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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Nick Howland being on the school board horrifies me and here is why

I have been closely following school board elections since 2008 or five cycles and no candidate being on the board has horrified me as much as Nick Howland has. I have never seen a candidate willing to say or do anything in order to get elected like Howland has.

If you have been following I have been very critical about his use of data, how he has used misleading and made up data to sell his narrative that Duval Schools aren't safe. Now I have been very critical of DCPS about discipline for years but I never felt the need to misuse stats.

This is from Howland's candidate website on August 7th.

This is from his web page today

Notice the numbers are different? What you won't find is an oops, sorry got the years and numbers wrong.

Now you might be saying, well the sentiment is the same, but he only changed his page after I reported he had the numbers and year wrong. That means for months he went out saying something that was at best wrong. 

Isn't getting things right important? Isn't using data correctly important? The TU did a piece this past spring about how its a small group that is in trouble over and over again and a significant number of the offences have nothing to do with violence. Isn't using data in a self serving way wrong?

Now if he would have said our discipline has been bad, or one fight let alone several thousand is to many I would agree, though to be honest that's not a plan to fix things, (WHERE IS HIS PLAN?!?) but he is saying, If this trend continues, nearly 1 of every 11 students could be a victim every year.  He's saying that to scare people, and that's just made up and the TU once again inexplicably rewarded him for either making stuff up or getting stuff wrong.

Throw in he didn't know if amendment 8 was bad or not.

Throw in all the money he has taken from vouchers and charters,

Throw in he brought politics into a NPA race when he said he was a conservative business man in a TV commercial and partnered with the republican party to canvas him.

Throw in when he took an endorsement from a charter school.

In ten years and that includes Scott Shine and Jason Fischer I have never seen anyone worse.

I would urge anybody who cares about our schools to support Elizabeth Anderson and not just because she is the only other candidate left but because with her experience as both a teacher and a mental health counselor she has a wealth of knowledge that the school board needs. Then she has a plan too, she doesn't just throw out misleading numbers meant to shock people.  Please check her out and then I believe you will feel the same as me. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

DCPS does the right thing, the wrong way on security

Last week's shooting outside a Raines high school football game rattled the district, and their desire to come up with a speedy solution is admirable, it's just to bad they went about it the wrong way.

School board meetings are supposed to be noticed 48 hours in advance in order to give any relevant parties and the public notice. This school safety meeting Monday however did not give 48 hour notice and even worse it was closed to the public.  

From the Times Union:

Earlier kickoffs and different game days will be the “new normal” at about a dozen public Duval County high school football games this fall after a triple-shooting at Friday’s Raines-Lee game.
Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene announced the change at a 4 p.m. Monday press conference that followed a closed-door executive committee meeting of the School Board.
It is not clear whether the game schedule was discussed at the 2:30 p.m. board meeting, as neither the Times-Union nor First Coast News were allowed into the meeting, despite raising objections with the district beforehand and at the district’s Southbank office.
Greene was joined at the announcement by five of the seven School Board members — Ashley Smith Juarez and Scott Shine were absent — as well as school police chief Micheal Edwards, Jacksonville Undersheriff Pat Ivey and Mayor Lenny Curry.
Ahead of Monday’s School Board meeting, three members said that the board would meet at 2:30 p.m. to discuss school-safety protocols. Notice of the meeting was not given in advance on the School Board’s online calendar.
In Florida, nearly all meetings of government boards are open to the public and few exemptions are allowed under the state’s open meetings law.
Tracy Pierce, district spokesman, cited Florida Statutes Chapter 281, which allows meetings and documents to be exempt from public access if they relate to “the security or fire-safety systems of any property owned by or leased to the state or any of its political subdivisions.”
“It is a conversation that is by law able to be held in executive session,” Pierce said, but did not elaborate further.
Um wait, Scott Shine wasn't there? This guy, ugh. Are we still paying him?
Anyway, I think you are losing when you use some obscure rule to circumnavigate the long standing meeting notice process and to exclude the public. I get it there is a sense of urgency, but if they had the meeting today and invited the public, we still have over three days before game time to make any changes.
You know I think moving game times is a fine idea. I think we get caught up with the mystique of Friday night lights and not competing against college games. The thing is college invaded Friday nights ears ago and there is usually a full slate of games and a marquee one or two as well. 
Saturday mornings, during the day on Friday, these are both acceptable alternatives.
In the article superintendent Greene said we were in a new normal. I hope that new normal does not include excluding the public going forward.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Things the media hasn't told you about the local school board races.

We have three very important school board races that will influence the direction of our school system for at least the next 4 years if not longer. District 2 at the beach, district 4 on the north side and district 6 on the west side and riverside will all have new representatives. Two of the people leaving, Paula Wright and Becki Couch have been fierce advocates for public education while the other school board member, Scott Shine, duped the people at the beach into letting him check get elected off his bucket list.

This brings me to what the media has not told you about the three races.

Darryl Willie was instructed by the school board to take down a campaign video where he put public school students on blast with out their parents permission.

