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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Greene basically says keeping kids safe is not a priority

 If you thought masks kept children safe, that it helped prevent them from getting sick and potentially saved lives, wouldn't you be morally obligated to make sure they wore them? Wouldn't you be morally obligated to do everything you could to protect children's health? Well, nope, not if you are superintendent Greene, to her all that gets is a shrug of her shoulders. 

This is what Greene wrote to district staff:

The governor announced today that he will be issuing an Executive Over to prevent school districts from mandating mask requirements for students.  Had it not been for this announcement, this 30-day mandate would be applied to all PreK-12 students as well and would extend for elementary students when indoors until such time as vaccinations are readily available and families can elect to have their student vaccinated.

Right there, she says she thinks masks would keep kids safe, but because the governor, who I remind everyone, often spreads misinformation about the virus, he has had videos taken down from youtube, doesn't believe in them, she's willing to give them a pass. 

Two things, why would anyone listen to a science denier when making decisions about the health of children, and second, I have to call bull shit on her for writing that. I don't think for a second, even if the governor had done nothing she was going to make kids wear masks, her overall lack of concern about the pandemic, in my opinion, has been manifestly negligent. That, however, shouldn't diminish the fact she basically said, masks save lives, but we are going to pass on them anyways. 

Think about that, she basically wrote, I want kids to have masks, they help save lives, but you know, whatever. That's disturbing, that neglectful, and that's just plain wrong.

Then I want to point out several times in the past, DCPS has sued the state when they thought they were wrong, something they could do again if these emergency orders come out. That's part of doing everything possible to save lives, which to Greene is obviously a bridge too far. 

Her letter overall was her attempting to appear as if she was doing something while practically doing nothing. That isn't leadership; that is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, I want to add, I don't want to wear a mask, and I definitely don't want to fight with that be kid, all day every day about doing so, but if it will keep them, me, and my family safe, I am more than willing to do so. Greene, on the other hand, isn't willing to do anything. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Greene and the school board risked lives and for what?

It was unbelievable to me and many others that the district spent the latter part of the winter and early spring cajoling families who had decided virtual school was the safer and better option to come in to take at first practice test and then the FSA. Anyone with a pulse could tell that scores were going to drop, well anyone but Greene and the school board, that is.

It's my thought that Greene could taste that barely missed A district grade from two years prior that she was willing to step over the bodies of staff and students to get it. If not, why risk their health for what was most likely going to be meaningless grades?

So as the except from the article will show, scores dropped. That's okay, it didn't mean people didn't work hard, and kids didn't learn. I know I worked harder than I ever had last year, and I know the lion's share of my colleagues did as well. 

From the Times Union,

Overall, the test scores show achievement dips statewide, and Duval County is no exception...

...From the start, school officials say they expected some achievement gaps compared to a pre-pandemic school year. 

Last month when third-grade reading scores were released, Superintendent Diana Greene said learning loss was expected due to the pandemic.

"COVID-19 was disruptive," Greene said at the time. "What matters now is how we respond." 

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/education/2021/07/29/florida-testing-scores-give-better-look-covid-slide-duval-schools/5415995001/?fbclid=IwAR0V9fgACiwub6yIqMJPGjIwtH9doBJpa1IHYm8cMovlJ0CP9OPgvh72fFY

Greene certainly did respond, and she did so by making the staff miserable and ratcheting up the pressure on staff and students alike. The district's actions were so inexplicable I often wondered if they knew a pandemic was happening or not. 

It's a pandemic and one that, because of the actions of the willfully ignorant who have refused to get vaccinated, we are in for the foreseeable future. Instead of worrying about test scores, the district should worry about the health and well-being of its staff and students, you know, do the human thing. 

One, two, three however many years from now, nobody is going to remember how they did on this test or that or how their students did either, they are going to remember if the district took their security and safety in mind, they are going to remember if the district was decent or not. They were not last year, but sadly because of the unvaccinated, they have another chance to get it right. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

On masks, DCPS pivots from whatever to yeah, whatever

 To say I was disappointed in District leadership is an understatement. I get it to with the pandemic, and just Florida in general DCPS starts in a pretty deep hole; the problem is their only inclination seems to be, keep digging. 

