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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Teachers, do you ever hate your job and it has nothing to do with the kids? (rough draft)

I hear that all the time, and where I think we would all agree we would like to make more, what I never hear about is our salaries either, most times it's the actions of other adults that make teachers feel that way. In my case it's district staff and the administration, who are telling me to do things they never had to nor will ever have to do, greatly increasing my work load and they are doing so with a smile and without an explanation . 

Let me tell you what is going on with me.

I work at a center school just for profoundly intellectually disabled children, well except for the few violent kids they sprinkle in because they don’t know what to do with them.

Well they want us to start using this new software to collect daily data on the students IEP goals. ESE students have what are called individual education plans that have goals students are supposed to be working on.

Now we have been collecting data on goals for I guess forever, but they want us to use this new system, Dsctop.

It seems like a nightmare, which is only backed up by the service providers (speech pathologists, Occupational therapists, etc) who I have spoken to who have been required to use it for the last few years, which have said it ranges from, nightmare to soul crushing.

Now I went to the union which has been very attentive and after they talked to the district they seemed very confused. Chris, they said, the district reports it being very easy to do, after the initial set up, which they admit can be a lengthy process, it should only take five minutes a day.

Oh, did I mention when I asked the service providers how long it took them to daily input their data, they invariably said, an hour. Now we will have different goals to enter, but I have eleven kids on my caseload all of which have at least 5 goals.

Here is the thing too, this is the beginning of the year. What am I going to do when IEP writing season starts, or testing season starts (my kids are give their tests individual and learning literally grinds to a halt for weeks, or addendum ESY season starts because the district can't tell us when ESY is. Times when I barely have enough time in the day to think let alone teach.

I pointed out that I believe ordering teachers through fiat violates the teacher contract in many ways. It adds new paper work, it forces us to create a data notebook, it wasn’t brought to the union, and I must say I think the district was straight up lying about how long it’s going to take (I could be wrong) which greatly increases my workload. One service provider said to me when I asked about the difference between what they did (an hour a day on dsktop) and what the district said we would be doing (5-10 minutes) and  they said, well they don’t have to do it, so they probably don't have a clue.

Isn’t that always how it is too? People who don’t have to do it, telling those that do how easy it is?
So yesterday I was told by my administration I wasn’t a team player, when it got back to them that I told the union teachers (I am the union rep at my school), I had no plans to do Dsktop, until the union got back to me. I pointed out that in this instance the teachers needed a zealous advocate more than a team player. 

Then today on the way out the door, the staff received an email saying, we are undoubtedly going to do Dsktop, and to hell with my and others concerns, okay that last part was just implied not said.

So, I came home with tears in my eyes feeling overwhelmed and its not even the end of week three, and not because of anything my kids did, but because of what adults, adults who are telling me to do things they won’t have to do, did.

When will the powers that be realize that if they continue to violate the contract, put yokes on the backs of teachers and make them hate their jobs, there will be significant repercussions, when will they care?

It certainly wasn't today.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Times Union's disappointing reporting about KIPP

These are facts

Gary Chartrand gave mayor Lenny Curry and pacs supporting him, buckets of money

Lenny Curry had the Jacksonville Children's Commission, change it's rules to send buckets of money to Chartrand's KIPP school.

They did so at the expense of poor children at other schools on the North and West sides of town.

The KIPP school is loaded, and I know, I have seen their filings.

Finally I had to read the article three times to catch it but we aren't paying for an extended day program at the KIPP school we are paying so their school day can be longer. That's messed up as up to now the money had just gone for extended day programs. 

In the Times Union's article they didn't mention the first two things and I know they know them because I have told them several times since the spring.

From the Times Union:

KIPP’s after-school funding, in addition to the shakeup in the way the children’s commission awarded funding this year, caused fear among parents and after-school providers that some 16 locations would get no money this year, said Warren Jones, a School Board member whose district includes many of those after-school sites.

WTF Jacksonville, this is how banana republics are run.

Does Trey Csar believe teachers are professionals? And why you should care

Who is Trey Csar? He is the president of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and among other partnerships with the district most notably the administration of the Quality education for All funds, they are running the Teacher of the Year awards.

I had the following email exchange with him and I will let you be the judge. Mr. Csar is in bold


I had this message in my inbox after I wrote a piece about the upcoming teacher of the year events.

 When I worked with Trey, he said that he thought that teaching probably should NOT be a profession but a job that people do for a while and then move on.
He seriously believes that the TFA model should be the national norm!

I think the source is pretty credible so I am going to write about it, but I thought I would give you a chance to refute, explain, give context  if you want.


Chris --

Thanks for reaching out. I think your source is misunderstanding the context of what we've started to talk about relating to the teaching profession and the desires of an increasingly millennial workforce.

What we know from a ton of generational research (see this and this, among others) is that millennials are significantly more likely to change jobs, and even careers, and to do so more frequently than their peers in other generations. When you put that up against the traditional view of a classroom teacher, who spends the majority, if not all, of their career in that role, there is clearly a mismatch.

