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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Want to know what kids in second grade are doing?

The schedule of a local second grader was made available to me. I look at it and I feel sorry for the kid.

The state mandate is 90 minutes of ELA and there is no mandate for math.

Thoughts? Concerns? Pulling your hair outs?

Stacie Dern school board candidate district 7, on Recess

NCLB created a rush to engage students with more academic work, which meant recess and physical education were the first to be cut in order to provide more time for test taking and data collection. According to Dr. Charles Basch, in an article in the Journal of School Health, children in lower income areas have less access to school-based physical activity, which affects emotional stability, physical health, and motivation to learn. The students who would benefit the most are those with the greatest need for cognitive benefits. Even though there is not any evidence that supports more work and less play, schools with lower performance scores remove or cut physical education and recess from the curriculum hoping to gain greater achievements. The current research actually supports increased physical activity having a causal link with positive outcomes on academic success. Brain research tells us that increased oxygen saturation, caused by activity, increases brain neurotransmitters, which increases neurotrophins that support neuronal differentiation and survival in a developing brain; this is linked with cognitive growth.

A study in 2006, of 214 sixth-grade students, showed that students who participated in 55 minutes of physical education did just as well on standardized test scores as their peers who used that time for daily classroom activities ( Academic performance of children engaged in daily physical activity was measured against the norms of U.S. students using Pearson measures. The results indicated an increase in oral comprehension, reading, vocabulary, and phonics. The academic performance was assessed using test scores, grades, observations, and progress monitoring. The gender, income level, physical habits, eating habits, and family life were taken into account when developing the groups of children to study.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that each child get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Although there are not any federal laws requiring physical education or recess, Florida statute 1003.455 requires that children get 150 minutes of physical education each week, with a minimum of 30 minutes of continuous activity. The Recess Moms are currently working on the recess bill, which might make it through this year due to increased support.

Stacie Dern. 

As we start week 3, it's time to hold the district accountable.

A couple people have reached out to me about class sizes, elementary school PE and other issues and my response has been it's the first two weeks, schools are shaking out the kinks, but as we enter week three, it is now time to start holding the schools and the district accountable. No longer should classes be exceeding the class size limit which in case you were wondering is:

  • 18 students in prekindergarten through grade 3.
  • 22 students in grades 4 through 8.
  • 25 students in grades 9 through 12.

Now the state gutted it so above is only for core classes but still I am told there are limits like a ridiculous 70 for PE, and yes that's 70 children.

Speaking of PE this is what the state told me when I asked.

(3) Each district school board shall provide 150 minutes of physical education each week for students in kindergarten through grade 5 and for students in grade 6 who are enrolled in a school that contains one or more elementary grades so that on any day during which physical education instruction is conducted there are at least 30 consecutive minutes per day. Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, the equivalent of one class period per day of physical education for one semester of each year is required for students enrolled in grades 6 through 8. Students enrolled in such instruction shall be reported through the periodic student membership surveys, and records of such enrollment shall be audited pursuant to s. 1010.305. Such instruction may be provided by any instructional personnel as defined in s. 1012.01(2), regardless of certification, who are designated by the school principal.

Well the districts schedule says students are only getting 90 minutes of PE a week

Furthermore the media schedule seems to be optimistic at best.

From readers:

Media is a joke. At a school of 1100 plus we have a 1/2 funded position which is vacant. If filled we would have media once every 5-6 weeks. Right now a para is available for classes to check out books every other week. Sad! But not surprising. Doesn't seem like books are very valued in Duval right now as we use a listening comprehension curriculum that doesn't include using real books!! 

There are quite a few schools that only have resource (art, music, PE) once every 8 days. At my son's school art, music, media and PE is once every 8 days.

You are not wrong. We have media once every two weeks and we have physical education with the coach once every two weeks.

Ours is 45 minutes every six days.

Ours is 45 minutes every other week. We can take our class weekly to check out books (if the basic para is there) but we have to stay with them. Oh and currently our media position is vacant.

Will things improve? I hope so but they definitely won't unless we start holding the district accountable.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

There is a debate about kids getting enough play, but what about the promised media hour too?

Look at the elementary school schedule the district has put out.

It says one day a week that kids will get media, hey that sounds great to me, a weekly visit to the library, a media specialist doing a read aloud or putting on some other program. GREAT!

Um except a reader pointed out to me, that their school only has media every other week.

Another pointed out that in the bigger elementary schools there are more classes than could be seen in a week unless they doubled up classes .

