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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Times Union is less right than a broke clock when it comes to education

In Jacksonville we have not had the education system we deserve nor could have had and part of the reason why is we have not had a press that has done its due diligence and at the Times Union we have had an editorial board that has consistently been on the wrong side of education. 

Look at their endorsements.

In 2 despite the fact all the candidates who did not make it to the general election endorsed Elizabeth Andersen, partly because they thought Howland would be in the pocket of charter schools, the editorial board wrote they weren't convinced he would be. I guess they just overlooked the tens of thousands of dollars from charters he has taken. Where they aren't convinced they sure are willing to roll the dice aren't they. 

In 4 the editorial board endorsed Teach for America executive Darryl Willie saying the district was a delicate one. Well Willie is a transplant to the district and he never taught or went to the schools there and is funded by an anti public education Ponte Vedra million named Gary Chartrand. His opponent Cynthia Smith has lived her entire life in district 4, where she went to and taught in their schools and currently runs a business. It seems to me she would know a little more about the ins and out s of the district than Willie who has live their 7 years and run for school board twice. The editorial board perhaps most grievously also over looked that the district has phased Teach for America out. That's right, going forward DCPS doesn't want anymore of what Willie is selling. 

Now in 6 they did endorse long time educator Charlotte Joyce over 30 year old, recent transplant to Jacksonville, David Chauncey. However they fawned over Chauncey saying he would be just as good as life long resident Joyce who also went to and currently works in our schools. Did I mention Chauncey has taken tens of thousands of dollars from charter school interests as well. I guess they aren't convinced he would be in their pocket either.

On one side, Willie, Chauncey and Howland, we have transplants, who worked a total of two years in our schools and who have taken tons of money from charter schools and vouchers and on the other side, Joyce, Smith and Andersen we have life long residents, graduates of DCPS and all current or former teachers who haven't taken any money from charter schools.

So what does the Times Union do, they endorse Willie and Howland and really wanted to endorse Chauncey too.

Once again, Jacksonville has not had the education system we deserve nor could have had and part of the reason why is we have not had a press that has done its due diligence and at the Times Union we have had an editorial board that has consistently been on the wrong side of education.

The City deserves better. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Superintendent Greene's troublesome leadership style

I was out last week and when i returned i was told the superintendent told us to change our bus release schedule.

I work at a center school for disabled children and everybody rides a bus and pretty much everybody has to be escorted to the bus. 

Then there are a lot of buses and they come in waves. This new schedule has thrown everything out of whack and now the last buses have typical still been picking students up after teacher and para hours end.

She didn't discuss this with anybody, find out our reasons behind the schedule nope she just showed up and said change it and didn't worry about the chaos that ensued.

Then there is this , from WJCT about meta detectors,

School board members had a lot of questions for who would be monitoring the metal detectors and how the process would work. A lot of that hasn’t been figured out, because the plan wasn’t supposed to be made public yet.
Edwards originally talked about the plans at Monday evening’s safety meeting at Raines High School. At Tuesday’s workshop board members arrived confused as to why they hadn’t been clued in.
Greene said there’s a school board workshop scheduled for next month where the grant application would be discussed. At that meeting, board members will be able to suggest changes to the district's grant as prior to its submission, although requests are supposed to be based on needs principals identified. Greene apologized to board members about their finding out about the plan through news articles.
The board didn't know and there was no stake holder input? Greene just ruled by fiat that we would have metal detectors. Her promise of inclusiveness thrown out the window replaced by her gut decision. That friends isn't leadership. I am against metal detectors, and I get it, a lot of people might be for them, but isn't this a decision the community should make?  Greene obviously doesn't think so.

Duval county public schools elects to give into fear

I was very disappointed today that the district has chosen to put metal detectors in our high schools. 

This is a knee jerk decision which doesn't address the real problem mental health and a lack of discipline, and which quite frankly I don't believe will keep our schools safer. 

From WJCT,

Duval County public high schools will probably have walk-through metal detectors for checking students for weapons later this school year, according to the district's police director Micheal Edwards at a school board workshop Tuesday.
The recommendation was made after security risk assessments of district schools, including principal feedback identifying their schools’ most vulnerable areas.
More cameras with better resolution and walk-through metal detectors in high schools were determined to be most needed.
“Our goal is to quadruple the amount [of cameras schools] have,” Superintendent Diana Greene said. “The average school only has about 16 cameras. Our high school campuses have thousands of square footage.”
State lawmakers passed school safety legislation after February’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. It dedicates $99 million to hardening districts’ schools. Duval is planning to apply for some of the state funding to get the cameras, metal detectors and other improvements.
Everyone wants to keep our children safe but I don't believe we want our schools turned into prisons either. Metal detectors don't do anything to address our mental health problem, nor do they address poverty or hopelessness in our schools.   

