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Sunday, October 18, 2020

DCPS is using the DOH as an excuse to risk lives

 DCPS is risking lives, that's a fact, and another is they are using the DOH as cover to do so. Contact tracing that quarantines half of a married couple, one sibling and not others, teachers but not their students and takes days to do is useless. I know it, you know it, and the district does knows it too.

A SB member I actually like said they are doing what the DOH tells them to do. This, by the way, is the same DOH that wouldn't return their calls over the summer and which is politically compromised. 

If you want to be horrified by how bad a job Florida is doing, read the link below.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/fl-ne-coronavirus-positivity-rate-florida-explainer-20201014-tfho3kvw7jaabmlv2d7gwndgii-story.html?

What's to stop the district from saying, well, if this teacher is quarantined, their students should be too, or the other half of a set of twins or a married couple, or you know things that make sense.

You ever notice nothing is ever the district's fault? The state made us do it, the DOH says, it happened at a party? The super and board are in charge of the district, and them repeatedly, REPEADELY giving up their authority is going to destroy public education.

Charters, testing, screwing over veteran teachers, keeping teachers on one-year contracts, risking lives,  they say over and over there is nothing they can do. Then why the hell are they there? Why do we have them? They are supposed to stand up for public education but instead, they ask how high they have to jump and how far they have to get out of the way as public education and the teaching profession are steamrolled. If they care about us, I haven't seen it.

The district says they are just following orders, which is never an acceptable excuse, but the truth is the DOH is giving them cover for what they want to do, keep butts in the seat, so they don't jeopardize the referendum.  

I want to share some things with you in case you did not know. Contact tracing in our schools as we do it is a bad joke, social distancing, by and large, is not happening, and the dashboard is not an accurate representation of what is happening in the district. We have been lucky so far, but that luck will run out.   

People's lives are worth more than a roll of the dice. Just ask the Jaguars.  

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/30130808/jacksonville-jaguars-closing-their-facility-positive-covid-19-test

    

Monday, October 12, 2020

DCPS's be lucky rather than good strategy is reckless.

 It pains me to put these words on paper but the undeniable truth is DCPS is not doing all it can to keep its staff and students safe and has gone with an “it’s better to be lucky than good” strategy.  

Let me tell you about my personal experience with their contract tracing. 

Last week a colleague went out on a Monday not feeling well thinking it was probably allergies. They went to the doctor who also thought it was probably something fairly benign but since they did have some COVID symptoms, there is a lot of overlap with colds, flu, and allergies, they should have a test just to be safe.   

Three days later when the results came back, unfortunately, it turned out they were infected. What did we do in the meantime? Absolutely nothing. Everyone who had been around them carried on as if it was business as usual. As infuriating as that was, what we did next was even worse. 

The staff has to cover classes like never before. When the superintendent over the summer said we had 2000 ready to go, she was at best wildly inaccurate. So schools have either been splitting classes up or creating sub-teams. My now sick colleague was part of a sub-team that went to a resource one day to help cover.   

So when the district did its contact tracing they checked the room that she was usually in all day every day and the room she was just in part of one day. Mind you now this person has been out four days and the district only found traces of COVID in the resource room.  

So instead of quarantining the staffs of both rooms they just quarantined the staff of the resource room, but none of the kids that go into that room every other day, which would have been at least four different classes on multiple occasions, including mine twice, since the staff member first felt ill. They did practically nothing to the class that she was in every day, all day, except for that one period, THAT ONE PERIOD, that they were in because they were part of a sub-team. 

Now they did quarantine two of the students in the staff members room and three in the class they helped to cover that one day, and I was told it was because they did not wear masks, which is an entirely different and reckless issue. When I asked about my three students who either don’t or won’t wear masks, who were in the class where the COVID was found, I was told that the information would be passed along, which is maddening because now we are almost a week from the first showing of symptoms and maybe three weeks from the initial infection. However, friends, it gets even worse. 

One of the resource staff that was required to quarantine, you know because she was in a room where traces of COVID was found, is married to another staff member, who was at school and just as confused about the process as all of us were.  

Did I mention that this is the second time people going to or in this particular resource have been required to quarantine because there is that too?  

I just want to say I am not mad at my school administration who have had their hands tied or my colleagues, we are all doing the best we can. It’s the district with their feckless and inconsistent policies that has me both infuriated and scared.   

So to sum up, nothing has been required of my children who were in the infected room multiple times, nor the majority of the children who worked with the infected staff member. Only two resource instructors and five maskless children have been sent home and the reason apparently is DCPS is not interested in keeping us safe and instead only manifestly cares about keeping butts in seats.     

This is not an isolated incident either. You can see all over social media how teachers and students are out, and it’s not being reported and unless something happens during school hours’ contact tracing is kept to a minimum. 

