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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Duval Public Schools Morale Problem

The Superintendent admitted our teachers had a morale problem in the Times Union’s recent article about absenteeism. First I would like to say I don’t think the problem is nearly as pronounced as the article indicates, influenced both by outliers; yes there are a small percentage of teachers that miss a heck of a lot of days and they should be dealt with, and the National Council of Teacher Excellence’s bias. This is not a non-partisan group and I imagine they revel in embarrassing teachers.

Full disclosure twice in the last five years I missed more than ten days, one year I had a blood clot and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy and the other I was on target to carry days over when I had a scooter accident which saw me laid up and unable to drive for the better part of the last two weeks of school.

First let’s talk about Temporary Duty Elsewhere or the designation teachers’ use when going to training or doing IEPs. Even though teachers are working they have to fill out leave forms. Yes they aren’t in front of students but should this really count as absenteeism?

So now that we have that out of the way is there to much absenteeism? I imagine that’s debatable but what isn’t is the morale problem that Vitti mentions.  He went on to say, “When teachers feel better respected and valued and enjoy going to work, they go to work”.

Um duh.

I have to tell you when Vitti and the new school board members arrived; even though he and a couple of the board members weren’t my first choice it was like a breath of fresh air. We were prior to them heading in the wrong direction and now we had hope again. Unfortunately a year and a half in and it the new boss same as the old boss.

Fischer is there not to improve our schools but privatize them and most of the board members have taken money from charter school operators. Couch and Smith-Juarez, a multi-millionaire by the way, suggested taking some of that money ear marked for teacher raises and use it not to fire secretaries and security personal, um wrong on both answers. Hall said why do elementary schools need their own art teachers? Why can’t they share with another school? What?!? Grymes has said, um, gee not much. Then Wright and sometimes Couch too asks tough questions and then vote against what they have to know to be best for the district. Either do what’s right ladies or stop wasting our time please.

Then there is Vitti and his see if it sticks management style. What we desperately needed last year, more A.P.s, testing coordinators, permanent subs, we don’t need this. Let’s put in all these discipline people and then have them ignore discipline, his restorative justice mantra is falling flat as are the double occupancy electives. He says he is going to cut back on testing when we have tested more than ever before. Open enrollment anyone? Yeah who thinks it is a good idea to fundamentally change the district in less time than it takes me to write an IEP? He relies on Teach for America, bends over backwards for charter schools and cuts staff left and right. Then there is his leadership team. I guess iron fist is one technique to motivate people.

Only two-thirds of the staff has missed more than ten days? Wow we should have a parade.

Vitti and the board have squandered the capital they received when they ascended to their positions and quite frankly I don’t know how they get it back.


  1. People are not realizing that, because of testing, teachers are missing 1-2 weeks of class time, which requires a sub to be in the class while the teacher is out testing. Testing includes all of the subject areas and AP exam administration. That is 5-10 days. Then, a teacher has 10 personal/sick days, plus professional development. One year I missed like a month of school, only 5 days which were used for myself. Most were for PD and some were for testing. The chronic testing, I believe, is completely skewing the numbers.

  2. It's a morale problem, not a moral problem. Administrators are the ones with no morals.