He also has a lot of small dollar donors which is cool, if it wasn't a self serving attempt bid on his part to get a lot of self serving donors. Why do I think this is the case? Well its because among them his wife gave him a dollar, though I guess that could mean she thinks about his campaign about as much as I do. 

Darryl Willie has also received a lot of campaign contributions from the same people who are supporting Kimberly Daniels in the house district 14 race, i.e. a lot of anti public education, pro charter and pro voucher republicans.

Speaking of republicans Nick Howland in 2 partnered with the Duval Republican party to canvas for him, which where not against the rules is bad form in races that are supposed to be no party affiliation. Not that people didn't know who he was when he announced he was a conservative businessman in his campaign commercial. 

He also accepted an endorsement from a charter school and tons of money from charter school proponents, but he won't be in the pocket of charter schools, wink wink.

Perhaps what he did that was most egregious is he often used misleading data when he sold his, schools aren't safe narrative. He either knows what he is saying is wrong and doesn't care or he doesn't do his homework and I don't know what of the two is more unforgivable. Inexplicably when the Times Union endorsed him they praised his use of data, which says to me either the knew what he said was and didn't care or they didn't do their homework and I don't know what of the two is more unforgivable.

Along with David Chauncey he also said he was undecided about Amendment 8, a poison pill proposal designed to strip local control of schools away from school boards to benefit charter schools, you know because despite accepting lots of money from charter school interests, neither are in the pocket of charter schools, wink wink. It was struck down by a judge for being misleading which makes me question even more why they weren't against it. 

Chauncey a thirty year old Teach for America alum (Willie is an alum too). Raised a ton of money. 75 percent cam from outside district 6 and over 80 percent came from donors who gave him a thousand dollars. Um what parents and teachers do you know who can drop a grand on a school board race.

Four of those 1000 dollar donations came from Gary Chartrand who has been the golden goose for all three candidates. Gary Chartrand a grocer and member of the state board of education, who never taught a day in his life and who sent his children to expensive and exclusive private schools, has long been a foe of public education and the teaching profession and loves charters, but none of them will be in the pocket of charters, wink wink. 

There are good candidates in each of the three races, Chauncey, Willie and Howland are not among them, and the local media has done a terrible job pointing out their conflicts and misdeeds.  

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Nick Howland candidate SB district 2 is up to more dirty tricks.

Is it to late for Scott Shine to get back in the race? Come back Scott, I take back everything I said about you.

Saturday Howland running in a No Party Affiliation school board race partnered with the Republican Party of Duval so they would canvas for him.

Now I get it, if you are a republican or democrat and running for school board, you are going to know republicans or democrats and ask for them to help, but the thing is the school board position is No Party Affiliation for a reason, and that's what is best for kids should trump political parties. It shouldn't matter what political party a candidate is from. Howland obviously has a different take as he panders for votes. 

Being in the school board should be about ideas not about pandering to a particular party. 

Lets add this to his dog whistle that he is a conservative business men in his commercial. 

That he accepted an endorsement from a charter school.

He misused and misled people about statistics, something the Times Union inexplicably complimented him on and then used as a reason to endorse him. 

Oh and he says he wasn't sure about amendment 8, which I think is a lie but we all know was terrible.

Friends do we really want somebody on the school board who is willing to say and do anything to get there? I don't think so.

District 2, you have a couple good candidates, why would consider a guy like Howland? 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Betsy DeVos's plan to improve schools? Buy teachers guns.

From the I can't make this up file, Betsy DeVos is eyeing using grants intended for our most impoverished schools to buy guns for teachers. um, wha?!?

From the New York Times

When Congress created its academic support fund three years ago, lawmakers had in mind a pot of money that would increase student access to art and music, mental health and technology programs at the nation’s most impoverished schools.
But back-to-back school shootings this year and inquiries from the state of Texas have prompted the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, to examine whether to allow states to tap the school enrichment fund for another purpose: guns.
Such a move would reverse a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weaponry. It would also undermine efforts by Congress to restrict the use of federal funding on guns. As recently as March, Congress passed a school safety bill that allocated $50 million a year to local school districts, but expressly prohibited the use of the money for firearms.
Department officials acknowledged that carrying out the proposal would be the first time that a federal agency has authorized the purchase of weapons without a congressional mandate, according to people familiar with the discussions. And while no such restrictions exist in the federal education law, it could undermine the grant program’s adoption of “drug and violence prevention,” which defines a safe school environment as free of weapons.
In its research, the Education Department has determined that the gun purchases could fall under improving school conditions, people familiar with the department’s thinking said. Under the current guidelines for that part of the grant, the department encourages schools to increase access to mental health counseling, establish dropout prevention programs, reduce suspensions and expulsions and improve re-entry programs for students transitioning from the juvenile justice system.

When Trump's proposal to arm teachers flopped I kind of thought this idea was dead, DeVos saying some schools needed guns to protect themselves from bears notwithstanding, but like a bad penny the idea has resurfaced. 
I don't know whats more outrageous though. That they are pushing an idea educators are overwhelmingly against, they plan to use money designated for our neediest schools to fund it or they think gun purchases would fall under the guise of improving school conditions. You know what improve school conditions? The things the grants are actually designed to pay for. 
Friends, I just don't know what to say anymore.

