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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Duval County's new policy is to stop writing referrals, teachers told the discipline problem is fixed.

Well you would think it was anyways considering what Superintendent Vitti said in the Times Union.

Vitti cited a 24 percent drop in in-door suspensions, a 12 percent decline in out-of-school suspensions and a 20 percent decline in arrests to show that school discipline and safety are improving, but “this is an area I must continue to hone, address and improve,” he said.

Well it got me thinking about how many times I heard something similar to above.

From 2009, describing how suspensions have dropped 30 percent from year to year;

Here is something from 2010 when they said we had a 71 percent drop in suspensions.

From 2012, talking about a 35% drop in suspensions over three years. I guess the bulk of that came in 2010. Here they at least questioned the possibility of under reporting.

From 2013 talking about how suspension centers saved Christmas:

And I could have went on and on. As you can imagine there have been quite a few stories about dramatic drops in suspensions and referrals over the years.

Who knows too maybe we were suspending kids at to great of a rate and we needed to make changes but from what I hear the change we have made is to ignore discipline which I think leads to much greater problems.

Here is the thing friends, I am willing to entertain the thought I am just plain wrong on this one and if so I would love for you to enlighten me. How is discipline/behavior where you are at?


  1. I wondered about this when I read the report about the supe's self-evaluation. He cites the drop as evidence of a much safer school climate. Those of us who work at schools see it the other way from what we experience every day. The drop in referrals and suspensions are a reflection of schools that are very much more unsafe. The offenders receive no consequence of any impact and feel empowered to increase the severity of their offenses. I agree we have discipline problems and I agree punishment is not the only answer, but it's like we've closed all the jails and asked criminals to play nice and think we solved the problem. John Wesley said you can't preach heaven until you've preached hell. I want to see restorative justice and positive behavior intervention to help address root causes of misbehavior, but we also need consequences. I'm reminded of those billboards that showed up about a year after Obama's first election: Bush's face with the message, "Miss me yet?" Mentally I see the same thing in Jacksonville. Pratt-Dannal's face with the message, "Miss me yet?" You might not have liked EPD, but he allowed schools and principals the autonomy to deal with discipline issues as they needed to.

  2. The new Code of Conduct is a total joke - its all talk and talk is cheap. Ask any student what the result of a referral was and they'll say "nothing." They don't say they got a stern warning - they say "nothing." And there right. Thats why suspensions are down.

    Disruptive students will stop when they get a consequence and talk is not a consequence. So if I have to write a student up 4 times before they get a consequence then it just makes more work for everybody, especially the teacher. I have to document multiple interventions: conference with student (talk), conference with parent (talk), then the first referral involves a conference between teacher, dean and student (talk), second referral is conference with teacher, dean, and parent (talk). I really don't have hours to devote to one student's misbehavior. That's enough to make the teacher not write a referral, but instead throw all the students who came to learn under the bus. Meanwhile, nothing has happened to the student. The only consequence is for the adults in time spent and admins lecturing teachers about classroom management or worse, noting it on eval. Well, I guess that poor kid had the bad luck of getting 20 teachers who all lack classroom management skills. I have a student who had teachers comment on lack of respect and not following rules since 1st grade. But in 7th grade the problem is me?

    A student took my keys off of my desk and was putting them in her pocket. I wrote her up and she But if she does it again, she'll get ISP. And she may do it again, since there was no consequence. I put my keys away now. I've changed my behavior because she probably won't change hers. I learned my lesson! She learned that she'll get a warning for seriously bad behavior. If I hadn't caught her in the act, it would have ruined my entire evening. Thank God I saw her! Shouldn't her next REFERRAL be ISP? No, she has to do THAT again.

    The animals are running the zoo at my school. A 2nd year teacher at my school told me that last year she wrote 2 referrals and both times an administrator talked to her and told her why she shouldn't have written them. Pretty intimidating when you are on an annual contract. So this year, she hasn't written any though she complains that some students destroy her class every day.

    At my school, we are told we can't send disruptive students from class. We're supposed to write them up at the end of the day. Really? Let them disrupt a 90-minute class? Its a violation of the contract, of course, but does DTU give a rat's ass? They say, "We don't do discipline." Why not? It's in the contract and it's one of the toughest parts of my job. And WHY is class disruption a 1.01 (interfering with a teacher's ability to communicate with the class)? It implies that it's no big deal and I think it's the worst thing you can do. I'm talking about students who do nothing but take a giant crap on whatever I'm trying to do on a daily basis, not students who disrupt class for 5 minutes. There only reason for coming to school is being rude and disrupting class.

