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Friday, February 27, 2015

Diving into the contract numbers

When I started I thought I was going to be outraged. The truth is where I am not thrilled about the numbers they aren't nearly as bad as I thought they were going to be.

The first set of numbers is what a teacher just starting out can expect to make over the next 25 years if they remain effective or highly effective. The second what a sixth year teacher who stays on a professional services contract can expect to make over the same time, their salaries are locked in no matter what their evaluation is.

If the amounts were a dollar or less on the schedule I ignored them. Then at the end I gave teachers on PSC a 500 dollar raise which is traditionally what has happened.

Figuring a teacher has a career where they are effective then a PSC teacher actually earns a little more than a new teacher who has a similar, effective career. A huge disparity however can result because a new teacher can potentially earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

Finally PSC teachers in years 10-21 kind of get screwed when compared to teachers not on the grandfather pay scale though I guess you can argue they can make it up later and they do have work protections, which to a lot of us means a lot.

                                                                                      Year 1                    37,300
                                                                                      Year 2                    37,439
                                                                                      Year 3                    37,629
                                                                                      Year 4                    37,902
                                                                                      Year 5                    38,204

Year 1                    37,800                                                Year 6                    39,800
Year 2                    38,800/39,800                                    Year 7                    40,300
Year 3                    39,800/41,800                                    Year 8                    40,800
Year 4                    40,800/43,800                                    Year 9                    41,300
Year 5                    41,800/45,800                                    Year 10                 41,800
$199,000- 209,000                                                                         $204,000

Year 6                    42,800/47,800                                    Year 11                 42,550
Year 7                    43,800/49,800                                    Year 12                 43,300
Year 8                    44,800/51,800                                    Year 13                 44,050
Year 9                    45,800/53,800                                    Year 14                 44,800
Year 10                 46,800/55,800                                    Year 15                 45,800
$423,000-468,000                                                                     $424,500                                                        
Year 11                 47,800/57,800                                    Year 16                 46,800
Year 12                 48,800/59,800                                    Year 17                 47,800                  
Year 13                 49,800/61,800                                    Year 18                 48,800
Year 14                 50,800/63,800                                    Year 19                 49,800
Year 15                 51,800/65,800                                    Year 20                 51,300
$672,000-777,000                                                                       $669,000    

Year 16                 52,800/67,800                                    Year 21                 52,800
Year 17                 53,800/69,800                                    Year 22                 54,800
Year 18                 54,800/71,800                                    Year 23                 56,800
Year 19                 55,800/73,800                                    Year 24                 58,800
Year 20                 56,800/75,800                                    Year 25                 60,800
$946,000-1,136,000                                                                        $954,000

Year 21                 57,800/77,800                                    Year 26                 62,800
Year 22                 58,800/79,800                                    Year 27                 64,800
Year 23                 59,800/81,800                                    Year 28                 66,800
Year 24                 60,800/83,800                                    Year 29                 67,300*
Year 25                 61,800/85,800                                    Year 30                 67,800*
1,245,000/1,545,000                                                                        1,282,500

Year 26                 61,800/87,800
Year 27                 62,800/89,800
Year 28                 63,800/91,800
Year 29                 64,800/93,800
Year 30                 65,800/95,800

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The DTU contract devalues experience.

First let me say it was a lot better than I thought it was going to be, though I don't think I am going to support for it.

I am going to get a raise and a substantial in DCPS terms raise too. My salary is going to go up a little over 1,300 hundred dollars and to give you some scale, a teacher on the old scale would have had to work 5 years to get a 1,300 dollar raise and I was only scheduled to get a raise of around 700 dollars (I am a thirteenth year teacher on step 12 because of the step teachers lost a few years back).  I am also practically guaranteed a raise of 750 dollars a year for the next few years too. On the old scale teachers didn't get that raise in a single year until year 13. It's more money accumulating at a faster rate and I think I hate it.

Here is the problem, if you are a second year teacher and you get an effective evaluation then you will get a 1,000 dollar raise. However if you are a tenth year teacher and you get a highly effective evaluation meaning you are the best of the best. You can only get a five hundred dollar raise. Well you could get more if you gave up your work protections.

A first year teacher with four effective evaluations will catch a sixth year teacher on a professional contract in terms of salary in four years, they will surpass them in their fifth.

The contract says hey if you're in the middle of the pay scale, years 6 through 20, you can make more money but you have to take less security, it devalues experience unless you want to live year to year.