So I wondered what happened when their was no media specialist available and was told schools are supposed to come up with a plan.

Why am I skeptical that this is working well for anybody?

But you know what I could be wrong and if I am please let me know.

Finally I would like to say, the way the district has treated its media specialists since Vitti arrived has been criminal. Librarians are some of the last people that should go in a district that has a reading problem. I wonder why they weren't financed by the QEA or why instead of dropping our budget 40 million dollars nobody said, hmm you know what, lets get some librarians in there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Elementary school teacher calls out impossible schedule

From a reader

Our "planning" is from 7:50-8:25. 

That is with parents dropping in, kids needing to get on i-Ready, trying to retrieve laptops off the computer cart, etc. 

We only get 2-3 resources a week (45 minutes) and one of those is taken up with common planning because we can't do it before 8:25 when our actual planning period is. 

In a big school where dismissal starts at 2:40, you really only have a little over 6 hours of instructional time not counting lunch.

 By the way, how can a school with a media specialist every other week have 60 minutes of "media" time? My class's first trip to the media center isn't until the third week in September.

That's a great question-Chris 

Bryan Campbell candidate Clay school board district 2 chooses smears over ideas

I thought only Gary Chartrand Candidates made stuff up. Add Bryan Campbell candidate Clay school board district 2 to the list.

It looks like Bryan Campbell took a page out of the Gary Chartrand candidate playbook and sent a dastardly and misleading mailer about his candidate Carol Studdard who has successfully served the people of Clay County for nearly 24 years.


Do you know who is a member of the AFL-CIO and Labor Unions? Most teachers, firemen and police officers, that's who. Your neighbors, the middle class family that has left Duval for Clay county. The people you barbecue with, go to church with and see at Publix.

As for special interests, does he mean all the charter school money that has filled Van Zant's coffers? They in education are the ultimate special interest and they aren't giving money to Carol Suddard.

Then he mentions raises, Tallahassee, dominated by republican politicians for over 20 years decides how school board members are paid and I don't believe that the school board could give themselves raises even if they wanted to.

As for a million dollars in salary and benefits, for nearly 24 years of able and successful service is a bargain. We should be thanking her for her selfless service instead of allowing this man to ridicule her.

I also get their is a sentiment to throw long serving politicians out but why would anybody in Clay County even consider replacing her? Until Van Zant, partly because of her leadership, Clay county was considered one of the best school districts in the state, and the fact that she has stayed only on the school board speaks volumes to her commitment to Clay County's children.

Finally the line about a DROP payment is just a straight up lie, she hasn't received one cent from it, though after 24 years of service I don't know why anyone would begrudge her from doing so when she eventually does.

Clay county shouldn't the leaders of your schools be chosen based on their ideas, not their callous ability to smear their opponents and mislead the electorate? This is obviously a lesson that Bryan Campbell didn't learn.   

Dear elementary school teachers, how the "beep" do you do it?

Teaching despite assertions to the contrary is not an easy gig but elementary school teachers, how the beep do you do it?

Look at the schedule that the superintendent has put out.

Sixty minutes of planning time, I mean except on common planing days, and I get it elementary schools are more and more being divided up into subject areas, especially in the higher grades but come on.

Throw in dealing with parents and behaviors and a mountain of mostly superfluous paper work my question is when do they have time to do anything and I can't help but think if they were given more resources of which time to plan would be a big one, then we as a school system would be better off.

So elementary school teachers, hats off to you, I don't know how the "beep" you do it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

John Oliver barely scratches the surface of how bad charter schools are.

Van Zant's first instinct is to lie. Is that the family value he keeps talking about?

I will let his own words speak for him.


When Jeff Hendricks was getting kicked out of a news conference at the Clay County Education Association on Friday, he wouldn’t answer Action News Jax’s questions about who he was.
Now Hendricks is telling Action News Jax he wasn’t there to cause trouble.
He has connections to both Clay County Schools Superintendent Charlie Van Zant and the teachers union he was kicked out of.
On Monday, Hendricks said he just wanted to hear what Dr. Susan Sailor had to say at the news conference about her accusations of fraud and plagiarism against her boss, Clay County Schools Superintendent Charlie Van Zant.
“Why can’t I be here?” Hendricks asked teachers' union service unit Director Tracy Butler, who was asking him to leave on Friday.
On Friday, Action News Jax showed Van Zant the video of Hendricks getting kicked out.
“He looks kind of familiar. I can’t tell you who that is,” said Van Zant.
Van Zant called back on Saturday to say he wasn’t wearing his bifocals when he saw the video, but he now recognizes Hendricks, admitting he knows him “very well.”
Hendricks called Van Zant a “true friend” and has volunteered for his campaign in the past.
Oy vey, somebody probably said to Van Zant, um yeah, people know you know him, you better come clean.