Somewhere along the way, DCPS decided it is better to be lucky than good and I will be honest, we are doing better than I thought, but somewhere along the line that luck will run out. 

What we are doing is reckless and that is the bottom line.  


Sunday, October 11, 2020

Curry shills for charter school pac to push referendum

 Lenny Curry is just plain gross. I have thought this for a while, be he really cemented it in his TV spot supporting the referendum (something I support). These commercials are funded by a charter school PAC and charter schools are about to make a huge windfall, as millions will be diverted out of our schools and the community and into the pockets of their owners. Millions will go to Curry's donors and not our schools.

So there are two groups ostensibly working for the referendum.

First, there is Duval Citizens for Better Schools, chaired by Warren Jones.  Let's call this the good pac.

Then there is Together for all our Students, run by Eric Robertson, a Republican operative who has worked for Lenny Curry and Jason Fischer. Its primary funder is Gary Chartrand, and let's call this the bad pac.

Jason Fischer and Gary Chartrand fought tooth and nail against the referendum. They said they wanted charter schools to get a cut based on enrollment, not based on need, but what they really wanted to do was get paid. You see, Chartrand is owed millions by the KIPP school, and Fischer is paid, well paid, to do Chartrand's bidding.

Now with dollar signs in their eyes, they are ponying up to make sure the referendum passes, and it is sickening.

I hope the referendum passes but let's not fool ourselves or sugar coat things, because the district is now required to share with charters, hundreds of millions of dollars will be diverted from schools and communities that need them to the bank accounts of charter owners and millions of that won't even stay in Jacksonville.

This gets a little wonky, so I apologize and hope I explain it well enough.

Charter schools will be able to spend the referendum money on lease payments. Not surprisingly, 29 out of the city's 32 charter schools are leased, including the KIPP schools, which owe Chartrand millions of dollars. Much of that money won't go to upgrades or filling needs or making improvements.  Nope, it will go to make charter owners richer, and that's because quite often, the charter pays its lease payment to a company that is also owned by the charter operator.

And here you might have thought charter schools were around to educate kids.

Lenny Curry, Jason Fischer, most of the Duval delegation and city council thought this, siphoning money out of neighborhoods and schools so rich people could get richer was a better plan than taking care of our schools, children, and neighborhoods. 

Hundreds of millions of dollars will be diverted from our schools and that hopefully outrages all of us. 

Oh, let's not forget our school board has approved the expansion of or just plain new ones something like 9 charter schools in the past six months. Curry's gross but in my eyes, they aren't much better.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Voluntold to sub

 Teachers all across the district are being voluntold to sub for absent colleagues, give up their planning and lunches, and the system is set up so teachers cannot say no. Not if they want to keep their jobs, their teaching assignment, or their standing that is.

Did you know you could be a 12 year veteran of teaching, TWELVE YEARS!!!!!, and you can be let go at the end of the year for any or no reason. It was a decade ago that teachers lost job protections.  Principals know this and use it to their advantage too. 

Oh, you can't cover, okay make sure all your paperwork is perfect, or don't expect that highly effective evaluation, what's your thoughts about being a traveling teacher or having multiple preps? How about I just single you out at every opportunity?  

I think it sucks that we don't have enough subs, but that's a district problem that they should solve. Mrs. McGuilicutty at P.S. whatever is already overwhelmed and doesn't have enough time or support. She and thousands of others need every second they can get.

From time to time, you hear that district staff will teach a class, well its time they stepped up, and if they feel they are too busy, welcome to the world of every teacher in the district.  

It's a shame what is happening in many of our schools and shame on the super and school board for letting it happen too.




Wednesday, September 30, 2020

I am voting for the referendum because I believe in the district, I just wish they believed in me.

I got an email from my school administration telling me if I wanted to vote for the referendum, I had to register by Monday. I am pretty sure it wasn't their idea to send it to me, which undoubtedly came from higher up. So much for the no-politics rule. 

It's okay; I plan to vote for the referendum because I believe in the district and understand it desperately needs the extra resources; I just wish the district believed in the rest of its staff and me. It's hard to forget that during the pandemic, the district has taken resource, planning, and even lunchtime from thousand of teachers and prioritized making sure standards are on our walls rather than taking care of its staff.

A colleague kind of summed it up in a Facebook post a few days ago.














That summed up a lot of people's feelings, though it really just scratched the surface.

Let's add basically useless and reckless contract tracing, a lack of teaching materials for many, and the seeming lack of a coherent plan to the list. 

I get it, there is a pandemic that ratchets everything up, but the district seems to have said to itself, let's take it even farther. Let's dump and overwhelm teachers like never before. 