Also it's my bet that the union is short changing its members by agreeing to the contract. I bet there are a lot more union members on professional contracts than not and people on professional contracts, people who have been around and successful years are really getting shortchanged.

This is a great deal for new teachers but a poor one for veterans.

I am willing to entertain the though I am just too jaded and too critical on this matter. Any thoughts?

To look at the contract: click the link, 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Superintendent Vitti is great at one thing, making excuses.

There has been an impressive show of support for the Superintendent in the Times Union recently unfortunately none of it has come from teachers and parents which should make us all wonder what they know that the business community doesn’t.

Superintendent Vitti may be good at a lot of things but without a doubt the thing he is best at is making excuses. Last year he said changes to Florida’s tests would see our school grades plummet and he was right.  The Times Union reported that last year Duval had 46 D and F schools, nearly 31 percent of its schools, up from 22 percent the year before. That was an unprecedented and brutal drop.

This year he says, we haven’t seen anything yet because our switch to the common core tests could double the number F and D scores.

He is both right and it doesn’t matter. Teaching has become a results orientated business and thus far with the most important by far metric, student performance, the superintendent has been a  failure and he even predicts things are about to get worse.  Earlier this year he said in the Times Union, I wanted to reach the Super bowl and we haven’t even reached the playoffs yet.

Speaking of Football, I like Gus Bradley the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and there are a lot of similarities between him and superintendent Vitti. They are both young, passionate and work hard. Unfortunately there records are similar too, Bradley having gone 4-12 and then 3-13. Does anybody really think Shad Kahn is going to keep him around if we go 5-11 or worse? Mr. Kahn is also not proposing the Jags extend Bradley’s contract, the way the school board is proposing to extend Vitti’s for three more years. What is wrong with waiting until we make the playoffs to extend Vitti’s contract?

If the school board does ignore the evidence in front of them and decides to hold him harmless then shouldn’t they do the same with the district’s teachers and students? If the board is going to say his poor performance is due to bad timing and a switch in tests then how can they in good conscious let teachers who are struggling go too or for that matter fail third grades or prevent students from graduating that don’t score high enough on this year’s test? It sends a bad message if the well connected superintendent is held harmless while teachers and students face consequences.

Unlike the business community who fawns over him, I am a teacher and I interact frequently with other teachers and parents. They think he has done some nice things, other things that leave us confused and also made some decisions usually with administrative personnel that have been disasters. Morale is poor for teachers and communication between them and the district is abysmal. He does not walk on water which is what the business community would have you believe.

I am not saying it’s time to cut ties with the superintendent though I wish he would spend as much time building positive relationships with teachers as he does with business leaders. I am saying what’s the rush and why don’t we wait to the summer or next school year to see what the damage actually is and to see if the Quality Education for all initiatives, something the superintendent is directly responsible for, are working. If it’s not too bad and the QEA is working I and others I believe would have no problem with the board extending his contract but to do so now, some ten months before they have to and with important data yet to be revealed doesn’t make any sense.

Finally aren’t we tired of excuses, I feel like with Vitti and this board that’s all we are getting. I for one would like some results.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

WJCT and Gary Chartrand's unholy alliance.

Everyday on the ride to work I hear what I thought was a PSA for Teach for America on WJCT and I have to tell you it really frustrates me. A Columbia report said TFA greatly exacerbates Duval's teacher retention problem. They take non-education majors put them through a five week access course and then put them in our neediest schools or the exact opposite of what we know to be best. 

I can't imagine WJCT would hire anybody with that background but for some reason they support Duval County doing it a decision that many other cities have chosen not to make preferring to work to staff their classrooms with professional teachers or people who might make teaching a career, not something for somebody to do while they wait for grad school. In short Teach for America says experience and education don't matter, anybody can be a teacher and I and many, many others find that insulting.

So I asked them since there are so many great charities and organizations out there that they could do PSAs for, why have they chosen an organization that is divisive and arguably is bad for students and the teaching profession.

This is what I was told: Thanks for your email. The Teach for America spots that you hear are not PSA's provided by our station. They are paid messages, underwritten by the Chartrand Foundation. The foundation rotates messages for several nonprofit organizations throughout the year.

This is the same Chartrand foundation that funds their education coverage. Click the link, it says it right there.

