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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.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Teachers should vote for one interest, their own. Gillum is teacher's only choice for governor

Some teachers when talking about the upcoming election say, well I am not a single issue voter, when they explain why they are voting for DeSantis.

It's like pulling teeth having them explain what their other issues are, but it generally boils down to abortion, guns (quite the juxtaposition there) and some muddled scream about socialism.

The thing is it blows my mind that the republican are so against abortion when they are so anti children and how they are against gun regulations that would keep us all safer. They say it won't prevent criminals from getting guns, well if that is the case then it won't prevent them from getting guns either. So that leaves socialism.

If you think raising the corporate rate two percent to pay for a teacher raise is socialism, then you are to dumb to vote let alone be a teacher.

Now I get it there may be a ton of other reasons why somebody would vote republican, and if you are all about dumping pollution into our waterways, or have been making bank on charter schools, I get why you would vote for DesSantis but for me I am going to vote for one interest and that is my own.  

You see I need a raise. I don't need to be rich, I don't need to be upper middle class, but I do need to replace my tires and not worry that if I break a crown I won't be regulated to eating ramen noodles for a week and a half.

I would also like my job to not hang in the balance based on VAM scores, a ridiculously complicated formula created to measure reproductive rates in livestock, that doesn't take into account things like attendance and poverty. 

I would also like some autonomy back. My creativity and flexibility have been stripped away as I have been forced to teach to a test. 

Then I would also like to work in a state that appreciated what I did, rather than think of me as an easily replaceable cog, or that I could be replaced by a chimp who can hit play on a VCR. 

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Out of the two candidates, one, Gillum wants to make things better for teachers and public education, while despite overwhelming evidence of their failure, DeSantis wants more privatization, choice.  

From WJCT,

The Democratic and Republican candidates for governor on Tuesday launched competing plans to improve Florida’s schools. 
In a news conference in Tallahassee, Democrat Andrew Gillum defended his proposal, first announced in January, to provide a minimum $50,000 starting salary for teachers by increasing the state corporate-income tax by $1 billion.
Republican Ron DeSantis released a detailed education plan, including a measure that would require 80 percent of school funding to be spent in classrooms and not on administration. He said the plan could help boost teacher pay.
In a clear difference with Gillum, DeSantis also said he would work to expand education “choice” programs, including the use of corporate tax credits that sent more than 108,000 students to private schools in the last year.

DeSantis credited the voucher-like programs for Florida’s recent success in national testing measures, including the National Assessment of Education Progress, and for its rising high school graduation rate.
Gillum vowed to end “the voucherizing of the education system” that began under former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.
“We’ve got to begin to bring that to conclusion,” Gillum said. “It’s been 20 years of the underfunding, the defunding of the public (school) system, which still educates over 90 percent of our kids."
Hmm there is a big difference between would and could and a big difference between Florida will finally support public education and more of the same.

I am going to vote for what is best for me personally, but I am also glad that would also benefit millions of children, hundreds of thousands of teachers and school personnel, and the state as well.

Here is the thing, we can't just vote for Gillum, we have to vote representatives and senators who care about public education too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Let them sleep, it's past time to change high school start times.

Last week tragedy hit DCPS as a West side High student was gunned down on the way to his bus stop at 6:15 in the morning. The quick thinking and actions of his bus driver, picking him up and rushing him to a fire station saved the young man's life. 

There is a lot to cover there but this piece isn't about the senseless violence, instead it's about the time the young man was shot.

Why did we have this young man walking to a bus stop at 6:15 in the morning. When did this young man and thousands like him have to get up? 5:30, maybe 5:00? 

When I worked at Ed White most of us walked around in a haze until 9:00 or so and I meant to say most of us, teachers and students alike, victims of a system that keeps us chronically sleep deprived, which is bad for everyone but especially bad for teenagers. 

From UCLA Health,

Teens are so full of potential, so full of life, so...sleepy. Research shows that most teens do not get the sleep that they need on a daily basis. Each person has their own need for sleep. This need may vary from one person to another. Teens are at an important stage of their growth and development. Because of this, they need more sleep than adults. The average teen needs about nine hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested.