Sunday, October 14, 2018

It's time to send Jason Fischer home and elect Ken Organes in HD 16

Jason Fischer has been terrible. He quit his job n the school board to run for the state house and he only showed his love for the school board after he failed to get elected to the soil and water board. 

In Tallahassee he has been a constant foe of public education and has actively tried to enrich his employer John Kirtley and biggest donor Gary Chartrand.

From the Folio Weekly

 The District 16 race has the feel of a classic election upset. Organes, a retiree who worked at CSX for 32 years, was an active community volunteer until he became frustrated by the current political discourse. Energized through his involvement in the Duval County Democratic Party, Organes decided to run for office. On the stump, no one will confuse Organes’ oratory with that of Andrew Gillum’s. He has made school funding and school safety his top legislative priorities. Yet his sincerity connects with those he meets and his ideas are at the heart of Democratic values: Education, opportunity and equality. Organes has raised $41,000, mostly from nearly 200 small-dollar donations contributed by regular people who live in his district.

Fischer, a one-term state representative, has been running for public office since his mid-20s. In fact, in 2012, Fischer became the youngest person ever elected to the Duval School Board. In GOP circles, he’s thought to have a bright future; he’s Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s protégé. His affiliation with Curry helped him collect nearly $200,000 by Labor Day, all from major Florida GOP donors and corporate PACs. In a largely Republican district with a conservative voting record, Fischer would appear to be on track to pursue higher office in the near future with an agenda that mirrors the national Republican agenda: Lower taxes, create jobs, gut Obamacare … and repeat.
So can Organes beat Fischer? The common wisdom would say no. Fischer has a 5-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage and the ability to raise far more if things get sticky. Fischer has an A rating from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and NRA. District 16 is largely white and performs strongly Republican, despite a healthy amount of No Party Affiliation voters. In fact, Organes would need to get nearly three-quarters of the NPA votes in the district to balance the Republican registration advantage. So what is the case for Organes? There are a couple of reasons for genuine Democratic optimism.
First, at the ripe old age of 34, Fischer is already a career politician with a record. This includes supporting the privatization of Florida’s beaches, propping up Jacksonville’s KIPP Charter Schools with millions of taxpayer dollars, voting against debating an assault weapons ban, while students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gasped in the House Gallery, and voting against increasing the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic assault weapons to 21. While Fischer wears his NRA “A” rating as a badge of honor, Organes will make that badge the proverbial scarlet letter for someone beholden to the gun manufacturers’ lobby. Fischer’s voting record gives Organes the opportunity to reintroduce Fischer to his own constituents and create a clear contrast.
Second, this election is being held with the backdrop of a truth-averse sitting President of the United States in the throes of a Nixonian-like meltdown. What will be Donald Trump’s fate by Nov. 6? Republicans who have attached themselves to Trump like remora on a great white will suffer from his demise. The greater the attachment, the worse the trickle-down effect.
In the past, Fischer has had trouble with alternative facts. In his race for Duval County School Board, his campaign website claimed for months he was a Navy engineer when, in fact, he was a civilian employee who never served in the military. This was well-covered by The Florida Times-Union, yet Fischer still won his race in an upset. Regardless of such missteps and the Trump dumpster fire, Fischer will overwhelmingly win the majority of Republican votes. But how much of that vote will stay home? One can assume the smaller Democratic voting base will be greatly energized. But energized how? District 16 residents have not had a chance to vote for a Democratic candidate since the 2007 Special Election.
The race in District 15 is certainly worthy of the statewide and national attention it will receive in the fall. Tracye Polson is a dynamic candidate who connects with voters. Wyman Duggan performed well in a contested primary. He’s popular in the local GOP establishment and, though he’s temporarily short on funds, he’ll get major support from the same sources backing Fischer, namely the Lenny Curry machine.
I can't imagine anybody being on the fence about Fischer but if you are let me point something out to you. Both men worked for CSX, which was run by Micheal Ward. Now nobody is going to confuse Ward with a democrat , he has been a power player in local republican politics for years but in this race he chose to support Organes over Fischer, and the reason probably is he knows Fischer only cares about himself.
I care about public education and if you do as well, then you have to support Ken, our schools, teachers and most importantly our students will depend on it. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

How the rich are trying to buy school board races in Jacksonville

Dave Chauncey a recent transplant and thirty year old lawyer has raised 98,000 dollars for a local school board race or about 2 and a half years salary. From September 15th through the 28th he brought in over 17 thousand dollars or more than his opponent Charlotte Joyce has raised in 9 months.