So basicaly they are ads paid for by the local face of the privatization movement Gary Chartrand. 
Here is the thing, there is an education debate going on and I and others are on one side and Chartrand and others are on the other. However I don't think WJCT should be on either, but with these ads, them taking money from him and even giving him awards, it sure seems like they are. 

First Coast high may be the worst place to work in the city.

I have written several times about the bullying tactics that First Coast Principal Al Brennan employs. Now the teachers there have spoken out and done so in a survey which has First Coast ranked in the bottom four percent of schools in the district. Heaven help those teachers in the schools ranked worse.

I was sent a copy of the First Coast survey along with this note which indicates the data may actually be skewed in Al Brennan's favor.  "If you send it to Chris G. let him know that the entire time we were taking what was supposed to be an anonymous survey, Brennan was walking around the library, looking over everyone's shoulders. And we were all given the same link to use so not all the surveys counted."

Note the district average was 87 percent completion but First Coast came in at 70 and who knows if that was because of the principals interference or not.

Here are some things that stood out.

My school is a good place to teach and learn, 29%, district average 71%
School leaders promote a safe and productive learning environment, 32%, district average 74%
School leaders support me when it comes to student behavior, 25%, district average 59%
Leaders at my school seek out feed back from teachers, 19%, district average 61%
My school has effective instructional leadership, 34%, district average, district average 68%

In category after category First Coast was way below the district average and when asked why teachers were planning to leave they blamed the school leadership and the learning environment they had created.

Brennan is bad but is Vitti worse? He has known about the problems at First Coast for quite some time but he has done nothing to improve the situation. He is the one who put this bully in place and then allowed him to stay even after last year when teachers balked in droves. How does Vitti expect First Coast to be successful when the principal he chose to lead the school has created both a terrible work and learning environment.

Does the buck for this failure stop at Brennan's desk or Vitti's?

To view the complete survey, and friends it is a disaster paste the link into your browser. file:///C:/Users/Chris/Downloads/First%20Coast%20High%20(1).pdf

Commissioner Pam Stewart gives a big FU to public schools.

Sorry for the colorful letters but that was my first thought when I saw the list of participants of the newly created Keep Florida learning committee, which the Tampa Times describes as designed to review "deregulation opportunities" and identify more parental choice options in public schools, among other goals.

These are the members picked out of several thousand applicants.

2015 Florida Teacher of the Year: Christie Bassett, Polk County
Legislator: Representative Manny Díaz, Jr., a Hialeah Republican who works for a charter school firm and heads the House Choice and Innovation Committee
Principal: Dr. Margaret Fahringer, Miami-Dade County
Teacher: Doris Garcia, Orange County
Parent: Julia (Megan) Hendricks, Pasco County, a testing activist
School Board Member: Patty Hightower, Escambia County, president of the Florida School Boards Association
Higher Education Participant: Joe Pickens, Putnam County, president of St. Johns River State College and a former lawmaker
Superintendent: Dr. Owen Roberts, Alachua County
Legislator: Senator Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican whose husband serves on a charter school board of directors 
Parent: Laura Zorc, Indian River County, a Common Core opponent
Two count them two obvious charter school proponents. Charter schools students make up less than ten percent of the students in the state but their representatives will now make up at least 20 percent of the committee.  The deck continues to be stacked against public teachers and the person that leads the states schools commissioner Pam Stewart is the one doing the shuffling.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Daytona News Journal's editorial staff calls for the wholesale firing of teachers

I see the Daytona Beach Journal’s editorial staff read he policy brief from the Florida Tax Watch criticizing the class size amendment as their editorial agreeing seemed like it was taken nearly verbatim. I can’t imagine they read any of the current research which overwhelmingly supports smaller classes.

I won’t take up much of your time but I do have two questions. How many teachers does the Daytona Beach Journal think should be fired because the firing of teachers is really what the Tax Watch is advocating for when we break it down, where else but from teacher salaries would the savings come from and how many teachers do they know that thinks they would be more effective if they had five, eight or ten more students per class.

I would urge the editors to rethink their position.

To read their flawed reasoning, click the link: 

What is Duval County and the New Teacher Project hiding and why?

The school results of a survey the district did came to my e-mail last Friday night. In the news world they call that dumping because who watches the news or checks their e-mail on a Friday night.