Puberty is a time when your body begins to go through many changes. It is the stage of life when you become physically able to reproduce sexually. There are many signs that show when this process is underway. Girls see their breasts develop and have their first menstrual period. Boys start to grow facial hair and hear their voices begin to deepen. Girls have always begun to enter the stage of puberty earlier than boys. Typically, this is between the ages of 10 and 11. Boys usually enter puberty a couple years later. Today, some girls begin to show signs of puberty as early as 7 or 8 years old.
One change in the body during puberty is closely related to how you sleep. There is a shift in the timing of your circadian rhythms. Before puberty, your body makes you sleepy around 8:00 or 9:00 pm. When puberty begins, this rhythm shifts a couple hours later. Now, your body tells you to go to sleep around 10:00 or 11:00 pm.
The natural shift in a teen's circadian rhythms is called "sleep phase delay." The need to sleep is delayed for about two hours. At first, teens may appear to be suffering from insomnia. They will have a hard time falling asleep at the usual time. While they begin going to sleep later, they still need an average of nine hours of sleep at night. Because most teens have to wake up early for school, it is important for them to go to bed on time. If they go to bed late, they will be unable to get the sleep that they need. This change is a normal part of growing up. With some extra care, teens will quickly adjust to the new sleep schedule of their bodies.
If teens resist or ignore this change, they will make this time of transition very hard on their bodies. They will only hurt themselves by staying up too late at night doing homework or talking with friends. Using a lot of caffeine or nicotine will also make it hard for a teen to get quality rest. At the end of the school week, many teens are worn out from all the sleep they missed. They think that sleeping in much later on the weekend will help them catch up. This only throws their body clocks off even more. It will be even harder for them to fall asleep and wake up on time when the new school week begins.

Research shows that most teens do not get the sleep that they need on a daily basis. ... Teens are at an important stage of their growth and development. Because of this, they need more sleep than adults. The average teen needs about nine hours of sleepeach night to feel alert and well rested.

If this is the case, if kids need more sleep and need to wake up later then why do we start them behind the 8 ball? How much productivity and potential are we wasting because we insist on doing things the way we did when we didn't know any better?

From Health Line,

Early start times can negatively impact the health of young students in several ways. So why aren’t more schools shifting their schedules?

Research on ideal school start times has been around for decades, with numerous studiesfinding a correlation between later school start times and better sleep, improved attendance, decreased tardiness, less falling asleep in class, better grades, and fewer motor vehicle crashes.

It’s not a matter of coddling kids who don’t want to wake up on time for school.
It’s about a quantifiable difference in health, school performance, and safety that later school start times have been shown to make.
In fact, the evidence is so compelling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Sleep Association (ASA), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the American Medical Association (AMA) have all released statements encouraging districts to make the transition to later start times.
Most recommendations indicate that schools shouldn’t start any earlier than 8:30 a.m.
Yet, across the United States, many schools continue to ring that first bell at 7:30 a.m. and earlier.
So, if later start times are healthier for students, why aren’t more districts making the change?
Even the CDC says schools should start later,
Adolescents who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight (1); not engage in daily physical activity (2); suffer from depressive symptoms (2); engage in unhealthy risk behaviors such as drinking, smoking tobacco, and using illicit drugs (2); and perform poorly in school (3). However, insufficient sleep is common among high school students, with less than one third of U.S. high school students sleeping at least 8 hours on school nights.
The worst part of my job, I mean other than the pay, and the constant disrespect and devaluation of my profession by Tallahassee, okay the third worst part of my job is I get up at 5:30 every morning, I have been doing it for 8 years and I have never gotten used to it and I don't think I ever will. If it's hard on me it has to be even harder on my kids whose bodies are still growing and developing.  
It's doable to, at least Hillsborough county thinks so as their high school start time in 8:30.
It's time we caught up with the times and stopped sleep walking through the day.
Here are a couple more resources explaining why sleep for our students is so important.

Florida ranked as one of the worst states for teachers

Who would have thought if you strip teachers of work protections, make it harder to become a teacher, force them to give up creativity and flexibility and teach to a test, tie their evaluations, pay and employment to a complicated math formula designed to measure the reproductive rates in live stock, blame them for many of the ills of society, giving them all the responsibility without any autonomy, while paying them less than a decade ago and severely limiting their earning capacity,  fewer and fewer people would want to become teachers or make teaching a career. Well it seems the state of Florida, that's who.

For the past 20 years though it's been on steroids for the last 8, Tallahassee has done all it can to injure the teaching profession and a recent study confirmed the most obvious thing in the world and that's Florida is one of the worst states in the nation for teachers.

