Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Florida punishes public schools while giving private schools that take public money get a pass.

Becki Couch, school board member Duval County public schools, pointed out a few weeks back that when the state raises the FSA concordant math scores, more kids will fail and graduation rates will go down, but the same kid who would have failed could go to a private school on a voucher that doesn't have a recognized curriculum or certified teachers and never have to take a standardized test and graduate. She then asked, how is this fair?

Well it's not and where last week they came for public school students, this week they came for the public school teachers.

I teach life skills to post grads at a center school for profoundly disabled children and adults, since the post grads can stay in school until they are 22.

Today I was informed that the state was changing the certification requirements for ESE teachers. It used to be that ESE k-12 was good enough to teach, Now they want all the ESE teachers to get certified in K-6 as well. This itself is a change because a few years back in addition to my ESE cert I had to get certified in middle school science as well. Why? I taught ESE science at a comprehensive high school and because the state often makes up things as they go among.   

Okay, the state wants teachers to get more certifications but here is the problem, teachers at private schools that take public money don't have to be certified in anything, they don't have to have degrees and heck they can even be felons.

From the Orlando Sentinel: 

Last year, the Orlando Sentinel exposed scandals, violations and gaffes galore at voucher schools in this state.
There were teachers without degrees, schools caught falsifying safety reports, schools run by people accused of crimes and schools that were such financial messes they were evicted from their campuses in the middle of the school year.
Demonize public schools all you want. There won’t be a day when you take your kid to an Orange County school only to find the school is no longer there.
It was a culture of dereliction at private schools funded with public resources.
And now the Sentinel has found more problems.
As reporters Annie Martin and Leslie Postal reported Sunday, Florida’s voucher schools are also hiring convicted felons — some of whom are supposed to be barred from teaching under state law.
Florida's mantra is, tear down, burden, kneecap, harass and harm public school teachers and schools in every way we can while we let private schools do whatever the %$#& they want.
Friends is this what you voted for, the destruction of public education? Well if not stop voting for people whose goal is to tear down public education, while quite often profiting themselves.
Come on Florida, we can, should, and have to do better.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Scott Shine is a quitter and be careful what you wish for.

I can think of one good thing Mr. Shine has done on the board and that is announce he is quitting his bid to get reelected but it makes me that much more angry because back in 2014 there were two great  candidates who I think would have made fine board members, Shannon Russel and Samuel Hall, but they didn't have the name recognition or money that Shine did, who I believe would have both contributed and wouldn't be quitting now.

Scott Shine wrote a letter explaining why he quit where it seems like he stopped just short of professing his love for Superintendent Vitti. If you want to read it click the link.

This however brings me to, be careful what you wish for, as somebody has already gotten into the race, a gentlemen who seems to have plenty of cash but little else when it comes to education, Nick Howland.

Now there isn't a lot out there about him, though you can check out his linked in page.

Notice anything? Like a distinct lack of education knowledge?

Why does district 2 keep trying to send us these business guys? Shouldn't we at least have a member of the PTA?

Look this Howland guy could be the bees knees but with the limited information I have, I am not impressed and he appears to be more of the same, just some rich guy who won't know what he is doing but who sees a shot at being elected and is taking it.

District 2, we need somebody who is invested and cares about our schools to run, I know you are there, it is time to step up.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Superintendent search, focus group members

I have to say I don't like seeing a name or their designee in two spots. Somebody should be willing to come or not and I wish the group skewed more DCPS teachers and parents too. That being said it is what it is. In the next few days I will google the names I don't know.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Elections have consequences in Florida, education pays a terrible price

Here are some facts, the republican dominated Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott passed a budget which only allocated an extra forty-seven cents per student or less than the cost of a stamp and as a result of this districts all across the state are having to make horrific cuts to programs.

These are the cuts Duval is proposing to make up a sixty-two million shortfall. 

