about but the principal Al Brennan.

Below are confirmed quote from multiple sources.

(First Coast Parents) are Malicious and Vile and they would lie about anything.

I didn't even want to be principal here... preferring a school closer to his house.

You (teachers) are in the palm of my hand as I (pick who to) surplus

Go to Kinko's if you want to make copies (as he changed the locks on the copier room telling teachers there would be no more ink or paper).

If you show up Sunday, (during pre-planning for teachers to work on their rooms) I will open up my window and laugh at you.

If only I didn't have to depend on teachers, who are to incompetent to count students (paraphrased over the intercom during classes).

Teachers can't tutor students anymore unless you can support it by data and have my permission. (paraphrased)

This is my rodeo!

Finally and I hope you read this twice.

At a staff meeting Mr. Brennan told a story where he crossed paths with an autistic student at Walmart, he then  proceeded to mock and ridicule the child. What they told me was to reprehensible to write.

Finally it is truly horrifying when you consider that above has very little to do with the bullying and intimidation tactics he uses which is why the staff contacted me in the first place.

This man is in charge of staff and students.

Welcome to Duval County.