From the Florida Phoenix,

An analysis released Monday ranks the Sunshine State 47 out of the 50 states and Washington D.C. based on school-related data, according to the personal finance web site WalletHub.
Florida’s overall score stems from myriad factors, including annual salaries, teacher turnover, pupil-teacher ratios and per-pupil spending, according to the study.
“Teaching can be a profoundly rewarding career, considering the critical role educators play in shaping young minds. But many teachers find themselves overworked and underpaid,” the analysis states.
Florida’s overall score took a nose dive for the most part because it fared worse – 46th — in the category of average salary for teachers, adjusted by cost of living, according to the WalletHub data.
Federal data from the National Center for Education Statistics puts Florida’s average teacher salary at about $49,400 in 2016-17.  That’s about $10,000 short of the national average of $58,950.
Here is a link to the study,
Friends, i don't think the teaching profession here in Florida can take much more before it collapses, i really don't. the state started 4,000 in the hole this year and these things have a way of picking up momentum.
This is what Rick Scott has created and Ron DeSantis would perpetuate if elected. their war on public education should not be rewarded. 
There is an election this fall and it's pivotal we vote for Andrew Gillum, the pro education and teacher candidate but it can't stop there as he will be powerless if he has a republican house and senate. If we want to see real change and progress, we have to vote them all out. The future of public education and the teaching profession here in Florida are on the line.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Nick Howland is very impressed by his endorsements, um where are the ones from parents and teachers?

On Facebook Nick Howland told me:

Nick Howland I’m endorsed by the Times-Union, the Chamber, NEFBA, NEFAR, both City Councilman in our district, and 2 Beaches mayors. They appreciate my military, business and civic background and my message of fiscal responsibility, school safety, great teachers and great educational options. My wife and I are products of public school and we have 2 kids in Duval public schools. I do not support privatization. Watch the JPEF video, or visit 

You know I don't live at the beach, but I guess that is pretty impressive list, though since they are basically the same people who supported Scott Shine who has been a disaster on the bard and who has basically quit his job though he continues to be paid on his home stretch, I think it is fair to question their knowledge on what a good candidate looks like.

You know who I don't see on the list though? Teachers and parents. if I was running for school board that is the people I would want. That's whose endorsements I would go after. Instead he goes after business groups and politicians, nether of which has been very friendly to pubic education.

I also love how at the end he adds, I do not support privatization, though he certainly will take their money and their endorsements.

In district 2 there is really only one option if you support public ed and that is Elizabeth Andersen, please consider giving her your support.

Can somebody help me out? Why do people donate to candidates? Howland, Willie and Chauncey edition.

Nick Howland in 2, Darryl Willie in 4 and Dave Chauncey in 6 all say that, even though they have taken plenty of money from the forces of privatization, vouchers, charters and alternate teacher certification programs, that they won't be beholden to them.

No, not me Howland says, I'll take their money but I will be independent, I will do what I think is best and the other two parrot his position.

This brings me to my question. Why do people donate to political campaigns?

I thought maybe it was for two reasons. The person I am donating shares my position on issues. I think that is why Kirtley (vouchers) and Chartrand (charters) have given so money to them.

That or they expect something in return. I gave to a candidate and I straight up expect something in return. Not for me personally but I expect them to be a fierce defender of public schools. I am not saying we will agree on everything or even have to but I donated to them for that reason. Do Kirtley (vouchers) and Chartrand (charters) expect something in return from those candidates. If its not one or the other then why would they support them? 

Is it Howland's devilish good looks, Willie's ability to do the KiKi challenge, the fact that Chauncey is a Gator? I ask because all three are incredibly light on details for their plans, well except for Willie who thinks the district should organize a reading to babies in the womb program.

Let me give you an example. Howland says all the time I want to recruit and retain great teachers. that sounds great doesn't it? Well friends that's not a plan. That's like saying you want to eat and then you sit on the couch until you starve.

So what is it about these three candidates that the forces of privatization want elected so bad? Is it because they believe they share the same values, want something in return or is it something else, I mean Willie's video of the KiKi challenge is pretty impressive but is it worth tens of thousands of dollars?

Ask yourself, why would these rich white millionaires, most of who don't even live in the county support these men, I mean if you have to anyways, because I think we all already know the answer.

Please consider giving these their opponents your support.

Cynthia Smith in 4,

Saturday, September 22, 2018

One quarter of voucher students regress, wasting lives and hundreds of millions of dollars


For the 2018-2019 fiscal year $873,565,674 is the cap on what can be diverted from our schools to private schools that take vouchers. It joins billions more lost to the black hole that the voucher program is.