From the Times Union:
Duval will likely cut the number of reading coaches and academic specialists it sends to schools, as well as the number of assistant principals working at smaller schools and deans in middle and high school schools, Willis said.
Many music, art and physical education teachers will work part-time at two schools instead of full-time at one, she said. Also 34 small elementary schools will share an assistant principal.
There likely will be cuts in athletics, grounds maintenance, math competitions and Junior Achievement. Schools will wait a year longer to replace band uniforms, and only grades 3 through 5 and 6 through 8 will likely get new science text books instead of all grades.
The middle school class schedules will change from four long classes a day to seven shorter classes. The core subjects will be taught every day instead of every other day.
The board is still discussing and ranking other budget-cutting suggestions, such as revising the way the district allocates teachers to each school and cutting some teacher training, Willis said.
I am on record saying we should cut magnet school transportation and extracurricular activities including football before any staff member loses their job. Above they are talking about dozens if not hundreds of lost positions.
When people vote republican and I get it there are more than a few good and principled ones, the sad truth is for the most part you are voting against teachers and students. Some of you might hate to hear that, but the bottom line every republican member of the Duval delegation voted against pubic education and to give DCPS just an extra 47 cents per student which has crippled the budget. Shouldn't we vote for people who are going to support public ed? Don't our kids deserve it? 
Elections have consequences and the consequence for voting republican in Florida is the destruction of our public schools. The consequence is students and teachers pay a terrible price.
Also from the Times Union:
We’re going to have some unhappy people ... but that’s not our making,” said Cheryl Grymes, a board member. “We’re here because of what they have given us in Tallahassee.”

Scott Shine rebuked by (members of) the school board again!

I had hoped I could make it a week without writing about this guy but he is the gift that keeps on giving.

I will just get to it, this is from a meeting parring down the 26 applicants for superintendent to six.

From the Times Union:
The meeting got off to a contentious start after some on the board scolded co-member Scott Shine for making comments to the media about his preference that they wait until after elections this fall to choose a new superintendent. Shine is running for re-election and board chairwoman Paula Wright and Rebecca Couch are term-limited.
Couch and vice-chairwoman Lori Hershey told Shine he should have adhered to the board’s prior agreement to allow Wright to speak for the board about the superintendent search to present a united front. Hershey noted that Scott’s statements about a teacher blogger has already cost the district money from a recent out-of-court settlement.
Shine left the meeting a few minutes before it ended as Couch was speaking about the need to respect voters in her district who are asking for a quick hire of a superintendent.
Shine said these were personal attacks that were out of order.
Oy vey this guy. Um Scott, pointing out what you have done is not a personal attack and I get you think that it is, but you are wrong, so I am going to help you out.

A personal attack would be like somebody saying, you are a terrible human being who has no business representing people and the city will be better off when you slink back to your cave.
(Disclaimer, I am not saying above about Mr. Scott, I am just giving him an example of what a personal attack would be)

Now that would be a personal attack, saying you needlessly cost the district money, it would be nice if you tried to represent constituents rather than your friends and donors, and you should adhere to board rules, are not attacks, they are just things you should be doing. 

Scott Shine is that guy who feels he can say and do whatever he wants and when people push back he gets outraged and blames them for the problem. Don't you know somebody like that? Somebody who is always in trouble or has a beef but it is never their fault? Shine is that guy and don't take my word for it, listen to what his fellow board members have said.

District 2, you have to do better, won't somebody step up?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Letter to the editor, Fund our Schools, NOW!

Duval County Public Schools is facing a 62-million-dollar shortfall and the superintendent’s solutions all seem to involve either cutting teachers and staff or making teachers jobs harder. She even disagreed with the one suggestion, cutting magnet school transportation, that would require parents to sacrifice. Well I don’t understand why only teachers and staff should sacrifice while parents and the community get a pass.  

I like the superintendent, but she has it all wrong on this one.

I urge the superintendent and the school board to let the citizens and parents of Jacksonville know that before one teacher loses their job, before we assign one class to have more than forty students, or before we get rid of any art, music or physical education classes we will get rid of all extracurricular sports including football and end magnet school transportation.

The super and board should tell parents and the community that if they don’t like that, then they have another option and that is demand the governor call a special legislative session to properly fund education and tell them if he doesn’t and they don’t, then in November they will hold the governor and the legislature accountable.

The republican members of the Duval Delegation, representatives Byrd, Yarborough, Fant and Fischer along with senator Bean voted to give DCPS an extra forty-seven cents per student or around sixty thousand dollars. That is not just laughable but insulting and dangerous as well. If they won’t do right by our children and public schools, we need to replace them with legislators that will.    

Duval’s graduation rate goes up and they underfund education. Duval proves on the NEAP it has one of the best district’s in the nation and are reward is a sixty-two-million-dollar deficit and more unfunded mandates.

Florida is routinely at the bottom of per pupil spending and when we factor in inflation, schools are getting less than they did in 2007 and that was before we had as many unfunded mandates and were required to share money with charter schools many of which are run by for profit companies. If Jacksonville is okay with that then they not the district’s staff are the ones who should sacrifice and if they are not, and I hope they are not, then it is past time they stood up and demanded our schools were properly funded.  

