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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Set up to fail

 I was so mad I was on the brink of tears. Yesterday I could use a curriculum that I had for years and where not perfect, gave me lots of material to work with, then like a light switch turning off, it was gone. The district didn't even think teachers were worthy of a heads up. I felt set up to fail, and sadly, I am not the only one, and the district's only response seemed to be, cry me a river.

In the last few days, I have read about on Facebook or heard from several how they too felt set up to fail.

No books or the right materials.

No access to a printer, or a working one anyways.

12 hours of work over the weekend and still not caught up.

They spent their planning calling parents of students who hadn't shown up or shown much interest if they did.

Crazy big Duval homeroom classes.

Crazy big brick and motor ones too.

Way too much to do, and not nearly enough time to do. No slack is given, expectations higher than ever.

Then there is that pesky pandemic too. It's almost like the district office is unaware. You would think they would be bending over backwards to lighten the load but that is obviously not the case for many.

Teaching in 2020 is hard, and don't let anyone tell you differently.

I felt disrespected and pissed, so I went all the way to the top and sent superintendent Greene this email.

Superintendent Greene,


ESE teachers all over the district just received an email that we would no longer have access to ULS. I tried to log in to download the rest of the lessons I had started, but I can't. We received no notice, and I guess we are just out of luck.


We are switching to a new curriculum called Teach Town. The ESE department might tell you they consulted with staff, but that is a misrepresentation; they consulted with a handful of staff, some of whom liked it and some of whom did not. I personally don't like it. It does not give us nearly the range of activities as ULS does, and where it might make a good supplement, as the driver of instruction, it is woefully inadequate.


I get it though, curriculums change, and the district rarely takes into account what teachers want; the thing is there is a pandemic going on, and as teachers are more stressed than ever and expected to do more than ever, is this really the right time to radically shift our instruction? I don't think it is, and I am probably not the only one.


Please instruct the ESE department to slow down with the shift and restore our access to ULS. Please put me and my colleagues in a position where we can succeed.


Chris Guerrieri

To which she responded.

Dear Mr. Guerrieri,


I understand your frustration.  This year has been very unsettling for many of us, and changes that would be easy to accept in the past are causing distress amid the backdrop of a global pandemic.  The ESE department reached out to receive feedback from teachers and did a pilot of the Teach Town curriculum in the spring.  With the uncertainty and stay at home order during the spring you may have missed the opportunity to give input. However, I am very familiar with both curriculums; both have positives and areas that don’t address the FSAA and or Access Points well.  Teach Town does a better job for our students who function on the higher levels of Access Points Standards and has specific lessons focused on essential transition skills.   


To provide some relief, I’ve asked the ESE department to allow you access to ULS for the remainder of the school year as we transition to Teach Town.  We only have limited licenses available, so ESE will work with any teacher until the licenses are gone as we will completely transition to Teach Town as the Core for students in the transition program.  Thank you for reaching out, and we will get through this together.  


 Kind regards,


Dr. Diana Greene


Now I think she missed some things like, quite frankly, the way the district makes curriculum choices is plain wrong and what the district did to its teachers was disrespectful, but right there, she says, at least for now, any teacher that wants to use ULS can use ULS, and I plan to hold her to that. In fact, I am grateful first for her response and then for at least our temporary reprieve.

So friends don't take it unless you are going to take it right to the boss. Your planning period getting stolen, your books still not there, no printers, or whatever it is, take it straight to Greene, nothing may happen, but who knows, she may just listen.

Now I have to be honest; I still feel overwhelmed, and I still don't think the district seems to care, but every journey starts with a step, and I had one today.   

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