Across the country, districts need to be asking themselves what they can do to create opportunities for teachers to customize their careers in ways that allow them to have additional impact, and gain additional professional respect and compensation. We also have to be proactive in thinking about the impact of a workforce where the average tenure is likely to continue to get shorter, including additional professional development and recruiting costs, and whether districts and states should explore changing compensation systems to increase early-career pay (and retirement benefits) to be more competitive in recruiting talent.

If we as a society don't address this, and soon, we're going to continue facing the quality teacher shortages we've been seeing grow in recent years.

At JPEF, we have been exploring, with teachers, how such a "career lattice" could be structured that allows for great teachers to keep one foot in the classroom, teaching a reduced class load, while also contributing to the needs of their school and district in news ways, such as coaching new teachers, writing curriculum, and the like.

We don't have all the answers, that's for sure, but we're eager to continue that conversation with educators to see whether Duval County can find innovative ways to address these challenges.

Again, I appreciate you reaching out in advance to seek additional input and clarification. I'm eager to continue to conversation at any time. If any of your readers want to be part of these discussions, many of them happen as part of our Teacher Roundtable work, and folks can contact Zak Champagne at for information about how to get involved.

-- Trey

Thanks for getting back to me and where what you said is vastly different from what i was told and when I went back to them they were more than a little incredulous, I will take your word for it, sometimes misunderstandings occur. Just so I am clear though you are not for using the TFA model as a national model and you want to help find solutions to get teachers to stay longer such as having them do other things besides teach.

This is what always baffles me about the ed reform movement, they never say, you know what we have to pay teachers more, a lot more, sure they try merit pay schemes every once in a while and like the QEAs has they ultimately fail or are patently ridiculous like the best and brightest but raising salaries has never really been on the table, especially here in Florida.

Then they never say, also lets make classes smaller, a lot smaller because that has evidence it works, no, here in Florida when the citizens demanded it, the legislature gutted it.

Also they never say, lets take some pressure off teachers, lighten their work loads, give them more resources, lets back them up with discipline or you know common sense things that teachers have been begging and clamoring for.

It seems like your solution is, hey let a few write curriculum, be coaches or move to administration, which seems like only a small percentage of teachers could do. there are only so many AP and coach positions available. To professional teachers that's not a solution and spoiler alert no veteran wants a 27 year old AP or coach with three or four years experience telling them what to do or critiquing them.

So can I use what you sent me for a piece? I will send it to you for review before I put it up.

Thanks again

I didn't hear back from him so I figured I was good, but if I do I will let you know.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cheryl Grymes absent again

Mrs. Grymes has been absent from several very important school board meetings over the last few months leaving her district unrepresented and seeing how she leans that's probably a good thing.

My sources tell me her husband Warren Grymes is in hospice care and if they are right this is truly sad. Mr. Grymes just retired from Big Brothers and Big Sisters a few months back after years of notable and laudable service. His ill health is a tragedy not just for the Grymes family but the entire community.

Mr. Grymes and I sparred a few times but even though we didn't always see eye to eye I could just tell he was a good guy.

I think we should all offer the Grymes family our thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time.

If Mrs. Grymes needed to step away from her responsibilities as a board member I don't believe anyone would fault her.

Duval Joins HB 7069 law suit

It took us a while to get there but we finally did. Voting 4-2, Shines and Smith Juarez against and Grymes absent yet again, the school board voted to join ten other school boards/districts to join a lawsuit against the disastrous HB 7069.

From the Times Union:

The law known as House Bill 7069 contain a number of measures that lawyers for school district’s around the state say are unconstitutional and will hurt school districts but benefit charter schools.

The biggest legal target is the new law’s so-called “schools of hope” measure, which sets aside more than $100 million to create charter schools in areas near D- or F-rated public schools. Some of those schools will be forced to close by other sections of state law.
Opponents of the law removes most of what little oversight school districts have over charter schools, which are privately run public schools. Duval County has 31 charter schools.
The schools of hope provision would divert local tax revenues districts receive for school capital improvements to charter schools. Duval officials estimate they’ll lose at least $16 million in school improvement dollars over five years.
The law also absolves schools of hope from some local laws and allows the schools to employ uncertified teachers. It also appears some charter schools will be given a status similar to school districts and take more Title 1 federal money for poor schools, according to the analysis.
I want to personally thank the district and board members who voted to join the lawsuit. You showed bravery and leadership something that had been missing from the district.

Scott Shine shows a complete lack of leadership, while blogging

Let that bit of irony set in for a second.

When discussing HB 7069 instead of being a leader of our school system, he attempted to justify his complete lack of leadership and voted not support a lawsuit against the disastrous bill. He basically had a word salad full of reasons.

The best predictor of the future is the past

Shine says the lawsuit is a loser because in the past other lawsuits have failed. If we are looking at the past, we see that the Florida Legislature has been openly hostile towards public education and on balance public education has just gone along. If we're not going to push back now, then when? Shine would prefer us to wait until public education is irrevocably destroyed. 