Why are Gary Chartrand's candidates the worst? (rough draft)

Gary Chartrand is a grocer by trade, a very rich grocer, and because he is rich he thinks he is smarter than you I and everyone in public education. He's not though, he's the villain of the story and you have to look no farther than the candidates, Willie in 4, Chauncey in 6 and Howland in 2, that he is supporting.

There was a brief moment when I thought Howland was more Fel Lee than Scott Shine but this dude is straight up morally bankrupt. He interjected politics into the election when he said he was a conservative business men. He peddled fake statistics and he took the endorsement of a charter school. Then throw in he said he was undecided on 8 before a judge struck it down for being deceptive and what do you have here but a mish mosh of a man who will say anything to get elected.

Speaking of amendment 8 Dave Chauncey said he was undecided about it as well but more likely he didn't want to say how he really felt and that is he supported it as Gary Chartrand who really loves this guy. He loves Chauncey so much he donated to him 4 times through his various made up LLCs. Seventy-five percent of Chauncey's donations come from outside district 6 and let's just say not many teachers and parents are supporting him. A 30 year lawyer, ugh, the hubris that makes him think he would make a better school board member than the professional educators or life long public servants that are running is stunning.

Though is we are talking about Hubris, Willie takes the cake. If he truly cared about kids he both wouldn't subject them to an ever revolving door of novice teachers and he would drop out of the race so real educators could have a debate about ideas. Then Willie is very proud of a dance video he made because you know, he thinks he can bring together people who love schools and who love dancing and that is not an exaggeration of what he said at the JPEF district 4 forum and right there that should tell you all you need to know about his candidacy.

Gary Chartrand the benefactor of these three applauded when teachers lost their work protections and he has done all he can to ensure we have a mounting teacher crisis by doing all he can to harm the profession during his tenure on the state board of education, which in my opinion he basically bought with campaign donations to Rick Scott. He has also supported voucher schools and charter schools to the detriment of public schools. A broke clock is right two more times a day than he is.

Gary Chartrand, who isn't even from Jacksonville and who sent his children to expensive and exclusive private schools, collects school board members like I used to collect baseball cards but hopefully people have wised up and he won't be able to add any more.

One sure fire way to know who not to vote for, is to look at who he is supporting.  

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Kimberly Daniels and Darryl Willie, startling similarities

A rose by any other name is still a rose. I hope I didn't butcher that quote to badly and my analogy isn't to obtuse.

Kimberly Daniels and Darryl Willie share a huge similarity, and that is they are both supported by anti public education republicans.

They have also both claimed to be democrats, Daniels is in fact the democrat incumbent for the house district 14 seat and Willie can be seen making the rounds at a lot of democrat functions as he tries to get on the school board too, but like I can claim I am not over weight and I don't have a love of peanut butter, that doesn't make it true.

I think it is even more important to look at who supports a candidate than to listen to what they say because talk is cheap, while money is money.

Both have received significant funds from republicans who have pushed charter schools and demonized and marginalized the teaching profession. heck Daniels was called a champion by Bush and Gary Chartrand funneled Willie five million dollars through the QEA initiative.

Look if you want to dismantle public education and don't think teachers are professionals, um what are you doing here, these two are your candidates.

However if you care about public education and think teachers should be treated with respect and given the tools they need to be successful, then these are the two you should stay as far away from as possible.

In House District 14 you have Paula Wright a fierce education advocate who deserves your vote. And in  the School Board district 4 race you have several great candidates to chose from.

Wright has also beaten Willie and is hope she beats Daniels too.

I guess at the end of the day you have to choose what is important to you. I hope schools, teachers and the state's children make that list. 

The Florida legislature refuses to fund school safety

When you head to the polls this November I hope you remember that the Republican lead Florida legislature had opportunity after opportunity to properly fund school safety and refused at every turn.

In my home town of Jacksonville they sent 3.6 million dollars to do a job that would cost over ten and they compounded this farce by allocating only an extra 47 cents per student in discretionary spending.

When Rick Scott in an admittedly self serving move, meant, I am sure to generate publicity more than to protect kids, asked the state legislature to release unused funds, the republican leaders in Tallahassee said no.

From the Tampa Times:

Florida’s top incoming legislative leaders are rejecting Gov. Rick Scott’s push to redirect $58 million so school districts can hire more campus police officers. The lawmakers say the state should stay with a program they crafted that puts armed security guards and staff members in its public schools.
House Speaker-elect Jose Oliva and incoming Senate President-elect Bill Galvano, both Republicans, said Wednesday the money should remain budgeted for the state’s guardian program. The Republican governor, who leaves office in January and is running for the U.S. Senate, wants the unspent money freed so the districts can hire more officers.
An Associated Press survey found two-thirds of the districts want police officers or sheriff’s deputies in schools, with most saying their communities aren’t comfortable with anyone but sworn law enforcement officers carrying guns on campus.
The state’s 67 countywide districts were given the more expensive choice of hiring additional police officers, also known as school resource officers, or supplementing the officers they already had with the cheaper guardian program. Any money not covered by the state had to be picked up by the districts.
Some districts, however, said they can’t afford officers and are hiring full-time guardians. These include Broward, Stoneman Douglas’ district. A police officer can cost $100,000 a year in salary and benefits, while guardians are estimated to cost between $30,000 and $50,000. Some districts, mostly in rural parts of the state, are supplementing officers with armed staff who get a $500 stipend, saying their communities support that arrangement.
That's what the republicans' in Tallahassee wanted, armed school personnel, specifically teachers, and when that was overwhelmingly rejected, they said, we'll show you and only play lip service to protecting our children. Like petulant children who weren't allowed to run wild, they took their ball and went home, except in this case the ball is tax payer money and it should be being used to protect our children. Though I guess we should be thankful they didn't channel the left over funds to charter schools.
The republican party has done all it can do damage public education and the teaching profession and the people of Florida collectively shrugged their shoulders, hopefully now that they have shown they don't really care about the state's children, people will be motivated to vote them out.
We need a change in Tallahassee and the reason this time may literally be about life and death. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Parents and teachers are not supporting Dave Chauncey, SB district 6 candidate, who is, is troubling

John Kirtley, who has a construction company that builds charter schools and who is Florida's voucher king, supporting schools that don't have to have teachers with degrees and who can teach junk science and history and Gary Chartrand a grocer by trade that parlayed huge donations to Rick Scott into a spot on the state board of education and who is notoriously anti teacher, jump out.

And where I can go on and on about them, it's the amount of maximum donors, or donors that gave Chauncey 1000 dollars that I want to talk about here, because I don't know any teachers or families who can afford to throw a grand at a school board race.

Dave Chauncey has raised $72,925.69, an impressive amount, but of that he received 57, 1000 dollar donations. That's 79 percent of his total. Even worse than the 75% of his money that comes from outside district 6.

That's not from 57 donors by the way, Chartrand gave to him 4 times and Wayne Weaver at least twice.

Who are his other big donors? Well there are lots of charter school interests, lawyers, and company executives that's who and I encourage you to take a look for yourself, but there aren't a lot of teachers and parents. 

Friends, Chauncey who couldn't even say he was against Amendment 8 has taken money from special interest after special interest. Who do you think he is going to answer to if elected. Here is a hint, it's the people who pay his bills and not parents and teachers. 

JSO is charging DCPS to protect our children

Let me just get right to it.

From WOKV:

Off-duty officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office are currently being used to protect more than half of Duval County’s public schools, so that the District complies with a new Florida law. But, fresh in to the school year, there are big questions about who exactly will be picking up that bill. 
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office budget was recently under the spotlight by the City Council Finance Committee, as part of their hearings on Mayor Lenny Curry’s $1.2 billion City budget proposal. In that came a warning that JSO overtime hours would likely be up, because they’re mandating off-duty officers work shifts at Duval County Public School elementary schools. 
“We’re gunna need this Council’s support, to support us in demanding that we get reimbursed. Because $12/hour doesn’t buy one of our JSO officers,” says Curry’s Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa. 
Sheriff Mike Williams says they’ve been coordinating for weeks with DCPS to ensure Duval County would be in compliance with a new state law, which requires all schools have armed security on campus. This can be achieved through a sworn police officer, a school resource officer, or a guardian- who is a non-teacher school employee that goes through screening and training, and has a license to concealed carry. 
So, with more than 100 sworn officers working overtime at local schools as of now, JSO is keeping a detailed account of the cost they’re racking up. 
“With the legislation being very clear that the District is responsible for this, my expectation is that we are reimbursed from the School Board for those costs,” Williams says. 
But he says the District has alredy told him they will have challenges in doing that. 
“This is what’s kind of frightening- the payback after all this is over, from the school system,” says Councilman Tommy Hazouri. 
Hazouri says the District should currently be paying around $12/hour for SSA’s, but instead, there are fully sworn JSO officers being used for that job- meaning the District is racking up an even bigger bill. 
“We’re gunna need to go after our money,” Mousa says. 
Where I think Williams and Mousa come off as #$@^s I can't really get (completely) mad at them.
You see the state sent the district 3.6 million dollars to pay for a job that if you wanted to do it right was going to cost over ten. because they didn't really believe in protecting our children, just playing lip service to it. The district has been put into an impossible position and instead of chipping in JSO and the mayor's office are demanding an IOU.  
Here is the thing, isn't it the police's job to protect our children? Instead of setting up another speed trap on Roosevelt maybe put that officer in a school. Isn't it the mayor's job to go through the couch cushions to find money to pay to keep our kids safe.
I can't help but think that wasted 5 million the QEA sent to Darryl Willie and TFA Jax could really come in handy now.      
If we want better we are going to need a change in Tallahassee and maybe some local places as well.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Scott Shine admits amendment 8 violated the law and he was still okay with it.

