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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

DCPS jumps the shark with its prom announcements.

First, let me say I am all for these kids getting back to something normal and not missing out on any more milestones or events like prom. It is literally heartbreaking how much they have missed. That being said, the district's prom announcements are just bat-@%#$ crazy. 

In case you missed it, DCPS has announced that schools will have proms starting at the end of March, with one huge caveat, attendees will then have to quarantine themselves for the next ten days.    

Let me explain what Jump the Shark means before I continue. It’s when something reaches a point at which far-fetched events are included merely for the sake of novelty, indicative of a decline in quality. The saying gained popular appeal when the Fonz jumped a shark on an episode of Happy Days. Having a prom where kids then have to miss ten days during the school year is definitely prime jumping the shark territory, but it is made even worse when you consider all the other decisions DCPS has made throughout the year.   

This year with its borderline criminal contact tracing and its practically nonexistent social distancing, one wonders what makes prom so different? The district has packed them, racked them, and stacked them in classes, halls, and schools all year long. Them being students and staff.  

The district has also had sporting events and people in the stands to watch them. The district hasn’t cared one iota about safety and quarantining, and in fact, it has fought against quarantining students and staff by seceding authority to the Department of health, which either by hook, political influence, or crook just incompetence has done a terrible job. Yet prom, PROM is now where they draw the line with a spectacularly stupid idea. 

If we are going to have Proms, why don’t we have them on June 3rd, when people will then be out for the year, they don’t have to quarantine and miss weeks for schools? 

Or why didn’t we have them the first week of spring break and then just after 5 days require a negative COVID test to return? You know, so we can keep them learning. 

Wanting kids to have a prom is not the problem; the spectacularly stupid implementation and timing of it by the district is, and this comes on the heels of the district's Take off the Mask social media campaign that spectacularly flamed out. 

Is Greene sitting back and saying, gosh, these are great ideas, or is this $%@# just happening without her knowledge? But either way, which is worse? Please tell me.   

Sadly, with these two ideas coupled with the shameful treatment of teachers and the lack of safety concern, inexplicably until now when it is over the top, all just tells me we aren’t being led by our best and brightest. Checks notes, oh, the state is getting rid of that too. Well, isn’t that a kick in the…  


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Superintendent Greene says she supports staff, but her actions often speak louder than her words.

 Superintendent Green recently sent me a note. She was replying to something I had sent to the school board about the frustration so many teachers are experiencing. 

Thank you for sharing the posts you are seeing on Facebook. I understand how difficult this year is and the impact recent events have had our teachers and other staff.   We will continue to seek ways to support them throughout the year.  


It’s funny/not funny because I am not sure if she really understands how difficult it has been for some. If she did, that makes many of her choices that more inexplicable. Likewise, I haven’t felt the support from the district either something many of my peers can also relate to. 

Willfully out of touch, painfully ignorant, and disingenuous came to mind after I read her note. That being said, what if she was being sincere, what if she really thinks she understands how difficult the year has been for so many and thinks she has been supporting staff. What if?  

So being the helpful guy I am, I sent her some suggestions. If you have anything you think I have missed and I am sure I have, please let me know.      

- Pay teachers without class responsibilities what you would pay teachers to sub. If they have enough time to cover without taking care of their responsibilities then put them in the classrooms on a full-time basis.  

 

- Stop pulling elementary resource teachers from their classes to cover absences. That robs Peter twice, they aren't teaching their classes, and other teachers miss out on their planning to pay Paul. 

 

-Stop having service providers cover classes. This may also be illegal if they aren't able to provide services. Likewise, stop having bookkeepers and office staff do it. I spoke with the union, and this violates the contract. 

 

-Hire subs preemptively, have every school put in for a number; if it turns out you have too much coverage, well, that's not a bad thing, but likewise, stop switching sub assignments. Many don't like taking one job and then being told they have another when they get to the schools.  

 

- Cancel common planning, teachers are already overwhelmed, and anything you can do to take things off their plates is a good thing. 

 

- Improve contact tracking. This is my biggest concern what we are doing now is reckless and blaming it on the DOH is unacceptable. All you have to do is let teachers and families know when there is a case in the room; you don't have to  give names, but letting people make decisions to protect themselves is just the right thing to do. 

 

- Cancel all-district testing; I get for the EOCs and FSA the state wants to make people come in, but just because they are heartless and ignore science doesn't mean we have to. 

 

I believe enacting these measures would show people the district cared, which we all know is better than telling them. That’s been the problem all year, the super and board say they care, they just haven’t shown us that they do. 

How teachers elected DeSantis and may do so again.

Florida’s teachers elected DeSantis, and they are sadly about to do it again.  

A recent poll said Florida’s teachers overwhelmingly disapprove of how DeSantis has done.  

