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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Area veteran teachers brace for pay cuts (draft)

While brand new teachers in St. Johns county get a six thousand dollar raise, veteran teachers, if they got the best and brightest bonus or school recognition money, are about to get a pay cut. Coming soon to Clay and Duval Counties.  

People who have dedicated their lives to the children of the area are about to either lose money or not see any notable pay raise. Welcome to Florida 

From News4Jax,

“It’s an unfair bill for veteran teachers. Although the people at the lower end of the pay salary scale will be moved up, veteran teachers are going to get a much lesser raise,” St. Johns Education Association Chief Negotiator Justin Vogel said.

https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2020/11/18/st-johns-county-school-district-union-agree-to-6500-raise-for-new-teachers/?

The article talks about a two percent raise for veteran teachers. For me, that would be about a thousand dollars or about what I received for being effective from the best and brightest bonus. As first-year teachers get a 6 grand raise, somebody like me would break even. However, if you were like me and at a school that got school recognition money, you have just lost money. 

Now I think B&B and school recognition money programs were deeply flawed and even unfair, but at the end of the day, they put money into teacher's pockets. 

It's worse though, the insults keep coming; a teacher on my step when I started made about ten grand more than I will now. So not only are veteran teachers making less than their predecessors, they will be making pennies more than new teachers.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for new teachers making more, but there should be a way to do it without screwing over veteran teachers.

Florida. #$@&ing, Florida.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

District staff to start subbing... sort of... (draft)

 You know I wish I didn't have to write pieces like this, ones where I point out how little the district cares about its staff, and this time they are showing it by doing as little as possible to avert the subbing crisis or lack of sub crisis if you will, that is going on in the district. To help out, district staff for two days only will be subbing in our schools, then it's back to good luck getting a sub. 

Next week, district staff with at least sixty credit hours and who don't have meetings may be placed in our schools to the sub. I am not sure if they are doing this willingly or being voluntold. When I asked the district this is what they told me.

To answer your question regarding “the district planning on having staff with more than 60 credit hours start subbing,” we anticipated a need for additional subs during the Thanksgiving Holiday week. One of the ways we are planning to meet that need is by using district administrative personnel. Many have extensive teaching experience, and all meet the requirements of performing as a substitute teacher.  

 

This is not the first time we have used district staff to cover classrooms. You may recall that we used this option last year so teachers could attend the “Rally in Tally.”  This is a voluntary option for staff members, and they are not receiving any additional compensation.  

To be honest, I don't remember district staff subbing last January, but if they did, awesome. That being said, what about all the unfilled positions this week, or the ones after Thanksgiving? Is it too bad, so sad?

I get it district staff has jobs, I mean other than those looking for our learning arcs, so it would be unsustainable to get them in the classrooms on a full-time basis, but something other than denying there is a problem has to be done.

They could hire staff to subs, Vitti did it, we had two years of each school having a full-time sub, and let's pay for it with CARES money. Detroit, which is now completely virtual, is half our size got twice as much money.

If not, how about making subbing worthwhile instead of insulting, pay teachers 40 or sixty bucks instead of the cringeworthy18. Or give them however long they sub in extra PTO, you know, so they won't have to make up the planning time they missed at home. 

Let's lighten loads by postponing learning arcs and standard-based bulletin boards, and let's cancel common planning. If it's important, send the PowerPoint to me in an email instead of forcing me to watch it when I have a couple dozen other things going on.

There are solutions beyond making teachers miserable and overwhelming them.

The district needs to come up with them.

I hate writing pieces pointing out the district doesn't care, but sadly that's all I seem to be writing these days.   

Monday, November 2, 2020

City Hall guaranties 22 million dollar KIPP loan

 Remember when the city council demanded to know every detail of the 15 year 1.3 billion dollar referendum? Well okaying a 22 million dollar loan for the KIPP school didn't merit one question. Not a chirp, nothing.  


I have some issues and I think you should too.

The city already routinely gives KIPP hundreds of thousands of dollars extra. It gave them 631k early this year. 

https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2020/07/even-during-pandemic-jacksonville-finds.html

Though we have really given them millions

https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-kipp-school-has-taken-in-extra.html

Two of the members of the Neighborhood Committee have taken money from Gary Chartrand, you know, the one behind the KIPP school. Ju'Coby Pitman, tens of thousands, and Rory Diamond, a cool million.

https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2019/10/who-else-has-gary-chartrand-bought.html

https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2019/10/rory-diamonds-seven-figure-by-off.html

https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2019/09/the-architect-of-referendum-crisis-gary.html

https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2019/08/with-friends-like-city-council.html

It, however, gets even worse.  The KIPP network just took in tens of millions in pandemic CARES cash.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/07/27/charter-schools-their-management-companies-won-least-925-million-federal-coronavirus-funding-data-shows/

This on the heels of huge grants they have received in recent years.

https://www.chalkbeat.org/2019/4/18/21107967/charter-networks-kipp-and-idea-win-big-federal-grants-to-fund-ambitious-growth-plans

Plus they will undoubtedly reap tens of millions from the referendum.

