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How Duval County Public Schools makes teachers hate their jobs (rough draft)

When the district announced the Quality Education for All (QEA) initiative I said 50 million over three years from philanthropists was nice but a motivated and supported teaching staff was priceless.

I also think that the success we have in the district often happens in spite of the district's administration not because of it.

Now with all that being said let me present just a few of the ways that the district makes teachers hate their jobs.

When I first started teaching my lesson plans could fit in a small box on a weekly calendar and maybe that wasn't enough, but you know what we don't need? Two page 8 font monstrosities. Elementary school teachers are telling me they are expected to have lesson plans for their centers now, FOR THEIR CENTERS! The district needs to wake up and realize lesson plans aren't for random administrators to see when they walk in, they are to help remind teachers what to do.

Anchor charts or whatever they are calling this years standards based bulletin boards. The things they want up in all the classes that only have a peripheral relationship to teaching.

If you got queezy or dizzy looking at that, I feel you. The district forcing teachers into doing hour after hour of busy work just so all the classrooms can look uniform is ridiculous. This "Stepford Wives" answer to education wastes what little time teachers has and destroys creativity and innovation in the process.

Not supporting teachers when they tell administrators what is best for their children. I hear all the time that teachers think their kids need to go out and play more, just be kids. The district doesn't understand there are diminishing returns from two and a half hours of ELA a day. Then there is the pacing guide too. It doesn't give teachers time to reteach, do knowledge checks, or allow for flexibility or creativity. If a teacher says my kids need more of this and less of that then we should trust them as they are both professionals and know what's best for their children. Yhe district however would rather browbeat and threaten teachers into complying.    

District walk throughs. Gaggles of district staff showing up to micromanage and criticize teachers. They aren't there to offer assistance and to see what teachers need but instead belittle and break then down. Ironically most of these people have been out of the classroom for years.

Blatant disrespect. Area superintendents like Kim Bays and Iranetta Wright have reputations for talking down to teachers. The superintendent has marginalized teachers many times in the media as well. You know what happens if those three take a day off? Nothing, life goes on but if Mrs. McGuillcutty at PS 109 takes a day off those kids lose a day of instruction. My point is the classroom teachers is the most valuable member of the district and its time administrators treated them that way.

I could go on.

We are never going to be the district we could be as long as the district's leadership continues to micromanage and marginalize its teaching staff.

19 comments:

  1. Thank you for voicing the words that teachers want to say but don't for fear of repercussions.

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  2. Bays is the worst. I have now heard they will be visiting our school twice a week with the standards downloaded on their phones to make sure we are teaching them....what??? That is harassment.

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  3. Admins routinely say one thing to your face, and then on a walk through, write down and give you 'feedback' that contradicts. Take the word wall....elementary teachers have been told it is NOT required. Every time we have met so far this year, including preplanning, admin has kindly reminded us how important word walls are. Now after 20 years of teaching, I can count the times one one hand I have actually had a child USE the word wall the way it is meant to be used. I will however have a word wall up shortly bc my admin has already proven to be vengeful if you go against them. With this said, this is what happens when you get rid of people with knowledge and experience and promote people who were in the classroom maybe 5 years, never a coach, and barely an Assistant principal and even then only in one school!!! Our leadership needs to be well versed in multiple positions, roles, and school settings before they can be expected to actually be capable of LEADING. And we wonder why great teachers are leaving Duval County. Oh wait....We don't have to wonder.....we know.

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    1. I agree. It irks me to no end that an admin with barely 3 years of teaching experience is supposed to tell me how to do my job when I have almost 12 years on the job. Please tell me how their feedback is valid. In my humble opinion, any person bent on leadership should have at least 10 years of teaching experience, perhaps some coaching, several years of mentoring interns, positions within the school on committees, etc. Then, the person may truly understand what it takes to lead.

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  4. I wouldn't even know WHERE to begin. Firstly, I'd like say, no, teaching primary children doesn't take a brain surgeon. However, it does take patience, love, an understanding of the developing brain (and the knowledge that all brains don't develop the same OR at the same time), multitasking skills, great classroom management techniques and so much more. What we do NOT need is exactly what the article states, micromanaging, being talked down to, tons of WASTED PAPER (trees) CHARTS, 18 thousand journals that little kids NEVER refer to, super strict schedules that barely allow time for students and teachers to even go pee, having students only do work that in some way shows (I'm so sorry, I'm about to say a very bad word that will make all teachers cringe) ACCOUNTABILITY (I swear, if I hear that freakin word one more time!!!) being told to make a worthless CBC board, being told "you all need to be on the same page with plans, grades, etc) PLC's, (such a waste of time) 32 pages of lesson plans set out just so it looks good and someone can tell us we didn't write the CBC board that day to match the lesson plan, differentiated teacher led lesson plans (on top of the other 48 pages of plans for the week) oh, and don't forget, the amazingly correct AND helpful I-ready data that is spot on, (insert look of sarcasm). I could drone on and on......... We are the teachers and WE know what OUR KIDS need!! We already differentiate more than 321 times a day in ways that are meaningful and actually useful to our students, a moron would know that, but clearly admin thinks they are the only ones that know what that term means. I heard something years ago that I always keep in mind. This is particularly important for all those micromanagers out there: You can have a school with admin, the cafeteria staff, custodians, office personnel, etc..BUT you can't TEACH the kids without the TEACHERS!!! Of course we are the key element in the school! We are just no longer treated as such and it pisses me off!! PS. This new curriculum, schedules and petty stuff teachers don't need are wasting time and the current generation will suffer because of it. If I knew what I do now and I had young biological children, you better bet I would rip them out of public school in a second and home school them! Lucky for me though, my daughter is in college and my son is a senior in HS. It's so sad, years ago, I used to be a supporter of public schools, but not any more. Any more, I feel abused and unsupported, but I do my very best to make sure my students are NOT treated that way. I protect them as much as I possibly can. I buck the system when I can get away with it. I still try to tweak the curriculum so students can understand. Bill Gates, you PHONY PHILANTHROPIST!!!