It's so telling about his character that his first instinct was to lie. It is either just what he does or he is a four year old trapped in a man sized body, after hearing his comments about the election I suspect it is the latter. 
If this incident happened in a vacuum you might be able to scrunch up your nose and begrudgingly say, okay, but it didn't. This is the same guy who stole the superintendent election in 2012 and has hired his cronies and sycophants. 
Clay county come on, you have to do better than this guy. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Federal Government says no to Private Prisons, for profit Charter Schools should be next

Last year the Federal Government started going after for profit colleges, pointing out they don’t do as well and man were little more than scams. This past week we can add for profit prisons to the list.
From NPR:

U.S. Justice Department officials plan to phase out their use of private prisons to house federal inmates, reasoning that the contract facilities offer few benefits for public safety or taxpayers. 

In making the decision, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates cited new findings by the Justice Department's inspector general, who concluded earlier this month that a pool of 14 privately contracted prisons reported more incidents of inmate contraband, higher rates of assaults and more uses of force than facilities run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 

"They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and ... they do not maintain the same level of safety and security," Yates wrote in a memo Thursday. 

I am not going to say there aren’t good charter schools, to do so would be disingenuous. However in my hometown of Jacksonville Florida, the good ones have set up in neighborhoods that already have great schools. There is not one charter school that serves poor communities of color that is doing better than the nearby public schools. But there they are dozens of charter schools allowed to exist that are either doing a poor job of that are making their owners rich.

The reasons that the federal government said no to private prisons could be said about charter schools.

Also from NPR:  

U.S. Department of Education officials plan to phase out their use of charter schools, reasoning that the contract facilities offer few benefits for public school students or taxpayers. 

In making the decision, Nadya Chinoy Dabby, Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Innovation and Improvement cited new findings by the Department of Education inspector general, who concluded earlier this month that a pool of 14 privately contracted charters reported more incidents of closures, suspensions, students leaving mid-year, lower test scores on the NEAP and accounting problems, and financial irregularities, than facilities run by local school boards. 

"They simply do not provide the same level of educational services, programs and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and ... they do not maintain the same level of safety and Education," Dabby wrote in a memo Thursday. 

Did you see what I did there?

The concept of charters is an attractive one as I am sure private prisons was to some, but both of their realities have turned into nightmares for too many.

Even when the district does something right, it is wrong, Laptop edition

The district just said no to 40 million dollars by lowering its budget.

They must be trying to make up a few thousand of that by selling used laptops at 50 dollars a pop.

Instead of the QEA paying for a doomed merit pay scheme this is exactly the type of thing, laptops for poor students, they should be financing.

Also I take the internet for granted and have easy access to it but you know doesn't? The families that would most benefit from the laptop sell.

Finally fifty dollars isn't a lot to me but you know who it is a lot to? The families that could use the laptops the most.

So Dear Duval, thanks but you could and should be doing better.

DCPS is conducting an online sale of used laptops for $50 each. The sale starts noon on Friday, August 26th. All sales are first come, first serve, final and one per student. Purchase your laptop beginning noon on Friday, August 26th at
Print out your receipt bring it with you to pick up your laptop at Wolfson High School at 7000 Powers Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32217 on Saturday, September 3rd between 8 a.m. - Noon.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Don’t reward Jason Fischer’s terrible performance as a school board member with a ticket to Tallahassee.

Jason Fischer had a love for soil and water before he loved education as he ran for a position on the soil and water board before he ran for the school board.

When he ran for school board he misidentified himself as both a veteran of the navy and as an engineer. He is neither. Unfortunately for Duval he road an endorsement from Jeb Bush to Prudential drive.

In 2014 shortly after his second year on the board he announced his run for the state house, you know because in just two years he learned all he needed to and accomplished all that he could.

Then this past July he quit some five months before his term would have ended and I can’t really be mad at him for that as it is the best thing he did while on the board. Though I think it does show how dedicated he really was to our children which isn’t very.

Then while on the board the district brought in the disastrous, controversial and universally reviled Engage NY curriculum.