The problem with vouchers are legion. They can use certified teachers and teachers without degrees, they can teach junk science and history and most don't even have to report how they use the money. The over site on these schools is so low it is practically non existent. Well now we can add kids at a quarter of the schools regressed, REGRESSED, in math or reading skills. They actually lost knowledge.     

I am just going to get right to it.

From the Orlando Sentinel,

There are no consequences, however, for the students or schools when the studies show some schools leave children worse off academically. More than 70 schools, out of about 280 studied, showed declines in students’ math or reading skills, according to the most recent report.

Now some of you might be saying well Chris aren't there nearly 3000 private schools that take vouchers? Yes there are but when people do polls they don't ask everyone the question they take a sample and 280 out of nearly 3000 is a pretty good sample.

Here is the thing, what if it is only 20 percent or 15 percent, though isn't it just as likely its 30 percent or higher, of kids that regress, isn't that too much? Public schools get slammed when the poorest of the poor, the most disadvantaged of the disadvantaged don't show a years worth of growth, let alone no growth or as in the case of these schools, reverse growth. 

Can you imagine what would happen to a public school where the kids lost knowledge in reading and math?

How is this permissible?

Oh wait that's right, its because the republican party is determined to dismantle public education and who cares if only a quarter of the kids regress, heck they don't even care that hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted in the pursuit.

We need a change friends, this cannot be allowed to continue. 

Are school board candidates, Willie, Chauncey and Howland lying to you or their donors. (rough draft)

I spoke to a guy I like and whose opinion I respect. A real smart guy too and he said he was going to support Darryl Willie in the district 4 school board race. I pointed out Willie's dubious connections and policy positions and he wasn't moved and it boiled down he had talked to Willie numerous times and he felt like he was the advocate that district 4 needed.

Here is the thing Willie along with Howland and Chauncey are taking tons of money from people who want them to be the advocate they need. They are pro charter schools despite story after story of waste and malfeasance and how the promise of charter schools has been corrupted by mercenaries seeking a buck and zealots who hate the public school system.

Their donors consist of voucher school interests, that divert public money to schools with no over site who can do whatever they want, heck the vast majority of them don't even have to report how they spend the money.  

Their donors are behind the blame the teacher movement which has deflated salaries and made it harder to become and stay a teacher, and this despite they think it is okay teachers at voucher schools don't have to have degrees let alone certifications. 

These are the people supporting Howland, Willie and Chauncey. 

Now these guys aren't out on the stump saying, what we need is more charter schools staffed by low paid, temporary teachers, despite the fact that's what their donors want, which makes me wonder who are they lying to? Us or the people giving them tens of thousands of dollars?

This is what I think after ten years of closely following the education scene in Jacksonville, I think Howland buys hook line and sinker, get rid of the public schools, business influences will figure it out and where there might be some pain for some it won't affect his kids so it's all good. His ties to charters are to vast to overlook. 

Chauncey, I considered he doesn't know what he doesn't know or what to believe. This guy is thirty years old and has only lived in town for a couple years and please don't get me started about how unqualified this guy is but I guess at the end of the day he is going to agree with whatever Chartrand and his ilk tell him though I am willing to consider he agrees with whatever the last person tells him too.

Then their is Willie. he has been in the game the longest what with this being his second run and I think he will tell whoever is in front of them whatever he thinks they want to hear. I think he has a gift for the gab, sorry bull shit. He will tell Gary Chartrand, sure we need some more KIPP schools and he will tell Mrs. Brown we need to get the kids back from charter schools. How he flip flops on positions is already well documented. 

I disagree vehemently with Howland but I think he has beliefs, beliefs he thinks is is better to hide, I think Chauncey is a useful dupe for the privatization crowd but I believe Willie has no core, he is the Alexander Hamilton of the story.    

But ask yourself this, why would Chartrand, Kirtley and the rest support these guys just because? It has it be because they know they supporting the same causes, or they believe they do. There are no other options.

So who are they lying too? Is it to us or their donors? Does it really matter? If they are lying to us then they shouldn't be allowed anywhere close to the school board. If they are lying to their donors to get money then they don't have a core and shouldn't be allowed either. 

I hope my friend considers who is supporting Willie and why. They aren't doing it for no reason and whether its because he agrees with them or is just telling them what they want to hear, he and all of us should be troubled.  

Please consider giving these their opponents your support.