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, here is the address.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

An end to Friday night lights

I don’t get it; will somebody please explain it to me. Jacksonville’s schools, which mean Jacksonville’s children, are facing 62 million dollars in cuts, yet I don’t see any public outrage. There is no clamoring in the streets and no shouts that something must be done. All people seem to muster is a barely audible sigh and a shrug of their shoulders. Don’t people know how catastrophic a 62-million-dollar shortfall will be or is it they just don’t care.

The district will be expected to provide the same services it did this year with 62 million fewer dollars, and this as prices have risen, the legislature has burdened the district with one unfunded mandate after another and siphoned more money to charter schools. Could you do the same with considerably less money? Well the legislature, and by extension us through our inaction think it’s okay that our schools and our children do.

With the financial mess left behind by Superintendent Vitti, wouldn’t he have some explaining to do had he stayed and with the state allocating just an additional forty-seven cents per pupil, we are about to be in real trouble.

Let me describe to you what 62 million dollars in cuts is going to look like, and please don’t think I exaggerate for dramatic effect. Dozens if not hundreds of teachers and support staff will lose their jobs. Those that remain will have their workloads which are already daunting increased. Programs like art, music, physical education and other electives will most likely see huge cuts Class sizes may be expanded as field trips, extracurricular activities, most supplies, teacher training and after school programs are cut to the bone. These are some of the changes your children and the district are facing if nothing is done.

In effect education in Jacksonville will be done by fewer already over worked teachers, doing more with less, servicing more kids who will have fewer options. Is that the future you want for our schools and our children, don’t they deserve better?

Which brings me back to the part I don’t get, shouldn’t people specifically parents be outraged by the prospect of this? Why aren’t they in mass writing letters or calling their elected officials and demanding a special session that increases funding to our schools?

This isn’t eight years ago when we had a massive shortfall during the great recession. Times are good, and the state is flush with cash yet for some reason Tallahassee won’t properly fund our public schools? I ask you again, what is more important than our children; perhaps just one thing, football. 

If the residents of Jacksonville don't demand the republican members of the Duval delegation call for a special session to properly fund education then the district should cancel the 2018 football season.  
Every Friday night in the fall thousands of local children will suit up and play the game of football, they will be watched by tens of thousands of fans and coached by hundreds of teacher/coaches and these games all will cost the district money and when you include all the other sports, the costs are in the millions; millions of dollars that could be used to fund needed reading and after school programs, to save teachers jobs and a whole host of other things that will have to be cut if we stand idly by and nothing is done. 

I played sports while in high school and I believe they have been and can be very important to the development of many children. As for me they kept me off the streets and gave me a purpose, I felt like a member of my community when I played, and they taught me about things like discipline and team work. Furthermore I developed a work ethic by playing sports as I knew if I wanted to be successful I needed to work hard to do so, and I with all sincerity say cancel them all, cancel every single one of them if it saves one art teacher or one music teacher their job or if it allows a group of third graders to have PE. more than once a week.

I urge the superintendent and the school board to let the citizens and parents of Jacksonville know that before one teacher loses their job, before we assign one class to have more than forty students, or before we get rid of any art, music or physical education program we will get rid of all extracurricular sports including football. Hopefully that will motivate them to get involved and fight for proper education funding.

This would be an unpopular decision, but leaders often need the courage not to just do the popular thing but to do the right thing as well. Before jobs are lost and necessary academic programs are impacted, extracurricular activities should be cut, because even though they are important and do serve a function in the end they are extra, it’s right there in the word. 

Nobody wants to see this happen, but the school board, Jacksonville’s teachers and students need the parents and citizens of Jacksonville to understand there is a pending disaster on the horizon; that parents must get involved before we are forced to endure the impending financial crisis. We need them to let the legislature know it’s not all right that they continue to under-fund education. We likewise need parents to let the city council know we want them to pass similar measures to the ones that have been passed in south Florida and other places that invest in our children. We need parents to do it because neither the legislature nor the city council is listening to the people on the front lines and in the trenches of education and that’s the teachers.

The facts that Florida is routinely at the bottom when it comes to per pupil spending, when we factor in inflation we spend less than we did before the great recession and that we spend more on testing and mandated items than ever before meant we were heading for a disaster and with a looming 62 million dollar shortfall, I would say it is here.