Did you ever see Animal House when Dean Wormer tells the members of Delta Tau Chi that they have gone from probation to double secret probation? Wel the district basically did the same thing when it went from masks are suggested to really, really, really suggested. 

From the Times Union,

 Less than three weeks out from the first day of school in Jacksonville, Duval County Public Schools is revising its face mask policy for the 2021-22 school year. 

On Wednesday, the district announced it would upgrade its mask policy from "optional" to "strongly recommended" for unvaccinated students. The change comes as the City of Jacksonville continues to push back Florida's latest COVID-19 surge. Still, the masks aren't mandatory. 

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/education/2021/07/21/duval-schools-updates-covid-19-mask-policy-unvaccinated-students/8041505002/?fbclid=IwAR3T7C8hJQt5f7f_XXYxcejNUIAqj9paB5wXDhonoYLjbfl4cuMS27rliTQ  

Sorry, not suggested to really, really, really suggested but from optional to recommended, though I would argue that is a distinction without a difference.

Here is the thing, I don't plan to wear a mask when school starts though I would shrug and do so if required. I hated teaching with a mask, almost as much as I hated fighting with a couple kids to keep their masks on.

The thing is, this is all mute. 

From the AP,

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to suspend all remaining COVID-19 restrictions imposed by communities across his state, signing into law on Monday freshly passed legislation giving him sweeping powers to invalidate local emergency measures put in place during the pandemic — including mask mandates, limitations on business operations and the shuttering of schools.

In addition to signing the law, which goes into effect July 1, the Republican governor also signed a pair of executive orders to move more quickly, meaning that existing coronavirus measures enacted by local governments — such as requiring masks — would be abolished immediately.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” DeSantis said, “but I think this creates a structure that’s going to be a little bit more respectful, I think, of people’s businesses, jobs, schools and personal freedom.”

https://apnews.com/article/florida-coronavirus-laws-health-083b2c00304c9569a78040ca741aeba1

First, I thought Republicans believed in local control? Though I guess, like most things they preach about, it's just a lie.

That was from May, though the fact that Florida leads the nation, by far as the fourth wave hits haven't moved are wannabe dictator. 

From News4Jax,

Gov. Ron DeSantis doubled down Thursday on his opposition to mask mandates for public-school students during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he would call for a special legislative session if the federal government moves toward requiring masks in schools.

“There’s been talk about potentially people advocating at the federal level, imposing compulsory masks on kids,” DeSantis said. “We’re not doing that in Florida, OK? We need our kids to breathe.”

https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2021/07/22/gov-desantis-vows-to-fight-school-mask-mandates/

This guy really doesn't give a $@#& about COVID, or sadly if people live or die. 

I guess this must mean DCPS is off the hook, and it all falls on the governor, right? Um, no, if you think that you are wrong. 

The State Constitution gives DCPS control of all schools in the district, not the governor. Every time the governor or commissioner of education does something like this, it erodes their power and makes it easier for them to do it next time easier.  It's a lack of leadership that lets the governor come in and bully local districts, and that's what we have. 

The superintendent and school board pass the buck like that, and not educating our children is their job, and they do so to the detriment of present and future students and staff.  

COVID and the state put us in a hole, but it was the super and school board's choice to keep digging.  

I don't want to wear a mask and given the choice I won't but whether I have that choice or not should be a decision made locally and based on science, not a mandate from a science-denying fascist playing to a willfully uneducated base. Leaders, good leaders would recognize that.

Monday, July 19, 2021

My thoughts on masks in the new school year

 First, let me say my opinion isn't set in stone, and if you disagree with me, I get it. That being said, the thought of another year teaching and wearing a mask sends chills down my spine.  

Teaching and wearing a mask was not easy, and it definitely wasn't fun. Unless you did it, it's hard to explain, but I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. 

I just read that one in five new covid cases are in Florida as the Delta Variant, and a lack of leadership has gripped our state. Then to make it worse, my hometown of Jacksonville has been the epicenter of the resurgence. That's scary as are the plans my district has announced. Masks will be optional for everyone vaccinated though as far as I can tell, there is no mechanism in place to see who is vaccinated or not. Basically, we are on the honor system. 