    Vitti acts like "Deans of Discipline" makes a difference. It sounds good, doesn't it? But what the public should know is that the D of D replaced 3 AP's who used to handle discipline. So one person does for a school with an enrollment of 1500 what 3 used to do. And they each had a secretary, because its such a huge job. So teachers are strongly encouraged not to write referrals. I'm sorry if the dean is busy, but so am I. I'm trying to teach a class of 35 kids and 2 are constantly out of there seat. Why should it take 3 hours of my time before any thing happens to the kid?

    Suspensions are down because we give kids too many opportunites and they take them. Wouldn't you? Kids will meet behavioral expectations. We have none.

    1. I agree with everything you wrote. If you want private message me and I can put you in touch with the Times Union, they are looking for teachers to talk about discipline even if it is off the record.

  3. Did you notice that the Vitti-worshipping TU buried the story?

  4. I totally agree with the above rant. If an employee acts poorly, you can simply fire that person. If a student acts badly, we have to write up all of the things we did and then perhaps maybe an AP or Dean will see the student. We were told at the start of the year that if a teacher wrote up a student and sent him/her out, the child would never be sent back to the same class on the same day. Yeah, 4 months later, and that has not been the case since the like 2nd week of school.
    And I feel for the newbie teachers. They have no recourse, and if I had not had the support of an awesome AP about 8 years ago, I would probably have quit. He came in, dealt with the students, and they hated having to go through the process of dealing with him because they knew he would hold them accountable. Those days are over. Now, the students run the school. Vitti has the AP's and Deans so afraid for their jobs that they hesitate to receive referrals and make every teacher feel bad about writing students up. We had a new AP arrive recently, and there was a stack of old referrals waiting on a desk.
    What kills me though is that the public hears Vitti and reads the numbers and thinks that numbers cannot lie. Well, the numbers do lie. I have never seen so many administrators scared of losing their jobs all to fulfill Vitti's ego, which relies on the perception of a "safe" environment where all students learn completely by computer through programs like "Write to Learn" and "Achieve3000." Why even bother having teachers or admins in schools? Just stick these wonderful kids in classes of 100 in a building filled with computers. I think if he could, he would.

  5. In my school, they send them right back and say teachers can't send disruptive students out. Our dean has lunch duty and the office is closed then. His secretary can't ever have students in her office I suppose. At other schools where I've taught, kids waited in the office for the dean to return.

    So the dean's secretary can't work with one kid in her office, but I'm supposed to teach 34 other kids with one who won't stop acting out. And I'm accountable for how much they all learn and imagine how empowered the disruptive student feels when he walks back in 5 minutes later and says "she said you can't send me out."

    The person above had a good AP. I've had some good ones too and what a difference they make. The dean at my school plays good cop in our waste of time conferences and leaves me to be the heavy. Be the dean and not their friend. They have enough friends - like their parents!

  6. Discipline is out of control in virtually every school because administration is doing everything they can to stay off Vitti's radar. They are all shaking in their boots for fear of getting transferred, demoted, or released. We have kids who walk the halls all day long, create disruption in the halls during class, and nothing happens. And the computer programs that the previous writer commented on is true. It's a complete joke to have these programs (and Write to Learn does not accurately score papers), and I agree that the goal is to get rid of the teachers and do everything virtually. The writing is on the wall. Every time someone quits, Vitti probably smiles. They are easily replaced. Those of us who genuinely teach will be replaced by those who can boot up a computer. It's a very sad state.

  7. Vitti has indeed created a culture of fear that puts the EPD cartel to shame. But I could care less. I'm doing my job and plan to act ethically, even though it keeps me in constant trouble. I hope they do fire me. It will take them at least two years and then I'll collect unemployment. Then I'll get another job before 3,000,000 unemployed teachers flood the job market after being replaced by virtual school.

    Student behavior has always been the Achilles heel of DCPS. They are extremely defensive about it. They always find ways to bury data about it.

  8. If Vitti's policies are such a great success, why does he now need bus monitors and seating charts, yes for a bus! to stop bus fights. The large slice of humble pie he needs to eat would enter the Guinness World Book of Records.

  9. Did you notice that Vitti said they "may" get there busriding privelidges suspended? How about they WILL? Bet they don't. They get a STERN TALKING TO. Blah, blah, blah...same as wah, wah, wah from Charlie Brown's parents. I'll bet that's all the kids hear.

    Regarding classroom discipline, the contract says we can send kids out, but DTU doesn't enforce the contract, though that is there sole purpose.

  10. Vitti is a weak administrator who surrounds himself with weaker administrators.