Public schools need funding now

Shine says if we start a law suit then the legislature will be less willing to fund public education. Mr. Shine has apparently been vacationing in clueless land because the legislature has never properly funded public education. Furthermore Shine initially supported HB 7069 because he thought the legislature was going to add a hundred dollars in per pupil funding, unfortunately they ended up adding just 17 dollars. I think its safe to say, he's just guessing about what they may and may not do.

The concern of retaliation

This one made my head hurt. Tallahassee is like a bully that nobody stood up to and got more and more aggressive hence we are where we are at. Saying they might do something to further harm public education is like saying puppies are cute and the sky is blue, it's a foregone conclusion. We can take it or fight back because the truth is if Tallahassee cared about public education they wouldn't have passed HB 7069 in the first place.

Litigation as an option

Here he says we shouldn't bother because it takes time and we may lose. Well if we don't bother and if we don't take the time we definitely know what will happen. For profit companies will get more money without any oversight and our pubic schools will lose millions of dollars and be further hurt. I wonder if this is Shine's philosophy on everything, oh why take out the garbage, there will be just more tomorrow.

He finished with his worst and most pathetic reason of all.

The conflict of democracy

Basically he says, because people who were elected passed the bill it must be what people want. A few weeks back he said many of the people who voted for it were ignorant, they didn't know what was in it, and gutless, they were afraid of Richard Corcoran, now he is changing his tune. The people of district 2 elected him to be a zealous advocate for our schools and they as sure as heck didn't get what they expected, I would guess that is the case in Tallahassee as well. 

Scott Shine showed a complete lack of leadership but sadly nothing is new there and then tried to justify it with ridiculous and specious reasoning.

District 2, you have to do better.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

So that happened at school, teacher of the year addition

We had a hastily called Shared Decision Making Meeting today to discuss Teacher of the Year nominations, because the results have to be in by September First, um what??? Yeah for some reason the district wants to have each schools nominations in a week from Friday so there is an abridged and rushed selection process. At my school we are going to give people one day and a smidge more to get their picks in. I guess it sucks to be one of the dozen or so new staff members, who are still looking for the teachers lounge.

So there at the top of the three page selection document was a logo for the Jacksonville Pubic Education Fund, which for some inexplicable reason has been allowed to co op the Teacher of the year awards.

I and in all fairness was about five minutes late said, let me throw out a crazy idea, and please feel free to vote it down.

I had the groups attention, so I continued. I said, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund was founded by a man named Gary Chartrand, he is anti-teacher, saying it's good that teachers are now on one year contracts and don't have job protections and is pro charter school. JPEF is not pro public school/ teacher organization, why don't we send them a signal we are not going to put up with it and say we won't participate.

Yeah, i knew it was a long shot, and to be honest not knowing what the meeting was about before I arrived, just thought about it on the fly but I thought it important enough that we spend a few minutes talking about it, and right then and there, the Shared Decision Making Committee Meeting  became the Assistant Principal Decision Making Meeting and i was summarily dismissed. I thought to myself, why am I here again and didn't say another word.

Yeah, that was annoying but what is far more annoying is the District has outsourced its teacher of the year awards, to a group that is pro charter school, pro privatization, which pushes Teach for America and whose founder, is an enemy to teachers everywhere. Sorry that's not just annoying, that's heartbreaking.

Now I think teachers should be recognized, why doesn't the district recognize 20 or so a week? Each region could have one representing each level, and electives and ESE too, we certainly have enough great teachers that this is more than possible.

Throwing them a few hundred extra dollars is what the QEA money should have went to fund instead of its doomed to fail merit pay scheme.

for the record I am not against Teacher of the Year awards, I just wish a group that was pro public education and really pro teacher was in charge of it.

So that happened today. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

About that new paper work your principal wants you to do.

Don’t do it, unless it has been approved the right way.

New paperwork must go through your shared decision-making committee and principals must give teachers input.

Every department should be represented at SDMC meetings and then those representatives should take any new proposals back to their departments.

Your principal cannot just give you more forms to fill out because in their infinite wisdom they think it will help. Principals’ are supposed to be instructional leaders, not instructional tyrants who rule by fiat.

From the contract:

1. Identification of Forms - The district and DTU have collaboratively identified those workload documents/forms which shall be required for use by all districts for 2015-2016. Only those district approved forms, which shall be identified and marked as DCPS forms and made available on the district’s official website, shall be required by teachers at any district school. The initial number of required forms shall not exceed twenty (20), inclusive al all elementary and secondary forms. No one level, elementary or secondary, shall have more than ten required forms. Other optional forms shall be provided but not required. Schools may utilize the waiver process to approve other forms on a school-wide basis.

2. Addition of Subsequent District Forms – Prior to approval of any additional required, DCPS forms, the district shall first consult with DTU and shall provide the rationale, authority (i.e. federal/state requirement, Pupil Progression Plan, etc.) and proposed method for training teachers in the use of the newly required form. DTU shall be provided a reasonable opportunity to provide input in the forms format prior to implementation.