Ugh, from the I can't make this stuff up file, Scott Shine one of the few supporters of amendment 8 admits it was against the law, but that didn't stop him from supporting it anyways.
from WJCT

Shine, the only board member advocating for the amendment, said he didn’t find the ballot language misleading but he’s not surprised by the ruling.
“Those who had been participating in the case said that the judge seemed to have a hard time understanding the issues at play,” Shine said. ”We had a sense this judge was probably going to rule against us.”
But he said he’s not upset with the ruling as it’s “just another step in the process” of education reform. He said the ruling will “undoubtedly” be appealed.
“There’s a lot of different options,” Shine said. “One is that a higher court could rule in our favor. Two, at some point the ballot language could be changed so that’s it’s consistent with the law.”
"Two, at some point the ballot language could be changed so that’s it’s consistent with the law."
Right there he is saying the ballot language is misleading that it isn't "consistent with the law. Shine had a rare bout of candor there.
Everyone who has been following 8 knows what it is about and that is giving away local control to charter schools.
Later in the article he says the part he really liked was term limits for school board members. Um not only is he a one term wonder, but Duval already has term limits and other districts should they choose have them too. We don't need a constitutional amendment to make it happen.  
Shine has been historically bad on the board and he can't be gone soon enough.

Scott Shine, Nick Howland and Dave Chauncey, and their bad judgement on display

Amendment 8 was kicked off the Florida Ballot for being deceptive today. This was sadly a rare victory for public school supporters.

In case you haven't been following, 8, took two ideas that were bound to be fairly popular despite their superfluousness, school board term limits and civics education and paired them up with a proposal that would have stripped from local school boards the power to authorize and govern new schools. Basically this was a give away to charter schools to the detriment of locals.

The judge was particularly scathing as he struck it down.

from the Orlando Sentinel:

A judge in Tallahassee this morning struck Amendment 8 from Florida’s November ballot, saying the three-pronged measure about schools was “misleading” and failed to inform voters of its purpose.

Judge John Cooper of Leon County Circuit Court — who heard arguments in the lawsuit last week — criticized that section in his ruling because he noted it is about charter schools yet doesn’t use that term. As a result, he wrote, it “fails to inform voters of the chief purpose and effect of this proposal.”
The proposal doesn’t make it clear to voters the role school boards play now in establishing new schools, Cooper said, nor explain how that would change, if the measure passed.
The state’s Constitution Revision Commission, he added, should not have bundled the three unrelated items together or packaged them under a “misleading” summary.
This leads us to Shine, Howland and Chauncey.

Scott Shine went all in on amendment 8, spearheading a group that was going to push it statewide. A rabid anti-public education advocate he wanted to leave the school board a present as he left, the  by stripping of their authority to govern and authorize new schools.

Howland candidate district 2 and Chauncey candidate district 6 when asked about 8 both said they were undecided, though I don't buy it for a second.  

Since the amendment was proposed people have been solidly in two camps. Those who care about local control and those who wanted to give that control to charter schools, sorry the politicians they purchased.

Now what I don't know is if Howland and Chauncey were just being deferential to their financial backers and if you guessed that included quite a few charter school interests then you win a prize or they just hate local control and public schools and want to see the system dismantled. Either was they backed an amendment called misleading and deceptive and that's a wheelbarrow full of bad judgement.   

Friends we know how bad Scott Shine was as a school board member, do we really want two more Scott Shines on the board? The bottom line is, if Howland and Chauncey aren't sure the local control of our schools is a good thing or not, they shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the board.

District 2 and 6 you have several other good candidates to choose from, be sure you make the right choice.

Amendment 8 thrown off ballot for being deceptive

Oh those pro school choice advocates, if they didn't have deception they wouldn't have anything. Fortunately for the state of Florida a judge said, not this time.

From the Associate Press:

Florida judge on Monday threw off the November ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that includes a provision to make it easier to set up charter schools in the state.
Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that the amendment placed on the ballot by the state's Constitution Revision Commission does not tell voters what it really does. Cooper pointed out that the amendment does not even include the words "charter schools" in its wording.
Cooper in his ruling stated that the "failure to use the term voters would understand" means that voters are not told the "chief purpose and effect of this proposal."
Supporters of the amendment acknowledged that the purpose of the charter schools provision was to undo a previous court ruling that struck down a law that created a statewide charter school commission.
"Voters should not have to read between the lines to figure out what changes they are being asked to make to their constitution, and fortunately we have a process that protects their right to make informed decisions at the ballot box," said Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters Florida president. "We applaud the court for seeing Revision 8 for what it is — a calculated deception aimed at shifting control over our schools from our locally elected school boards to state politicians."
350 failed charter schools, billions wasted and communities left in a lurch all for schools with little innovation, and with most now set up in neighborhoods with great schools.
A billion dollars a year diverted from public schools to voucher schools that don't have to have certified teachers, let alone degrees schools that can teach junk science and history with practically no over site.
Then they wanted to add a cherry on top and strip communities of local control.
That is the face of school choice in Florida as the powers that be do all they can to dismantle and harm public education.
No more.

Sunnyside elementary endorses Sharron Smith for school board, the floodgates open now

Former English teacher and school board district 2 candidate Sharron Smith was endorsed by Sunnyside elementary today.

