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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Duval County gleefully triples elementary school teachers workloads (rough draft)

I have to tell you I don't know how my brother and sister teachers on the elementary grade levels do it. The pressure, work demands and lack of planning are all truly staggering. So what does the district do? They decide to get rid of reading books which will undoubtedly dramatically increase their work loads.

I don't want to be that guy who hates puppies just because the district likes them, that's just be a contrarian, furthermore I am not a reading teacher either so I don't have much insight if the new reading program will be beneficial or not. I have contacted several reading teachers to get their opinions and when they get back to me I will let you know what they think. That being said, I know a disaster when I see a disaster and if past is prologue then switching from books to mass copied passages is going to be a disaster.

A common complaint teachers have had for years is they have not had proper access to printers and the ability to reproduce the materials they need. Schools also lack working printers, ink and copier paper and as I said above teachers lack the time. 

Now the district is going to ratchet up the need for printed materials to the nth degree and who is going to do it? Teachers are already worked to the bone and the para corps have already been slashed not that they shouldn't have more important things to do than constantly running copies. 

Then think about the amount of copies that are going to have to be run? Are they just going to do a class set of copies and how often will the passages switch out are questions (again not addressed by the Times Union) that instantly come to mind. The time and manpower to do it all are going to have to be staggering. 

A colleague on Facebook wrote: Chris, we know the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, and that history tends to repeat itself, at least when no one bothers to say anything. You know it will be. Just looking at testing alone, waiting for the delivery of Those materials should be enough of a warning that this is going to be a complete cluster f***.

They are right, nothing is ever on time from the district and now either the district plans to create and deliver tens of thousands of pages everyday as well as the other things the district is supposed to do, or they expect individual schools and teachers to do it? Cluster F*** barely scratches the surface about what is going to happen.

Furthermore many teachers often have taken it upon themselves to spend their money to reproduce or create materials because supplies are stretched past the breaking point. I believe often the district takes this into account and uses it a reason to skimp on supplies and its time, well past time that teachers said no, we're not going to do that anymore.

If the past is a predictor of the future then the district has just ^%$#ed our elementary school teachers and if that is the case then it has done the same to their students as well. 


  1. He has just tied our hands and tripled the workload. I am interested in what principals and teachers at the elementary level said that we should go the Engage NY route rather than a research based and proven text. I haven't met a single teacher who would rather have worksheets than a text.
    I just don't understand this madness. I don't understand any of it. Our district continues its downward slide in scores across multiple grade levels and subjects. We quit utilizing research based materials with documented success. We have a school board that extends a contract before we have results that would warrant that extension. We have a union that is a dream to work with according to administration but non-existent according to teachers. Parents expressing outrage over how a school is being run into the ground yet news sources that seem to dismiss or not even notice there is a problem. We are switching to using technology for the majority of instruction yet our schools lack the infrastructure to support it. It sounds insane!!!
    As a teacher, I am disheartened by all of this madness. My hands are being tied and I am not being allowed to do what I went to school to do. I am not being given a chance to really teach anymore. My heart breaks for these kids that really do want to learn because we aren't providing them with everything they need. We are not getting the job done and our scores demonstrate that.
    As a parent of two children within our system, I am even more bothered by the fact that they may not be getting all that they need when it comes to their education. I can fill in the gaps as much as I can on my own but my fear is that will not be enough. My fear is that there will be too many gaps for me to fill in. My kindergartener will be expected to learn from a bunch of worksheets?!?!?!? That seems like a recipe for disaster if you ask me. I pray that I am wrong but scores don't seem to indicate that I am.
    Don't get me wrong. I believe the use of novels for teaching reading is a step in the right direction. However, the novels should be carefully selected for each grade level, keeping in mind not only the standard you wish to teach but also whether the content is appropriate.
    I think the powers that be forgot that the texts often used in a basal come from novels that were award winning at one point. They often get the students interested in reading the novels from which the stories came. Were the basals perfect? No but I doubt a sheet of paper with a passage is enough.

  2. And where is the manpower and machinery that is going to produce all of these print-outs? Are teachers going to have to collate these materials? Common planning time is probably going to be spent dividing up these materials. Just let me teach. Just let them(children) be little.

  3. My favorite part is the materials for foundational skills... Heggerty and Making Words. Heggerty is fine for phonemic awareness but Making Words is NOT sufficient for teaching kids phonics explicitly. It's a great supplement but not meant to be the core.
    I'm not teaching primary this year and will be moved to third. I would love to actually be able to teach those kids to love what they read but how in the world are worksheets and powerpoints going to be enough? Let me teach. Respect my knowledge. Help those new teachers but please let those of us with proven track records (and usually that means not doing what the district wants) do what's right.

  4. The printer required for printing all of this is in your living room. I'm sure the office stores have rewards programs. Don't worry we have the most accommodating union in the country, they will set it straight. LOL

    Laugh or cry.

  5. Yes, History does repeat itself. This reminds me of when Vitti added that 8th period and didn't fund it. The boy is not a forward thinker. He needs a psychic as one of those 485 Executive Directors he's got downtown. Someone with a Crystal Ball that will look him in the eye and say "Dude ! This ain't gonna end well"

    1. There is a psychic named Madamme Ruby on Beach Blvd.

  6. When is the School Board going to realize that the superintendent is slowly running off good teachers and administrators? Here's a partial list of what has happened since Nicolai has been here:
    1. The printing issue is a problem. Support techs have been told not to fix the printers that teachers have in their room and the replacement toners are not available for purchase through the districts discounted supply catalog. Teachers and administrators have been told that printing is to be done centrally at one printer in the school.
    2. In 2013-2014 , all elementary teachers struggled with a new lesson guide that was available to them only when hooked up to the district intranet. The reason? Nicolai did not want another district to steal all the hard work done by the curriculum writers. Now we are using EngageNY, which is freely available to anyone, including parents.
    3 Again, in 2013-2014, several thousands, dare I say, millions, of dollars of novels were ordered for elementary teachers to us to teach with. The support was spotty - some grade levels had better support than others, depending on who wrote the curriculum guide. The teachers were better this year with it - the second year of using the same novels. Now, new novels, new things and ways to teach. Another stressful year of "firsts".
    3. Research -research that has been proven again and again, say that it takes at least 3 years to make lasting, effective change in student performance. Nicolai is not giving anyone or anything - except himself - 3 years of a chance to see how it plays out. NOTE TO THE SCHOOL BOARD - he is moving principals after less than one year at a school, but you are giving him more years? What in the H*LL are you thinking?????????
    4. The morale at every school is DOWN. People are afraid. People are exhausted. And the extra hour at schools is a JOKE. Teachers are working 8.33 hours, and then have to prepare for the next day. There is no time to prepare at all during any break, because you have to meet with your grade level, or the content coach, or some other meeting.
    4. The union is a joke. When the agreement was made with the lowest scoring schools in Jacksonville, they agreed to, and took away, the bargained rights. Teachers are staying until 5, 6 p.m. for meetings "because they agreed to it".
    5. And, Nicolai has created a 2 tier school system. One tier is schools that are located in white suburbs, the other tier are students that ultimately go the black high schools. These schools have different expectations, different meetings, different hours, and have different summer programs. Welcome to the 1950s in Jacksonville.

    Having to print curriculum materials is only one of a long list of systemic problems that is going on in YOUR public school system.

  7. What about teacher evaluations when teachers cannot get materials they are required to use? What happens to students when materials are not available....what are school board members thinking? Seems like rubber stamping? ...Insanity!