From Florida Politics: 

The Clearview Research poll found 76% of teachers in Florida disapprove of his job performance, and just 21% approve. That net -45 rating marks a dramatic shift from two years ago, when the then-newly inaugurated Governor had a 40% approve, 30% disapprove rating among FEA members. 

 

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran also has a net -36 percentage point approval rating, with 17% giving a favorable mark and 67% grading him unfavorably. The Florida Legislature, as session begins, holds a net negative rating among Florida’s teachers, with 19% approving and 74% disapproving,. 

 

And teachers have a -36 percentage point net disapproval of the current conditions in Florida’s schools. 

https://floridapolitics.com/archives/407397-teachers-union-poll-finds-educators-enormously-unhappy-with-ron- 

My first thought wasn’t, wow, he is really underwater, and rightfully so, but who the 7345 are these 21 percent of teachers who think he is doing a good job?? 

Then the math made me sad because it meant teachers who suffered 8 years of abuse and mismanagement from Scott had elected DeSantis and are poised to do so again. 

In 2018, DeSantis beat Gillum, 32,463 votes. Less than half of one percent. 

According to Google, there 176,537 public school teachers, 21 percent of which is just over 37,000, or more than DeSantis’s margin of victory. Who wants to bet more than 21 percent of teachers voted against their and their students' interests in 2018. I wouldn’t. 

DeSantis and Corcoran are dreadful for public education, and in some good news, the vast majority of educators know this; unfortunately, another recent poll shows us the vast majority of Florida citizens don’t.     

From News4Jax:  

A Mason-Dixon poll released Tuesday finds more than half of registered Florida voters support Ron DeSantis’ performance as the state’s governor.  

The poll shows that statewide, 53% of respondents approve of how DeSantis is handling his job, 42% disapprove, and 5% were undecided.  

In North Florida specifically, the numbers are higher in DeSantis’ favor, with 63% approving of the governor’s performance, 33% disapproving, and 4% undecided.  

According to the poll, the governor’s job approval rating has increased over the past seven months, with his approval number increasing by eight points and his disapproval number dropping by seven points. 

https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2021/03/02/poll-majority-of-florida-voters-approve-of-desantis-performance-as-governor/ 

Gulp. 

Public education will not survive 5 more years of DeSantis, and neither will the teaching profession. 

So why the disconnect between teachers and the public? Well, maybe it's because teachers are afraid and trying to keep their heads down; it what many of us do, rather than speaking up and fighting back against unfair pay, attacks on the union, testing, COVID, and so many other issues. We are not educating the public, and instead, we are just taking it like we have for decades. 

Well, friends, look where just taking it has got us.  

Teachers have a responsibility to their families and their students but maybe most importantly to themselves, and that is to stop just taking it.  


Sunday, February 28, 2021

DCPS try's to trick parents into sending their kids back into school... during a pandemic.

 DCPS is like an onion. On the outside, it may look normal, but as you peel back the layers, it makes you want to cry. Recently the district has been sending letters to parents whose children are doing just fine with DHR, implying they are failing and must return to school. This is beyond the pale.

A teacher reached out to me to tell me the district sent one of his families a letter saying their child was failing when the student in question had a B average in actuality. You can rest assured this wasn't a one-off either, and hundreds, maybe thousands of students got this letter. 

This is unacceptable. It undermines teachers, it lies to parents, and since it is a pandemic could potentially put people in jeopardy.

DCPS has lost its way; we could and should be doing better.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

DCPS creates problems, then wonders why there are problems.

One-sixth of DCPS teachers leave from year to year. Where there are many reasons teachers leave, the lion's share of why they do has to fall on the shoulders of the district. Bad leadership and bad policies have led to this exodus.   

The Times Union recently reported on a JPEF study about teacher recruitment and retention. If the article seems familiar, it's because a variation of it comes out every three to four years.  

From the Times Union, 

In an analysis of three years of data from the school district, Jacksonville Public Education Fund revealed that Duval County's teacher retention rate is about 84 percent year-to-year across the entire district and about 75 percent year-to-year in the average school. The district said these numbers are on pace with national statistics… 

…Jacksonville Public Education Fund's research also showed that higher-performing schools with lower grades have teachers with less experience and schools with more students that are eligible for free and reduced lunch experience less teacher retention than schools with fewer students eligible for free and reduced lunch.  

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/education/2021/02/23/new-research-highlights-teacher-retention-inequity-duval-schools/4556199001/ 

The article had more to do with recruiting minority males to the district, a worthwhile endeavor, but I thought these two passages pertained most to DCPS’s ongoing issues.  

First, I am blown away that it is only 1 in 6 that leaves annually, but who wants to bet that number is about to go up.   