When asked why, the principal said, it was just the right thing to do, she's an amazing advocate and nobody is more passionate. Over the past six years, Smith has also been an active volunteer in the district and recently completed a two-year term as Sunnyside Elementary PTA President

Quite frankly, the principal continued, there is nobody better and if other schools can endorse candidates then why can't we?

I reached out to the Sunnyside faculty and parents and where many supported Mrs. Beckham a few felt uncomfortable talking about who they were going to vote for.

One parent who spoke after I assured her she could be anonymous said, it's a lot of pressure having the principal tell me who to vote for and it must be worse for the teachers. Don't get me wrong, I like Smith and she is qualified but I just don't think it is the principal's place to push a candidate for school board. What if I let slip I didn't vote they way they wanted me to, I am afraid there could be repercussions. This was a sentiment echoed by several staff members as well.

That sure is some serious concerns the parent and others brought up.

As I type this I wonder how many more schools will endorse candidates now that the flood gate has been opened.

Here is the thing, none of the this actually happened, not at Sunnyside anyways, because if it would have we would have been rightfully outraged. Principals and schools should not be putting pressure on parents and teachers to vote for a certain candidate.  

But above did happen at Seaside charter school, because when they invited candidate Nick Howland to a ribbon cutting ceremony, put him in a prominent position and then gave him a shout out, they were effectively endorsing him as a candidate for school board and that should be unacceptable. 

Nick Howland who says he is an astute businessman and will be data driven sure seems to break a lot of rules and say a lot of things that aren't quite true and this is while he is running, can we truly expect him to be better if he makes it on the board?     

The answer is we shouldn't.

District 2 you have some great candidates, why vote Howland who over and over shows he doesn't deserve it.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

As early voting starts, please vote for pro education candidates, like Paula Wright in HD 14

The district needed  a little over ten million dollars to properly secure our schools and Tallahassee sent them about 3.6 million dollars.

Tallahassee allocated the district just an extra 47 cents per student in discretionary funds as costs rise and teachers leave.

Speaking of teachers leaving, Tallahassee has kick started a teaching shortage.

Now there is money in education, unfortunately more and more of it goes to charter schools of which about 350 have failed and many of the rest are run by for profit businesses and voucher schools that don't have to have teachers with degrees and can teach junk history and science because oversite is practically nill.

I could go on and on an on, and that is why we need to elect representatives that are going to stand up for our public schools, people like Paula Wright in HD14.

In Duval we have school board chair Paula Wright versus Kimberly Daniels a republican in democrats clothing. Most of Kimberly Daniels funding comes from republicans, she was called a champion by Jeb Bush and she received the lowest grade of any democrat by the Florida Education Association.

Paula Wright on the other hand did not resign to run like Jason Fischer did two years ago and has been a fierce advocate for our children.

Friends we have a choice to make, more of the same where public education is marginalized and starved of resources or something better, and if you want better Paula Wright is really your only choice in HD14.

Is Darryl Willie SB district 4,campaigning for kids, or to keep his six figure salary?

It's no secret that Teach for America is on its way out of town. They only brought in 50 new teachers and none of them are going to traditional DCPS schools just charters. Superintendent Green told me personally the district planned to honor last years contract but the district wasn't going to bring in any more.

Teach for America Jacksonville did get 5 million, yes 5 million from the Quality Education for All initiative, money that never saw the inside of the classroom but even that money has to be running out by now.

That brings us Darryl Willie's six figure salary.

According to the supervisor of elections page, his salary is 120,000 dollars. Pretty good right? And an amount no teacher in Jacksonville will ever see, heck few principals that oversee hundreds of staff members and thousands of kids take home that kind of money.

According to the TFAJax page, he also manages a staff of 12 people.  .

And no I didn't leave off a zero.

That's 10 k for every person he manages and why does TFA Jax need a 12 person staff? 

What does that bakers dozen of master of the universe types do? Crickets, crickets, well um, err, if you go to their Facebook page they sure plan a lot of social events but my guess is not much else. 

Willie has a pretty cushy job, and he has to see the writing on the wall and we know its not kids he truly cares about because if he did then he wouldn't have anything to do with Teach for America.    

Nick Howland takes the endorsement of a charter school. That is very problematic

You know because he's not in the pocket of charter schools. Though if we are being honest we should have all known that already by looking at his donors.

Lets get right to it. Nick Howland was invited to Seaside Charter schools ribbon cutting, placed in a prominent position and given a "shout out."  The problems with this are legion.

First Public schools and charter schools insist they are, are not allowed to endorse candidates or engage in any campaigning on behalf of a candidate.

Next the school is run by a non profit 501c3 and they have the same rules.

Both Howland and Seaside said, %$#& the rules and they may have put both Seaside's charter and non profit status in jeopardy. At the very least they have a lot of explaining to do.

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For somebody who claims they are such an astute businessman Howland flaunts the rules quite frequently, or maybe that is how he became an astute businessman.

Howland has also peddled false information on his campaign site, in videos, undoubtedly to potential voters and to the editorial board of the Times Union who inexplicably awarded him for it.

He has also put out a campaign video where he declares himself a conservative businessman, which is little more than a dog whistle to republicans to vote for him and violates the spirit of having non partisan races.