In my opinion, keeping staff and students safe has never been a priority for my district, but I have covered that ad nauseum.

So I have been vaccinated since March, had COVID in December, and where I came to hate them was a big proponent of wearing masks, but unless something new and more dreadful rears its ugly head, I believe that ship has sailed, though that's not to say I don't have concerns.

Contact tracing was bad last year, so I can only imagine it will be worse this year. Social distancing didn't happen last year, so that's a non-starter, my desks have already been stripped of the plexiglass shields, and that deep cleaning they promised and continue to do so never really materialized. Despite all of this, I have no plans to voluntarily wear a mask.       

What I would like is to be held harmless if I get sick from school contact. I don't want to spend all my days trying to not die. Then I want my wife took care of if something happens to me, and my x2 salary life insurance probably isn't going to cut it. Then finally, once the vaccine loses its emergency label, I want to see it become mandatory in our schools. 

We already require a handful of vaccines, and COVID should be added to the list and done so for two reasons. First, it just makes sense to protect our staff and students. If you don't want to get vaccinated, the state has created plenty of crappy education options for families to go to, and then not to do so doesn't make any sense at all.      

Florida already does so many education things that don't make sense, that are designed to hurt its citizens under this pretense, or that but not requiring the vaccine is a bridge too far. If we say no to the vaccine, then if we are honest, what can we say yes to? Dress code, other vaccines, testing, discipline? If we don't care if staff and students live or die, why are those or anything important?

They are not.

Just my thoughts; feel free to respectfully disagree.  

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Diana Greene the Teflon superintendent, part 2, Scandals in Duval are barely acknowledged by the local media but they are there

Scandals didn't stop when Greene arrived in Duval, but the attention they got was minimal.

Who remembers that a grand jury lambasted the DCPS police department and said they committed outright fraud? Well, it happened in December.

From the Florida Times-Union,

A new statewide grand jury report studying school safety issues lambasted the Duval County School Police Department for "outright fraud" and underreporting incident and crime numbers to make a better impression. Now in response, the school district is launching its own review.

Late Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court website published the third interim report issued by the grand jury — a 27-page document meant to implement and review how well recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission were being realized. The grand jury was brought to fruition last February following a request from Gov. Ron DeSantis following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting. 

While the interim report largely focused on Florida's mental-health systems and deficiencies in funding, separately, the report pointed out issues with schools' abilities to differentiate criminal behavior from simple misbehavior. Duval School was used as the key example. 

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/education/2020/12/11/duval-schools-police-department-lambasted-grand-jury-florida-safety-report/3893537001/

Outright fraud. Not could have done a better job. Not their systems need to be tweaked either, but outright fraud.  

Seen any follow-ups in the media?

Also, this is partly why Robert Runcie lost his job in Broward County. He was accused of lying to the Grand Jury investigating school safety issues, not that his county was accused of outright fraud. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/04/28/florida-broward-parkland-runcie-resigns/

How is it possible that DCPS is accused of this and nothing happens? Well, not nothing; around the same time, Greene won the superintendent of the year award from the state superintendent association, but what's a little fraud among friends. 

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/education/2020/12/02/duval-schools-diana-greene-named-florida-superintendent-year/3798072001/

Then what about charter school expansion? I get it the state does not make things easy, but DCPS has approved charters created by homophobes and arguably white supremacists...

https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2021/05/dcps-approves-charter-with-racist-and.html

directly across the street from an A-rated school...

https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2020/11/10/a-charter-school-is-being-built-across-the-street-from-a-public-school-some-arent-happy-about-it/

and three from a charter chain that just fired its founder for financial irregularities.

https://sanantonioreport.org/why-did-idea-public-schools-top-leaders-get-fired/

Then to counter all these and the other charter schools, DCPS is going to spend 1.2 million dollars.

From WJCT.org

A contract worth as much as $1.2 million has been drawn up with Tennessee-based firm Caissa Public Strategy, which says it specializes in targeted ad campaigns to recruiting students to public schools, including from charter schools and private schools. 