The results were specific to my school but I know every school did one. Wanting to see how things were at some other schools I reached out to the New Teacher Project, a group founded by Michelle Rhee and whose main doctrine is you can fire teachers to success and asked if I could see the surveys from other schools, telling them I was thinking about transferring and wanted to get an idea about cultures at them.

They very politely told me to go jump in a lake. Here is their response.

Dear Chris,
Thank you for reaching out about Insight. We share schools’ Insight reports with the teachers and school leaders who work there to support their efforts to improve as a team. If you’d like to learn about the instructional culture of schools where you’re interested in transferring, perhaps you could ask the schools’ principals to share this with you before you apply or as part of your interview process. It might also be helpful to ask about how the schools are using the data to make improvements to their instructional cultures. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have further questions or need assistance with accessing the report for your school; I’d be happy to help with that if you need it.  
Alexandra McPherson
The Insight Team

To which I replied.

 I am sad to say that was no help at all. I don't understand why there isn't a site I could go to and look at any school I chose to do so. I now feel like you are hiding something which is beyond me. So I will reach out to all my friends across the district and ask for their surveys and then when I get them I think I will start a blog called what is the TNTP hiding and put them all out there. I should have 30 or so by the end of the week.

Seriously its silly, I or parents or anybody who just had a passing interest couldn't just look at them. I mean the surveys were paid for with tax payer dollars weren't they? Shouldn't we all be able to have a look? The TNTP and district obviously think otherwise which makes me wonder, just what are they hiding.

The Times Union's one sided education coverage

In the last four days the Tmes Union has published three column length editorials from Micheal Ward, the president of CSX, Danial Davis of the Chamber of Commerce and today reverend Torin Daily of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund which all have basically said our super walks on water our board is great and we are finally heading in the right direction.

I would like to point out that none of these editorials came from a parent or a teacher.

The truth is the super has done some nice things, made his fair share of head scratches too and been pretty mediocre over all. Then every time he takes or others give him credit for things that were improving before he got here (graduation rates/college readiness) I and others shake our heads in disbelief. The truth is we're a long way from wear we should be or could be.  

Before you just dismiss me, I want you to remember the pieces the Times Union used to print about Pratt-Dannals which would say, we finally have the super and board that we need.

Painting this all is well narrative does our schools and city a disservice.

The Times Union's job should not be to shill for the super and district it should be to keep us all informed.

The illusion of school choice in Florida.

I wonder if everybody knows that schools that accept money diverted from the state treasury to pay for vouchers don’t have to take the states required tests. A norm referenced test is all that is required of them. If that level of accountability is fine for them then why are public schools subjected to high stakes tests? Since both are basically paid for with public dollars shouldn’t what is required and good for one be required and good for both?

I also want to remind everyone that many of our leaders in Tallahassee often talk about education choice and how parents know what is best for their children. Since that is also the case then how can they not allow parents to opt their students out of whatever high stakes tests they are required to take? If we are going to defer to a parent’s choice of what school their children go to, then shouldn’t we also defer to their choice of what type of test their child takes or not?

If Florida does not allow parents to opt out then all high stakes tests are is a mechanism used to punish our children, teachers and schools and sadly the reality is that is one of the worst kept secrets around.

We should tell education commissioner Pam Stewart and Governor Scott to either respect the choices of parents or to stop pretending they are.

The nightmare that Common Core has become

From Scathing Purple Musings by Bob Sykes:

The nation is constantly told by a what’s become a shrinking, but still influential few that Common Core Standards “will prepare students to compete in a global workforce.”
Such seedy used car sales sloganeering when coupled with the realities of what’s going on in classrooms and homes across the nation. In Florida, the chickens have come home to roost. Jeanelle Wellhoner, a fifth grade teacher in Ocala pens an essay for the Ocala Star-Banner  which provides a glimpse of the nightmare.
 I taught you three different ways to divide multidigit numbers except the one way everyone else in the world was taught. I tried my best to teach it to you, but since I was never taught this way, I know I confused you quite a bit. When you went home to your mom and dad confused as to how to solve a division problem with pictures and partial quotients, your parents — out of desperation — showed you how they were taught. We call that the standard algorithm, which in Common Core is a dirty word in fifth grade.
And then, I did the unthinkable. I gave you a zero because you didn’t do it my way, the Common Core way. I told you to use partial quotients, and you didn’t. I told you to draw a model, and you didn’t. I didn’t care that you got them all right. You got your correct answer the wrong way. I watched your face fall and tears well up in your eyes. I felt terrible, but I had to do it because that’s how you’re going to be tested on division.
And then, I expected you to turn improper fractions into mixed numerators, but I didn’t teach you the standard algorithm for division, which made it that much more difficult for you. How could I have expected you to do that when I didn’t teach you how to divide easily in the first place?
I did this to you with every single math skill I taught. No, you can’t do it your parent’s way. You must do it my way. My way is the right way; your way is the wrong way. I don’t care if your answer is right. I don’t care if it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t care if it takes you 20 minutes per problem instead of one. I watched your self-esteem plummet.
“…will prepare students to compete in a global workforce.”
Jeb Bush could hardly be brought to utter the words, “Common Core,” at his education summit earlier this month just less than a  year after he put the muscle of his foundation behind a TV campaign to educate the public on Core’s “benefits and superiority.”
And make no mistake, these are Jeb Bush’s Common Core Standards. Education Commissioner Pam Stewarts’s tweaks was nothing more than a name change. Jeb’s new tests will be taken by Florida students this spring and a disaster awaits.  WFTV report
Channel 9 found out there could be some big problems with a standardized test that Florida paid Utah $5 million for.
Several Utah lawmakers are working to get rid of the test amid complaints that the questions can be confusing or misleading.
“A lot of the questions are difficult, even for an educated adult to answer,” said Utah Rep. Justin Fawson.
The Florida Standards Assessment, which is call called SAGE in Utah, is all online and requires a lot of skills with a computer mouse to drag, drop and click.
Florida has not paid to teach children typing skills.
In Utah, about six out of every 10 children failed it and some worry that means the test itself is flawed.
“One of the legislators in Utah, he said if we’re going down the road the wrong way, you don’t step on the gas,” said Orange County School Board member Linda Kobert.
Kobert fears that as of now, students could be held back or given remedial work based on a test that hasn’t been tested itself yet.
“Can you imagine if more than 50 percent are deemed not to be at grade level and they don’t change legislation to allow these children to advance a grade, or require remediation and pull kids out of classes?” she said.
With Jeb Bush’s top policy wonk, Patricia Levesque savaging state school boards for wanting to pause school grades for a year for just this reason, its clear that they ma want to use the “failing schools” meme again. Meanwhile, the republicans and policymakers who work for Bush and Levesque have established a private school voucher system which doesn’t have to take the same tests.
I wonder if they’d object if public school parents put their kids in a TV spot to explain how bad common core and those new tests are. Or maybe if public school parents take their kids out of school one day, put them in red scarves and parade them to Tallahassee on a school day.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Will districts soon be able to opt out of the state tests?

If Representative Debbie Mayfield has her way they soon will be.

If a school district does not wish to participate in the statewide, standardized assessment program, the district may choose to annually administer an English Language Arts national, norm-referenced assessment for students in grades 3 through 11; annually administer a mathematics national, norm-referenced assessment for students in grades 3 through 8; and administer a science national, norm-referenced assessment once for students at the elementary school level and once for students at the middle school level. If a district does not wish to administer the national, norm-referenced assessments online, the district shall administer paper-based assessments. Funds designated for the statewide, standardized assessment program shall be used to procure and administer the district-selected, national, norm-referenced assessment. The Commissioner of Education shall maintain a list of pre-2009 national, norm-referenced assessments identified pursuant to s. 1002.395. A district, including instructional personnel, shall not be negatively impacted for not participating in the statewide, standardized assessment program, including, but not limited to, negative implications regarding district and school grades and personnel evaluations."

Two things, if it is good enough for voucher schools then it should be good enough for public schools right and second if the state really believes in parental choice and them knowing whats best for their children then how can they not pass this bill? If they don't then all standardized testing is, is an excuse to punish teachers and schools.

This the most far reaching and best proposal yet. 

To read more, click the link:

DTU is very popular with the administration and business leaders not so much with its membership.

A couple weeks back Superintendent Vitti said we had the most accommodating union in the country, unions might be problems elsewhere but not here. Then yesterday Micheal Ward the director of CSX said the union and Vitti have embarked on an unprecedented partnership where principals can now fire teachers they don't like at the 37 transformation schools.

So often the union gets unfairly blamed for problems maybe I should be happy that these people are embracing the union and calling them partners. The problem is the union membership I have talked to tell a different story.

