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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Scott Shine says teachers don't need raises.

Are you $#^ing kidding me? #$%^& #$%@ on a stick What is wrong with this $%#& *&%@!!!!

Deep breaths, deep breaths. Also symbols above only replaced the words puppies and kittens, so please nobody write me up or threaten to sue me.

From the Florida Times Union: Among its requests is a general bid for more state money to raise teacher salaries beyond the one-time bonuses. Florida is the 36th lowest paying state for in the nation for teachers, according to the Florida School Finance Council, a group of district officials which advises the state.


Board member Scott Shine pointed out that those rankings don’t consider the cost of living differences among states.
You know because the cost of living is so low here in Jacksonville. Teachers are riding high on the hog.
Mr. Shine a millionaire by the way has the chutzpah to imply teachers salaries are just fine because the cost of living in other states is higher and the the thing is he couldn't be more wrong.
Want to see how wrong, play around with this.
http://www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/jacksonville-fl/detroit-mi/50000

There are plenty of places that have a lower cost of living and pay more but hey facts...
District 2 is this really the guy you want representing you? How many of you think teachers are paid to much?
You have to do better.

John Meeks: use early release days to make up weather days!

Dear Editors,

After the damage has been done by Hurricane Irma, there is still a storm to be weathered with the remainder of the school year in Duval County.

The school system has built-in 'weather days' on which are treated as additional days off until they are needed to make up for school closings.  There were five weather days allotted for this school year.  Hurricane Irma closed Duval County Public Schools for six days.  And hurricane season is not over yet.

I know that it is essential for us to recover lost learning time for our students.  I also know that we cannot win any war debating which days to sacrifice to play a futile game of catch up.  For example, December 21 is slated to be a make up day.  Do we really think that attendance will be high on that day?

Instead, I think that we should suspend early dismissal days for the remainder of the school year.  First of all, those 'half days' wreak havoc with block schedule planning, parent pick up times, and after school programs.  

For those who would lament the loss of professional development and faculty collaboration, don't worry.  Teachers have PLC (department or team) meetings, monthly faculty meetings, and online training that can do the job just as well if not better than early dismissal days.

For those parents who still can't quite pin down when their child gets out of school on any given Wednesday, this is your chance to have one less thing to worry about after the storm and the school system can make it happen.

I know that I am not alone in this sentiment.  Please prove me right, community.

Sincerely,

John Louis Meeks, Jr.

DCPS should use early release days to make up weather days

Last year, Duval was the only county in Northeast Florida to make up the days missed due to hurricane Mathew. Every district missed days, but we were the only ones to make them up.

I also have to say I think Willis and the board were masterful with their placement or weather days, putting the bulk of them at the end of the year.

That being said, I don't want to be staring at the few kids that come that week, asking them what they want to do, when the truth is neither of us will want to be there.

Several people including teacher/advocate John Meeks have suggested we use our early release days to make up at least some of the weather days, a suggestion I also made last year, and a suggestion I wholeheartedly agree with.

We could make up two or three days using early release days.

You might be asking about the training we would be missing, well let me tell you about the training I received last year. Now there were a couple good trainings that I thought had value, but there were also three or four times were insurance agencies and banks came to sell us their products, and there were a couple times the PTA fed us too and have you seen me, I love to eat, but they could probably feed us during the day.

Then there were the district trainings consisting of remote power points where if we managed to stay awake or not go mad from boredom we weren't allowed to ask questions. As close to being a waste of time as possible.

Principals are allowed to call staff meetings where teachers are supposed to stay late and where not a fan of those times either, if there were relevant trainings, we could have them then.  

I will say, I thought the district did a good job with the hurricane, unlike last year when nobody seemed to know what was going on, but let's join the rest of Northeast Florida and build a schedule where weather days are no longer needed or lets show some more flexibility and use time, early release days, which for most people could be better used.
  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Becki Couch points out how important public schools are while Scott Shine twiddles his thumbs

I think we re going to miss Mrs. Couch when she is gone next year as she has been a fierce advocate for our public schools and this was on display once again when it was pointed out how important DCPS was during Hurricane Irma.