Then schools with teachers with less experience don’t do as well, um, well duh. This isn’t an indictment of young teachers either. They just don’t know what they don’t know, plus we often overwhelm them with extra tasks and, if we are honest, some of the hardest classes. We bind their hands and feet and throw them into the deep end. It's no wonder that many leave shortly after arriving. 

Younger teachers usually go where the jobs are, and the jobs are often at the economically disadvantaged schools, where gains are slow and small.  

So does the district assist them with academic and behavioral supports, make their classes smaller, take tasks off their plates? Nope, nope and nope, they are treated the same as ten-year veterans for the most part.  

It gets worse, though, because the district actively recruits teachers through Teach for America, spending thousands of dollars on each, and they know the vast majority won’t stay past their two-year commitment. Heck, the last stat I saw said about one in six; imagine that they do not even finish that commitment. The district is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a program that does the opposite of what we know our most vulnerable children need, which exacerbates the turnover rate. How does that make any sense? The answer is it does not.  

When teachers leave, there is no exit interview to find out why and I believe the district does not want to know. They do not want to hear about bullies masquerading as administrators, the soul-crushing workloads, and the lack of support. No, because if they knew definitively about those things, they might feel obligated to do something. 

Some good news and bad news. The good news is these problems are solvable; the bad news is that we don’t have a district interested in doing so. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Biden is off to a real slow education start.

 You know you want to give the new guy some time, but how long does it take to do what is right? Well, since Biden just punted on high stakes standardized tests during a pandemic, it will be at least another year. However, since Obama's education policies were truly dreadful and destructive, I wouldn't hold out much hope that Biden will be different.

The Biden administration showed a real lack of leadership today when it punted to the states on high-stakes testing.

 From the letter the acting secretary of ed sent to the states. 

To be successful once schools have re-opened, we need to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on learning and identify what resources and supports students need. We must also specifically be prepared to address the educational inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, including by using student learning data to enable states, school districts, and schools to target resources and supports to the students with the greatest needs. In addition, parents need information on how their children are doing

https://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/stateletters/dcl-assessments-and-acct-022221.pdf

I love how it finishes, you know, because we can't trust teachers to tell parents, and be honest, so since we have no idea we have to have a test to find out. Sofa king lame. I included a link above, and I would urge you to check it out.

This on the heels of Biden straight up saying he would not forgive student debt, which to me was the most important issue. Now you might think I am greedy, but if I had been paid what I was promised when I started, I would be close to paying my student loans off; however, since I wasn't, I will retire at this rate with student %$@#ing loans.  

You know I am glad the country isn't being debased routinely, and I don't think he will steal the china on the way out, but at the same time, I haven't had a president that truly cares about public education in my lifetime.

Once again, sofa king lame.   

Saturday, February 20, 2021

In DCPS scholar bowl out, sports still in.

 Do you ever get the feeling DPS is just making stuff up as they go along? That there is little rhyme or reason? Well, today's version features the cancelation of scholar bowl while sports chug along.


So our schools are too dangerous for scholar bowl but not for the classes the scholars are taking? Not for sports? Also if any activity screams can be done over teams, it is scholar bowl.

This doesn't make sense, nothing makes sense.

DCPS's insidious effort to get more kids back in school

 During a zoom call, I asked the superintendent if having kids come in to take a practice test was wise. She said we are using this latest round of tests to prepare for the FSA. I also asked if the district was going to follow other district's leads and ask the state to cancel the tests. She pointed to a superintendents association letter sent a few months back but said they didn't have any plans. Greene has joined the high stakes test group, which believes that is all education is. 

So this is what is insidious. All year long, DHR kids have been able to take district tests through performance matters but not this time. This tells me collecting data isn't the goal, because if it was it wouldn't matter where the kid took the test, it's to get butts in seats, it's to bow down to the altar of big testing.

This is the alter that Greene worships at. What has she done to push back against the state? Signed onto a quickly ignored letter? No, she's doubled down, she has said, the state says they have to be there for the FSA so we're gonna make sure they are there for a practically useless test too.

Why? It's not to get data, they could do that at home. It's also not to keep people safe because in my opinion, they haven't cared about that all year long. No, it's to show fealty to a state that hates and loathes public education and that is pathetic and short-sited at best. 

If the district really cared about students and staff they would immediately cancel any district tests, and explain family's options to opt-out. 

Dr. Greene, it's a pandemic. It's time to get a heart.



   

Thursday, February 18, 2021

This week in Ron DeSantis, he blasts CDC guidelines, threatens to withhold vaccines and lies about the pandemic.

 Ron DeSantis is a menace, before the pandemic is over he will be responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. 

From WCJB.com,

 DeSantis is calling it a “disgrace.” He says these new guidelines are not rooted in science.