They talk about a union which has lost touch with its membership and one that is to accommodating to the administration, they say, it's hard to see where the district ends and the union begins. If the unions fighting for us, we don't see it. Whenever I write about the union I get response after response from teacher after teacher and they paint a picture of dissatisfaction.

Morale is rock bottom, teachers are being over worked, others chased out of the profession, brow beaten and picked upon by administrations who feel they can act with impunity, the expansion of Teach for America, and we're some of the lowest paid teachers in the lowest paying state in the country. Rather than being accommodating to the administration and business community I wish the union would tackle these issues.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Notice who isn't shilling for Vitti to stay? Teachers and parents.

Today it was an op ed in the Times Union by the charter loving president of CSX Micheal Ward and Sunday it will be the head of the Jax chamber Danial Davis shilling for an extension of superintendent Vitti's contract a decision the board doesn't have to make till December. We can add the Times Union to the list because I know they have gotten at least one letter (ahem) saying how ridiculous it is to extend his contract so soon but instead went with the pro Vitti letters.

Did you notice who is not shilling for him to stay? Parents and teachers.

I am not saying the board should just jettison him but why don't we let it play out some? Why don't we see where we are at the end of the school year? Why the rush.

The crazy things Arne Duncan says.

Six out of ten Utah kids fail test Florida paid five million dollars for.

I hope Micheal ward of CSX knows trains because he doesn't know education

First let me say after reading his opinion piece I understand why rail is in such trouble. Second the reason he is really in love with Superintendent Charter School Vitti is because like Vitti he loves charter schools.  Finally let me say Michael Ward really comes off as really uniformed his opinion piece supporting Vitti.

Ward Wrote: Vitti is a nationally recognized superintendent who has quickly brought the Duval County graduation rate to its highest levels in history, increasing college readiness while narrowing the achievement gap among African-American students.

Um he might not know it but all those things were improving before Vitti got here.

Ward Wrote: He brought a strong district vision for instructional leadership and the development of stronger systems to hone teaching and learning strategies and align professional development for teachers and leaders.

The reality is morale is worse than ever and his inner circle is made up of old guard sycophants

Ward wrote: Vitti has listened to the community. In particular, he reallocated nearly $20 million to ensure that all elementary schools had music and art teachers, which complements one of the district’s strategic priorities — that of ensuring development of the whole child. Every superintendent before him cut the arts when there were funding issues.

I might feel a little different if he hadn’t cut dozens of librarians and many art and music classes weren’t doubled up. His idea and his results are far apart on this one.

Ward wrote: Were it not for his vision, leadership and determination, the $38 million philanthropic investment, the Quality Education for All fund, would not have happened. Quality Education for All, which has made investments in human capital, currently supports performance incentives (largest in the country) to enlist highly effective teachers and principals to work in the neediest schools.

Well that’s more ignorance on Ward’s part as the business community had been talking about investing in our schools prior to Vitti’s arrival, now would it have happened if Vitti wouldn’t have gutted democracy and given them control, now that’s another story.

Ward wrote: Forging an unprecedented agreement with Duval Teachers United, Vitti was the architect of a plan that gives flexibility to principals to hire and fire teachers in the 37 schools that compose the District Transformation Office.

I and many, many teachers and union members were very disappointed in our capitulation and don’t see this as a good things for education or teachers.

Ward wrote: Before his arrival, most philanthropists and businesses were unwilling to invest in the district due to lack of trust and belief. He dramatically changed that. He is the reason that Kim and I spent our time and resources to bring the nationally recognized school improvement initiative City Year, which is focused on the whole child in lower-performing, high-poverty schools, to Duval County.

The problem here is most of the philanthropists and business leaders he speaks of also have links to charter schools and want to privatize our schools. Also did he just say, Kim and I were heartless douche bags until he got here and now suddenly we care, because it reads like that?  

Ward Wrote:. This work brought him to the attention of the Gates Foundation, which has used the Duval County template in several other counties throughout the state. Gates thinks highly of Vitti, and we feel it is a matter of time before they invest in Duval County.

Here is the thing, if Gates is involved we should want to have nothing to do with it. He recently admitted he was experimenting on our schools saying, it will be a decade before we know if any of these reforms work, and he is disrespectful of teachers.

Ward wrote: Last year, the state changed the assessment process (no more FCAT), which will result in lower scores in every district in the state and generate a larger number of D and F schools. Everyone associated with education reform knows that school grades are going to be lower this year due to these significant changes.