Greene is making miss me Vitti (though not Irenetta talk about failing up). I said it, and I know many of you are thinking about it.

So my plan is to support the referendum; our system shouldn't suffer because the current iteration of our administration pulled back the curtains and revealed they were capricious and inept. I believe we will see better days, those of that survive or don't quit anyway.   

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The district is "just following orders"

 Like that was not acceptable historically it should not be acceptable today. 

I am absolutely sick of hearing its the state that made the schools open and it's the DOH who is responsible for our woeful contact tracing. Absolutely untrue on both fronts but what they have done is given the district cover for some of their dreadful decisions. Just following orders is an unacceptable excuse.

Greene wanted schools to open.

She didn't want to inform people about the spread of COVID in our schools either. These are facts.

I want to remind everyone the state lost the lawsuit about their executive order, and I don't believe for a second they would have even attempted to claw back any money if we would have gone completely virtual for the first nine weeks. 

Then there is also the fact that the state constitution gives the district the ability to run its schools. 

We could and should be doing better.

I would say when you are in a hole stop digging but the truth is we are aren't in a hole we are right where the district wants us to be or you don't give in to bullies but the truth is the district and the state are on the same page.     



Saturday, September 26, 2020

DCPS's contract tracing is worthless

 Let me tell you what happened at my school, a class and the staff that worked with it were was quarantined. This class and staff went to electives; the elective teachers and their paras weren't even told to get tested. The other classes that went to those classes weren't either, you know, because reasons, the chief being safety is not a concern.

Then there is this which is absolute b*llsh*t,

So they expect us to believe this member of the football team didn't come into contact with any other member of the football team? That's beyond belief, but it gets even worse.

I hear about and read all the time about cases that don't show up on the dashboard, and that's probably because the district is only counting cases that seem to happen while actually at school. If you were at school and get sick, then don't go back to school; the district appears to be saying, shhh, don't ask, don't tell. I can't say for sure this is happening here; the media has widely reported it is happening elsewhere.   

The district is risking lives and them blaming what they want to do anyways on the state is unconscionable.  

We deserve leadership that is going to work hard and fights for us, not one that sits backs and embraces the clutterf*ck that is ongoing. We deserve one that fights for and insists we are safe, not one that plays the system and doesn't care.

In my 20 years of education, and my 13 years of covering the district I have never seen something so despicable and dangerous. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

About those 2000 subs, we are missing 1500 (draft)

 I don't like saying the superintendent lied but when one bluffs they should understand it may be called. She said we had 2000 subs some trained in DHR ready to go but the reality is we have closer to 500 as daily over a quarter of jobs go unfilled.


Now I want to be fair, some positions are harder to fill than others and if somebody fails their test in the morning it may be hard to get a sub at a moments notice, but that being said if Greene was being honest over 1600 of those ready to go subs are passing on gigs on a daily basis.

I think this however exposes and even bigger problem. When she talked about the subs she also said we only had 80 something openings when the truth was we had twice that many. If she is going to be what some say deceptive, though others might say overly optimistic about these things, what else might she be either of those things about, the spread of COVID in our schools definitly comes to mind. 

Then when she left Manatee she left a fair amount of scandals in her wake. Rising and unexpected construction costs, a new costly computer program, and a grade inflation scandal.  I barely covered any of these thinsg because Vitti was such a disaster and I wanted her to succeed. At some point don't we have to consider all of these things aren't just one offs and maybe there is a patern there?

To read more about Greene's past scandals, click the links,

https://thebradentontimes.com/best-of-2019-public-kept-in-dark-on-scandals-as-they-voted-for-tax-increas-p21492-158.htm?fbclid=IwAR1Lk8fCvtOt1uEfRhvU8BjjXtJDfStAxlwWJ7-dWUiICkSOmeuFQHpzme4

https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2018/12/coal-in-superintendent-greenes-stocking.html

https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190317/construction-costs-soar-for-manatee-schools


 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Set up to fail

 I was so mad I was on the brink of tears. Yesterday I could use a curriculum that I had for years and where not perfect, gave me lots of material to work with, then like a light switch turning off, it was gone. The district didn't even think teachers were worthy of a heads up. I felt set up to fail, and sadly, I am not the only one, and the district's only response seemed to be, cry me a river.

In the last few days, I have read about on Facebook or heard from several how they too felt set up to fail.

No books or the right materials.

No access to a printer, or a working one anyways.

12 hours of work over the weekend and still not caught up.

They spent their planning calling parents of students who hadn't shown up or shown much interest if they did.

Crazy big Duval homeroom classes.

Crazy big brick and motor ones too.

Way too much to do, and not nearly enough time to do. No slack is given, expectations higher than ever.

Then there is that pesky pandemic too. It's almost like the district office is unaware. You would think they would be bending over backwards to lighten the load but that is obviously not the case for many.

