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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Becki Couch calls out the Times Union and the businessmen school board candidates

That would be Howland with a dash of Willie and Chauncy in case you were wondering

Via Facebook

It is disappointing that the TU and certain candidates through campaign mailers have been perpetuating inaccurate information. First let me say that Duval did not spend $62 million more than it received last year nor has there been a two-year deficit spending practice. 

State statute requires school districts pass a balanced budget with a minimum of 3% unrestricted funds to be held in reserve. This essentially is like a savings account that is to be used to cover unanticipated costs that can occur throughout the fiscal year. You can read here to see what I have been saying for several years. 



At no time did the district go below the required 3%. 

When preparing the 2018-2019 fiscal year district budget we had to account for a $2.89 per student reduction from the state, underfunded and unfunded legislative mandates, and fixed cost increases. This required a need to reduce our costs by several million dollars so that we could comply with the law and pass a balanced budget. 

Florida state statute 1011.051 requires the superintendent provide written notification to the district school board and the Commissioner of Education if at any time the portion of the general fund’s ending unrestricted fund balance in the district’s approved operating budget is projected to fall below 2 percent of projected revenues during the current fiscal year. 

We have remained above 4% in reserves. Considering this never occurred it is fair to say the campaign advertisements and TU have been a bit misleading in their proclamation that the school district “over spent” the revenue taken in. 

I have served with "businessmen" on the board and they have come to the same conclusion as I, that as long as per student funding continues to lag behind the increases in the cost of living and unfunded mandates continue to be passed by the legislature, cuts to the district budget will continue to occur.

Pro charter school super pac, pushes Darryl Willie for school board, yeah he's not in bed with charters.

Parent's for Great Schools, should really be called charters for more money, and is advertising for Darryl Willie, because, despite his claims to the contrary he's been bought by the charter school industry.

https://www.facebook.com/parentsforgreatschools/videos/502851876863874/

Parents is actually an astro turf group created by one of the most insidious charter chains around, the Rocket ship charters which think sixty kids in front of a computer with a trained money,  low paid assistant walking around checking on them is the way to go.

From the Tennessean

"They are really phenomenal at marketing their schools," said Roxana Marachi, an associate professor in the Connie L. Lurie College of Education at San Jose State University. "But they have not shown they can deliver on all that they are promising."

Rocketship leaders say their own internal number-crunching shows significantly more improvement than the more dated California-wide comparisons suggest. They continue to position their schools as Silicon Valley's answer to the educational divide. 

And Fuerza Community Prep looks and feels like a Silicon Valley creation, with its brightly lit classrooms almost entirely devoid of the low-tech educational toys of other elementary schools. On a recent visit, there were no pretend kitchens, boxes of wooden blocks or easels to be seen in the classrooms. Students were often spoken to using language more common in corporate offices than elementary schools. A kindergartner whose uniform pants were falling down was told to "dress for success," and an administrator boasted that a first-grade teacher "was maniacal about not wasting time" with her young charges.

Students at these elementary schools can spend up to 90 minutes a day inside computer labs, although administrators say they increasingly try to break up some of that time with music and art classes. Once students are back in their classrooms, some receive yet more time in front of laptops, adding to their total daily screen time. Lunch and recess together are a total of 40 minutes.

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2015/07/05/rocketship-charter-network-criticized-overly-rigid/29646659/

Um that sounds like a nightmare to me and that's who is spending money to get Willie elected.

Willie tells people that he's not going to be in the pocket of charters, but charters obviously have a different point of view.

Friends we can't take the risk that his ability to do the KiKi challenge will translate into him being a school board member, we really cant.

If you care about our public schools and up hope you do, then Cynthia Smith is the candidate for you.  

Days before the election Daryl Willie, school board district 4, doubles down on ridiculousness

People running for public office will often say what they think people want to hear. It’s a sad truth.

