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Duval is a district in big trouble. *updated*

Recently the Times Union printed a piece that superintendent Vitti wrote talking about our increased graduation rates. Likewise, this was cited by the Times Union’s editors when they were urging the board to keep the Superintendent last fall. Neither piece however noted that graduation rates are up nearly everywhere across the country.

Nevertheless, we should acknowledge and even celebrate our rising graduation rates but I believe they only tell part of the story.

The other part of the story is that we annually replace about fifteen percent of our teachers, fifty-one percent of our teachers are considered chronically absent and we currently have ten pages of openings. To give you some scale the Palm Beach school’s system which is twice our size only has three pages of openings. These are all signs of a district in big trouble.

Furthermore, the district has to replace about a hundred Teach for America teachers annually.  If you didn’t know it, Teach for America takes non-education majors, puts the through a six week course and then into our classrooms, where most stay two years or less. As a bonus the program is very expensive as well.

So a rising graduation rate is part of a story, another part is marginalized and overworked teachers, fewer and fewer wanting to make education a career and a constant churn of the staff. If we are going to give Vitti credit for the increased graduation rates, we must give him credit for those things as well.

Finally, I submit, we will never reach our potential as a school district if those in charge don’t treat teachers like the professionals that they are.

To see the job openings for Duval, open the link
http://duvalschools.org/Page/9344
Then scroll down to current vacancies and open the excel sheet

To see the openings for Palm Beach, click the link
https://erp.palmbeach.k12.fl.us:8009/psc/HRPRDJ/EMPLOYEE/HRMS/c/HRS_HRAM.HRS_CE.GBL?Page=HRS_CE_HM_PRE&Action=A&SiteId=1&

The district asked me to put this up, I have not verified it.
  • According to DCPS, only .3% currently separates Duval County Public Schools anPalm Beach County School District in terms of teacher vacancies as a percentage of total number of teachers. Vacancies Since Winter Break: Duval County Public Schools - 1.3% and Palm Beach County School District - 1.1%.

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9 comments:

  1. You make some good points. Why are there so many teacher vacancies? With a rising economy, professionals can easily quit a job and find other employment if they are dissatisfied with their current situation. A high turnover rate is very expensive. The school board and the super need to focus on supporting teachers and then the teachers will focus on supporting students in the classroom.
    However, I disagree with you always insinuating that a person who does not have a Education Degree cannot be effective in the classroom. Just this week, the School Board voted unanimously to suspend three teachers for improper behavior and showing poor judgment around students. Were those Teach for America teachers or teachers with “Professional” Education Degrees?

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    1. I don't have an education degree, though when I started teaching I was 30 and had spent several years working with special needs children. I think there are many fine teachers w/o ed degrees and even fine TFA teachers, it's the hubris of the organization and their meager requirements that frustrate me.

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  2. Amen, we need a big change. Morale is at an all time low and micromanaging is at an all time high. We don't teach, we follow mandates on curriculum whether it is best practice or good for our children or not. It is a sad time for teachers in Duval. The profession is no longer valued.

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  3. That is because Duval has placed coaches back in classrooms, at least on paper to make it look good.

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  4. We don't need academic coaches. We need smaller sized classrooms. Coaching works on the athletic field and in business. Put media specialists back and end reading/math coaches.

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    1. when morale is low we begin eating our young. Degrade my work because you feel under appreciated and overworked. I make a difference for children and teachers whether you agree or not. We have a media specialist who sits all day everyday. I guess it matters who is in the job. The point is the vacancies number is smoke and mirrors because names are placed in positions but not really filled.

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    2. When teachers turn on teachers we all lose.

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    3. I don't know you, but I know there are coaches who haven't even taught three years. Seriously? The boss is right with idea of Master Teachers who get results with minimum classroom experience of 10 years as qualification. That's what we had 30 years ago with far better results -- compare SAT scores from then to now. We did education better in Grandma's day because teachers were in charge of their classrooms.

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  5. When you have such a big turnover of teachers, there will always be such an influx of new teachers who must take off days for training. That is an issue. Turnover=absences. So, how to improve absenteeism?
    1. Give more incentives to stay in the classroom longer than 5 years.
    Ex. I have been in Duval for the last 11 years, and I have a Masters Degree (I teach a bunch of the dual enrollment courses), but I only get paid about 4,000 more than a first year teacher. Now, I love teaching, but it is a constant struggle to make ends meet, and I have to work a part-time job tutoring on the side. Because of that, I am exhausted, and I might take off more days than usual because of that.
    Ultimately, they need to pay us more. Nassau county has so many teachers apply to work there who originally come from Duval, even though the pay is less and the load is more. Why? The conditions are more difficult in Duval, and if they won't fix the morale or the conditions, then pay goes a long way to stifle the desire to leave, but because Duval is so close to Nassau, why not take the leap to Nassau if you can? Duval is not a county people are competing to work in. We have the money. Stop spending it on people downtown and programs that don't work, and pay teachers what they deserve. If I had a cost of living increase of just 2% per year, I would be up to $49,000 or so. That would ease my mind greatly; however, no one gets paid a decent amount unless you have taught for over 20 years. Most teachers in Duval never make it there, and downtown wonders why we have an absenteeism problem. Really?
    2. Give incentives to teachers to not take days off. For example, if I knew I could make my salary and give back 2 weeks every year, I might take off less days, but buy back is so minimal and not really worth it.
    3. Pay teachers a bonus if they don't miss as many days & offer PAID Professional development over the summer or after school, so teachers feel valued as professionals. No teacher wants to miss class because of professional development, but if you pay teachers to go after school, then they wouldn't have to be absent. Not hard to figure out.
    4. Give incentives to pay off student loans. For every year a teacher stays, pay off $1000 in student loans. Every little bit helps.
    When all is laid on the line, it will cost money. I don't know that the school board wants to hear that, but it is true.

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