The legislature expects schools to get by on an extra 47 cents per pupil which tells me they don’t care about our students, but I must believe the parents and citizens of Jacksonville do, they just don’t know how bad it will be. I must believe that because the thought that they do know but just don’t care is too terrible to contemplate.

It’s time the citizens of Jacksonville got it and realized how dire the situation is and realized that things are only going to get fixed if they stand up and demand that the powers that be, and start with the republican members of the Duval delegation all voted for the woeful funding, do something, that not funding our schools will no longer be tolerated.

If you want to contact the Duval delegation and demand they call for a special session to properly fund education, here is a link to find them:

Scott Shine uses his position on the school board to influence professional practice investigations

I know it is hard but I would like you to take me out of the story. I hate that I have become part of it. I wish instead I could be writing about the hard work by the school board and administration and the incredible work of the district's teachers or even about Tallahassee's attempts to dismantle public education. That being said I and I think many of you will find it unacceptable that we have school board members who thinks by virtue of his position he can say and do whatever he wants to.

The thing is this what follows isn't about what happened to me, that is over and finished. The story here is about a school board member who in my opinion tried to use his position to influence the outcome of an investigation, it is about an egregious abuse of power.

Now before I continue I want to say we have some excellent school board members. Paula Wright and Becki Couch will be sorely missed when they are term limited out. I also don't believe what happened to me would have happened under superintendent Willis, who I think has done a great job leading the district. She has a calm leadership that our prior superintendent didn't have. 

So here is some background. Last summer the school board was weighing entering a lawsuit against the public school kneecapping bill, HB 7069. Board member Shine wrote a piece that appeared in the Beaches Leader where he said overall he was against the bill but it had some good points and the main one was "union teachers" would be fired, the implication being that union teachers made some schools poor performing.

I spoke at the SB meeting where the board was discussing  joining a law suit against HB 7060. There I talked about Mr. Shine's comments, that I found them reprehensible, and encouraged the district to join the lawsuit, which they did.

Shine also spoke at the meeting saying he was against the bill (though he didn't mention his position about union teachers) and later said that the members of the Duval Delegation, who voted against public education and for the bill did so because they didn't know what was in it and that they were afraid of Speaker Corcoran. 

You can listen to the meeting here, it is the 7/19 recording.

I wrote several blogs about the meeting, including one which said, Shine calls members of the Duval delegation ignorant and gutless.

He then filed a professional practice complaint against me, the third one in less that two years that the district investigated.

I think filing a specious complaint about me was bad enough but then he attempted to use his position on the school board to influence the investigation and that is unacceptable. Of course I disagree with him filing the complaint but even if you don't I can't see you agreeing with him trying to influence the outcome.

The school board often says it has one employee and here Shine is saying to his one employee that he needs to hear a decisive statement of action from her and if he doesn't get it he will seek "declaratory judgement" against the district and as bad as that is, it gets worse.

Here he lets the OGC, outside general council, know he thinks they are not defending his point of view, and I read this as he is infuriated by it, but he is also telling them when to finish the investigation by ominously letting them know, "time is running out."

But it gets worse than this too
Here he is saying his claim should be substantiated (which is wasn't) because another claim was substantiated, (that one was and wasn't by the way, creating a paradox but that is an entirely different post).

He is furthermore telling the investigators how to do their job, and what their findings should be, he is demanding another investigation because he didn't get the outcome he desired and he is also asking for somebody else to do an investigation. No matter what you might think of me or my blog, school board members should not be allowed to interject themselves into investigations and that is the bottom line.  

I have several other emails where he is telling a variety of people "time is running out" which are disturbing as well but I think with the three above we see an unacceptable pattern with  how he tried to influence the investigation.

Scott Shine isn't a random teacher or parent. He is on the school board. He has power and influence and here he tried to use it in an inappropriate manner.

What can I say friends, except we deserve better from our school board members and hopefully as a result of all this we will get it.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Scott Shine costs district six figures

That was the sentiment a letter writer to the Times Union had.