In short Howland seems like he will just do and say whatever he thinks will get him elected and is that the type of person we want on the board?

District 2, you have some other great candidates, ones with a core, ones with integrity, ones with relevant experience too, why would you even consider this guy? 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Most predictable thing ever, a teacher shortage, stuns Florida Board of Education members

Oy vey, um, sigh

Where do I begin? You know it would have been nice to have some true educators on the board and a few people that care about public education too but that hasn't been the case over the last 8 years.

Instead we have board members like Gary Chartrand a grocer by trade who have done all they can do harm public education and quite frankly their actions have been both contrary to the public good and shameful.

In short you can't do all you can to injure the teaching profession, such as attack their representatives, decrease their salaries, making certification harder and more expensive, while ratcheting up the pressure and stripping away creativity and flexibility and then wonder why we have a teaching shortage. Well you shouldn't be able too but the State Board of Education has.   

From the Tampa Times:

As millions of Florida's school children returned to classes this week, many schools struggled to find enough teachers greet and teach them.
"We are very concerned about the growing teacher shortage," Cathy Boehme of the Florida Education Association told the state Board of Education on Wednesday.
Her review of three years' worth of statewide teacher job vacancies posted to district websites in the days before school began revealed a disturbing trend.
Two years ago, Boehme said, the number of advertised teaching positions was about 2,400. Last year, the number rose to 3,000.
This year, it reached 4,063.
"That's the acceleration in the teacher shortage you need to be looking at," Boehme told the board. "This is a critical problem we must address."
Olenick suggested the state's education-focused associations could work with the department to seek ideas for funding pay hikes. Board member Gary Chartrand put forth that an independent outside group, such as Florida TaxWatch, might lend some objectivity to the discussion, because unlike the others it would not stand to benefit financially from the outcome.
But Chartrand, too, agreed that the state needs to find some way to make it more attractive to teach here.
"I think the teacher shortage is real, and it's going to get worse," he said. "We should get ahead of it."
He advanced the idea of a special scholarship for aspiring teachers as one possibility, adding there could be "a lot of ways to solve this problem. But I do think it's a real problem."
Gary Chartrand, Gary, Gary Gary, he celebrated when teachers lost teaching protections, is responsible for bringing Teach for America to Jacksonville and their has been no bigger foe to the teaching profession but hey he thinks the problem is real. Well $#^& it's real because you helped make it real.  
He the sites Florida Tax Watch too and you may have heard of them because every year they write an editorial which says the class size amendment is a failure which kind of means they think we already have to many teachers. 
One way to improve the teaching profession is to get Gary Chartrand as far away from education as possible. He's a disaster and a villain.
While he is thinking of convoluted ways to play lip service to the problem, a commentator had a great solution.
Maggie Diaz wrote, Simple solutions: Reinstate tenure, fund professional pay scales, kill the VAM score. That is all it would take. Anything else is distracting fluff.
Cartrand who loves the Best and Brightest, KIPP, and TFA is all about fluff.
But AMEN sister, sadly however since you are a teacher you will probably be ignored.

DCPS has massive 3 day internet failure

Being completely honest, as a teacher, I am embarrassingly dependent on the internet. It’s my plan once things slow down to develop a few internet free lessons, so when the internet goes down I won’t have to stare at my kids after the thirty minutes’ worth of material I have printed out and ask, so what do you want to do?

Teacher after teacher at school after school has told me they have faced the same issue, that for basically the better part of three days, three very important days when baseline assessments are supposed to occur the internet has been down.

You know I don’t want to come down too hard on the district, after all the start of school really caught us off guard, I mean who even knew what day it was? Oh wait, we all did, which means the district not being ready is inexcusable.

This is an amazing time of year, thousands of teachers and tens of thousands of students filled with excitement but it’s also a stressful time of the year, compounded by the lack of what has become a basic resource. A lot of people say, how you start is how you will finish, well we have started poorly. 

The district should have treated the last few days like weather days as they got their act together.

There was a time, I never used the internet, and that became occasionally, and that became all the time, and that became I am dependent on it. I wish that wasn’t the case but it is, and I am not alone.

DCPS, Dr. Greene, we all know there are going to be bugs that have to be worked out the first few days and even weeks of school, it’s to be expected but what has happened this week, specifically with the internet, is an infestation of them and we have to do better.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Armed "Safety Assistants" in our schools is a terrible idea, but...

I think having these safety assistants in our schools is a terrible idea because they make our schools less safe. I have grave concerns that with so little training they may mistake a disruption for a life and death situation, that as well as putting guns around children where accidents can happen. I believe trained professionals not glorified security guards was the way to go.

All that being said, there is one good thing happening and that's Duval isn't rushing to fill the positions.   

From WJCT:

The district needed to hire 105 safety assistants over the summer, but as of the first day of school on Monday, just 24 had started work. In the meantime JSO sent 130 officers to work in Duval’s elementary schools as well as some charter schools.  

