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Friday, November 20, 2015

Chat with the super recap, warning its not pretty (rough draft)

First I have to say both the Times Union and the district let us down.  Originally this chat was supposed to be on the south side but at some point it was changed to off Collins Road just north of Orange Park.

After I encouraged people to go to the original location a reader informed me the location had changed. I then reached out to both the Times Union and the district to see which location was accurate and as it turned out it had been changed.  Now mind you I reached out a day before the meeting. Maybe the print copy of the Times Union was a go but the Times Union didn't even bother to change the on-line version. Furthermore as far as I can tell the district did nothing to inform the parents and teachers of the district that the Times Union had printed the wrong address despite the fact I let them knew nearly a day before the meeting.

Plans and locations change and I get it mistakes can be made too but what I teach my kids is when you do make a mistake you try and make right by it. Things fall on the ground and spill all the time, it's okay, whats not okay is to walk by like nothing happened. the district and the Times Union walked by like nothing happened.

So turn out was small which allowed the few of us there to ask several questions and follow ups. Typically in the past you just got to ask a question and then you had to be satisfied with whatever answer he gave as there were thirty other people waiting to ask questions.

My questions focused on the new curriculum and how teachers felt, marginalized and intimidated, that innovation and creativity were being sacrificed and how many felt that the curriculum was inappropriate for their children. The super tried to make two points and stuck to his guns despite my repeated follow questions and examples.

First he is not telling anybody to micromanage or intimidate teachers and what he wants is conversations about where and why teachers find themselves, if they are not lined up along with the pacing guide. If people are being told do this, by then, or else, it's not coming from him.

Next that the curriculum is new and it can be hard to learn new things but as teachers get to do it more they will feel more comfortable with it and as teachers through test scores proved they were successful the district would release them so they could be more creative and innovative.

I went at him from different angles, I mentioned the lack of creativity and innovation, how teachers feel they couldn't reteach or get deeper, how the pacing guide was unrealistic and how teachers were overworked, stressed out and at the breaking point. I even said at one point you are telling teachers it is new and hard, hurry up and get it done by three and they are letting you know they can't do it.

The superintendent however was unwavering, people just needed to give it time and they would come to like and appreciate it and he was not telling his staff to micromanage or intimate teachers.

The superintendent also gave several examples about how new teachers liked it and how kids in the classes he was visiting were dong things he had never seen comparable groups do before.

It's going to take more than me and the blog and the chats with the supe apparently to change his mind. He seems all in.

I didn't ask all of the following questions but I presented them to him and said these are the questions people are asking me to ask you.

These boundary "working meetings" are a joke! Most of the participants are spewing incorrect information and data in their own favor. Parents are encouraged to get "involved" and attend, but are not allowed to ask questions or participate in discussions. I attended one last night for the Wolfson magnet proposal was thoroughly disappointed in the entire process!

Middle school math schools are dropping. 6th graders are low, 7th graders are lower, and 8th graders are at the bottom. Why? Because we are required to blow through the curriculum so quickly. Teachers feel as though we're skipping stones across the surface and not teaching anything at depth. Students are absorbing and retaining absolutely nothing. We are losing entire years of math. Does anyone see this???

Why aren’t ESE paras required to get substitutes, they are integral to running classrooms and when they are out the classrooms suffer.

If teachers are being asked to collect data, give homework, print out CGs and assessments, why aren't they provided with printers? Schools turning to shared printers or just one in main office. They tell us to use lessons from iReady, also. But those also need to be printed off.

How can he push literacy so hard when the majority of school libraries are closed?

How come class size doesn't apply to foreign language, like Spanish? Why are there over 40 children in one class?

Why is he so concerned about enrollment dropping at certain high schools i.e. Wolfson, when that decline is due to all the charters (and magnets) he keeps bringing to the table?

The student code of conduct is ushering discipline in secondary schools into the realm of stupid. Why are class 3 referrals for fights and drug use being kicked back with instructions to recode? We have students in ISSP for fighting and for getting caught with drugs on campus.

Students need books in their hands. A first grader doesn't learn to read by listening to a read a loud and seeing a blurry pic on screen. Bring back the basal reader so all students have access to various literature but share a common story they can learn lang./reading skills needed.

Why does the emphasis on literacy not utilize the personnel who are highly trained in this area - school library media specialists?

How do you plan to retain veteran teachers who are feeling disrespected and micromanaged. The average lessons in Duval Reads are requiring between 30-60 minutes of preparation for each lesson.. teachers are only being paid until 3:10. Are you asking that teachers spend the 1.5-3 hours of their personal time, on top of grading papers, creating differentiated lessons... have you talked with any veteran teachers about the ridiculous amount of time that is being spent trying to figure out the Engage lessons, create the items needed to implement most of the lesson?

If first graders are just learning how to read, why doesn’t the new 1st grade READING INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIAL have a book for the children to hold and follow along with?

As a 1st grade parent who dislikes the new 1st grade ELA curriculum what can I do to get it changed.

I’m not comfortable that the K-2nd grade reading instructional material passed on a tie, is there anyway to have a revote on this?

You will have to use a sarcastic tone for this question. How is reading material in front of a class word for word and holding up a boring picture teaching? Can we replace teachers with minimum wage employees to save money?

What is a ziggurat?

My daughter is in 1st grade and the requirements are just way to hard, some of the home work they send home I can't even understand especially the math.. The reading requirements are outrageous and they cannot learn all they need to know in class and most parents also work and don't have 2-3 hours to sit at night helping a first grader do homework. Some changes need to be made.. It was not like this when I sent my 2 other children to the same school over 5 years ago.. These kids are being set up for failure if they don't have a parent that's able to do homework with them every night to try and help them, the worst part is watching your child struggle and they feel like a failure because they just don't get this curriculum.