3. Training – The parties shall jointly develop training for teachers and school–based administrators on the use and requirements of the approved forms prior to requiring teachers to implement them. Training shall occur at the district or school level during school hours at no additional complementation to teachers. Any training occurring after work hours or during the summer shall be voluntary and compensation shall be as negotiated by the parties.

Look we have some great principals who are going to do things the right way, but then we have some bullies masquerading as administrators too who are going to try and steam roll teachers too. Don’t let them.

Furthermore demand your union representatives make sure your schools do it the right way, that is why they are there.  

I get it, it can be scary to push back, especially for teachers on one-year contracts, but you can be a victim and most likely miserable or stand up for yourself.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Let's talk about hate

Sadly because of recent events it is all to topical.

We are doomed to repeat history if we don't know it. I wish our president would learn that lesson.
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Monday, August 14, 2017

It is past time to take a hard look at the KIPP school

Even Pam Stewart, the Education Commissioner knows they are full of well you know.

From Politico: State education Commissioner Pam Stewart, in a sardonic text exchange with a colleague, accused a prominent GOP donor who chairs a Jacksonville charter school chain of using misleading data to boast about students’ test scores, according to public records obtained by POLITICO 

Florida.Stewart said in a text message to a top saff member that the leaders of KIPP Jacksonville overstated the percentage of third graders who passed state reading exams. 

In the May 19 conversation, Stewart was critical of Gary Chartrand, a member and former chair of the state Board of Education who also heads the governing panel for KIPP's three Florida charter schools. Chartrand, executive chairman of Acosta Inc., a Jacksonville sales and marketing firm, is a reliable campaign donor to Republicans, including Gov. Rick Scott. 

In the texts, Stewart suggested Chartrand and the network’s executive director, Tom Majdanics, had been bragging that 41 percent of third graders at KIPP VOICE Elementary School passed this year’s reading tests, when the figure was actually 35 percent.

If they are lying, err exaggerating about this, what else are they exaggerating about?

And if that was just it, I could move along, but its not, here are some of their greatest hits.

They combined there two schools in order to avoid a bad grade after taking money in grants to establish a second school.

While on the state board of education benefactor Gary Chartrand had the rules changed so school grades could only drop one letter grade protecting his KIPP school from dropping from a miraculous B, one year after being the worst performing school in Northeast Florida, to a D. What I call the Chartrand rule, a rule the state has since got rid of allowed KIPP to only drop to a C.  

Then there is KIPP's wait list which they point to like it was the crown jewels. Well how legit is it?

First Duval performs no over site to charter school lotteries, read that gain.

Then in 2015 despite a supposedly huge wait list, they still hadn't reached their max enrollment

Also do they back fill or don't they back fill?

Then google "KIPP wait list" and problems nation wide come up.

We are not done yet though.

How about the KIPP grades which are more up and down that a yoyo and remember the district just combined their two schools to protect their elementary school from a bad grade. The grades of the middle school have been, C,C,D,B,D,B, and F

Hardly great when you factor in, selection bias, they have a lower percentage of free and reduced lunch than their neighbors, have longer school days, spend more money per pupil and could put actual requirements on parents.

Finally, I am troubled by Gary Chartrand, KIPP's founder giving money to politicians who in turn send wheel barrels full of cash to KIPP, then do his political bidding and his recent attempt to blackmail the district.

At the absolute very least, KIPP is not the model school that the Times Union's editorial board and the city's elite makes it out to be.

Also at the very least I have posed some legitimate questions and concerns.

Reason number 8 the Jacksonville Public Education Fund can't be trusted

They try and buy school board members.

Gary Chartrand founded it and his gang of mostly all white friends who set their children to private schools and never taught a day in their life run it.

Poppy Clements the current chair and her husband gave Scott Shine two grand last reporting period and Wayne Weaver known for selling women's shoes as well as owning an underachieving pro football team threw in another grand.

An organization created to assist our schools is a good thing, instead we have one that seeks to dismantle them and because they are backed by millionaires, the district all to often lets these wolves in the doors.

Anti teacher and pro privatization they and JPEF should be kept as far away from public education as humanly possible.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

District staff should fill openings until teachers can be found

I went to a nearly worthless six hour training this week, administered by several district staff. I thought to myself, if you are going to read a power point to me, why not just send it to me and not waste my and several hundred other teacher's time.

I don't know if these district staff could make it in the classroom, but it's time we found out.

We have about 175 openings. (Know anybody with a bachelor's degree, that needs a job?)

Dozens of which could be filled by district staff. Instead of telling us what to do, they could show us.

Though I guess more than a few might be to busy making power points.

Look undoubtedly we have a lot of great people working for the district, and now should be the time to show it.


I don't really give Kudos to people but I wanted to give one to my principal Micheal Alexander. Not only did he feed us three times but he kept meetings short and gave us lots of time to work in our rooms. I heard from dozens of teachers across the district about how little time they had to do so. The district should look at cutting down on meetings during pre planning and increasing time teachers can spend in their rooms or it should offer teachers a few paid days to work on their rooms before pre planning. Teachers should not have to work for free to get their rooms ready. 