Duval County School Police Director Micheal Edwards said he’s received about 400 safety assistant applications, although some of them are duplicates, so he didn’t have a true number of applicants.
The assistants are trained through the firearm-heavy Guardian program administered by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in addition to more training from the school police department, adding up to about 200 hours. They start out making $12.50 an hour with summers off.
Edwards said 112 applicants were disqualified for various reasons, including failed drug tests or background investigations.
Duval Superintendent Diana Greene said she’s comfortable with the plan because quality hires matter.
“The fact that we are vetting these individuals very critically is what’s most important to ensure that once we hire a school safety assistant we have a high level of confidence that this person can perform the duties of that position,” she said.
Fifteen applicants were disqualified after a psychological examination. Edwards said that entails the applicant’s answering about 950 questions and then sitting with a psychiatrist to go over their answers.
The school district decided to also require applicants to take polygraph tests, which disqualified 20 of them. Edwards said one disqualified candidate admitted to recently taking someone to buy drugs, and another confessed to watching pornography daily.
Where i still don't like the program, the deliberate way we are hiring does make me feel a little better.
It should also be noted the state sent the district about 3.6 million dollars to do a job that was projected to cost over ten. Just more proof that the republicans in Tallahassee don't care about our public schools, but this time its the safety of our children that has drawn the short straw.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Darryl Willie snubs his nose at the school board, only takes down one of the videos they asked him to. **updated and corrected**

**corrected and updated**

I may be a %$^& but I am not a $%^&#*  %^&$. 

Okay, a reader said they felt the district only told Willie to take down one video, while the infamous one of him dancing could stay but in the future he needed permission to use district property.  

I read, one had to come down, and you should really take the other one down. I would also argue that anything a candidate puts on his page is an implicit ask for donations, but to be clear I asked the district and they responded.

Hi Chris,
To clarify, the letter requests that the Andrew Robinson video be removed. For the “Duval County Public Schools Administration Property Video” we  just advise that he get permission to use school board property in the future.

So there you have it, but I don't think it changes for one second his terrible judgement for putting kids on blast without their parents permission or for the use of district property to make a dance video but it also doesn't do me any good to get things wrong.


The district asked Darryl Willie to take down two campaign videos. He took down one and left the other up. the infamous one of him dancing. I guess he couldn't bare to lose it.

The screenshot below was taken at 8:48 on 8/15, or you know 29 days after the district asked him to take it down.

Darryl Willie who wants to be on the school board just gave the district the middle finger, well sorry he did it 29 days ago, when he decided to keep one of the videos they asked him to take down, up. He apparently doesn't care about right and wrong and that he is above the rules.

Darryl does what Darryl wants.

Is this the kind of person we want on the school board? A guy who thinks he is above the rules?


Darryl Willie told by DCPS to take down improper campaign videos

If you read the letter, the district can be very polite when it wants to be. When it sent me a letter threatening to sue me it had a different vibe.

The author of the letter Brian Mcduffie is very polite and he's right when he thanks Willie for taking an interest in our children, we need a lot more people to do so. Whether you want to call it a village or a team, we need people involved.

The thing here however, is this is indicative of who Willie is.

He should have known this was against policy, this isn't his first time running for school board. It could have been an honest mistake, like all the money he has taken from charters and the disparaging mailers he sent out last go around, or he knew it was wrong, which is what I think and he just didn't care. 

He doesn't care that he puts an ever revolving door of novice teachers in our neediest children's classrooms, why should he care that he uses some of these same children as props. He put these kids on blast without their parents permission and that is just wrong and shows poor judgement.

District 4 has several god candidates, Willie is not one of them. We can't afford to go backwards with him on the board, even if he does have good dance moves.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Nick Howland candidate district 2 takes a ton of money from special interests.

From a Reader

I would ’like to see a paper that talks about who is backing Howland instead of endorsing him.
A select few:
$500 Lobbyist Paul Bradshaw for Education (
$500 Lobbyist David C. Browning for Education ( - A “top political campaign operative”

Skirting campaign finance laws intent, Chartrand gets family to donate…
$1,000 from Gary (KIPP, etc.)
$1,000 from Jeff
$500 from Meredith (Discovery Motesouri Private School board)

More special interest private and charter..
$1,000 KIPP Charter Tom Majdanics
$1,000 private school choice John Kirtley
$500 Scott Shine picked up his ball and went somewhere else because he can’t work with the board

$1,000 Political Action Committee (NE FL Committee for Economic Growth)
Bunch of additional corporations from various wealthy people that can easily skirt campaign finance intent by putting it through their corporations(smh): DAR Investments, Harden, Gate Petroleum, etc.

$1,000 from the Kennel Club! 
$1,000 MORE from Greyhound Racing! What does this have to do with education?

Patriot Systems—Bakes Dozen with their Ted and John, Lauren

Who’s who of real estate investors and personal finance wealth management professionals for the rich

Hoo boy, I think it is important to see who is donating to a candidate because that more than what they say, and we know Howland will say anything, will show you their positions. For example charter school guys aren't going to support somebody who wants charter school accountability, oh and why yes, Howland has taken a lot of charter school money.

Though as usual please don't take my word for it, instead have a look for yourself.