Teaching in 2020 is hard, and don't let anyone tell you differently.

I felt disrespected and pissed, so I went all the way to the top and sent superintendent Greene this email.

Superintendent Greene,

 

ESE teachers all over the district just received an email that we would no longer have access to ULS. I tried to log in to download the rest of the lessons I had started, but I can't. We received no notice, and I guess we are just out of luck.

 

We are switching to a new curriculum called Teach Town. The ESE department might tell you they consulted with staff, but that is a misrepresentation; they consulted with a handful of staff, some of whom liked it and some of whom did not. I personally don't like it. It does not give us nearly the range of activities as ULS does, and where it might make a good supplement, as the driver of instruction, it is woefully inadequate.

 

I get it though, curriculums change, and the district rarely takes into account what teachers want; the thing is there is a pandemic going on, and as teachers are more stressed than ever and expected to do more than ever, is this really the right time to radically shift our instruction? I don't think it is, and I am probably not the only one.

 

Please instruct the ESE department to slow down with the shift and restore our access to ULS. Please put me and my colleagues in a position where we can succeed.

 

Chris Guerrieri


To which she responded.


Dear Mr. Guerrieri,

 

I understand your frustration.  This year has been very unsettling for many of us, and changes that would be easy to accept in the past are causing distress amid the backdrop of a global pandemic.  The ESE department reached out to receive feedback from teachers and did a pilot of the Teach Town curriculum in the spring.  With the uncertainty and stay at home order during the spring you may have missed the opportunity to give input. However, I am very familiar with both curriculums; both have positives and areas that don’t address the FSAA and or Access Points well.  Teach Town does a better job for our students who function on the higher levels of Access Points Standards and has specific lessons focused on essential transition skills.   

 

To provide some relief, I’ve asked the ESE department to allow you access to ULS for the remainder of the school year as we transition to Teach Town.  We only have limited licenses available, so ESE will work with any teacher until the licenses are gone as we will completely transition to Teach Town as the Core for students in the transition program.  Thank you for reaching out, and we will get through this together.  

 

 Kind regards,

 

Dr. Diana Greene

Superintendent


Now I think she missed some things like, quite frankly, the way the district makes curriculum choices is plain wrong and what the district did to its teachers was disrespectful, but right there, she says, at least for now, any teacher that wants to use ULS can use ULS, and I plan to hold her to that. In fact, I am grateful first for her response and then for at least our temporary reprieve.


So friends don't take it unless you are going to take it right to the boss. Your planning period getting stolen, your books still not there, no printers, or whatever it is, take it straight to Greene, nothing may happen, but who knows, she may just listen.


Now I have to be honest; I still feel overwhelmed, and I still don't think the district seems to care, but every journey starts with a step, and I had one today.   

Monday, September 14, 2020

Where did all the, planning, time go.

 Let me tell you my story first.

I didn't lose my planning period, I still have the 90 minutes I had last year. I did however since we are self-contained go from two preps to five. Now I have been sharing with my department and them with me, but it's still a lot more work.

I did lose my lunch however as the kids eat in the room. Now I guess technically I could go somewhere else, though I have no idea where that would be.

This morning a colleague asked me if they should reach out to the super (YES!!!!) because the thirty minutes they had been getting in elementary school was now being eaten up by serving breakfast in the class, and no you can't really plan around eating children. Mind you elementary school teachers already get the short stick when it comes to planning.

Then there is my high school and middle school friends who lost almost half of their planning when they went to a 6 period day. Now I actually like the 50-minute class, but the idea behind that is staff gets two of them off to plan.

Now you might be thinking well the classes are shorter so there is less to plan, but the thing is now they meet every day instead of every other so the reality is there is more.

Teachers in effect all across the board have more to do and a lot less time to do it. You would think the district would bend over backward to lighten the load, but according to the dozens of teachers across all grade levels that I have spoken to, that is sadly not the case. So if they are not going to do what it is right, it's time teachers did and that starts by them just saying no.

Want me to cover a class, you had your freebie so no.

You want me to let students into my class in non agreed upon times, no, sorry,

They want you to do just as much paperwork, no, I will give an honest day's work until the day ends, and then that's it. What's not done will go into the to-do pile and I don't care how big it gets.

I know it's hard, many of you feel like you will be letting your kids and school down if you don't work like a yoked ox, but the truth is, by doing so, you are letting them down.

The district depends on you working unpaid overtime, and they set the system up so that's what you will have to do. They didn't give a second thought to your or their well being.  The system doesn't care about kids or teachers, it cares about the system.  

Things will not improve until you say no.

Those of us that care about public ed and the teaching profession needs you to say no. I am begging you to say no.

Just say no.