From the Times Union:

Costly dispute with Duval school
teacher could have been avoided
When Duval school teacher/blogger Christopher Guerrieri and his attorneys cash the $60,000 check they will receive from the district, they have two folks they need to graciously thank: School Board Member Scott Shine and the city’s Office of General Counsel.
The ineptitude of Shine and the city’s legal office is staggering, and someone should be held accountable for this trivial yet expensive miscalculation. If Shine had just swallowed his pride and apologized for his unnecessary comments about Guerrieri — or if he had he gotten intelligent, sensible legal direction from the Office of General Counsel — the hard-working taxpayers of this county would not be ponying up the $60,000 to settle this mess.
That $60,000, by the way, could have been spent on an additional teacher salary — or for much-needed school security personnel.
I agree with the writer except 60k is not all the expenses incurred by the district. When we settled my suit the district also settled a public records lawsuit for ten thousand and paid five thousand in legal fees to the union. Then they took all the mediation costs which I believe was at least five thousand more and we are just getting started. 
Then there is the cost of hiring a Tallahassee law firm to investigate several grievances which couldn't have been cheap and the cost of the district's lawyer fees. 
Then think about all the high salaried district employees who had to work on this for over a year. It's true that money may be hard to quantify but it is without a doubt dozens of hours lost and that lost productivity has to add up as well. 
I don't have any invoices in front of me but I believe this entire episode cost the district at least 120,000 dollars and likewise believe whatever the final tally is it falls at Scott Shine's feet. I hope the media does a thorough investigation into how much money was spent because the taxpayers deserve to know.
People may not like me or my blog or think I deserve a penny but at the end of the day I did not cost the district six figures, the antics of a school board member did.
Finally I think we should all be glad we have a superintendent and a majority of the board who recognized that this needed to be settled rather than continue to fight a losing battle which is seemingly, based on his comments in the Times Union, what Mr. shine wanted to do.  

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Scott Shine has police watch me, tells them I am a danger to those around me (rough draft)

Let me start by saying I will be very glad when I never had to write about Shine again and I can get back to how Tallahassee is trying to dismantle public education or how the district is improving, which are by far more important stories.

I will let Shine's words do the talking for him.

Um, blood shot eyes? Oy vey.

I did speak at the board meeting where I encouraged the district to join the lawsuit against HB 7069, and pointed out that Mr. Shine said in an article to the Beach's Leader that a positive benefit of HB 7069 is that union teachers would lose their jobs, a sentiment I vigorously disagreed with.

When Shine spoke he said he was against both the bill and the lawsuit and went onto to say the members of the Duval Delegation that voted for the bill only did so because they were both ignorant and scared of speaker Corcoran, which if true is pretty gutless on the delegation's part if you ask me.

You can listen to the 7/19 meeting here,

I am pretty sure that Mrs. Wright who came and spoke to me after the meeting about a piece I did on Gary Chartrand and the Quality Education for All initiative had a different perspective on my demeanor and felt safe enough to do so.

If anything I was very happy after the meeting, after all the board voted to join the lawsuit and Shine both called himself the lawsuit cowboy and announced to all those in attendance that he had to pee which amused me greatly.

Unbeknownst to me Shine had the DCPS police watch me, and where I am not saying my life was in danger, people with guns were put on alert about me and Shine told them I may be a danger to those around me, that is disconcerting to say the least.

Then he questions my state of mind to both the superintendent and the assistant superintendent in charge of human resources and not because I was threatening or bothering him but because he doesn't like me and what I had to say. I am a teacher and he is a school board member saying I might he a danger to those people around me, do you know who is around me a lot? Children. If he felt I was potentially such a danger how can he allow me to continue in the classroom.

I have said many things about Shine's performance on the board but I have never said he was a danger to people (and friends I have seen his YouTube channel and I found at least one of his videos disturbing to say the least), just that I vigorously disagreed with his beliefs but my words never put him in physical danger.

This is who is representing district 2 and we can and should do better.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Scott Shine is a freaking... (rough draft)

I will let you finish that sentence.

As my lawsuit with the district came to an end, Mr. Shine, who because of his ill temperament cost the district six figures, had some interesting comments in the Times Union.

Before you read them I want to remind you that he is a multi-millionaire who opined that teachers in Jax make enough because the cost of living here is low. 

From the Times Union:

Shine said Monday he had no part in the settlement and didn’t care for the payout. He said Guerrieri’s legal actions were about getting money, not fighting for teacher’s rights.
“It’s about getting money out of the system,” Shine said. “It sounds to me like it was about $60,000.”
You know he's right, I have made a lot of decisions based on money since I became a teacher.
When I graduated from college, my first contract was for 26,600 dollars and as a young man on my own that seemed like a lot, especially for something I really wanted to do which was work with disabled children.   
This is why in 2005 when a friend offered to help me get a job at Citibank making what they said was more than twice as much money I turned them down. When they said, what about the money, I replied there were more important things than money. Also could you picture me working at a bank? I can't.
My first printed piece had to deal with money. Back in 2007 I received a bonus for being one of the top 25 percent of my silo and I felt bad that many other teachers I thought were great didn't receive it. I suggested the district  going forward just take all the money and evenly divide it up.
Then I started the blog in 2010, some 4 years before I had ever heard of Scott Shine and over the years about a dozen times people have asked me about advertising on it. I however have always  turned them down because to me the blog was about getting the message out and not making money, even a few nickles here and there. I did have ad sense on briefly but I thought it was to distracting and took it down after a few weeks. I don't think I will ever get that 48 bucks.   
Finally there are the literally thousands of dollars I have spent outfitting my rooms, buying supplies, chipping in to fundraisers and helping out my students over the years, with money I took out of my personal system. Why did I do it, often at times when I didn't have much myself? Well because it was the right thing to do, it is what teachers do. 
I have made a lot of financial decisions about the system, just not in the way he implies.  
It is apparent that Scott Shine has no idea how I or teachers in general work or think and that would be a shame if he was some random on the street but as a school board member it is unacceptable.
So Mr. Shine, who only ran for the school board after twice failing to get elected to the city council, you can try and defame me all you want but at the end of the day people know who is in the system for all the wrong reasons.
Okay friends go ahead and finish the title of the blog...

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Are you %$#^ing kidding me, private school students to get free college/dual enrollment classes

In there continuing effort to do all they can to harm public schools, the Florida legislature slipped a provision into house bill 7055 that said private schools could have their students get dual enrollment/college classes for free, while public schools will have to continue to pay for them.  

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Florida’s private high schools will no longer have to pay for their students to take dual enrollment courses, thanks to a new state law, but the change could deliver a financial hit to the state colleges that offer teenagers those classes...

Public schools, which already pay for their students’ dual enrollment classes, will continue to do so. The Orange County school district, for example, paid Valencia College $1.3 million for 3,518 students to take college classes for the 2017 fall semester, district officials said...

But now state colleges will have to accept private school students without charging the schools for their tuition, a move that comes as the colleges face another financially challenging year.
The Senate sponsor of the measure said money to help the colleges could be provided in the future, though there is none for the coming year.
Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said he pushed for the change because Florida’s dual enrollment program has been “incredibly successful” in helping students complete a college degree in minimal time, and the state needs to make sure that all students, whatever high school they attend, can get a jump start on college, if they want.
The state’s smaller private schools sometimes struggle with the cost, he added, so their students lose out. “It’s a glitch where they don’t have the equal access that other students have,” he said.

You know who also has a hard time paying for things? Every freaking school district in Florida as the legislature continues to squeeze them.

It's terrible for our colleges too as they will have to make up the money for the classes out of their budgets. The education hating legislature got a twofer, they were able to screw public schools and higher education at the same time.

How is this even remotely fair? Well the answer is it is not and it is just more proof that the republican in the Florida legislature are doing all they can to harm public schools. Is this what my republican friends voted for.

Well friends, when will enough be enough?

Times up, Pencils down, Bill Mahr sticks up for teachers

Despair, endure or fight are teachers only options. (rough draft)

First they said class sizes didn't matter but when they ballooned people pushed back and twice supported an amendment which said smaller classes were important. The Florida legislature however just ignored the will of the people and gutted the amendment to the point where it might as well not exist. What did we do? Nothing.

Then they said we needed high takes testing to measure both children and teachers and a generation of both was lost as much of the joy, innovation, creativity and flexibility was sucked out of education. A whole generation of kids learning for the test and teachers teaching to it. What have we done? Created a few Facebook groups here and there, maybe written a letter to the editor too as the drill and kill education system chugged along. This year alone they changed the cut scores for math which will lead to more children failing and schools being labeled failures. 

Then they said public schools weren't getting the job done so we needed charter schools and private schools that take vouchers. It doesn't matter that nearly four hundred charter schools have taken public money and failed, or the ones that have succeeded have mostly done so in affluent neighborhoods, or that they are for profit and many of the legislators voting for them, either they or their family members have profited off of them.

It also doesn't matter that the teachers at the voucher schools don't have to have a degree let alone be certificated, and the schools don't have to have a recognized curriculum and most aren't required to report how they spend the money they receive. It doesn't matter that that we have channeled billions to these schools which receive practically no oversight and children at these schools don't have to take the tests they said were manifestly important at public ones.   