Now don't think he is popular with the masses as most of the money came from a handful of millionaires looking to dominate our schools and that should trouble us all.

Investor William Walton the III and his trust have given 4,000 dollars.

The Baker family who lives in Ponte Vedra sent him 5 grand

The Steins, more Ponte Vedra residents chipped in 3 grand

The Weavers and their various companies gave him 5,500 too.

Then look at this, VCP real estate investments, JDR Jax LLC and Vestcor Communities all sent him a grand each, and they all share the same address too. Then their owners, the Roods, donated another four grand on top of that.

Do you know a teacher or parent who has 7 grand to chip into a school board race? I sure as heck don't.

What's atrocious is this is perfectly legal too. A system set up to benefit the rich and give them more voice.

I could go on and on about Chauncey's donors. but you should take a look for yourself.

Our democratic process is being subverted by millionaires many of whom don't live in the city nor sent their children to our public schools. We aren't being led, we are being ruled.

@#$% you Delores Bar Weaver! There I said it and I feel better for having done so.

Delores Bar weaver, wife of former Jags owner Wayne Weaver has been in the news a lot recently.

She gave a million dollars to United Way, a freaking million dollars.

From the Times Union:

Jacksonville philanthropist Delores Barr Weaver has donated $1 million to the United Way of Northeast Florida’s endowment, which provides a sustainable revenue source to the nonprofit and its partners.
The donation is the first endowment gift of that size in the nonprofit’s 94-year history, according to the agency.
“United Way of Northeast Florida is a critical leader in addressing the most challenging conditions of our community,” Weaver said. “I am proud to support United Way’s efforts for generations to come, knowing the lives of local children and families will be irrevocably transformed.”
Then she is fighting against human trafficking too,
From CBS 47
The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center is at the helm of Florida’s new Open Doors Outreach Network; when a survivor is identified, they’re immediately paired with a survivor mentor, a regional advocate and a clinician.
And she's advocating for girl empowerment too,

Annual See the Girl Summit

The purpose of the See the Girl Summit is to challenge participants to see how they can shift and shape the ways in which girls are treated, elevate the voices of girls, and those who identify as female, through research, advocacy and programming. Participants include juvenile justice professionals, mental health professionals, advocates, education system, child welfare system, students, health care professionals, researchers, philanthropists, parents/caregivers, volunteers, and concerned citizens.  The summit is building community through highlighting innovative programming, advocacy, and research that challenges individuals to shift how they respond to girl

Is she about to die? I don't ask this glibly because this is a lot of movement on her part and she hasn't been in the news this much since somebody stole her Beanie Baby collection over a decade ago?
You know what? I am for girl empowerment, against human trafficking and then United way is a great cause but despite all that $#@^ you Delores Bar Weaver.
She also gave a grand to Dave Chauncey, a thirty year old recent transplant to Jacksonville and a former teach for america teacher runnng for school board over a life long resident, graduate of DCPS schools and current teacher, Charlotte Joyce for the district 6 school board race. That's unacceptable and just goes to show she's just throwing money out there and has no idea what she is doing.
Human trafficking is detestable but she gets no props from me because her husband underpaid his employees and over charged his customers resulting in a personal fortune.
Girl empowerment s important but she gets no props from me if she is willing to support candidates who want to privatize our schools and minimize our teachers.
United Way is a great cause too but she gets no props from me if she has chosen to be so uniformed about what our schools need, which is a leader, not a dupe of privatization.  
These rich people, they disgust me, she disgusts me and I know that is harsh. She throws money at a problem when it's us as a society that should have the resources to fix it without her but because the wealthy are so insatiable they have crafted a society where only they benefit and then they are thought of as heroes for throwing nickels at the problems that have mostly came about because society doesn't have the resources to deal with them because we have chosen to make her and her husband filthy rich instead. 
Delores is not the hero of the story. She's the villain and that's because society has been tricked into thinking the wealthy are great when what we need is a society with the resources to solve the problems on our own.  
%$@# you Delores, we don't need your money, or if things were they way they should be we wouldn't.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Why I sometimes hate DTU, endorsement edition

First let me say I think DTU has done as well as humanly possible on economic issues, hands down, though I have been disappointed on how we have given in on the treatment of veteran teachers, especially when it has to do with surpluses.