“We’ve been open the whole time, since August. We had kids doing camps and athletics and all that over the summer and we’ve been in-person as much as anybody in the country and yet, we are 34th out of 50 states and D.C. for COVID-19 cases on a per capita basis for children,” said the Florida governor during his press conference. “Thirty-three states have more cases per capita than Florida children and many of those don’t have a lot of in-person instruction in school.

https://www.wcjb.com/2021/02/16/we-are-not-turning-back-gov-desantis-calls-cdc-guidelines-to-opening-schools-a-disgrace/

You know we are in trouble when they start throwing out words like "per capita". The things is I am not sure Desantis understands science because he lies about it so often.

From NBC6,

 As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis travels the state promoting his performance fighting the coronavirus, he often points to a relatively low infection rate among children — even after his administration compelled school districts to offer in-person learning. 

But this week, the NBC 6 Investigators found, he twice misled the public about how Florida stacks up to other states when it comes to infection rates among school-age children. 

During comments Monday lambasting Democrats for, he claimed, putting teachers' unions "ahead of the well-being of our children," he touted how well Florida protected school children from the virus, compared to other states. "We’ve been in-person (learning) as much as anybody in the country. And yet we’re 34th out of 50 states and DC for COVID-19 cases on a per capita basis for children," he said. 

That is not true, unless -- as the governor did -- you ignore more than 50,000 children over the age of 14 who contracted the virus. 

By using a statistic for children under 15, he effectively removed high school students from the data he cited twice this week to validate his decision to offer in-person classes to all public schools students. 

The states DeSantis was comparing Florida to do, in fact, include those older students. 

When states reporting cases among children under 18 are compared to Florida's rate for the same age group, Florida ranks ninth -- not 34th -- according to an NBC 6 analysis of state Department of Health and U.S. Census Bureau data.

https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/desantis-omits-data-on-child-covid-rates-as-he-touts-decision-to-open-schools/2385631/ 

So our governor is a liar, disappointing but at this point well known, but as bad as above is, perhaps worse is him threatening to withhold the vaccine from people he doesn't like.

From the Sun Sentinel, 

Gov. Ron DeSantis defended his decision Wednesday to steer COVID-19 vaccine to a planned community with family ties to a Republican power couple, threatening to pull doses if local officials criticize his distribution methods. 

DeSantis is facing questions over his decision to provide seniors living in two of Manatee County’s wealthiest ZIP codes with special access to the vaccine. The pop-up vaccination site is serving residents of Lakewood Ranch, a planned community in Southwest Florida with family ties to Liz and Dick Uihlein. The New York Times dubbed the pair “the most powerful conservative couple you’ve never heard of.” 

The couple’s list of political contributions includes $900,000 Dick Uihlein gave to DeSantis’ political committee in 2018 and 2019. DeSantis brushed aside concerns of political favoritism during a news conference Wednesday and then issued a warning to local officials complaining about his plan. 

“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it,” DeSantis said.

https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/fl-ne-ron-desantis-vaccine-politics-20210217-cgew27q23fhknh7rpr3h4sf5dy-story.html

And there you have it.

To paraphrase Dean Wormer, ignorant deceptive, and cruel is no way to run a state, but that's the way the governor is doing it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Greene just can't be honest about the pandemic.

 In a community meeting, Greene said cases of COVID exploded in January because we had just returned from Winter Break. She showed a graph backing this up too. The thing is cases exploded because the district changed the way it revealed cases. Basically, up to that point, we had been lowballing the numbers, and it was a Christmas miracle that they finally decided to be more honest.   

From the Times Union, 

Wednesday evening, when Duval Schools families refreshed the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, they saw a massive spike in cases. But the district says it’s because of the new, more proactive way they're reporting things, not a school-specific case surge. 

Instead of waiting for confirmation from the local Department of Health, Duval County Public Schools announced Wednesday that it will start reporting potential COVID-19 cases into its system as soon as officials become aware of a case.

The change took effect Wednesday night, with 170 new cases populating for one day.

The district said in a post to its website that this will help families and the community make informed decisions and with overall transparency. 

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/education/2021/01/14/duval-schools-says-spike-cases-prompted-expedited-reporting/4149337001/

Could this have been a result of returning from Winter break? Maybe I guess, but this was the second week back.

I don't like calling people a liar, but the super seems inclined to stretch the facts some like she did last summer when she said we had plenty of subs and fewer openings, neither of which turned out to be true.

I think this is even more maddening because it was unnecessary. She didn't need to bring it up; it was filler during her 30-minute presentation.

For the first five months, everyone knew the district was under-reporting cases, and kudos to them for finally being more honest, but blaming the surge on winter break and not a policy change is her being less than honest, and if she is going to do that here, where won't she do it. 

In a pandemic little things matter. Everything matters.