Why is the district proposing so many last minute initiatives on ELA?

Why are they not shared with social studies (i.e. Achieve 3000)? Does social studies have any responsibility?


  1. Well of course he isn't going to admit to micromanaging. I doubt there has ever been a micromanager that has actually admitted to micromanaging. However, the definition of micromanagement is "to try to control or manage all the small parts of (something, such as an activity) in a way that is usually not wanted or that causes problems". I would say the majority of teachers feel every word of this definition everyday.

  2. Vitti is a narcissist and dangerous. He doesn't care about anyone on the system, other than himself. He will lie convincingly, which is what you heard about his directives or lack thereof. Unfortunately, only those in positions of power that directly impact him will be able to push him hard enough to drop his mask and reveal himself. Teachers, parents, his administrative staff mean nothing to him. It seems hard to believe, but I have had too many experiences with people like this. They cannot and will not budge. Even when exposed or confronted with evidence of failed policies, they won't take responsibility. It is difficult for a regular person to believe such a person exists, but they fill positions of power. Vitti believes he is invincible. Frankly, until one or more of the "business leaders" challenges him and sees the true Vitti, he is invincible, at everyone's expense but his.

  3. He doesn't have to tell his staff to intimidate teachers about not maintaining the pace of the curriculum guide or not utilizing the district created tests or anything else. They know what he wants and do it without being told. That gives him the space to say, "It's not me."

  4. I am really disappointed, but not surprised, that he didn't let you ask all of your questions. Especially since it sounds like there weren't many people there. Did he give any indication as to whether he would answer the other questions?

    I am very bothered by his answer that he doesn't tell his cronies to intimidate, belittle and degrade teachers. Whether he tells them to or not - it's what they do. And he needs to own it and change it if that's not what he wants. He is the boss and they work for him, so as far as I am concerned it's exactly what he wants. If he does nothing to address it or change it then he is condoning it.

  5. My Social Studies dept was told that we had to do Achieve 3000 once per wk.

  6. That must be new, on Wednesday the director of high schools said it only had to be once a month for SS and science.

  7. Who is the director of HS and was it said at a community mtg? We were told on Weds. Huge hassle, just getting out and putting away 35 laptops from 2 carts. It's going to take half the period.

  8. Our only answer is we have to get rid of Vitti!

  9. Achieve 3000: your not-so-friendly test prep program because, to bastardize a famous comment of Vince Lombardi, passing the test is not everything, it's the only thing. (Read with sarcasm.)

  10. Really, we need to give the new curriculum time? We don't have that kind of time, not when our students are coming in below grade level each year due to the changes in curriculum! Vitti is once again treating teachers as if we're idiots. Veteran teachers who KNOW how to implement best practices to reach their students are being demoralized by their administration and district specialists. New teachers have no idea other than to follow the script. How are they supposed to learn effective practices if all they're doing is following a script???!!!
    Also, they are stressing out primary kids over how many lessons they are passing and failing on i-Ready. How contradicting is it to place a 6 year old in front of a computer to receive lessons on sight words, when in the primary curriculum, there isn't any mention of time allotted for EXPLICIT instruction in sight words.

  11. We were just told that the district now says we have to make our Objective and Essential Question bigger, so the kids in the back can see it. Really? K and 1st?? Even if we read it to them, they have to be able to "read" it on the common board configuration from the back of the class. So each now has to to be in separate sheets of paper. Also, they say we HAVE to do a Table of Contents for journals. We can do a large one on chart paper. How is this helping children??? DTU just sits by all allows this to go on.

  12. DTU sucks! If you're paying $60/mo in dues, call them up. I'm tired of hearing teachers say they don't want to bother them. Bother them! Get your money's worth.

  13. The District is imploding. I hope Dr. Vitti is proud of his accomplishment.

  14. Teachers and Districts are being sued for not telling parents about the content in detail or the teaching of specific religions in FIRST GRADE and up with curriculum that is common core based without disclosure . Teachers and Boards are being sued for teaching "Major Religions " to students , even if a District had Curriculum Guides (without providing actual content and with ) . (Google it )

    It is violation of the law for parents not to see the actual teacher guides and content / text/curriculum first or to be told about it PRIOR to teaching it.

    Students also have the right to opt out of common core assessment in most states. District higher ups are telling parents that children can not opt out of lessons related to religions ISLAM, JUDAISM and CHRISTIANITY ( BY the way , these are not the top three religions in the world but those identified as significant in common core DUVAL READS.

    It is a rather clever distraction to keep parents worried about the DUVAL MATH so that parents did and do not demand to see the content being taught in the ELA /READING program. This is why other districts and States POST the actual curriculum in advance for parents to look through.

    Teachers were TOLD not to send home parent letters in advance telling what the content of THREE WORLD RELGIONS included- and the omission of Eastern Religions as one of them . PARENTS and TEACHERS, you need to speak to an attorney..... Teachers, now you know why the State of Florida is offering Legal Protection to you this year, at "no cost" . Parents would be foolish not to sue once they discover what is being and has already been taught.

    Mr. Vitti and the District supervisors have made a gross error of judgment repeatedly . Parents , on many grounds, have had their child's free education rights violated . If the State knows about the actions of the District the State and it's willful nondisclosure and refusal to allow opt -out -they culpable as well.

    I recommend that any teacher who is teaching Common Core seek the advice of their Union or an attorney in regards to Ethics, Social Studies, Cultural Studies and Religion prior to teaching the lesson . As the instructor of the content directly , you are in a vulnerable position particularly with students below the high school level. I also encourage you to research what is happening to teachers being sued around the Country regarding these issues and common core.

    Parents, you do have rights. I encourage you to exercise these rights regarding the current curriculum of Duval Schools.