Cynthia Smith in 4,

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Karen Nuland picks Joyce over Chauncey in district 6 school board race

Former president of the Duval County Council of PTAs and life long public school servant, Karen Nuland endorsed Charlotte Joyce over David Chauncey for the district 6 School Board seat today.

A tireless advocate for our schools Nuland believes Joyce is a much better choice than Chauncey who has taken tens of thousands of dollars from interests related to charter schools and vouchers. 

It couldn't have been lost on Nuland that Joyce is a life long resident of Jacksonville who not only gradated from DCPS schools but has been volunteering and working in them for nearly two decades, a trio of things Chauncey cannot come close to saying.

In District 6 people have two distinct choices, a woman who has dedicated her life to DCPS schools, and a man who recently moved to town with barely any education experience, backed by the privatization movement. If you care about our schools then Joyce is the only real choice.

Nuland joins Becki Couch the current district 6 school board member in endorsing Charlotte Joyce.

Please consider joining Karen Nuland and supporting Mrs. Joyce in the district 6 school board race.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

People are waking up to how corrupt the Florida Charter School system is

Jason Fischer a house rep out of Jacksonville inserted 2 million into the budget for his super donor, Gary Chartrand's charter school the KIPP school in Jacksonville. Does Gary Chartrand's name sound familiar? He is is also on the state board of education.

Here are some more random facts. Over 370 charter schools have taken public money and closed leaving communities and students in a lurch and most charter schools now open in affluent neighborhoods, the pretense of helping poor students trapped by zip codes all but abandoned.

A recent report outlined just how bad and corrupt the charter industry and Tallahassee have become.

From the Orlando Weekly

A new report from a Tallahassee-based research group raises questions about the growing role of charter schools in Florida, including citing the closure of 373 charter schools since 1998. 

Ben Wilcox, research director for the group Integrity Florida, said the closure of charter schools has averaged nearly 20 a year “and that comes with a cost to taxpayers.” 

“When a charter school closes, it is often difficult to get taxpayer funds back,” Wilcox said. “A closure can cause severe problems for a school district which must absorb the displaced students.” 

The report showed 160 charter schools failed between 2012 and 2017, with 35 closing in 2015-2016. 

“Some have failed because they faced financial pressure due to overestimated enrollment, others because of financial mismanagement and others for academic reasons,” the report said. 

Another trend cited in the report is the rise of for-profit companies that manage the schools and can also be involved in leasing school sites. As of 2017, the report showed 294, or 45 percent, of the schools were being managed by for-profit companies. The for-profit schools have nearly doubled since 2010-2011, when there were 150 charter schools operated by for-profit entities. 

Wilcox said “lax regulation of charter schools has created opportunities for corporate profiteering, financial mismanagement, fraud and criminal corruption.” 

“In regards to campaign finance, we found that charter school interests have given $13 million in Florida to candidates, committees and parties since 1998,” Ashwell said. Ashwell says that doesn’t include the cost of hiring lobbyists. “The lobbyist expenditures, we found they spent more than $8 million on legislative lobbyists in Florida between 2007 and 2017,” Ashwell said. “Spending has increased steadily overtime, with spikes in 2013 and 2015. During this period, 10 companies alone spent $5 million hiring 262 lobbyists.”


From the report,

Efforts by the charter school industry to shape policies in their favor have been aided in recent years by officials in the Florida Legislature who stand to benefit directly from the expansion of this education model. A number of high-powered legislators have either worked for charter schools or charter companies or had immediate family members involved with charters.

Despite all the advantages, despite the fact many pick who they take and keep, charter schools as a group perform worse than our public schools, but still the republican legislature treats our public schools like a red headed step child who drank the last diet coke.

From the Orlando Sentinel,

Yet when school grades were released this past week, not a single traditional school in Orange County received an F.
Five charter schools did.
Yes, every single “failing” school in Orange County was a charter school.
The numbers looked similar statewide. Less than 1 percent of traditional public schools earned F’s. But 3.4 percent of charter schools did.
That means charter schools were more than three times as likely to fail.
I don’t think either of these models should be classified a “failure.” But if one of them has a failure problem, it obviously isn’t traditional.
If facts matter, this should be a wake-up call. 

Charter schools are an alluring concept. I get it, but the way Florida does it, they are nothing but an abomination.

People getting rich off some of our children while cutting public schools to the bone. Dubious innovation and unfair regulations are the name of the game

It's time Florida woke up and said enough.