Darryl Willie says what he thinks people want to hear to the point of absurdity.
In the Times Union when talking about his haul from charter schools and corporate raiders, Willie tried to turn that into a positive.
She (Smith his opponent in district 4), like the other female candidates, has warned that much of the financial support the male candidates receive come from supporters of charter schools and private school vouchers, which drain students and funds from traditional public schools.
Their opponents disagree that such contributions come with strings attached. Each of the candidates vowed to strengthen Duval’s neighborhood schools and hold charter schools accountable.
Willie, for instance, vows to bring the same fundraising skills he used in his campaign and on behalf of Teach for America to play for Duval’s District 4 schools, which serve the most disadvantaged students.
“This is an example of what I’m going to be able to do as a board member,” he said. “I’m going to reach across the city and bring financial resources to District 4. I’m getting dinged for it, but at the end of the day I’m not afraid to ask for money to invest in our kids.”

Um this is Willie’s second run at school board, he has lived in Jax for 7 years. He says he can bring money into district 4 but how much money has he raised for the district 4 schools again? The answer is nothing. Now I know he has raised a heck of a lot of money for himself. 5 million dollars from the QEA went to teach for Jacksonville, not into the classrooms. Is he saying he will only raise money if he wins? That it’s to heck with you if he doesn’t?  Imagine if district 4 had extra money for safety, coaches, a librarian, well they could have but instead of giving, all Willie has done is take.

There is no doubt Willie is affable and he can sure do the KiKi challenge, but what’s also not in doubt is he is self-serving. It’s him first, TFA second and I believe when if he gets elected his donors, which have been paying his six figure salary and for TFA to survive, even though DCPS has said no thanks to them going forward, third. Kids and schools, well if past is prologue there won’t be much left for them once their turn comes around.     

If you care about our schools, vote Smith, not only has she proved herself, but she puts kids and schools first.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The District 2 school board race explained, Vote Andersen and experience over Howland and Hubris

District 2

In District 2 we have former DCPS teacher and current mental health counselor Elizabeth Anderson going against Navy veteran and businessman Nick Howland. Before I continue you should know the corporate reform movement hardly ever supports teachers preferring to go with the businessmen to lead our schools a pattern you will see when we discuss the other two races.

In the Primary, Elizabeth Andersen raised 6,845 dollars while Howland took in 56,559 dollars or more than all the other candidates, 4, combined.

Andersen went on to spend $5,236.99 and received 4,823 votes for $1.09 a vote. Nick Howland spent $51,496 dollars or nearly ten times as much and received 6,678 votes for a cost of $7.72 per vote. I am told he spent 17 thousand on his commercial, where he touted that he was a conservative businessman which should have raised flags for many, as school board races are supposed to be nonpartisan because what is best for our children is supposed to transcend political ideology. Howland however has taken every opportunity he could to let people know he is a republican even having the republican party of Jacksonville canvas for him.

This however wasn’t Howland’s only questionable decision.  He also accepted a defacto endorsement from the Seaside Charter school when he accepted an invitation to the ribbon cutting ceremony where they proceeded to push his candidacy for the school board. Public schools and nonprofits are not supposed to engage in political activities but that did not stop the Seaside charter school and Nick Howland.

Howland then used misleading and false data to push his narrative that DCPS schools are not safe, claiming if we continued the way they were going then 1 in 11 of all students would be a victim. When the blog education matter pointed out what he was doing he changed his campaign web page but made no mention of the mistake he repeated for months.   
His campaign site on August 7th.


His campaign site currently.


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 a blog pointed out he had the numbers and year wrong. That means for months he went out saying something that was at best wrong. With no effort on his part to get things right.

Isn't getting things right important? Isn't using data correctly important? The Times Union reported that it’s a small percentage of kids that are constantly in trouble and getting in fights but that probably wouldn’t sell as well on the stump.


Now if Howland 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, 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 because he thinks scared people will vote for him.

Howland received the maximum contribution from 30 people or companies and the Times Union reported that he received money from several PACS and many of his donors are known to support charters and private school scholarships. 

Perhaps what is most remarkable is Nick Howland’s resume is nearly identical to the current school board member Scott Shine whose resume was nearly identical to his predecessors Fred “Fel” Lee.  All are wealthy business men who nibbled on the edges of public service having never been elected but having served on various boards and none having anything approaching relevant education experience. 