He also took thousands of dollars from charter schools whose schools he pushed and a job from John Kirtley who is the state’s leading pusher of vouchers. Vouchers divert over six hundred million dollars to mostly religious schools which have practically no over site either financially or academically. About a hundred teach creationism as science.

All this means that instead of working to better our schools he has been paid to dismantle them.

If that isn't enough.

He also filmed a commercial in a school which goes against district policy.

He made an issue of transsexual students using the bathroom they identify with despite not having an issue with the policy for years.

His financial donors were behind a scandal, releasing texts that Connie Hall said about the superintendent which needlessly divided and distracted the board.

He pushed the schools of districts 4 and 5 to make changes their representatives and many of their families felt would negatively impact them.

He showed that he is a hypocrite’s hypocrite on more than one occasion.

He threw a tantrum and threatened legal action when he didn’t get his way.

He voted to drop out of the school board association which Ashley Smith Juarez pointed out pays us back tenfold.

He said he would not be swayed by data.

Other school board members would point out how clueless he was.

As a sitting school board member he endorsed other SB candidates, something that had never happened before.

Is this who you want representing you in Tallahassee? A snake oil salesman only interested in self advancement?

Mandarin you made one terrible mistake electing this guy, don’t make the same mistake again. 

With over 200 teacher openings and teachers spending their own money on necessities, the district turns down 40 million dollars.

Or, why the QEA is a joke.

QEA stands for quality education for all and it came from local philanthropists who raised fifty million dollars over three years supposedly to help our schools. The vast majority of it was earmarked for a teacher incentive plan that is both bound to fail and cause bad blood between teachers and other teachers and the district. Five million of it was also earmarked for Teach for America an expensive program that takes non education majors and puts then through a six week boot camp and then into the neediest classrooms in the district where the vast majority don't last three years.

And the district just said it was a joke and I know so because they voluntarily cut the district's budget by forty million dollars this year.

From Board members are considering a $1.69 billion dollar spending plan that’s some $40 million less than last year’s budget.


Why was the fifty million over three years so important from the area businessman and now we can go, nah, we don't need that forty. I think it has to do with control because the businessmen despite none being educators instructed the district what to use the money on. I also think there is a link to the proposed expansion of the Better Jacksonville plan, hey I know its a new tax, they can say, but the school board cut your millage rate so it's really a wash.

I know I sound Mel Gibson conspiracy theory crazy when I talk about a cabal of rich white men running the city, Rummel. Chartrand, Weaver and Halverson but the truth is their hands are in every pot from school board races to states attorney and everything in between. They control a disproportionate amount of wealth and hold a ridiculous amount of influence and they are for the Better Jacksonville extension. Why else when we have so many needs would we just say no to 40 million dollars?

How many paras could we have hired, psychologists and social workers? Couldn't we have used that money to recruit veterans from out of state instead of continuing to use the gimmick that Teach for America is? the district could have saved that money for summer school because a lot of kids need more time to learn the basics and less time between years so they don't lose what they learned. Or the district could have given every teacher 500 dollars to buy supplies for their classrooms but nope why do that when they know the suckers teachers will do it with their own money.

Those are just off the top of my head.

Also I get it nobody likes taxes, but you know what I think we dislike even more? Stupid people clogging up our road ways, grocery stores and public spaces.

If somebody can explain why we would just say no to 40 million dollars, I would really appreciate it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Melanie Trump could take lessons from Charlie van Zant

Van Zant's is on the left and Sailor's is on the right.

To see the papers and judge for yourself, click the links:

Dear Clay County what more do you need to see?

Van Zant used the ethically challenged Jim Horne to talk about his ethics problems.

From the I can't make this up file, Charlie Van Zant went to the ethically challenged Jim Horne to talk about his ethics problems in a faux style news piece.

If Jim Horne's name sounds familiar its because he is a former Florida commissioner of education who has made millions of dollars shilling for the charter industry. Now there is nothing wrong with getting rich but do you know who is not getting rich off education? Teachers, principals, school secretaries, custodians and kitchen staff or those people that are actually in the schools with their sleeves rolled up working with the kids is who.

Jim Horne however using his former position and contacts to push one crappy charter school after another is.

Here is an example

By the way one of Horne's crappy charter schools opened in Clay last year and not only was in unnecessary but it did poorly as well.

If Horne was the best Van Zant could get to defend his character then he is guilty as sin.

