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Saturday, September 20, 2014

We talk about how important reading is, but DCPS actions scream that we’re hypocrites.

Overheard in the Coaches Office
By Greg Sampson

Middle School ELA, where teachers force students to read books when they don’t want to read. They would rather play video games or watch the movie.
For the last two years, novel studies have been part of the curriculum for middle school students in their ELA/reading classes. Students read excerpts from the book and then do work guided by teachers with an eye to how they will be presented limited passages on “THE TEST”, once FCAT, now called FSA even though we have no idea what it will look like.
ELA teachers report to the Reading Coach that the students are begging to read the novels in their entirety. They are only being allowed to read selected sections. They say, “We don’t know what’s going on. Can’t we read the whole book?”
Uh, no. Sorry, kids, but the Curriculum Guides will not allow that.
These are kids who hate to read, but they are interested in the book put in front of them, they beg to read the whole book, but no. No, no, no, no, no, these books are not for reading. They are for studying passages and learning to answer test questions.
Coaches and teachers discuss classroom strategies to get around this problem. “Jigsaw” the book; that is, have students read different parts of the chapters and then share with the whole class. What a disappointment! This human Cliff Notes approach still denies students the pleasure of reading a book on their own.
But what is a hardworking teacher to do? They only have 10 copies of a book. They don’t have enough for an entire class to read or for students to take books home. Let’s not start on Duval County’s shuttered school libraries.
We talk about how important reading is, but our actions scream that we’re hypocrites.
We don’t have the books. It’s so bad we don’t have enough SRA books in my school. This past week, the reading coach received the outrageous suggestion from the District Director to put what books we have on a cart and roll them from room to room throughout the day.
Didn’t the Superintendent promise last fall that schools would never again lack the instructional materials they needed? I’m calling BS on that one.

Think on it: kids want to read a book. DCPS says no.


  1. Kids also want to do their homework, yet DCPS has said no textbooks to be issued to students. Class sets only. Even though most schools have enough books to issue the students. When will the TU blow the lid off of this one?

    1. I am trying to tutor students who are not allowed to bring textbooks and consumables home. How are they supposed to study?

  2. Don't hold your breath waiting for the TU to report on anything negative about public schools. I didn't think DCPS could get any worse but Vitti is in a race to the bottom. No books, overcrowded classes, empowered bully admins, over the top punishments for teachers. Where is the money going?

  3. I'm an education reporter at the Florida Times-Union. I'd like to report on the issues you describe. Please, any one, feel free to call me at 904-359-4083 or 859-992-1016 or email me at We can discuss whatever you want. Thanks.... Denise Smith Amos

  4. Yet, at the elementary level, they are forcing these children to read entire novels that are sorely lacking in any sort of literary value! 4th graders are being forced to read a book by a "local" author yet it is a book that few seem interested in. We can't use the textbooks because there "aren't enough". We can't run copies yet we are supposed to have the items preprinted for the interactive journals. We lack the basic supplies such as paper yet I am expected to print 30 plus pages in lesson plans a week for just 1 subject, not including my documentation of small group instruction.
    Printers are slowly being phased out in the schools and rumor has it, computers that teachers may or may not be getting will not even have a DVD/CD drive. That is, of course, assuming our teacher computers (some of which are 6+ years old) are even replaced. However, I am supposed to implement technology in my classroom. That is, when the computer ports in the classroom are working or the network is actually working. That is also assuming that my 6+ year old teacher laptop isn't being shut down in the MIDDLE of a lesson for an UPDATE that should have been done AFTER school when I wasn't in the MIDDLE of TEACHING AN ACTUAL LESSON to my class!! My computer shut down 4 times in the past week for UPDATES in the MIDDLE of lessons!!
    I have worked in Duval for over 20 years. I am also proud to say I am a product of Duval County Public Schools. However, this year has been unreal!! To call it a HOT MESS would be a gross understatement! I have never seen such disconnect and such hand tying as I have seen this year. We aren't purchasing the textbooks and other materials needed to do our jobs so where is the money going?!?!? We have core classes that are overcrowded and no one downtown seems to care. Let's pay the fine rather than do as the voter's wished and limit class size. All I can do at this point is do my best and pray that it is enough because we certainly aren't getting any help from the powers that be. Sad!