According to DCPS, as many as 30,000 of the district’s children don’t attend their neighborhood school. About half of them go to one of 35 charters, according to an analysis by WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union

The matter of recruiting and retaining students appeared in DCPS’ most recent financial report, which said, “Full-time equivalent (FTE) dollars flow to the charter schools based on the number of FTE students. Over the last five years, charter school FTE has grown from 10,834 in fiscal year 2014-15 to 17,445 in fiscal year 2019-20. The District is marketing public schools and programs to attract students back to District schools.”

https://news.wjct.org/post/duval-school-board-vote-12m-contract-recruit-students

I guess just saying no to unnecessary or corrupt charter schools is out of the question, but more on that in part 4.

Two more scandals, or what should be scandals, are how Greene handled the pandemic and how the district handles race relations. 

First, the pandemic, contact tracing was between abysmal and non-existent, and social distancing was just non-existant. Rather than take responsibility for the contact tracing, the district continuously passed the buck to the state department of health, which media reports said was compromised, and the district itself said for weeks would not return its calls. Yes, the department of health is responsible for keeping our citizens safe, but so is the district. This is also just another example of how rather than taking ownership for education decisions, like charter schools, the district repeatedly prefers to pass the buck.  

That's a big issue, but another is how instead of doing everything they could do to lighten the load on teachers, they doubled down on district micromanaging and testing. The street of the pandemic wasn't enough, but now staff and students had to worry even more about the district. 

They either couldn't or wouldn't read the room, that testing would not be so important this year, and even cajoled DHR families into returning to campus to take practice tests. Practice tests! They also failed to read the room, with their shoddy treatment of veteran teachers but that's for another piece.

The district mishandled the pandemic from the moment Greene, ignoring staff concerns, declared she wanted schools open regardless. 

 There were better options, but and this is just my opinion, Greene wanted that district A grade that DCPS missed out on two years ago so badly, she was willing to step over the bodies, mostly metaphorically speaking, of staff and students to get it.

Then there is how poorly the district handles race relations, which started last June with the push to change the names of schools named after confederate generals and culminated with removing a teacher for flying a black lives matter flag. 

I have a theory as to why this administration is so bad with race relations, and that is our superintendent doesn't see children as black, brown, or white, she sees them as test scores, and she probably thinks everyone else should as well. 

In February, the district had a disastrous mental health rollout, which sought to co-op black history month and led to several school walkouts; the district soon doubled down by allowing racists to spread their hate at meetings about changing the names of schools named after confederate era figures and then allowed a teacher to be targeted by them. Rather than stand up for the teacher, they inexplicably later suspended her. 

Any one of those is bad enough, but it displays a complete district failure when so many are taken back to back.   

More on this in part 3.

Outright fraud, passing the buck, risking the health of students and staff, an inability to read the room, and poor race relations aren't bugs of the Greene administration; they are features. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Diana Greene the Teflon superintendent, part 1, Scandals follow Greene to Duval

Diana Greene seems immune to scandal, a performance that would have arguably gotten her fired elsewhere has garnered nothing but accolades from the gentrified class in Jacksonville.  It may be her chameleon-like ability to speak public education to one group and corporate reforms to another or it is her don't make waves demeanor but regardless of the reason her leadership has been anything but good. First, let's take a look at the scandals that should have prevented her from being hired in the first place.  

Holy lack of due diligence Batman.

Superintendent Greene came from Manatee County, which was plagued by one scandal after another during her tenure or that raised shortly thereafter, which had their roots in her leadership.

DCPS has not met a software program they didn't like and it was similar in Manatee County.

From the Bradenton Herald, 

The School Board of Manatee County has agreed to pay $525,000 and resolve a lawsuit with Ciber Global LLC, a key player in the district’s troubled ERP project. 

The ERP software, or enterprise resource planning system, was prepared under then-Superintendent Diana Greene between 2015 and 2018. School board members — including Karen Carpenter, John Colon, Robert Gause, Charlie Kennedy and Dave Miner — were told in 2016 that new software would modernize the district for less than $10 million.

According to a document later obtained by the Bradenton Herald, the true project cost was more than $27 million when labor, travel and other expenses were taken into account. That analysis included both paid and unpaid invoices.

https://www.bradenton.com/news/local/education/article247716770.html 

Somebody should be looking at the cost of our ESS system

Then there was a grading scandal

From the Bradenton Herald,

Cynthia Saunders, interim superintendent for the School District of Manatee County, is accused of abusing her power and inflating graduation rates, according to a notice from the Florida Department of Education.
In a letter dated Dec. 6, Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart said she found probable cause to justify sanctions against Saunders’ educator certificate, citing alleged misconduct between 2014 and 2016.