Then they came for the unions, the groups that spoke for teachers. They legislature has targeted teacher unions throughout the state for decertification. They want to stifle teacher voices, they want teachers to be silent.

Then they have come for me too requiring more and more certifications at higher costs that are harder to pass and the only thing I have done as the state of Florida tears down both public education and the teaching profession is endured.

When I am gone who will speak for the kids and the schools? Who will be left? When you are gone who will replace you? When your child's teacher decides they can't take it any more and quits or retires early, who will replace them?

We can continue to despair as Florida does all it can to destroy public education, though some of us can continue to endure too, or we can fight.

What will it be?    

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Education coverage is a big problem

In the news world they say if it bleeds it leads and that's kind of how it is with education coverage.

Take these examples from the Times Union:

The first is a story about over a thousand teachers not getting a modest bonus they had been counting on.

It is 761 words long. Over a thousand teachers let down by Tallahassee and we couldn't get to 800 words.

The next piece is about if a music teacher who may or may not have made inappropriate comments and taught her students, a "slave game." Mind you it is still an investigation.

That article is 741 words.

1000 teachers left out in the cold versus one teacher who 'may" have done something. the difference 20 words.

Then look at the coverage of the last school board meeting where the main news was a change to math cut scores that the district warns may cause a ten percent drop in graduation rates and a hole host of other problems.

It was just 489 words but it's even worse than that because over half the piece, 258 words, was about a teacher who received a 30 day suspension.

A thousand teachers losing out on money and a potential ten percent drop in graduation rates got as much coverage as two teachers, and one of them "may" have done something.

I have a google DCPS and education alert and for a while it was filled with pieces about the teacher who used the N word and was suspended last month, it received coverage not just in Jax but all over the country too. Well at the same time the Tallahassee was passing a budget that gave our school district just 47 cents per student which is going to create a whole host of problems.

There were two pieces in the Times Union about what the teacher did, but only one about what Tallahassee did. Now what the guy did was reprehensible but isn't what Tallahassee did more so?

I get it, what a random teacher here or there does is news, but isn't the systematic destruction of public education and the shoddy treatment of teachers at the hands of the republican's in Tallahassee bigger news?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Local politicians, Bean and Fischer shrug their shoulders at stiffing teachers

Ugh, these two guys are some of the worst and I am not talking about how they voted to give districts just 47 cents per student to pay for millions in fixed and rising costs. No I am talking about how they voted to change the best and brightest stipend that over a thousand teachers who were eligible for last year missed out on this year. Bean and Fischer apparently could not care less.

From the Times Union:

Brady noted that if the district wants to, it could tap into its rainy day funds to make up the differences for the educators missing the bonus, but she acknowledged that it was a long shot given the budget restrictions. 
She noted that Republicans state representatives and senators voted for the package, but Democratic ones didn’t. She said teachers and public education supporters in Duval County are politically active and vocal in Tallahassee.
“They’re just passing laws to downgrade us and devalue us,” she said. “We are not going to sit by and take it.”
Some members of the Duval state delegation disagreed with the criticisms about the Best and Brightest bonuses, saying that the program is designed to attract and reward high-performing teachers and to encourage them to work in classrooms, rather than take on other roles in the district.
“We wanted to focus on getting the best teachers possible in the classroom and keeping them in the classroom,” said State Rep. Jason Fischer. “We’re not saying that other people don’t deserve pay raises or bonuses.”
State Sen. Aaron Bean said he’s hearing good things from some of Duval’s other 7,000 teachers who are getting bonuses “to keep them coming.” But, he said he could be sold on the need to create other programs or performance incentives for other school employees.
“Could we do more? Maybe,” he said.
The bonus Fischer is talking about is for people who have never taught a day in their lives and is based on SAT scores which have no correlation to effective teaching.  
He's not saying other people don't deserve bonuses he's just saying he is not willing to do anything to see that they get it.
Then Bean says, could we do more, maybe? He just shrugged his shoulders at over a thousand Jacksonville teachers and said they weren't worth the bonus that they were worth last year, while Fischer thinks people who have never taught based on something that has nothing to do with education are. 
You cannot say you support public education and vote republican, you just can't and I get it, there are a few good republicans who really care, but the vast majority are like Bean and Fischer, who either don't know what they are talking about, purposely want to harm public ed or both. 
Our teachers, our schools and our children deserve better.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

1,082 DCPS teachers just found out they don't matter.