Why are we guarantying their loans again?

This is the bottom line, over and over again the city throws money at the KIPP school and Gray Chartrand who both founded the KIPP school and is owed millions by it. The mayor and city council fought against the referendum and the school system for the most part so Chartrand could get paid. They are going to cost the school system hundreds of millions of dollars so their donor can make bank. 

It's outrageous.

How charters will make money off the referendum. 

https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2019/08/how-gary-chartrand-plans-to-make-money.html

 

Monday, October 26, 2020

The wheels have come off the wagon.

 At my school, the Job Developer, lead ESE teacher, and behavior interventionist are routinely covering classes, strange because Superintendent Greene said we had 2k subs ready to go. The reality is like many things, she has said that was not completely true, and then this happened.


For beep's sake, we are now in desperate territory. The wheels have come off the wagon.

I really don't like being lied to; I am an adult and a professional, be honest with me, and who knows, maybe I can help, but when you lie to me about one thing, subs, then it makes me think, well what else are you lying about, dashboard maybe?  

We need subs, but it's becoming more and more apparent we need new leadership too. I don't see how Greene recovers from the lack of trust she has cultivated. 


Saturday, October 24, 2020

So much for schools not being COVID spreaders (draft)

 I am so disappointed in DCPS, they are knowingly putting people at risk and that's leading to an uptick in the virus. As cases in schools rise dramatically so do cases in the city and nation. The most easily predictable thing ever is coming true more and more people are getting sick. Sadly the super and school board has responded with a shrug.

 

I don't think it is a coincidence that District cases are heading through the roof and remember this is just what they are reporting, we all know it is much worse. 

https://c19sitdash.azurewebsites.net/

Then it's not just happening here, it's happening all across the country as we have seen our highest numbers yet.

From the Washington Post,

America on Friday hit its highest daily number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, recording at least 82,600 new infections and surpassing the previous record set during the summertime surge of cases across the Sun Belt.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/10/23/covid-us-spike-cases/

Then on Thursday Florida had its highest amount of cases since July and we have averaged over 3k cases a day in October.





Yet somehow it's even worse than that because Florida willfully underreports its cases.

From the Palm Beach Post,
Ugh and it gets worse

From the Chicago Tribune, 

Florida has obscured the true extent of its COVID-19 pandemic by using a misleading measure of positive cases to justify reopening schools and businesses, state data indicates. 

While Florida has publicized that its “positivity rate” has regularly fallen below 5%, other health organizations are publishing data that shows the rate may be dramatically higher.


From reporting wrong numbers to not reporting, it's %$#&ing terrifying.

If DCPS is going to keep us in schools they should at least endeavor to keep us safe and that means robust contact tracking, not the bullshit they are doing now.

People can say schools aren't spreaders and correlating is not causation, but I am going to go with what my eyes are seeing. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Some more reckless contact tracing by the district

 When the district announced closures to first Fletcher and then D.A. I thought maybe the district was taking contact tracing seriously; now, I think things must be much worse than they are letting on because of the terrible contact tracing I witnessed firsthand at my school today. The District is reckless, and sooner than later, its and my luck will run out. 

A student tested positive. The district quarantined the students on their bus but not in their room. I asked the resource teacher that class goes to because my class goes to it too if they had been contacted. They said yes and that they had worked closely with the student, but like their homeroom teacher and classmates, the DOH and, by extension, the district shrugged their shoulders.    

How does any of this make any sense?

Let's throw in half of married couples, a student but not their siblings, and the teachers of classes where the children spent hours if not days before their symptoms manifested.  

Why is this happening? I think it is because the district wants to get a new roof for this school and a new air condition for another one. I believe they think if they close schools or show lots of cases, they are afraid the city may turn against them. Passing the referendum by seeming to do well when we all know that we aren't is their only priority.

Superintendent Greene and the rubber stamp school board will get people sick, sorry more people sick or worse, and shame on them.

I want to acknowledge this must be hard, but what's to stop the district from saying, married couples, siblings, and classes were cases are found must quarantine or at the very least be tested? Nothing, that's what, save their desire to bury their heads in the sand.


 

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.