From the Times Union
Board member Rebecca Couch pointed out that 11 of the 12 shelters open in the storm were public schools. District public schools have construction requirements that make them withstand storms and enable them to be used as shelters, she said.
Charter schools do not have such requirements and frequently are located in private buildings, which are not open to the public during storms, she said.
This is an important issue, she added, because the district is legally challenging a new state law which will force districts to share its school construction dollars with charter schools, even though many charter school buildings are privately owned.
While Couch is sticking up for our schools it shouldn't be forgot that board member Shine was for House Bill 7069 a public school kneecapping bill that favors charter schools and partly because he believed union teachers would eventually lose their jobs, and voted against joining a law suit pushing back against it. Inexplicably he also called the republican delegation to Tallahassee who voted for it both gutless and uninformed as well. Saying they only voted for because they were both afraid of speaker Corcoran and didn't know what was in it
My question is, ten years from now if Shine has his way and most public schools have been replaced by charters and a hurricane is bearing down on Jacksonville where will people go? Probably just one of the many things he nor his ilk have considered.

District 2, you have to do better?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The class size amendment is under attack... again

Once again, the class size amendment is under attack from Dominic M. Calabro, CEO, Florida Tax Watch and Bob Ward, CEO, Florida Council of 100, and once again they use faulty reasoning in the editorial they sent to the states papers to do so.
A little history about the class size amendment, it was overwhelmingly passed by the people of Florida in 2002, and then reapproved in 2010. However, since then, the Florida legislature has systematically tried to water it down and dismantle it until today when it is just a shadow of what was originally approved with loopholes so big you could drive school buses through, yet still it is under attack and the reason is money, people like Calabro and Ward and sadly the Florida Legislature don’t want to invest in our public schools. Florida consistently ranks in the bottom five of student spending on education and without the class size amendment funding we would undoubtedly be lat.
Calabro and Ward talk about reforms that don’t work, but they don’t mention the hundreds of millions of dollars the state has sent to charter schools of which over 350 have taken public money and closed leaving children and neighborhoods in a lurch and tax payers on the hook for their losses. They don’t mention the hundreds of millions annually filtered away from public schools to vouchers, which have practically no oversite, most of them don’t even have to report how they used the money. Then there is the best and brightest bonuses, which teachers earn based on their SAT scores and yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds. No, the only reform that has drawn heir ire is the class size amendment.
They point to a Harvard study which says smaller class sizes play little role in achievement after third grade and that study undoubtedly does exist, but it’s not the end all be all as there are many studies that say smaller class sizes are beneficial. I prefer to ask teachers what they think. If they think they can make more of a difference with 20 students at a time or 30 or 35. I think you already know their answer. I also don’t think it is a coincidence, especially considering our poor funding. that our graduation rates have skyrocketed since the class size amendment was initiated.
What’s always been amazing to me is these critics of public education, that want to experiment with fringe ideas (best and Brightest), jack up class sizes, the one reform that has evidence that says it works, or want to push privatization under the guise of school choice, is they never suggest reforms that will help teachers.
This is what always baffles me about the ed reform movement, they never say, you know what we have to pay teachers more, a lot more, and they never say let’s take some pressure off teachers, lighten their work loads, give them more resources, let’s back them up with discipline or you know common sense things that teachers have been begging and clamoring for. Nope, it’s let’s make YOUR children’s classes larger.

The class size amendment has already been approved twice by the people of Florida, instead of continuing to ignore the will of the people, the Florida legislature should do what the people demanded they do, after all, we are supposed to be in charge.

If you want to support your children and the state’s teachers ignore the proposal to further gut the class size amendment and please demand the legislature properly fund education.