If Howland really cared about our schools he would drop out and let Andersen the professional educator and mental health counselor ascend to the board. It's hubris however that keeps him going as he says, I'll give that a try, a sentiment the last two representatives form district 2 had and we see how poorly that worked out. Our children deserve better and District 2 desperately needs experience over hubris.
Finally, the other candidates for the district 2 school board seat, Shannon Beckham, Casey Ayers and Sam Hall have all rallied behind Elizabeth Andersen and her uniquely qualified background, being both a former teacher and a current mental health counselor in an era when schools are finally starting to take mental health seriously. 

The district 4 school board race explained, vote Smith over Willie who has to many poor ideas and dubious connections

District 4
In district 4 we have teacher and lifelong resident Cynthia Smith versus Teach for America executive Darryl Willie who has been in Jacksonville for seven years and has now run for school board twice.
Cynthia Smith has a compelling story, she started as a book keeper and worked her way up to assistant principal before leaving to run a preschool. She served in DCPS schools for sixteen years, which is only sixteen years longer than Darryl Willie did.
Smith is also certified in ESOL, Reading, Guidance and Counseling and leadership while Willie has no certifications.
Darryl Willie did spend three years in a classroom in Arkansas over a decade ago. Since then he had a variety of jobs but has been with Teach for America since 2011, becoming the Jacksonville location executive director in 2015. These however are troubling times for TFA and that more than anything may have influenced his decision to run again.
It's no secret that Teach for America is on its way out of town. They only brought in 50 new teachers this year and none of them are working at traditional DCPS schools, just charters. Superintendent Green told me personally the district planned to honor last year’s 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, and that few principals that oversee hundreds of staff members and thousands of kids will take home.
However, if he along with Chauncey also a TFA alum got on the board then the two of them may be able to reverse TFA Jax’s current standing.
It's not just Wilie's dubious connections to charters and their supporters who he has taken lots of money from and the privatization movement, it's his terrible ideas which all seem to benefit TFA and poor judgement like first putting public school kids on blast in a campaign video and then being told by the district t take it town.
Finally, if you think District 4 has been capably represented the last 8 years by Paula Wright, she wrote on Facebook, Cynthia Smith, School Board Candidate, District 4 is the education advocate who deserves acknowledgement.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The district 6 school board race explained, why Joyce is the choice and Chauncey is not

District 6
District 6 sees long time teacher and lifelong Jacksonville resident Charlotte Joyce going against recent transplant, former Teach for America corp member and current lawyer David Chauncey. Mrs. Joyce has been working in our schools since Chauncey was in middle school.
Joyce would have the unique experience of being a school board representative of not just the schools she worked at but the schools she went to as well. Chauncey on the other hand does have some relevant teaching experience, teaching for two years at Ribault middle as a Teach for America teacher. He left however as soon as his two-year commitment was over while Mrs. Joyce has spent her entire adult life in our public schools.
Joyce raised $9,455, spent $8,396.47 and received 6,629 votes, for a cost of 1.22 per vote while Dave Chauncey raised $75,247 and spent 65.952.24 on 6,624 votes, for a cost of a whopping $9.92 per vote.
Then Becki Couch the two term current school board member has supported Joyce as well saying,  If you live in my district, I ask that you vote for Charlotte Austin Joyce to represent the school board seat I am vacating. She is a seasoned educator who will put the needs of students first. She has grown up on the Westside and attended Stilwell and Ed White. She is an experienced educator with school aged children, so she understands the needs of our students and community on the Westside.