To see the video click the link, you may have to scroll some to find it:

Then to read a pretty good account of the mess, click the link: 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's poverty not teacher quality people

Vitti shows a lack of empathy for parents

Vitti has lost me and I can point to two instances.

The first is when dozens of teachers left First Coast high school because they were being victimized by the principal at the time Al Brennan, the parents likewise revolted saying they wanted a change and even the school trade dropped form an A to a C under his watch  and the superintendent said, Brennan is one of the district's best and he isn't going anywhere.

The second instance was at a community meeting where grand parents raising their grand child said they were unable to hep their grand daughter with the new math curriculum and finally they hired a tutor to help her. The super said, great you hired a tutor and you can call the math hotline when it is up and running.

WHAT!?! I thought what about all the parents who couldn't afford to hire a tutor and who didn't know about the math hotline (which had tons of problems) what about them and the others who were trusting the district to teach our children, he was like shoulder shrug, yawn.

Ugh, well in the paper just Friday Vitti once again showed his complete lack of empathy for the districts parents.

From the Times Union:

Vitti said Duval had already given those parents a choice of schools.
But state officials said he had put the cart before the horse, and he still had to send letters to parents letting them know that officially their students were assigned to higher-rated schools.
Vitti sent those letters out last week, he said.
Then, on Thursday, Vitti sent more letters to parents of 265 first- and second-graders living near R.L. Brown and S.P. Livingston elementary schools. They should receive those letters over the weekend.
The letters said the students for R.L. Brown are assigned to Lone Star Elementary, a B school, and Livingston students are assigned to Reynolds Lane Elementary, a C school.
Several Duval Board members said the letters are confusing for many parents.
Board member Paula Wright said Vitti should have involved the board long before now; School Board members could have helped him get out the word and explain things.
“To me it has really placed this Board in a position to give the appearance that we’re clueless, we’re unprepared,” Wright said, “and that we are not providing any planning and guidance (to) make certain we’re respectful of our community.”
Board chairwoman Ashley Smith Juarez noted that the letters do not include any bus information and don’t list the addresses of the assigned schools. She said she worries many parents, some who don’t have cars, will show up at the wrong school or put their child on the wrong bus.
“I’m very, very concerned about the 6- and 7-year-old children in those neighborhoods,” she said. “Give me some assurance that these children will arrive and will be accounted for at their schools, that there is some system in place to keep track of their attendance.”
Vitti said that parents aren’t receiving the letters “in a vacuum,” they’re also being telephoned. Some principals are skilled at outreach in these mostly high-poverty communities, he said.
He added that many parents had received similar letters earlier.
“There’s no question, we’ll have some parents that are confused on the first day of school, but that already happens,” Vitti said.
You know, it just happens, nothing the district could do, silly parents. 
There is no angst, no regret, no chagrin, just a shrug of his shoulders and a, hey it happens.


If the allegations about Vitti having children baker acted are true, how does he still have his job?

This week a former police lieutenant dropped a bomb saying that the district was having children baker acted rather than arrested to keep the arrest statistics low.

From First Coast News
A former lieutenant in the Duval School Board Police Department says a controversial mental health law they say is being misused in the district.
When he worked for the Duval School Police, he directed officers to use a controversial Florida law called the Baker Act to deal with problem students.
"I have had an officer do that before," says former lieutenant Benny Reagor. "I have made that command decision. I have said Baker Act them and don't put them in jail."
He says when a problem student is placed under the Baker Act, statistically, it's not counted as an arrest at school.
The Baker Act allows a law enforcement officer to involuntarily commit someone to a mental health facility.
"In lieu of physically arresting them for the felony, we would Baker Act the child as opposed to an arrest," he says.
Reagor worked for the department's previous police chief and retired in 2015.
Over the last 3 years, the number of Baker Act incidents reported by Duval School Police has climbed and decreased. During the 2013/14 school year there were 142. The number rose to 167 during the 2014/15 year. Last school year there were 126.

You know I don’t think there is a smoking gun email or memo or Vitti even said, Baker act kids instead of arresting them when you can. I do however think he exerted such pressure on the police staff to keep numbers low that it was easy to make the choice to Baker act rather than arrest.

Here is the thing even if he didn't say it directly, he created the environment where it happened.

When people are put in a position where it is feed their family or do right by children more than a few are going to pick putting food on the table and unfortunately that’s the district we have and that this board has allowed the superintendent to create.