That part is accurate but it’s also him making excuses for Vitti’s record. You know I like Gus Bradly but if we go 6-10 or worse this year I think we should show him the door too. Vitti is in a results orientated business and thus far his results have been horrific. I might feel a little different if teachers got the same chances to improve that Ward wants to give Vitti.

Finally Ward wrote: There is much more to be done, but the bottom line is that we finally have a dynamic, reform- minded leader. He has brought much rigor and positive change, but of course there are, and always will be, huge challenges in a district this size. Vitti is the right man for the job.

Some more excuse making from Ward, there will always be huge challenges and I am not sure we can survive many more of Vitti’s reforms.

Ward should stick to trains, his education knowledge is lacking.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rick Scott admits Florida got it wrong on testing but why stop there?

Rick Scott through executive order canceled the 11th grade English assessment saying, “It’s important to measure students’ progress and achievements, but we must not lose sight of our goal to provide every student with the very best education. As I have traveled the state, I have heard from parents and teachers that there are too many tests, and I agree.”

I suppose I and all the other parents and teachers that he spoke to could say, we told you so, but instead I think we should thank the governor for acknowledging the mistake and encourage him not to stop there.

What about admitting Florida was wrong about charter schools where over 270 have failed in Florida over the years, leaving families in a lurch and costing untold millions of dollars? Despite their advantages they as a group don’t perform as well as public schools and most of the ones that are doing well set up shop in affluent neighborhoods siphoning away resources from the public schools there. Shouldn’t the governor also say, hey guys we blew it on that one too.

Then how about with Florida’s voucher program which has practically zero accountability and it’s just not academically. Private schools that take less than 250 thousand dollars, or most of them, don’t have to report how the money is spent. Shouldn’t the governor say, hey if accountability is good for public schools it’s good enough for private schools financed by the public too.

How about admitting Florida was wrong to start a merit pay system for its teachers. First merit pay has scant evidence that says it works and then we are basing teacher scores on VAM scores, a complicated mathematical formula that doesn’t take into account poverty, absenteeism or behavior. That's a recipe for disaster if there ever was one and the Governor should acknowledge it and cancel it too.

Here are a few more things Florida has blown.

The A-F scoring system which only accurately shows what schools zip codes are because the ones in the poorer zip codes invariably do worse.

His appointments to the state board of education all of who have less experience in education than private schools that take vouchers have accountability.  Hey Rick how about appointing a true educator to the board?

Then there is how we fund schools which has had us ranking at or near the bottom since they started rankings.

Finally what about Common Core which doesn’t address poverty our real problem, not low standards, which completely guts a system which was working.

So thank you Governor Scott for admitting Florida was wrong and does test too much, something parents and teachers have been telling you for years and getting rid of one test but why stop there when there is so much more that Florida has gotten wrong as well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It is past time for Gary Chartrand to step down.

The Chair of the state board of education, Gary Chartrand a grocer by trade, is arguably the most powerful person in Florida’s education landscape besides Jeb Bush who still casts a very long shadow. He recently said some things in the Florida Times Union, that everyone in Florida should both be aware of and outraged by.

Chartrand said his desire to give his children the best education possible prompted the move (of his children from a public school to a private school) and molded his own views on school options. “That’s exactly what I want other kids to be able to do,"” he said. “I had a choice. I was able to afford it and so my kids were able to go to a private school. … I think it should be available to everybody.”
Chartrand however did not send his kids to the type of private schools that take vouchers. He sent them to the very exclusive and expensive Bolles schools. There they have a thriving arts program, small classes and don’t have to take high stakes tests.
The type of school he sent his children and that Jeb Bush sent his children to as well is nothing compared to the type of schools he is helping to create for the rest of our children.
Chartrand also said, he spent the first six months on the job, getting his “sea legs.” “I wouldn't call myself really well-versed … I have a lot to learn, but I try to apply certain business principles,” This means despite the fact he admits he is woefully unqualified for the position he took it anyways and I would argue he is still not well versed after four years on the board.

If Gary Chartrand truly believes every family should have the same choice that his family had then why isn’t he pushing for every kid to have the same kind of education his children were fortunate enough to receive at the Bolles School? The answer is he must believe what was good enough for his children is too much for all of ours, then throw in a little disdain for labor and a disrespect for public schools too. Chartrand’s term is up and we should demand Governor Scott replace him with a real educator, one who really cares about our children and who has the knowledge and experience to improve things.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The tone deafness of the Florida Legislature, once again thumbing their nose at the public.