Chris Guerrieri

School Teacher

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Jason Fischer's lackluster and tone deaf's response to hurricane Irma

This guy, deep breaths, don't want to get written up by the district, two disciplinary hearings, threatened to be sued and being called a parasite by a school board member in a little over a year have taken their toll, but Fishcer, this guy takes the $#%^ing cake.

On his Facebook page he posted pictured of the shelters that people could seek refuge in during hurricane Irma and they are almost all public schools, you know those schools he wishes to starve and dismantle in favor of who pays his campaign bills, charter schools.

Oh and how many people did the local charters take in? Zero as far as I can tel and partly because they are blood sucking parasites who for the most part only really care about the bottom line but partly because they aren't built too, while public schools are required to be built that way because they are part of our emergency infrastructure.

Something Becki Couch pointed out on Facebook, Yet, they will receive property tax money equivalent to district public schools whose staff, food service, and schools were serving during the hurricane. Also, they are not built to code (SREF) like our schools. Take a look at Representative Fischer's FB. He is taking pictures at the hurricane shelters (all but 1 are public schools) and doesn't even see the irony that he is trying to starve public schools.

Here is a link to his page, https://www.facebook.com/jasonmfischer, if you want to point out what a hypocrite he is.

Thus far he has a ton of money and no opponent in what is considered a safe republican district, but he's terrible and we can and should do better. If no democrat steps up and I have to believe Fischer who ran a scorched Earth Campaign against his republican opponent last year is very beatable, then a decent republican needs too.

Come on folks we deserve better.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Why would Lenny Curry freeze out the non-profit community?

I believe it is so he could benefit one of his biggest campaign contributors, Gary Chartrand and his pet charter school KIPP.

From the Times Union article, Mayor's plan to reform Jacksonville's Children services took place in secrecy

Critics of the mayor’s sweeping overhaul have said not only that they were excluded from the process, but they were intentionally shut out. Notes from a meeting with more than 40 nonprofit and children-serving organizations show that none of them had been asked for input on the legislation, or knew anyone who had.
Curry’s office said it called on a team of “child resource advocates” to advise about the reforms. But, records obtained from the city and the commission — and comments from the Jacksonville Children’s Commission CEO and board chair — seem to directly contradict claims by a city spokeswoman that current commission leadership was “empowered by the mayor to oversee the study and analyze the information provided.”
Instead, emails show that input on the process was kept to a small group, including current Jax Journey leadership and two past commission board chairs selected by Curry himself.
Some invested observers have said the legislation will give the mayor — and subsequent mayors — too much influence over children’s programming. City council members who once stood beside the mayor in support of his reforms before ever seeing his plan are qualifying their statements now that the legislation has been made public.
“Ultimately, this legislation … becomes a marketing ploy put together for politics, not kids,” Children’s Commission Board Chair Matt Kane wrote of the reforms in an email to the Curry administration. “It’s renaming some things. I like the term ‘at-hope’ kids, but you don’t need legislation to call them that.”
Silly non profits, why would you expect to have any influence over Curry? Your history of good works? No you need to pony up to his super pacs, like Gary Chartrand did, if you want a seat at the table. 
Jacksonville is officially becoming a banana republic.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Former Teacher of the year says the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, isn't all that

And a bag of chips, okay I added that last part.

From a former teacher of the year, I have chosen to keep their identity anonymous because of the influence JPEF has in the district.

As a former T.O.Y., I was invited to take part in a forum of teachers sponsored by JPEF, a round table type talk to discuss issues facing teachers and what we hoped district leaders would do towards resolution. 

Some highly regarded teachers from across the district were in attendance when I was there. 

I was in attendance for only a few such sessions to end up feeling very dismayed. 

After sharing that I had attended, several people in different settings strongly implied that JPEF was more interested in working by Vitti's side rather than on behalf of educators. 

The process seemed sincere, yet clearly wasn't in the best interests of teachers or their students.

If you look at JPEF's political leanings and the actions of its board members you can definitely tell they don't have the best interests of public schools, teachers and students at heart.

