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Saturday, September 27, 2014

What is worse, teachers working in fear or kids going without books? Welcome to Duval County.

Below is a letter I received from a reader and at their request I redacted anything that might give their identity away. I think it is especially powerful because the teacher is working at a school they like for a principal they like too, something a lot of teachers can't say but despite that their fear is still apparent.

Finally, things don't have to be like this. I believe if we want to see improvement a great start would be treating teachers with the respect they deserve and giving them the supplies they need. We're really in trouble when books are considered a luxury. -C

I'm the one who posted about the textbook problem at the high school level. Please don't mention my name or any other relevant info that may lead to my identity. I prefer to play it safe.

I teach XXXXXXX at XXXXXXX. I love what I do. Teaching is my calling. I can't imagine not teaching high school students the beauty of literature and writing - the subtleties and nuances in literature, the writer's purpose, historical context, and all of the processes that go into analyzing amazing literature. I have an excellent rapport with my seniors - they love my class, they want to sign up for my class, even if they aren't of the AP caliber. I have an excellent reputation among my colleagues, administrators, and students.

My principal is a great guy. I really like him. He's very approachable and supportive. However, he plays by the rules; therefore he will not distribute any books to students, although they are in the building. Yes, that's correct - the books are in the building, but they will not be given to students because of the directive from downtown. My principal will not deviate from any policy coming from downtown. He doesn't want to risk jeopardizing his own position at XXXXXXX. I completely understand this.

It's my understanding that some of the other high schools distributed books. I've heard Stanton's principal did; however, she has a leg to stand on - who wants to piss off the parents at Stanton? Not even Vitti would do that. She also held on to her Media Specialist, and students have access to the media center that is actually used as a media center, and not a testing center.

I don't even have to tell you how overworked we all are. Everyone. Every school. Ridiculous directives, documentation in lesson planning, common planning, PLC's with coaches who are trying to justify their own positions. Focusing on the day-to-day instruction in classrooms is becoming more and more challenging each year. Now, without books....well, I feel like this is the final straw. I'm fed up. I've never commented on your blog before (although I am a regular reader) until just recently with the book problem.

When I asked why this directive is being forced upon schools (even schools like us, who have enough books), I was told that if there are not enough books for every student in the county enrolled in that course, then NO ONE gets a book. They are forcing everyone down to the lowest level, so we can all be in misery.

I also teach XXXXXXX. My students have access to this textbook online, so there are no problems with this course. It's primarily affecting AP instructors.

And, just so you know, the county is allowing certain math courses to have books at home. I believe it's Algebra I and II, and geometry. That's it. I have several colleagues who are just as frustrated as I, and I could share some of their stories, but I won't. It's not my place to speak for other people. Suffice it to say, we are all at our wit's end.

I would love to see the Times Union reporter contacting principals and inquiring whether their students received books to use at home. For every subject. What will they say? How will they respond? Let them send a photographer to photograph the books at schools that are not being distributed, and are just sitting in a room collecting dust.

I will trust that you will keep this information as generic as possible should you choose to post about it. Thanks for trying and making people aware of the 'real world' in dcps.


  1. What a sad commentary on our schools! Plenty of funding for all kinds of administrators & "coaches" but not for textbooks, media specialists, supplies, and general support for classroom teachers. Makes one wonder if the real objective truly is to do away with the public school system, one of the crowning achievements of the story of America.

  2. Yeah. We don't even have enough literature books for class sets, let alone to take home. One of our grade levels has about 12-15 books per teacher. Vitti is all into buying online stuff; however, again, our average teacher has 3 computers in each classroom with an average of over 25 students.
    I live in fear, but not about retribution or getting fired. I fear that I cannot teach my best because people in charge cannot give my department the resources and support necessary to do our jobs. By the way, we are in week 7 starting Monday, week 8 for teachers, and our school has still not given us supply money. I have easily spent more than 200 dollars already on supplies for my own classroom, so I would have paper, pens, highlighters, ink (seriously), chart paper, etc.
    Name another profession that you have to buy your own supplies before you start.
    On top of that, we have loads more students than ever before, and we still have not been given enough teachers or admin or security to handle all of them. This is by far the worst year for managing students that I have ever seen, and I cannot blame admin too much as there are so many students and not enough manpower. We do, however, have enough to pay higher ups to come into our classrooms and tell us how to do our jobs every couple of is clearly not being spent in the right places.

  3. I know for a fact that not all Algebra I classes have books to take home.

  4. What? Stanton has books, a media center, and a real media specialist?? Are you kidding me? How is that equitable, Dr. Vitti and school board members? Why do they get perks and the other schools are dwindling to nothing? Is it because they are the 'smart' school? smh....

  5. Humans are generally very fickle minded because of the pressures of the forces of maya or illusion. Now, if you are mystical you will have the awareness of why the ordinary peasant-like individual is gullible. I distinctly remember a colleague of mine having great hopes in Vitti when he first became super and I warned my friend of an impending disappointment. He did not believe me when I told him that Vitti is holding meetings round about the county and making promises to teachers for the purpose of making an impressionable debut and consolidating a solid/and lucrative career for himself. The force (mayaic in nature) that is operating is bigger and more powerful than Vitti. The next guy that will follow Vitti will also falter in like manner. Oh, by the way, my friend described himself as an Agnostic whereas I had been a Mystic for 20 years. So I understand the oppressive nature of maya, as well as I understand her counter dual - the Kutastha Chaitanya or renovative force.

    Schools in America began declining when God was kicked out. But, teachers throughout the length and breadth of this country could make a difference if they would print, frame, place on their classroom desk, and recite frequently with Attention fixed at the forehead, the following healing affirmation:

    Oh Source of My Life!
    Oh My Inner Dweller!
    Oh That Which Give Me Light That I Can See!
    Oh That Which Give Me the Power to Hear!
    Oh That Which Give Me the Power to Think and Analyse!
    Oh That Which Give Me the Energy to Walk!
    Oh That Which Give Me the Energy to do Things in the External World!
    Oh Center of Power Within Me, Let Me Draw Strength Directly From Thee!
    Oh Soul of My soul Re-establish Your Presence in this Field!
    I Am, I Am, I Am That I AM!

  6. I also teach in Duval County, we have interactive text book our students are not allowed to write in. We are told we have to purchase our own copy paper and printer ink for the classroom. We are allowed a small number of copies from the office , I would use my allotment in 3 days. I use 140 copies a day because we are using alternative resource due to the lack of rigor with the current curriculum. We are a title 1 school. Where is the funding going?