We can and should be doing better than this.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cheryl Grymes and Scott Shine would support Vitti even if he shot somebody in Hemming Plaza

I hope nobody stretches that into thinking I am advocating violence, it's actually a play on what one of the presidential candidates said about the devotion of his followers. I am not sure if it's the superintendents soulful brown eyes or something else but school board members Cheryl Grymes and Scott Shine have fallen head over heals for the superintendent.

This is a quote from Cheryl Grymes about an inexplicable letter that was sent to hundreds of parents that is bound to cause confusion and angst.

From the Times Union:

“There’s no question, we’ll have some parents that are confused on the first day of school, but that already happens,” Vitti said.
Board member Cheryl Grymes defended Vitti, saying the other Board members aren’t trusting him. 

You know because blindly trusting the superintendent, not being informed or putting themselves in the shoes of their constituents are what school board members are supposed to do. Oy vey what a joke of a school board member and then there is Scott Shine who also shrugged his shoulders about above who cluelessly goes along with her.

Who remembers Shine's evaluation of the superintendent shortly after he got on the board. His ranking went Superintendent Vitti with Jesus and Steve Spurrier coming in a distant second and third.

These two school board members have never gone against a superintendent recommendation even when the super said he was only approving a charter school because it was in an affluent part of town and he wouldn't let it near poor kids.

Rubber stamps don't rubber stamp as much as they do.

We need serious people on the board who are willing to be informed and do the work but we don't have that with Shine and Grymes.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Former police officer say Vitti is forcing them to cook the books, we are courting tragedy

In a reveal that teachers have known for years two former DCPS police officers said the district is forcing them to cook the books when it comes to arrests. 

He says a school district policy prevented him from making an initial arrest when a student battered a teacher. 

Instead, he says rules required him to call a sergeant and for that sergeant to call a lieutenant. That chain of approvals is not required at other law enforcement agencies.

"The elements of a crime are there; the evidence of a crime is there, but the higher authorities want to change what the crime actually is so that no enforcement action is taken," Hardin said.

The policy was written by Department Chief Michael Edwards, who declined to be interviewed for this story. 

"If it went higher than that, I don't know," Hardin says. "I know it went at least that high." 

A leadership chart posted on the district's website shows Edwards reports to Chief of Schools Addison Davis who reports to Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti.

The superintendent has touted the district's declining arrest numbers. He too declined multiple requests to be interviewed for this story.

Friends, what can I say... Sigh...

Greg Tison, candidate district 7's no good very bad debate!

I felt like all of the candidates for the district 7 school board position had some good moments at the forum this past Tuesday, emphasizing that there are several qualified candidates in the race and I will be discussing that in upcoming posts, yes everybody had some good moments except Greg Tison.

Mister Tison seem really unprepared especially when it came to charter schools as he repeated several times that districts had to take whatever it got with regard to them. If the district says no, then the charter school will likely appeal and the district would have to fight and we would end up with the charter school anyway. This was the point he tried to make several times. This is a vast over simplification and I can even see where he might have gotten this idea because Vitti and this board have approved charter schools like that and not educating children was their job.

The school board however can say not to charter schools for many reasons and more districts throughout the state have started saying no and pushing back. The district doesn't have to say yes to anybody who shows up with an application which is what Mr. Tison seems to think.

This wasn't his only notable gaff.

Later he said, this election isn't about Jason Fischer its about going forward, well one of the reasons he might not want to talk about Jason Fischer who was both a terrible school board member and quit on the people of district 7 is because the same people who funded Fischer 4 years ago are the same people funding Tison now. Gary Chartrand and his friends.

Speaking of Gary Chartrand the influential businessman who collects school board members like nerds collect magic the gathering cards, when asked about him, Tison in effect said, I don't want to talk about him because it puts me in a difficult position and please don't take my word for it, go to JPEF's facebook page and listen at about the 5 minute mark.

What the beep!!!! He can't talk about his main donor because it what? He all but admits he will be in his pocket, a pocket that wants to privatize our schools and doesn't think teachers are professionals. A pocket that wants his kids to go to exclusive prep schools while ours go to kill and drill factories.

Greg Tison's forum was an unmitigated disaster.

I will be breaking down the forum in depth over the weekend but here is the thing, we have several good candidates in district 7, we don't need the one purchased by a millionaire who doesn't even live in Jacksonville and whose children did not go to our schools on our board.