The state accused Saunders of:

Personal conduct which seriously reduces effectiveness as an employee of the school board, in violation of Florida Statutes.

An offense against the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession, in violation of Florida Statutes.

Intentionally distorting or misrepresenting facts concerning an educational matter in direct or indirect public expression, in violation of Florida Administrative Code.

Using institutional privileges for personal gain or advantage, in violation of Florida Administrative Code.

Failing to maintain honesty in all professional dealings, in violation of Florida Administrative Code.

Using coercive means or promised special treatment to influence professional judgments of colleagues, in violation of Florida Administrative Code.

Submitting fraudulent information on a document in connection with professional activities, in violation of Florida Administrative Code.  

But perhaps however the most damning accusation was that she manipulated the district’s graduation rate.

Saunders was named interim superintendent after Diana Greene left to become superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in late June…

Earlier in the day, Scott Hopes (Manatee County school board member) said any allegations should be directed at the former superintendent.


https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2018/12/coal-in-superintendent-greenes-stocking.html 

Then let's talk about cost overruns with the Manatee County referendum 

From the Times Union,

Construction costs in the Manatee County School District have clocked in at 84 percent over budget over the last three years.

The original approved budget for 20 major construction projects completed in the district from 2015 to 2018 was roughly $27 million. The final price tag for those projects came in at more than $49.9 million, according to project summary sheets obtained via a public records request.

 https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190317/construction-costs-soar-for-manatee-schools 

I supported our referendum here, after some assurances from the district that staff would be taken care of, but if the past is prologue with Greene's leadership we should all be very wary.

Part 2, will look at her scandals and missteps in DCPS. 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Florida treats its public school teachers like second class citizens, it's past time we said enough?

Anybody know a lawyer willing to take on the state of Florida on behalf of its public school teachers? I have to recertify this year (see the letter below), and one of my colleagues just lost their job because they didn't pass the math portion of the general knowledge test in time.  Nothing too unusual until you consider that teachers in the state's voucher schools don't have to have certifications, recertify or take any of the tests that public school teachers annually spend millions on. Both systems are paid for with public money, but only in public schools are their requirements and penalties. 

If I don't recertify, I will be out of a job. If public school teachers don't fulfill this ESE requirement, that ESOL requirement, or for some a reading requirement by an arbitrary deadline, they will be out of a job. Not in our voucher schools, though; they don't have to pay for or take any tests. 

Public school teachers have to use their time and money to get and keep their jobs, while teachers at voucher schools don't. Both are paid for by the public, but both have different rules. Not only is that not fair, but as I read it, it violates the state constitution, which says. 

The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education...

How is having two systems efficient, let alone uniform? The answer is it's not, and it is unfair, especially to public school teachers. 

There are obvious solutions, every teacher paid for with public money either has to get certified or doesn't, but one group shouldn't have to spend what little money they have to while the other doesn't.  

It's time to go to court. Anyone know a lawyer? 

No voucher school teacher will get the letter I got below.



Sunday, July 11, 2021

Florida's separate and unequal education system

The GOP has been in power in Florida for over two decades, and practically since day one, public education has been in their crosshairs. The reasons are many and varied, education has a disproportionate amount of women, many zealots in office would prefer a religious education, teachers' unions genuinely support democrats, or politicians are simply doing the bidding of their big donors, to mention a few. Whatever the reason, what the GOP has created is an unfair and unequal system that benefits few.      

The state constitution says The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require.

Let's see if the system that outs billions into voucher schools is both uniform and efficient.

Public school teachers have to have degrees, get certified, and every five years get recertified. Many also have to take continuing education classes in reading ESOL and ESE. Teachers in voucher schools don't have to have certifications let alone degrees. 

Public school children have to take an annual assessment that measures their progress and is used to measure teachers' performance as well. The assessments are also used to grade schools. Children in voucher schools do not have to take any assessment. There is no mechanism to grade voucher schools.