Reading coaches, math coaches, guidance counselors, media specialist, psychologists, social workers, ESE lead teachers and site coaches and deans among others were told by the state of Florida they don't matter as much as other teachers as they were excluded from this years best and brightest stipend. Every republican member of the Duval delegation voted to exclude these hard working men and women and it is deplorable.

Also if you were hoping the district could make up the slack, well friends that is hard to do when the state only gave the district and extra 47 cents per student.  

From News4Jax

More than 900 Duval County school district employees expecting a bonus in their latest paychecks were disappointed this week.
During the 2017 session, the Florida Legislature narrowed the list of who was eligible for the state's “Best and Brightest” program, and employees who don't teach in a classroom didn't make the cut.
“They are very upset and disappointed, just like we are,” said Terrie Brady, president of the Duval Teachers Union. “It’s terrible that the Legislature randomly goes in and they determine who are and are not instructional people. But yet they are out there doing the work every day, looking to support and teaching students.”That means guidance counselors, specialists, instructional coaches, standards coaches, media specialists, social workers and psychologists were left out.
Paychecks that went out Thursday included the “Best and Brightest” bonuses for those deemed eligible.
Those who got the bonuses, which ranged from $800 to $1,200, were defined by the state as anyone instructing in a classroom, including exceptional student education, career education and adult education.
But some employees who had previously been eligible for the bonuses -- and who would have qualified again after being rated either highly effective ($1,200) or effective ($800) -- found out only Thursday that they would not be getting one.
We cannot continue to vote for most republicans in Florida and pretend we care about public education. We just can't. In November we must vote for legislators who care about and want to improve public education, that is if we want to continue to have public education.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

FLDOE makes becoming and staying a teacher more difficult.

When I was hired 18 years ago, I ran into a girl I knew at happy hour on a Friday who said her school was looking for anybody with a pulse and a bachelors degree. I interviewed on Monday and started on Wednesday.

Now I had put my application in with the district a few weeks earlier but there had been little movement as they kept talking about ten and twenty day counts, but all in all it wasn't that difficult.

Fast forward to 2018, a para at my school who had been subbing with her masters degree was offered a job several months ago and she is still waiting for the state to give her a temporary certificate.

Then in years past as I have had to re-certify, all I did was fill out an application, take a print out of my points and a check for fifty six bucks, to one of several school based drop off points and a few weeks later my renewal would arrive in the mail. It was easy-peasy.

Well now it just got a lot more challenging.

  IMPORTANT Florida Educator Certification Changes
The Florida Department of Education launched its new Educator Certification System on November 20, 2017.  PLEASE NOTE:  There are significant changes to the renewal/addition process and payment process.  Therefore, you must follow the listed steps detailed on the DCPS Certification website to ensure your application is processed.  It is possible you have already completed some of the steps; however, you must ensure you have completed ALL steps listed.  Failure to follow these steps will delay the processing of your application for renewal and/or addition of a subject/endorsement.
You must establish a new online user account at the following link:
  1. Click Begin Here for Sign-up to create a new online user account and retrieve your temporary password sent via email.
  2. Enter your User ID and password then click Sign In to access this secure site.
  3. Once successfully signed in, educators will be prompted to complete an Initial Onboarding process to match your account to existing Florida certification records. Your social security number and date of birth are required to complete the onboarding process.
  4. The Quick Start Menu provides you a choice of options available based on your current Florida certification record.
·         Visit the DCPS Certification website for instructions to renew your Professional Certificate.
·         Visit the DCPS Certification website for instructions to add a subject and/or endorsement to your Florida Educator Certificate.
·         Visit the DCPS Certification website for instructions to upgrade from a Temporary to a Professional Certificate.

Great googly moogly, I read above three times and I still have no clue about what to do, but that's not the worst of it.
A colleague undergoing the process wrote:
 Trying to renew my teaching certificate. We used to just go to a location, pay them and we'd get a certificate mailed to us. Now I have to go online, scan a bunch of documents (if I can figure out which ones and then round them up) in and try to figure out all this nonsense they are discussing on here. Then they'll take the money out of my paycheck. smh...why is everything so difficult? computers are supposed to make things easier...but with DOE involved...yeah???????

Couple above and how they have changed the certification tests so more and more people fail 
and I would ask what the heck is going on, except I already know. The state of Florida is doing all it can to handicap the profession. 
 We have a teaching shortage that isn't going to get any better and where I am not for dumbing down the qualifications, private schools already don't have to have certified or even degree'd teachers, but at some point the evidence of how they are trying to destroy the profession becomes overwhelming.