Florida ties the hands and seeks to cripple our most vulnerable schools

The state of Florida isn't really even pretending it cares about our most vulnerable schools anymore. First it slashes the way title one funds are allocated causing them to lose resources and staff, then the state demanded districts get rid of hundreds of teachers just before the start of the school year, exacerbating their vacancy issues, and now just as school is starting the state is seeking to limit who can work at the schools. It's absolutely shameful what the state is doing.

This is from the state and please note when it was sent.

I wish all the kids at these schools could have veteran teachers with proven track records, but at the very least d you know what they need? A teacher. These schools are already hard to staff and the state just continues to make it harder and harder. Basically this memo is saying no new teachers and no veteran teachers willing to teach out of field, though who wants to be there is a Teach for America loophole hiding somewhere.

The kids at these schools deserve a chance. The communities these schools are in deserve a chance too. The state however is doing everything they can to stack the deck against them.

A memo like this should not exist, a memo like this sent to schools the Friday before kids report is education malpractice.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Surplussed teacher explains how the district is stopping them from finding a job

Sadly the district has not supported or explained what happened to several dozen teachers surplussed at the last minute.  It is absolutely true that the state put the district in a terrible position, unfortunately, the district decided to make it worse.

Below is an update from one of the teachers.


Friday 8/11/17 8:00 p.m. This update is from Mark Felt, one of the 35 surplussed teachers last Friday, one week ago. I've had an interesting week at my new, assigned school. I thought my experiences might help some of my colleagues, surplussed or not. Plus, comments added in response may help myself and many more teachers. 

Earlier this week, I interviewed at several schools with vacancies- after being told by someone in HR this was permissible. I interviewed twice in one day at an "A" school, and actually was offered the position. Near my home, a great principal and staff (met team during the second interview), thought this was a dream...well! The next day, hearing nothing, I called this wonderful person only to be told by the principal, Mr. Felt, something's happened and HR won't let me hire you. I called the same office- the one in our reassignment letter- only to be told, very brusquely I thought, that no sir "you absolutely cannot interview at this time. We'll tell you where your assignment is" when it's decided upon. And no, it won't be in 10 days, that's not what the letter says (which is correct). 

The 10-day period is as veteran teachers know, when each school's yearly budget is derived, using each school's attendance on this one day. This is what's used to determine how many teachers, staff, etc. to hire at each school. 

So this was deflating, to say the least, especially after the week I had at my newly "assigned" school. I'm assigned to a school with no openings and this is something else I told personnel when I called them. The spokesperson denied they would ever do that, again brusquely I thought. I said but I'm told that by the principal and they simply didn't believe me. So what, now I'm a liar? I didn't argue with them- as they weren't going to change their minds! 

So upon reflection- I had plenty of time to reflect today, spending hours performing meaningless tasks- that I'm in a Virtual Jail. Especially after a colleague told me today how a teacher at their school, transferred to a turnaround school. (Why? Must like working in a dangerous environment, administratively!) How can veterans transfer now; how can schools hire brand new teachers this week; how can I not accept an open position? It's simple: I'm in Virtual Jail, similar to the Virtual School. I think this is where they got the concept. I'm being punished for doing all I could at my old school, including structuring my class exactly as I was told to! I followed their instructions loyally and faithfully, and look at the appreciation I get in return- not to mention results, not that I've seen anything or heard anything yet. 

And I thought later today, if I don't get a class til say late September or early October, and we still use some version of a VAM: my kids will not be prepared as they haven't had a teacher all that time. Substitutes are no substitute for a full-time teacher! (Disclaimer, I was a substitute and I've had some very good substitute teachers.) So, 2 or 3 weeks later, when the October FTE window opens, all of a sudden now I'm responsible for this class! What if they don't perform well? It'll be my responsibility entirely. 

So to close, some veterans can transfer (probably because they put in for a voluntary surplus last May); new teachers can be hired- even into my "assigned" school, and I can't even apply for a position. At any other job, you can apply for an open position anytime- but not DCPS, and perhaps other districts. Why does a 10 year veteran not have seniority over a newly hired teacher? Because we're held in a special list of 35 at the DCPS Virtual Jail. (My fellow surplussees don't know this, because as far as I know they were assigned to schools WITH openings). Hey, I found the bright side: they let me out (on time!) every night to see my wife!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is Lenny Curry going to appoint Gary Chartrand to the Children's Commission? Ron Littlepage seems to think so.

Why buy a school board when you can buy a mayor?

Lenny Curry wants to reorganize the Jacksonville Children's Commission which recently gave an unprecedented amount of money to Chartrand's Kipp school, ahh heck, let me let Ron Littlepage say it.

From the Times Union:

Curry hasn’t said who the seven board members will be, but a hint can be found that they won’t have to be Duval County residents if “they have a substantial business interest in Duval County.” Hello, Ponte Vedra.

Hmm, from Ponte Vedra, why that is where Gary Chartrand lives.

We are watching our city be taken over by a millionaire ideologue who don't know what he is doing.

Chartrand is the villain of the story.

Duval County Public Schools says, "we were just following orders" with the last minute surpluses

Actually they haven't said anything despite the Times Union reporting they would address the matter, which is very disappointing.