An organization that zealously advocates for and supports public education would be a boon for our community, unfortunately we don't have that with JPEF.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Teachers, do you ever hate your job and it has nothing to do with the kids? (rough draft)

I hear that all the time, and where I think we would all agree we would like to make more, what I never hear about is our salaries either, most times it's the actions of other adults that make teachers feel that way. In my case it's district staff and the administration, who are telling me to do things they never had to nor will ever have to do, greatly increasing my work load and they are doing so with a smile and without an explanation . 

Let me tell you what is going on with me.

I work at a center school just for profoundly intellectually disabled children, well except for the few violent kids they sprinkle in because they don’t know what to do with them.

Well they want us to start using this new software to collect daily data on the students IEP goals. ESE students have what are called individual education plans that have goals students are supposed to be working on.

Now we have been collecting data on goals for I guess forever, but they want us to use this new system, Dsctop.

It seems like a nightmare, which is only backed up by the service providers (speech pathologists, Occupational therapists, etc) who I have spoken to who have been required to use it for the last few years, which have said it ranges from, nightmare to soul crushing.

Now I went to the union which has been very attentive and after they talked to the district they seemed very confused. Chris, they said, the district reports it being very easy to do, after the initial set up, which they admit can be a lengthy process, it should only take five minutes a day.

Oh, did I mention when I asked the service providers how long it took them to daily input their data, they invariably said, an hour. Now we will have different goals to enter, but I have eleven kids on my caseload all of which have at least 5 goals.

Here is the thing too, this is the beginning of the year. What am I going to do when IEP writing season starts, or testing season starts (my kids are give their tests individual and learning literally grinds to a halt for weeks, or addendum ESY season starts because the district can't tell us when ESY is. Times when I barely have enough time in the day to think let alone teach.

I pointed out that I believe ordering teachers through fiat violates the teacher contract in many ways. It adds new paper work, it forces us to create a data notebook, it wasn’t brought to the union, and I must say I think the district was straight up lying about how long it’s going to take (I could be wrong) which greatly increases my workload. One service provider said to me when I asked about the difference between what they did (an hour a day on dsktop) and what the district said we would be doing (5-10 minutes) and  they said, well they don’t have to do it, so they probably don't have a clue.

Isn’t that always how it is too? People who don’t have to do it, telling those that do how easy it is?
So yesterday I was told by my administration I wasn’t a team player, when it got back to them that I told the union teachers (I am the union rep at my school), I had no plans to do Dsktop, until the union got back to me. I pointed out that in this instance the teachers needed a zealous advocate more than a team player. 

Then today on the way out the door, the staff received an email saying, we are undoubtedly going to do Dsktop, and to hell with my and others concerns, okay that last part was just implied not said.

So, I came home with tears in my eyes feeling overwhelmed and its not even the end of week three, and not because of anything my kids did, but because of what adults, adults who are telling me to do things they won’t have to do, did.

When will the powers that be realize that if they continue to violate the contract, put yokes on the backs of teachers and make them hate their jobs, there will be significant repercussions, when will they care?

It certainly wasn't today.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Times Union's disappointing reporting about KIPP

These are facts

Gary Chartrand gave mayor Lenny Curry and pacs supporting him, buckets of money

Lenny Curry had the Jacksonville Children's Commission, change it's rules to send buckets of money to Chartrand's KIPP school.

They did so at the expense of poor children at other schools on the North and West sides of town.

The KIPP school is loaded, and I know, I have seen their filings.

Finally I had to read the article three times to catch it but we aren't paying for an extended day program at the KIPP school we are paying so their school day can be longer. That's messed up as up to now the money had just gone for extended day programs. 

In the Times Union's article they didn't mention the first two things and I know they know them because I have told them several times since the spring.