Van Zant supporter Johanna McKinnon seeks to protect him form cheating scandal

So this is leadership in Clay County, Johanna McKinnon school board chair throws a press conference to say they aren't having a meeting to discuss the accusations that Van Zant cheated to get his masters degree, a press conference that several other school board members say they were unaware was taking place. You know, that's just how McKinnon rolls.

McKinnon also announced that the matter isn't even worth the school boards time and instead they are going to refer it to somebody who is beholden to Van Zant for their livelihood, you know because that sounds reasonable.

Clay County look what you have become.

Here is the thing, even if you discount all of Van Zant's past and on going scandals, the numbers just don't warrant a second term for him.

Van Zant has had a lot of notable low-lights.

In 2012 and this cycle he has sought to disenfranchise much of the electorate in Clay County and he arguably stole the election in 2012.

Teacher morale is rock bottom?

He has shown an open disdain for transgender children.  

He has hired his cronies and sycophants.

He has pressured at will employees into supporting him.

Even though there have been budget problems he supported a new charter school in Clay county, a school whose two grades have been F and D. 

Clay's financial rating was downgraded under his watch.

Even if all that is okay with you the academic performance that Clay County has dropped considerably under his leadership, in short it has been has been abysmal.

Look at these numbers from the Clay Today.

On July 8, the Florida Department of Education reported that the Clay County School District had dropped from an “A” to a “B” district and its ranking overall had dropped from 11th to 20th. A number of schools dropped in letter grade and the district’s first charter school went from a “D” to an “F.” (Remember, charter schools are funded by public tax dollars.),3080

Who public schools are really for

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Local Millionaires set up shell companies to funnel money to school board candidates

I think it is safe to say whether you are on the right or the left you are concerned with the pernicious influence of money on politics. Nobody wants a handful of ultra wealthy donors controlling the outcomes.

That being said Houston Jacksonville we have a problem as Wayne Weaver and Gary Chartrand have set up companies whose main or sole focus seems to be to give money to their hand picked school board candidates Greg Tison in district 7 and Warren Jones in district 5.

Not only has Gary Chartrand donated the maximum personally but he has also done so through his LLC's Chartair Holdings and Unreasonable Leadership a web site set up to sell his book.

Weaver in addition to his donations has given through DAR Investments and WDW Aviation.

As far as I can tell this is perfectly legal but at the same time isn't it unethical and fly in the face of American Values?

Elections shouldn't be won with money, they should be won with ideas, Chartrand and Weaver who unlike most can already afford to donate the maximum are now looking to further stack the deck and that's just plain wrong.

Vitti, but I really, really, really want it!

Oy vey from the I can't make this up file and the Times Union:

He (Vitti) also wants to move the boys school from its existing location, at Butler Middle School, to Northwestern so the Young Women’s Leadership Academy can grow at Butler.
Board member Paula Wright pointed out that a working group and a parent forum at Northwestern Middle indicated they did not want the single-gender approach at Northwestern. Her district includes Northwestern.
The parent and community group supported instead having a career and vocational focus, with elective courses pointing students to career courses at A. Philip Randolph or Andrew Jackson High schools, Wright said.
The school also would keep its accelerated program for advanced students.
Vitti proposed incorporating both ideas: the career option and the single gender option.
Board chairwoman Ashley Smith Juarez said she believes it is disrespectful to the parents and the working group to come back to them with the same proposal that some of them rejected several months ago.
Vitti pointed out that as superintendent he can make a proposal and present it to the community, while seeking their input.
I can hear it now, but i really, really want it guys, come on.
Smith Juarez broke ranks from Shine and Grimes who would support the superintendent even if he stood in Times Square and shot somebody.  

Two things I want to point out, first the parents already said no, and Vitti said I don't care and second Butler was a D school, there is absolutely no evidence saying it will be successful going forward, why can't we collect a little data before we blow up another community? Is that to much to ask?

This whole episode reminds of the two times now that he has threatened to take legal action if he didn't get his way.

Oy vey

Teachers ignored again or the absurdity of Duval County

Another year yet another reading program.

When discussing the implementation of yet another reading program, Becki Couch, Paula Wright and Connie Hall, the three educators on the board dissented while the non educators on the board, Shine, Smith-Juarez and Grimes sided with Superintendent Vitti who quite frankly has very limited actual teaching experience himself.