I did receive this, a letter from the superintendent to the school board.

Board Members,

Per FAC 6A-1.099811, the district is required to submit Turnaround Option Plans (“TOP plans”) for eight schools:  Northwestern MS, Matthew Gilbert MS, Arlington MS, Lake Forest ES, Ramona ES, Arlington Heights ES, George Washington Carver ES, and Gregory Drive ES.  Wayne Greene, the Lead Regional Executive Director for Differentiated Accountability met with Mason Davis and Carolyn Davis yesterday as part of FDOE’s monitoring of schools required to submit TOP plans.  Also on yesterday, the FDOE released 2016-2017 raw VAM data to school districts which we are being required to use to review teacher performance at these schools.  The sole concern shared by Mr. Green at yesterday’s meeting is the district’s compliance with the mandatory reassignment of any teacher in these schools with 2016-17 raw VAM data in the unsatisfactory range.  This requirement affects 35 teachers at the following schools: 

Elementary Schools
Middle Schools
Arlington Heights (1)
Arlington (12)
George Washington Carver (2)
Matthew Gilbert (3)
Gregory Drive (6)
Northwestern (5)
Lake Forest (3)

Ramona Boulevard (3)

Human Resources staff are in the process of notifying teachers of their reassignments, having notified DTU of this requirement earlier today.  Unfortunately, due to the late notice of this requirement by FLDOE, we anticipate that these schools may open with higher than desirable vacancies.  At this late stage, open contract and surplus candidates have already been placed for the upcoming year.  Staffing supervisors will work with each school to assist with the identification and screening of candidates and are aware of the urgency to find and staff quality candidates in these schools.

We understand the department’s role in monitoring these schools and agree that teacher performance should be at least one factor for review.  Currently, no other evaluative factors are being considered as part of the reassignment.  Failure to comply with the reassignment requests immediately would likely jeopardize FLDOE’s approval of our required monitoring plans and potentially eliminate us from funding consideration.  We have made these changes as directed to ensure we do not compromise the much needed funding that is potentially available to further support these schools

Dr. Patricia S. Willis,
Duval County Public Schools

Schools will open with higher than usual vacancies, ya think?

They agree that teacher performance should be at least one factor for review, does this mean they support the use of VAM scores?

Where is the part where they fought for these teachers and told the state how losing them at this late date would hurt the schools? Did they put up a fight? Any resistance? You sure as heck can't tell from the email above and the district's silence on the issue has been deafening.

One of the reasons the state can make these harmful and ridiculous requests is because the district just shrugs its shoulders and goes, okay.

I figured the state in their zeal to harm public schools put Duval in this dreadful position, the state is reprehensible, but why does Duval take a bad situation and make it worse? Just following orders, is never the right answer.

Lenny Curry is just like Vitti, wants to cut libraries

Why buy a school board when you can just buy a mayor. Gary Chartrand probably thought to himself just before he started cutting checks to Lenny Curry.

Lenny Curry has not only steered unprecedented amounts of public money towards Chartrand's KIPP charter school but he also said he wants to be like the super that Chartrand brought to town, Nikolai Vitti and as Curry seeks to cut library funding he is off to a good start.  

I went to a training at Ed White on Wednesday and part of it was in the library, or what used to the library, now there is just a dusty corner with a few books that are of course out of order. This is Viti's legacy.

Vitti, despite being in charge of a district with a reading problem neither appreciated nor understood the importance of books, libraries and librarians and now Curry is following in his footsteps. 


Supporters of Jacksonville libraries are asking City Council to increase their budget against the recommendation of Mayor Lenny Curry.
Curry’s proposing a $500,000 cut from last year’s budget of $3.4 million. 
The library’s materials budget — money for books, e-books and online databases — has seen a precipitous decline since 2005, when funds from the Better Jacksonville Plan helped create the Main Library on Laura Street downtown.
That year, city libraries spent $5.3 million on materials. This year, Curry’s proposing just over half that — $2.9 million.
Ed Zoller, who sits on the Friends of the Jacksonville Library board, said they’ve never really recovered from shrinking federal and local funds after the recession.
“When you adjust for current costs and inflation, that $5.3 million in 2005 was actually the equivalent of nearly $6.4 million. So, when you look at that $2.9 million that’s in the mayor’s budget, that’s a 56 percent decrease,” he said.
I get it, libraries aren't important to Curry but the thing is they are important for our community, especially for those parts that may not have been as successful as Curry or Vitti. Curry is being shortsighted to say the least.
Like we deserved a superintendent who appreciated books, librarians and libraries, we deserve a mayor that does as well.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Lenny Curry's chilling words, he wants to be just like Vitti