Then as somebody who has been in trouble multiple times with the district I can say unequivocally the union has always been there and fought for me. I can't express in words how appreciative I am of them.

So with that out of the way I can't stress how disappointed I am that the union choose to co endorse businessman Nick Howland and former teacher Elizabeth Andersen.

The union co endorsing Howland and Andersen is like rooting for Florida and Georgia when they play, or wanting to vote for DeSantis and Gillum, it doesn't make any sense.

Howland has taken money from people who would drown the union in a bath tub given the chance while Andersen is a former teacher who was in our classrooms.

Howand is the candidate of charter schools and alternate teaching routes while Andersen is the candidate of teachers and public schools yet somehow they are the same?

Bull Sh^t!

I know what the union did and that's they hedged heir bet, which is a huge lack of leadership. Does DTU think Howand is ever going to support union positions? If so I have some swampland, prime real estate I would like to sell them cheap.

The union has sacrificed the moral high ground on the chance it might not alienate a future board member rather than go all in on the perfect candidate for the job and it makes me ill.

I am a union guy and will be one tomorrow too, but this is so disappointing.

At the end of the day if you care about public education there is only one candidate in district 2 and that's Elizabeth Andersen, how the union, or more accurately the small percentage of the union that does the endorsing didn't see that,  is beyond me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

There really is no choice between DeSantis and Gillum if you support public schools.

Electing Andrew Gillum will stop the assault on public education and school teachers, but it won't reverse the decades of damage done. To do that we also need to elect senators and representatives to Tallahassee that care about public education as well.

If you care about public education then you only have one choice for governor and that is Andrew Gillum. DeSantis would undoubtedly keep up the attacks on teachers and continue to privatize our schools despite the fact evidence overwhelmingly says it has been a disaster.

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We can turn things around or we can continue the republicans plan of the last two decades.

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Teachers rally around Elizabeth Andersen candidate school board district 2

By John Meeks

With a $62 million budget deficit, our school district has been forced to make painfully difficult decisions, including ending middle school block scheduling and cutting schools' faculty.  Whatever our austerity, however, I hope that our school board commits to increased mental health services for our students - and even redoubles their efforts.  

I know that naysayers would write off mental health services as superfluous to essential instruction.  To them, I would say that mental illness should be taken as seriously as we insist on students being vaccinated.   

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of children with a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60 percent of children with diagnosable depression are not getting treatment.  

If public schools are to be held accountable for students' learning gains and responsible for their safety, should they not be allowed to assist with handling obstacles to learning such as depression and anxiety?

Unlike our weekly school nurse visits where I can store a first aid kit in my file cabinet for students who may be injured four days out of the week, I do not have such easy means of attending to a student whose depression or anxiety is getting in the way of their learning while tending to classes with up to 30 students.

Having worked with children in the Beaches community for over 15 years, it is my hope that Elizabeth Andersen is elected to the Duval County School Board.  I appreciate that she sees a connection between the mental health of our youth and preventing school violence.    

There is nothing unprecedented in our approach to the issue.  Public schools were a central front in the war against polio - a war that we won.  Today's battle to heal the minds of our children can also be won if we commit to it.  

Becki Couch implores Tallahassee to stop attacking public education and for people to vote for pro public ed candidates

We are going to miss Mrs. Couch when she leaves the school board. She started slow but during her second term she has been a fierce defender and advocate of pubic ed. We are also really going to miss her if she is replaced by Dave Chauncey, the privatizers dream candidate. On a Facebook post  Mrs. Couch let her feelings about the upcoming election be known.

Via Fcebook

All of these (air condition units, old lap tops and a failing copier machine) are paid out of capital funds. 

Our legislature has reduced the amount school boards can levy from 2 mil to 1.5 mil. That resulted in a loss of $36 million every year since 2010. 

They also kept the required local effort flat which does not allow for school districts to benefit from rising property values. 

They gave over 50% of PECO taxes to charters 600 schools versus over 4,000 district schools. 

To top it off they now require school districts to share what little amount they have in property taxes with charters that are privately owned and for profit run. 

All of this occurred within the last 8 years. 

It’s time to demand better from politicians in Tallahassee. Parents and teachers must unite to demand public education is no longer the whipping post.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

DTU and the district come through for teachers frozen out of Teacher Lead Money

This was in my inbox

Classroom Supply Assistance Money Agreement

Eligible classroom teachers were paid classroom supply assistance money on the September 28th paycheck. The State requires that teachers have, in hand, a current teaching certificate in order to receive the award. Because of that requirement, many classroom teachers, who otherwise would have been eligible, did not receive the funds because Tallahassee has fallen behind in processing certificates.