From the Times Union

One of three board members voting against it, Constance Hall, said she couldn’t approve it because she was “heartbroken” and losing sleep over a lack of progress in closing achievement gaps. She said black and Hispanic students remain far behind their white and Asian peers, especially in reading.
“We’re in the emergency room and we need help,” she said.
In a weird way its refreshing that the actual educators on the board were ignored because it just goes to show it's not just the districts teachers who go ignored. Heck it doesn't matter how high up the ladder you get apparently. 
This just isn't a Duval problem it is a disturbing trend across the nation as those people that do it or have done it are ignored for the favor of others. 
From the Washington Post:
In America, however, many people believe the old adage, “If you can’t do, teach.” Even when well-meaning people say to the educators they meet, “Oh, I could never do what you do, and good for you for following your calling,” they are perpetuating the narrative that teaching is not a skillful profession full of experts in their fields, but rather a service teachers render to better society out of the goodness of their hearts. It is difficult to imagine someone telling a pilot, “Good for you for following your calling.”
Immediately after returning from Finland, I attended a national conference on education policy with other teachers where we would interact with governors, education commissioners, university leaders, and legislators from each state as well as members of the U.S. Department of Education. Upon arrival, I and many of my fellow teachers, initially felt empowered. We were trusted and respected and had been given a seat at the table.
But as the conference progressed, many of us felt like only bystanders of education policy. One of my most respected colleagues said after the first day, “I just feel so out of place. I don’t think these policymakers want to hear what I have to say about education policy.”
Her comment struck me because how could a strong, effective classroom practitioner feel as if the decisions made about education at the highest level were beyond her realm of expertise? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? If I want to know how to best fly a plane, I will not ask the air traffic controllers or CEO of the airline. I will ask the pilot. It is difficult to imagine an airline conference where the pilots seem insignificant to the process of flying planes.
I have said it a thousand times now, we will never reach our potential as a district as long as we continue to ignore and marginalize, teachers, the people doing the actual job.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Warren Jones completely contradicts himself in the district 5 forum

I am not going to lie, it would have taken a lot for Warren Jones to have won me over during the district 5 forum.

He has taken tens of thousands of dollars from Gary Chartrand and his friends who are seeking to privatize public education and who don't think teachers are professionals.

Then he is a recycled politician. He spent 28 years on the city council and now thinks, hmm I will give the school board a try.

Finally what has he done and where has he been in regards to education? This was a question he didn't really answer at the Forum though he did say he watched most school board meetings from home a statement I found a little dubious.

So to say he had a big lift to get me is no understatement. Here is the crazy thing when I left I actually felt like he was even less suitable for the board than I already did and a lot had to do with his closing remarks.

After fawning over Teach for America and more on that to come, he said our kids in district 5 need to have professional teachers in front of them. Well Mr. Jones what is it, do our children need professional teachers or is TFA the best thing since sliced bread because you can't have it both ways.

At the end of the day he seemed like a nice elderly gentlemen who was both running for the wrong reasons and way out of his depth.

It just showed me that he was wiling to go in any direction he thought the wind was blowing and, that he really doesn't understand what is happening in our schools.

District 5 you have an important choice to make over the next couple weeks and Jones would be a poor one..

The district 5 debate brought to you by Gary Chartrand and Friends.

I am surprised they didn't wear NASCAR style patches or drop a huge portrait of him from the rafters.

The Forum was put on by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and the other organizations they tricked. In theory it was also supposed to be impartial but how could it be seeing how JPEFs founder and other board members have endorsed and financially supported Warren "I am looking for another line on my resume, thanks for the idea Tommy Hazouri" Jones.

It gets even worse though as the forum was emceed by Lindsey Kilbride of WJCT and who funds WJCT's education coverage, come on, say it with me, Gary Chartrand.

Now here is the thing being a moderator is probably not an easy gig and I think she did a yeoman's job, though it would be remiss of me not to say I wish somebody a little more seasoned would have asked tougher questions and how about the occasional follow up question as well. Some of the answers the candidates gave screamed for a "um what?!?"

And did we really need the "what superpower would you have if you could have one" and "name one thing on your bucket list" questions? For goodness sake we had an hour and a half and that's including all the rambling on that some of the candidates did.

From the location that I am sure dozens couldn't find, I barely could, to the lack of advertising to the sometimes ridiculous questions and the lack of follow up, the Forum was far from what the people of district 5 deserved.  

Finally I don't think Chartrand is in some legion of doom like super villain base plotting the end of public education, He doesn't need to do that. Instead all he has to do is have his pet organization trick some other groups into not endorsing and set up a few lackluster forums and then have him and his friends give their hand picked candidate thousands of dollars, because that plan has worked before.