From Florida Politics

On the matter of policy, Curry said priorities were education, public safety, and children’s issues.
“Education isn’t under our purview,” Curry said, but he is looking to influence the process going forward, and follow on the reform vision of Nikolai Vitti.
Oy vey I just spit out my milk there. What Curry said was very chilling.
First this is the same Vitti who left us in a budget mess that Curry has publicly complained about but hey whats 21 million missing dollars. 
Vitti is also the same guy that left teacher morale in ruins and while running a district with a reading problem got rid of most of our books and librarians, but hey Curry wants to emulate him  
Curry's other big education idols are Jason Fischer, the only candidate Curry endorsed last cycle who quit the school board and who has championed legislation that will hurt our schools, and Gary Chartrand who pulls both Curry and Fischer's strings.
Curry just directed at the expense of other schools the JCC to give Chartrand's KIPP school hundreds of thousands of dollars for an after school program which dwarfs all others.   
I said it before why should Chartrand buy a school board when he can just buy a mayor.
The last thing we need is Curry who is apparently a huge hypocrite as well as being bought off by Chartrand meddling in our schools.
Get ready for the mayor to try and take over the schools, which would be an unprecedented disaster.
These are troubling times.

The state of Florida is setting up our most vulnerable schools to be taken over by charters.

Have you heard the phrase, first, do no harm? It's part of the Hippocratic oath that doctors take.

I feel like the people at Florida Department of Education take an oath too. It is, screw the poor schools over so they can be turned into charter schools.

Exhibit one, in Duval County and also all over the state the FLDOE demanded our most vulnerable schools get rid of teachers just hours before they were supposed to report because they had low VAM scores, a measurement that is largely reviled and even being phased out.

The late date makes finding new and qualified hires extremely difficult. Districts were not given weeks or months to make the changes but hours.

How are schools that are already hard to staff going to be able to fill these unexpected losses in time? The answer is they aren't and the FLDOE has to know that and they just don't care.

Then because of changes to the way title I money is doled out and can be used our poorer schools have lost resources and flexibility. The money for extra positions like interventionists, who give our most vulnerable children extra one on one or small group instruction or have dried up.

Kids at these schools often arrive many grade levels behind and only so much can be done during class. They need that extra help and support and now the state is making sure they won't be able to get it.

But it's worse than that as these schools are also having their field trips limited and worse their access to resource teachers limited as well as the money for these small school just through FTE isn't there. These things help keep kids engaged and going on those long days, help with discipline and allow teachers to plan and meet. Their value is immeasurable and their loss is unrecoverable from and if you live on the poor side of town or attend a small school, you probably went from having a music teacher and an art teacher to having half of one.

It is not, the state seems to be setting schools up to fail, it is, the state is definitely setting schools up to fail.

It's shameful.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Jason Fischer calls for an audit of a budget he helped craft and supported.

Represenative Jason Fischer has called for an audit of the Duval County School board finances after it was reported they spent 21 million more than they planned too. If this isn’t the height of hypocrisy I don’t know what is.

Fischer gave Superintendent Vitti who was in charge of the budget day to day  his highest marks on effective and efficient usage of district resources, including long term goals- 4/4 when they did his last evaluation. Couch rated Vitti 1.5, Hall rated 2, Smith-Juarez 2, Wright 2, Even Shine only gave him a 2! Then when developing the budget, Fischer attended the Budget workshops in February, March, April, and June before resigning on June 19th. This is the budget he is crying about. 

The real reason he is doing so is because the board is talking about joining the law suit that pushes back against House Bill 7069 which would benefit charter schools who along with their supporters have given Fischer tens of thousands of dollars. 

Fischer doesn’t care about our schools, he quit the board before his term was up, or our children because he backs a law that will siphon millions form their schools. Now he seeks to bully our elected representatives.  This can't be what the people who elected him to the house voted for. 

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher 

At this point it's hard to believe anything Jason Fischer says.

This guy is honestly terrible. I don't know if it is that his decisions are based on who gives him money or that he thinks his constituents are dumb or both.

Anyhoo, here goes.

As I pointed out while on the school board he had no problem how the money was spent and even said Superintendent Vitti was the best with managing money, fast forward to the district pushing back against legislation that benefits his donors and all of a sudden he calls for an audit.

From the Times Union:

  “They decided they’re not going to do an audit. They even rejected the use of the word audit,” Fischer said. “The chairman (Wright) told the public that they took a vote to do a forensic audit when that never happened. I’m having a hard time trusting what she says at this point.”

A hard time trusting anything she says, oh wow, oy vey.

This from the guy who quit the school board.

This from the guy who went around telling people he was in the Navy until he was called out on it.

This from the guy who takes money from charters and tries to hurt the public schools that the vast amount of his constituents with children send their kids to.

This from the guy who was all about the budget before he wasn't.

He is the one by far, that people should have a hard time believing

Surplussed teacher gives update, HR has yet to contact them.

This is an update from the teacher released at 4:42 p.m. 

I went to two job interviews but was not offered a position. Now I report to my school temporarily, as they have no openings. 

Tomorrow, Wednesday I'll report to do what I don't know. The principal is very nice and open with me, which I appreciate. They've told me I'll have a small class of elementary students til the 10 day count. Then, after Labor Day, I'll be assigned a school somewhere. 