DTU filed a grievance after being notified that some teachers would not receive the money. These teachers were ineligible through no fault of their own. They had submitted their paperwork in time as required, but the DOE didn’t process the paperwork in a timely fashion. After conversations between DTU and DCPS, an agreement was reached to allow the 4 teachers to be paid the classroom supply assistance money of $325 after their certificates are received. In order to be eligible, those impacted classroom teachers must have completed the required application for their certificate to cover the 2018-2019 school year and must have been working for DCPS in an eligible position by September 1, 2018.

The Duval Certification Office will conduct a bi-weekly review of the DOE’s database for certificate issuance of those pending applications. Human Resources will provide the Payroll Office with a list of those teachers whose certificates were issued during the reviews so the classroom supply assistance money can be processed for the next available regular payroll period.

I have to say this is good news, but I also have to say I am still steamed teachers found out they weren't getting it when they looked at their checks and for days were told so sorry.

The district has to treat its teachers better, they deserve it.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

How many ways can the district $@% teachers? Let me count.

I am being told that new teachers and veterans that applied for re-certification last year have lost out on the teacher lead money. 320 dollars that many had already spent to out fit their rooms and buy supplies.

They are being told with a shrug by the district that their certification process has not been completed by the state and thus they aren't eligible. It doesn't matter that they had their paper work in, in plenty of time or that they had already spent their own money.

What makes the situation worse is there was no heads up, that they weren't going to get the money, they only discovered it after they opened their checks and the the money wasn't there. What a slap in the face that must have been to professionals who dedicate their lives to the service of children.

Then there is no make up pay time either, when the state finally does complete their certifications because of some state imposed arbitrary deadline, that teachers missed through absolutely no fault of their own.

I find this unacceptable.

People wonder why there is a teacher shortage and fewer people are going into the field well I say the answer is obvious, its because of the continuous parade of sleights like this one, accept this sleight hurts teachers already precarious bank accounts.

Then in Jacksonville I think about all the money wasted recently with things like the QEA that sent 5 million to Teach for America that didn't go towards salaries, benefits, training or classrooms. Couldn't we use that money to make up this travesty fostered on teachers already so put upon by the state?

Our teachers deserve so much better and if the state isn't going to do what is right then the district should use its reserve funds to do so, rather than continue with the shrug and insincere "so sorry" that teachers have been currently getting from DCPS.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Student Loan Forgiveness for Public Service is a sham

99 percent of applicants have been rejected but more than that in a few.

I know I am going to hear it, you took the loans and you knew you would have to pay them back. That is true but when I took the loans things were a lot different. I am in year 18 as a teacher, when I started as a teacher an 18th year teacher was making an inflation adjusted 5 grand more than I am making now. 5 grand.  You extrapolate that out over the last ten years when teachers salaries started going backwards in the terms of actual dollars, that could be as much as 30 thousand or a huge dent in the student loans that at this rate I will never be able to pay back.

To share my tragic story, I borrowed 55, paid back over 20 and now owe 63. I just turned fifty, and this is a debt I will never ever repay, unless I received some loan forgiveness and as somebody who has spent 18 of the last 19, the last 13 straight in inner city classrooms working with disabled children, you would think I would be a prime candidate, sadly however it turns out nobody is a prime candidate.

From Forbes,

 According to data released by the U.S. Department of Education, only 96 borrowers have qualified for public service loan forgiveness as of June 30, 2018. Only 1% of applications for loan forgiveness have been approved.
A total of 28,081 unduplicated borrowers submitted a total of 32,601 applications for public service loan forgiveness. Some borrowers submit more than one application because the forgiveness is per loan, not per borrower.
Of these applications, 28,913 (89%) have been processed and 3,688 are still pending.
Now they will give you a lot of reasons for the applications being declined but why do they make it so difficult?

Teach for America teachers get close to ten grand for two years service, which is only ten grand more than I have gotten for 18 years and who wants to bet their hoops are a lot easier to get through.

The teaching profession is being beaten down not that I think they are the only ones that should be eligible, the police, firemen, the military, social workers, and many, many others, lets put them all in the program and make it a lot easier too. Hell we give so much to millionaires and billionaires its time the people doing the work making sure society doesn't go off the rails, get a piece of the pie.

Right now it's nothing but a sham.