Oy vey, a bill allowing guns on college campuses is fast tracked to becoming a law. This despite the colleges, the professors, the admins, the students who attend and the parents whose children go to them have overwhelmingly said no thank you. 

From the Times Union: So many people signed up to speak during public comment Monday — most of them opposed to the bill — that there was not enough time for everyone to be heard. Several students who attended the meeting complained afterward that they had been silenced.
Just as the public comment period was ending, Margie Sanfilippo broke rules of decorum and addressed Evers from her seat in the crowded room. She had taken the day off from work and drove five hours to speak, she said, and asked that he give her time at the podium.
Sanfilippo, a psychology professor at private Eckerd College, spoke about her research on gun violence and said the legislation was misguided because campus shootings are rare.
“Althought one situation is one too many, there is no evidence that allowing concealed carry on campus would prevent it,” she said. “It is mere speculation and ignorance of statistical probability to assert that armed students are the reason why shootings don’t happen on campuses.”

Sadly we kind of have ourselves to blame for this. the far right ideologues know it doesn't take much to get elected in a non-presidential year because so many people stay home. They only have to get a few of the people who vote in those elections to support them  to win and that's how get those policies don't reflect the will of the people.

Utah looking to dump tests Florida paid millions for.

You ever get the feeling Florida doesn't know what it is doing when it comes to education? Now I am not talking about Florida's teachers, by all accounts some of the best in the country but it's policy makers.  

A little background, Florida paid Utah five million dollars to field test the questions of our upcoming Florida Standards test, you know because Utah and Florida are so similar. Well Utah has just announced they are planning to scrap their test all together.

From the Salt Lake Tribune: Thursday, lawmakers turned on the SAGE test, like Frankenstein from his monster.
"There will be legislation this year to create a task force to look at doing away with the SAGE test entirely," Stephenson said during a Public Education Appropriation Subcommittee hearing. "I think we need to be looking at the whole issue of whether we should be having end-of-level tests."
The committee conversation was prompted by Rep. Justin Fawson, R-North Ogden, who objected to a plan by the state school board to lease SAGE to other states and use the revenue to create new questions for the test.
Why expand a test, he asked, if his ultimate hope is to see the assessment abandoned?
"I don't support high-stakes testing," Fawson said, "so to that end, I can't support additional development of assessment questions for that test."
Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, agreed. He said students don't like the test and the results from the first year of implementation, which showed widespread failure in math and English, can't be trusted.
"The data comes out low and it's treated as an accurate assessment of where we are, when in reality it's inherently flawed," Christensen said. "If you're going in the wrong direction, you don't step on the gas pedal.
This is the test by the way that Florida intends to use to grade students, schools and teachers  and will have pay, employment and promotion repercussions. A test Utah thinks is fundamentally flawed.
Florida which has already spent tens of millions of dollars should follow Utah's lead and get rid of the test after all if they were good enough for us to go to for our questions they might just know something about its quality. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Gary Chartrand my kids deserve the best, your kids deserve crap

As students, Chartrand’s children attended Fort Caroline Elementary before transferring to the prestigious, private Bolles School through high school.

Chartrand said his desire to give his children the best education possible prompted the move and molded his own views on school options. “That’s exactly what I want other kids to be able to do,"” he said. “I had a choice. I was able to afford it and so my kids were able to go to a private school. … I think it should be available to everybody.”
He also drew on the ideas of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: high-stakes assessments, performance-based pay for teachers and more school choice — a term that over the years has become polarizing due to its association with charter schools and private school scholarships.
One of the many problems with the vouchers that Chartrand is peddling, I mean besides the lack of accountability and the gutting of the first amendment is they will pay for nothing like where his children went to school. The value of a voucher here in Florida is about one fourth of the tuition at the Bolles school which is why they can afford small classes, the arts and don't have to take the high stakes tests that public school students are saddled with. 
If Gary Chartrand truly believed in helping children why wouldn't he be pushing for every kid to have the same kind of education his children were fortunate to receive at the Bolles school? The answer is he doesn't, he hates organized labor, he dislikes public schools and he thinks because he is rich he is the smartest guy in the room. 

He however is not the smartest guy in the room and he and his ideas are bad for Florida's children.