As veteran teachers know, this is NOT desirable. By then students in that class will be totally out of control, probably having run off a number of substitute teachers, and generally having the run of the class. This is a fact, not cynicism and applies to elementary students and older students. 

I'll obviously work late just to get the room set up; and probably the professional development classes I went to this summer were for naught...Oh well! Like they told me, AT LEAST I HAVE A JOB. 

And why hasn't HR contacted any of us? It would be nice to think they're collaborating with me! After all, I collaborate- who can teach effectively without collaboration? They could make me feel like a person again- not a loser or worthless. Whoops, didn't mean to let that slip out.

A parent sticks up for teachers at schools that had surprise surpluses. The district should have too.

Teaching is not an easy gig, and each school faces unique problems and challenges, that being said, teachers at our poorest schools go through a lot and that isn't including the potential of being unceremoniously dumped days before they are supposed to report.   

From a parent

These are the things that the teachers at a school that lost 7 teachers has told me about the kids at her school: 

Their classroom roll call changes monthly, generally around the 1st or the 15th, when rent's are due and families relocate quickly. 

Many keep a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread in their desk because of the kids who are sent to school without having had breakfast. 

They have kids who don't get a good night sleep because they get woken up when their parent picks them up from the friend or relative who watches them while the parent is working. 

They have to run to lost and found to find a coat for a child who was sent to school on a freezing cold day wearing shorts and a tank shirt! 

Parents rarely show up for conferences. Yet, somehow, when these kids perform poorly on tests, it is the fault of the teacher????

Now it's going to the fault of the state who demanded their removal days before they were supposed to report and the district who didn't fight for them and let it happen. We have a lot of problems in education, not even on the list is the teachers who were unceremoniously surplussed days before they were supposed to report. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Dominoes start to fall at the schools that had last minute surpluses

Those teachers that remained behind at the schools most hard hit by the unexpected state mandated surpluses are also facing major problems.

Some teachers at these schools have been uprooted and given new teaching assignments to help fill the voids of their missing colleagues. Imagine thinking you were going to teach second grade all summer and putting in the effort to get ready and then on the first day of planning, just a week before kids are to arrive you learn you are suddenly going to be switched to a higher grade? I know I would feel like I was being set up to fail.

Furthermore these kids are going to have to go somewhere and as the state has gutted the class size amendment over the years, I think it is safe to say classes are going to be a little bigger.

What about morale? It's important. teachers that feel valued and supported are going to do a better job than those that don't. It's apparent we have been reduced to little more than replaceable, or not, who cares, cogs.

Then who is going to want to work at these schools after seeing how shoddily the staffs have been treated. These schools were already having a difficult time filing vacancies and in some cases keeping staff, these last second surpluses exacerbate their problems.

Two last things, still nothing from the district, no explanation, no defense, nothing, at this point it feels like they are hoping to just ignore what happened and hope it fades from the next news cycle, which is disappointing. They need to shine a light on how the state works and then redouble their efforts at repairing teacher moral.

Then the media, these teachers may have had bad VAM scores, but nobody knows because nobody has seen them, but that doesn't make them bad teachers by any stretch of the imagination and I don't think the media has done a very good job of explaining it.

I will say it again, the state dealt the district a bad hand, but for some reason the district made it worse and I don't believe we will ever reach our potential if our leadership thinks it is okay to treat teachers this way.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Why is there radio silence over the surpluses from the district?

I sent the following letter to the superintendent and the school board, well the ones that don't threaten to sue me and call me a parasite that is.


Numerous teachers reached out to me over the weekend to say they were unexpectedly surplused late Friday afternoon.

I have no doubt that the state did the district no favors but it also seems like the district took a bad and uncomfortable situation and made it much worse.

One teacher told me they were given just a two-minute phone call and another told me the person said, well a least you have a job. Another teacher went to visit the principal at the school they were just assigned to and they initially said, they had no idea what they were talking about but then later said, we will find something for you to do. I don’t believe this is how we should treat teachers.

As terrible as this is, I think it is also an opportunity to let people know just how the state operates and how quite often it hurts children. I have no doubt they could have given you any directive weeks ago when solutions could more readily be found. Them waiting till now is unacceptable.

The people of Jacksonville need to know what the state is forcing you to do. I believe people will be outraged at the harm this is going to do to some of our most vulnerable schools and it should be asked if his is political payback for talking about joining the HB 7060 lawsuit, something I and many believe you should join. I would encourage you to meet with as much as the media as you can and explain to them how bad this is for the teachers and schools effected.

The mayor, the governor and the Duval delegation should also be contacted and where I imagine some may have no sympathy at least you can get their responses on the record and if they support these terrible last-minute changes then let people know and hopefully during their next elections there will be a consequence.   

Finally, if you can’t rescind the surpluses/stand up to the state, or you get no relief from our elected state officials, I sincerely hope you have a do over with these teachers who had their lives throw into chaos and reach out to them and make their transitions as smooth and painless as possible, they deserve it.

As critical as I have been over the years, I think we have amazing potential, but I believe we will never meet it, if we think it is okay to treat teachers the way these teachers were treated.

Thank you

Chris Guerrieri