Of Chauncey’s 75 thousand 57 thousand came in the form of a maximum donation which was seventy-nine percent of his total, furthermore 75 percent of his money came from outside district 6. This begs the questions how many teachers and parents from within district 6 can afford to drop a grand on a school board race and why are so many people who don’t live in the district supporting him?
 While Joyce was bringing in small dollar amounts from teachers and parents the Times Union reported, Among (Chauncey’s) donors were pro-school-choice advocates, including people who support charter schools and state-funded scholarships for private and religious schools.
For instance, Gary Chartrand and organizations linked to him donated at least $4,000, records show. Ten political action committees contributed, including the Watchdog PAC, First Coast Conservatives, and Floridians for Economic Freedom.
Since Chauncey took so much money from charter schools you may be wondering how Chauncey feels about charter schools, here is a tweet of his from last year that seems to indicate that he is all for them.
When Corcoran and Chauncey speak about “high expectations, high support” charter schools, one of the schools they are speaking about is the KIPP chain which recently expanded into Miami. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Chauncey received a lot of financial support from the KIPP Jacksonville board and leadership.  Did I mention his wife works there as well?
There is a huge distinction between the candidates in district 6, a lifelong educator and resident of the district or a well-connected lawyer new to the district who has close ties to and lots of support from the corporate reform movement.
Note: As of today Chauncey has brought in over a hundred grand, for a school board race, and practically none of it from teachers, parents or from within district 6

https://www.voterfocus.com/CampaignFinance/candidate_pr.php?op=cv&e=21&c=Duval&ca=840&rellevel=4&committee=N

Paula Wright goes all in for Cynthia Smith in the district 4 school board.

Wearing a vote Cynthia Smith she was at the Highlands library supporting Smith to take her place on the school board.

She spoke about her impressive education resume which saw Smith spend 16 years in our schools or sixteen years longer than Daryl Willie.

She also mentioned how Smith is a lifelong resident and graduated from DCPS schools two more things that Willie can't say.

https://www.facebook.com/paula.wright.37853/videos/1505933436217242/

Paula Wright, "Cynthia Smith is best suited to ensure the continued progress that District 4 is enjoying."

I agree Mrs. Wright, I agree.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Charter super pac, runs ads for Dave Chauncy

Oh, he's not in bed with the charter school industry.

Not only has Dave Chancey taken in over six figures from the charter and business community but he is having Charter Super pacs pay for and run ads for him too.

On Facebook he has been running the ad below paid for by Parents for Great Schools



A more honest name for the pac might be, We want to make money off of your children.

http://parentsforgreatschools.com/?fbclid=IwAR1WOS7il2gRrDVntO3hv9TU0fqux9s-1sXkpTXLHKlTeRJrr_yLSZbZCjQ

Who are the parents? They were John Danner of the Rocket ship Charter chain. You may have heard of them as they are famous for having rows and rows of children sit in front of  computer, with one teacheresque person navigating through the warehouse like classrooms providing assistance when needed.

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2011/0901/John-Danner-shoots-for-the-stars-with-Rocketship-charter-schools

Where some people might like the idea of their children sitting in front a computer for 8 houes a day, they have a history of both failure

https://chalkbeat.org/posts/tn/2018/02/01/rocketship-becomes-latest-charter-network-to-pull-the-plug-on-tennessees-achievement-school-district/

and taking millions of dollars from our anti public education secretary of education, Betsy Devos

https://progressive.org/public-school-shakedown/betsy-devos-just-gave-12-6-million-grant-to-rocketship-chart/

This is who Chauncey his thrown in with.

If you care about our students and schools Charlotte Joyce is really your only option is district 6.                                                                                                                                                A Tfa alumni accused me of saying Chauncey had broken some campaign laws. That is ludicris.  If I thought he had broken any laws I would have put it in capital letters with exclamation points. There can be know doubt however that Chauncey's charter connections run deep. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Even the Times Union wants Ken Organes to be elected and to send Jason Fischer home.

I am no fan of the Times Union's editorial board. A broke clock is more accurate than they are when it comes to education, so I was surprised when the Times Union in a blistering take down of Fischer endorsed Ken Organes for the HD 15 race.

From the Times Union:

Generally experience is the most valuable asset for a politician. 
But that’s as long as the experience is constructive.
Incumbent state Rep. Jason Fischer did not find the time to meet with the Times-Union Editorial Board.
He did not bother to provide a bio or answers to a questionnaire.
And even Fischer’s campaign website is skimpy on any achievements in Tallahassee.
In short, Fischer’s experience isn’t the plus that it should be.
Why not?
Because it is experience that Fischer appears have gained while also developing a sense of entitlement along the way. 
And that’s just not a good look for any public servant.
District 16 deserves a representative who is both knowledgeable and humble.
That’s where Fischer’s opponent, Ken Organes, comes in. 

https://www.jacksonville.com/opinion/20181023/tuesday-editorial-renner-organes-are-impressive

It's pretty cool that Organes slogan is, You deserve to be heard, I am listening, because the only people Fischer has listened to is his mega donors.