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  5. Kim Bays said in front of me and my husband, "We can't count on teachers to know if a child has a reading deficiency." I felt like I'd been punched in the gut.

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  6. Please enter as a new post

    Two Months to Pay Day

    Can someone explain to me why I am being paid September 30th for work I did during the first week of August for the Duval County Public Schools? This is just another slap in the face. We were reminded to sign in everyday and make sure you were there for the early return. After spending the time training, we were assured that we would get paid at the end of August.
    While I don't understand that pay date either, it was more acceptable than what we have now. So, where is the good old Terri Brady on this one? I guess with her salary, this would not concern her in the least. Nevertheless, this type of behavior in unacceptable and borderline criminal! The leadership does not respect the school board and sure as hell don't respect the teachers, so I can only guess that is why they pay us when they feel like it. Chris is there any way you can you find out why it is okay to pay us two months after we work? This behavior is disgraceful and unacceptable and should not be allowed to happen again!

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    1. can you email me at cpgbonjovi@gmail.com

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    2. I agree. It is beyond negligent. It is borderline criminal. I'm still waiting to get paid for that week too. If I had known they were going to wait so long to pay out I'd have skipped the training & spent that week at the beach with my family. Can you imagine any corporation telling their long tenured employees that we're going to send you to mandatory training but we're gonna wait 2 months to pay you for it?? At first I thought it was a payroll deal. But that's just another lame excuse. They'll do anything to delay paying out.

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    3. Did anyone notice on the school board meeting Monday night that the union for the janitorial and cafeteria services also spoke about how they haven't been paid? They said they negotiated a new contract with the district back in the summer and they still haven't received their increases. How is this even legal? Who in the world looks over this type of stuff?

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    4. I didn't notice but I'm not surprised. Chris talked about this earlier this year. Part of the reason this happens is that nobody holds the County accountable. I ask veteran teachers when they're getting their checks from work done the first week of August and they just shrug. They're used to it. The new teachers don't know any better. No wonder the County thinks they can pay us whenever they feel like it. Teachers are more than willing to go without being paid because they've come to think of themselves as volunteers...smh. If they don't value themselves who will?

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  7. WOW to the article about the harsh criticism of Heir Vitti in the paper. He has a blah,blah,blah answer to everything. Does he give feedback for growth? I think not he just fires people and ruins lives. Then sits back and laughs. The positions he has created are for his Miami friends and Davis' cronies. The writing curriculum was a part of the curriculum they adopted. You can't compare one year's third grade scores to the next it is different children! Duh! The teachers selected Houghton Mifflin. Get real for once and own up to your lack of ability to lead.

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  8. I have been teaching in this district for the past 21 years. When I first began I had consistent curriculum and the freedom to teach in ways that best fit my students' needs. A few years later along came "America's Choice" and things completely changed. I watched many amazing teachers leave the field because of the strict guidelines we were placed under. I believe that this is when our county began to spiral out of control and continues to! No longer is it about our children but about "higher-ups" wanted to get to the TOP as FAST as they can and they will do anything to get there! I have seen new teachers brought to tears because they are being harassed by administration and not encouraged or supported. Educators in this county are no longer viewed as professionals by SOME administrators. ( I know of some AWESOME administrators in this county believe me I have had the privilege of working with some) On the other hand, I have heard of colleagues being bullied and demeaned by their superiors and treated VERY unprofessionally! Just today I was told that some principals even have "spies" within schools to catch teachers not following Supers schedule, having problems with unruly children, not making enough charts or having enough "data" etc. etc. They spy, take notes and then report back. After that happens the poor teacher in question then becomes the TARGET! SO SAD... How can anyone think this is O.K.?? This to me is a form of bullying and should never be allowed in our schools!!

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    1. If you want to know who the good district administrators were, then look who was non-renewed or bullied out or lied about to get rid if them. These are the people who cared about teachers and kids and who would not give up what they know is best for children for the promise of job security.

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    2. I agree about "America's Choice" being the beginning of the downfall of Duval Schools. I returned to Duval the second year it was in place. I could not believe that teachers I knew and respected were so accepting of this program. In my mind, they had all become "Stepford Teachers." I left Florida and returned a few years later, and it had only gotten worse. It seems that almost everything teachers are required to do nowadays is for SHOW. Not for what is best for students. Not for what is best for teachers. Teachers today gather more data and know less about their students than at any time in history. It is time to say we are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore.

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  9. Question: Why is he letting regional superintendent, Dr. Cagel remain when most of the schools on the Westside have fallen? Some of those administrators were forced out but she still remains. She has the lowest scores in the district on district and state test. She is also the one from Pensacola with a DUI.

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    1. Maybe she drinks to assuage the shame of being a suck up who forced good administrators out.

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  10. AMEN!!! However, she is ruining Elementary schools on the Westside. Under her brilliant leadership for the past 3 years, 7 failing schools have moved from Elementary 3 to Duval Transformation Region(DTO) Why has this gone unnoticed? She makes 100,000 plus a year and she still holds a job.

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  11. Gregory Drive, Enterprise, Hyde Grove, Hyde Park, Oak Hill last year. Ramona and Normandy Village included this year. These are the schools under DTO.

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