From the Times Union:

KIPP’s after-school funding, in addition to the shakeup in the way the children’s commission awarded funding this year, caused fear among parents and after-school providers that some 16 locations would get no money this year, said Warren Jones, a School Board member whose district includes many of those after-school sites.

http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/education/2017-08-29/city-starts-footing-bill-charters-after-school-programs

WTF Jacksonville, this is how banana republics are run.

Does Trey Csar believe teachers are professionals? And why you should care

Who is Trey Csar? He is the president of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and among other partnerships with the district most notably the administration of the Quality education for All funds, they are running the Teacher of the Year awards.

I had the following email exchange with him and I will let you be the judge. Mr. Csar is in bold

Hello

I had this message in my inbox after I wrote a piece about the upcoming teacher of the year events.

 When I worked with Trey, he said that he thought that teaching probably should NOT be a profession but a job that people do for a while and then move on.
He seriously believes that the TFA model should be the national norm!

I think the source is pretty credible so I am going to write about it, but I thought I would give you a chance to refute, explain, give context  if you want.

Thanks 


Chris --

Thanks for reaching out. I think your source is misunderstanding the context of what we've started to talk about relating to the teaching profession and the desires of an increasingly millennial workforce.

What we know from a ton of generational research (see this and this, among others) is that millennials are significantly more likely to change jobs, and even careers, and to do so more frequently than their peers in other generations. When you put that up against the traditional view of a classroom teacher, who spends the majority, if not all, of their career in that role, there is clearly a mismatch.

Across the country, districts need to be asking themselves what they can do to create opportunities for teachers to customize their careers in ways that allow them to have additional impact, and gain additional professional respect and compensation. We also have to be proactive in thinking about the impact of a workforce where the average tenure is likely to continue to get shorter, including additional professional development and recruiting costs, and whether districts and states should explore changing compensation systems to increase early-career pay (and retirement benefits) to be more competitive in recruiting talent.

If we as a society don't address this, and soon, we're going to continue facing the quality teacher shortages we've been seeing grow in recent years.

At JPEF, we have been exploring, with teachers, how such a "career lattice" could be structured that allows for great teachers to keep one foot in the classroom, teaching a reduced class load, while also contributing to the needs of their school and district in news ways, such as coaching new teachers, writing curriculum, and the like.

We don't have all the answers, that's for sure, but we're eager to continue that conversation with educators to see whether Duval County can find innovative ways to address these challenges.

Again, I appreciate you reaching out in advance to seek additional input and clarification. I'm eager to continue to conversation at any time. If any of your readers want to be part of these discussions, many of them happen as part of our Teacher Roundtable work, and folks can contact Zak Champagne at zak@jaxpef.org for information about how to get involved.

-- Trey

Thanks for getting back to me and where what you said is vastly different from what i was told and when I went back to them they were more than a little incredulous, I will take your word for it, sometimes misunderstandings occur. Just so I am clear though you are not for using the TFA model as a national model and you want to help find solutions to get teachers to stay longer such as having them do other things besides teach.

This is what always baffles me about the ed reform movement, they never say, you know what we have to pay teachers more, a lot more, sure they try merit pay schemes every once in a while and like the QEAs has they ultimately fail or are patently ridiculous like the best and brightest but raising salaries has never really been on the table, especially here in Florida.

Then they never say, also lets make classes smaller, a lot smaller because that has evidence it works, no, here in Florida when the citizens demanded it, the legislature gutted it.

Also they never say, lets take some pressure off teachers, lighten their work loads, give them more resources, lets back them up with discipline or you know common sense things that teachers have been begging and clamoring for.

It seems like your solution is, hey let a few write curriculum, be coaches or move to administration, which seems like only a small percentage of teachers could do. there are only so many AP and coach positions available. To professional teachers that's not a solution and spoiler alert no veteran wants a 27 year old AP or coach with three or four years experience telling them what to do or critiquing them.

So can I use what you sent me for a piece? I will send it to you for review before I put it up.

Thanks again

I didn't hear back from him so I figured I was good, but if I do I will let you know.