I get why Fischer didn't want to interview. he would have a hard time explaining the millions he sent to KIPP and his attacks on public education and school teachers. Who knows the board may have even asked him about his day job which is working for John Kirtley the state's voucher king.

Fischer has been a disaster for public education since he appeared on the scene and its time to send him home.

If you care about public ed and I hope you do, then Ken Organes is the choice for you.

https://www.kenorganes.com/

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

DeSantis says education has plenty of money, and its just wasting what it has.

In a way I agree with DeSantis. There is a lot of money being wasted in education. We are wasting money on charter schools, vouchers and high stakes testing. We spend/waste billions on those corporate reform options. Unfortunately for DeSantis those are the things he supports. 

From The Tampa Times:


Florida’s school leaders have made plain for years their desire for more money to run their districts.
They’ve asked lawmakers for higher per-student funding, and the freedom to spend the money where it’s needed. They’ve requested more construction money, and pushed to keep property tax rates the same so schools can reap the benefit of rising values.
Not so fast, says Ron DeSantis, the Republican candidate for governor.
He suggests the system has plenty of money in it already — unlike Democrat Andrew Gillum, who has backed a corporate tax rate hike to bolster education spending by $1 billion.
It just needs to be spent more wisely, DeSantis suggested, calling for reductions in "bureaucratic waste and administrative inefficiency."
Um reductions in bureaucratic waste and administrative inefficiency sound great don't they? But without specifics they are just phrases people throw out when they don't have ideas. DeSantis also talks about mandating that spending 80 percent of budgets in classrooms but he doesn't detail what that means. I mean does that include lunch and a bus trip to school? Also from the Tampa Times.
 Officials in many districts argue that, depending on the definition of "into the classroom," they’re already approaching that 80 percent mark DeSantis seeks. A huge portion of it comes in the salaries and benefits they pay to people who work with students, although not all of them directly.
Trying to get much higher, they suggested, could be difficult — particularly if the state continues to mandate how they use much of their money.
"If you think about it, we really haven’t had a big increase. And all of the increases we have received are most of our categoricals," said Olga Swinson, the chief financial officer for Pasco schools, referring to state money such as lottery funds that are earmarked for certain expenses.
Swinson, who also chairs the Florida School Finance Council, noted that lawmakers this year directed millions of dollars in new funding toward security and mental health services — neither of which might be considered "classroom" expenses — while increasing the rest of the operating budget by just 47 cents per student.
"I don’t know how you restrict us to 80 percent of the money having to be instructional when we have little control of the money that comes to us," she said. 
Hmm is it beginning to seem like DeSantis has no idea what he is talking about? That he is just dripping out gobbledygook that he thinks sounds good? Well lets add to that and remember he thinks schools have enough money the just waste it, and once again from the Times.
Meanwhile, the Finance Council she heads, which advises education commissioner Pam Stewart, observed in a recent white paper that Florida’s education funding has not kept up with rising costs.
"Average funding would need to be increased an additional $1,120, or 15 percent, to $8,528 per student to offset the estimated impact of inflation as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics," wrote council members Michael Burke of Palm Beach schools and Ron Steiger of Miami-Dade schools.
Complicating matters, the state has forced districts — which in many counties are the largest employers — to reduce their tax rates an average of 18 percent over three years, they noted, while municipalities and local governments did not face the same reductions.
Sigh, everyone knows Florida has starved public education of resources, maybe everyone it seems but DeSantis  or maybe he does know and that's just the way he likes it figuring his base will fall for more gobbledygook meandering. 
If you care about public ed, then the bottom line is you have just one choice and that's Gillum for governor.

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.

https://www.voterfocus.com/CampaignFinance/candidate_pr.php?op=cv&e=21&c=Duval&ca=840&rellevel=4&committee=N

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
https://www.seethegirl.org/summit/

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.

%$#^!!!