Public schools must educate any child that shows up, where private schools often discriminate against ESE and LGBTQ children and pick who they both take and keep.      

Finally, public schools must report how they spend every penny, where most private schools that take vouchers don't have to report what they do with the taxpayer money they receive. 

None of that is uniform or efficient, and as bad as that is, the lack of high quality is even worse.  

A recent study by the FEA reported that 1,233 of the 1,654 (75%) private schools in Florida that offer education through grade 12 are unaccredited.

Then there is this from the Department of educations website.

Not accredited? Can't guaranty if colleges and universities will accept degrees from these private voucher schools? 

It's no wonder either, as the Orlando Sentinel reported that hundreds of private schools teach junk science and history classes that say things like dinosaurs and humans lived together, and slaves were free as long as they had Jesus in their hearts.  Voucher schools don't have to have a recognized curriculum or, sadly, any curriculum at all. They are allowed to do whatever they want and the GOP reasons well if a parent somewhere is okay with it, let's fork over thousands of dollars to get it done. The taxpayers of Florida are paying for that. High quality, not a chance. 

Having two systems is not efficient, it is not uniform, and it definitely isn't high quality. Still, the GOP would have taxpayers and citizens believe they are doing the people of Florida a favor by creating it.  

Even if you think public education is failing, a false notion, or indoctrinating children to hate their country, which is both false and ridiculous, or you love the concept of school choice, you have to be disgusted by what the GOP has created. Hundreds of millions are sent annually to barely regulated unaccredited schools that can discriminate and teach whatever they want, no matter how crazy. It's unfair, illegal, and bad business. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

DCPS school board abdicates their responsibility to stand up for public education (draft)

 This was another brutal year for public education with the attacks on trans children, the banning of teaching the truth about our nation's founding, attacks on teachers and their unions, and the usurpation of the school boards' authority to regulate all the public schools in its districts. Truly dreadful all brought about by a state government whose goal is not to help or improve public education but to drown it in the bathtub.

The state is going to do what the state is going to do until people wake up and realize our public schools are more important and vital than what's happening with Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato head, and what other culture war the right comes up with to gin up their base and distract them from both real problems and what they are doing. That being said, I have higher expectations for our school board, who have been silent about all of the above. 

Attacks on trans children, silent.

Attacks on teachers' unions, silent.

Threats against teachers, silent.

Creating a new entity to approve charter schools and sending two hundred million more to barely regulated private schools, violating the state constitution, and again you guess it, silence.

At some point doesn't their silence become complicity, I mean if they weren't complicit from the beginning?

The only opinion any member of the board has publically given is Lori Hershey on the banning of teaching Critical Race Theory, something that she knows isn't happening, and she, after making a hard right turn to run for a House seat, was all for it.

I believe the board has a responsibility to educate people about all the bad and unnecessary and potentially illegal policies that come out of Tallahassee, a responsibility they have abdicated over and over again. Doesn't the public deserve to know where the board stands on these education issues?

This is the thing, the school board does not represent children, or teachers or families, not at all, and you shouldn't think for a second they do. No, they represent Greene and her administration, and that's it, and she is compromised by her fear of Corcoran or her far-right education reform beliefs. Neither she nor they seem to have any interest in educating the public about Tallahassee's machinations or for standing up for public education.  

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The trans athlete and CRT ban fall under the G.O.P's umbrella of destroy public education.

"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."

— Auric GoldfingerGoldfinger

Jacksonville has been at the epicenter of the state's attacks on public education. It started with the Trans Athlete ban at a private school with a long and proud history of anti-LGBTQ action, and it accelerated with the ban of teaching Critical Race Theory in our schools. It didn't matter that it wasn't happening. Both heinous on their own, they are made more so because they are actually attacks on public education designed to make families flee to the state's preferred choice of education, barely regulated private schools that can teach whatever they please.  

With the Trans athlete ban, The G.O.P. in Florida has painted a picture of a thousand swinging dicks, trying to trick their way into girls lockerooms and ammass trophies dominateing sports. The act was called Save our Girls for goodness sake. The reality however is over the last decade maybe a dozen trans athletes have participated in sports in Floirda and none have dominated. This was a solution without a problem designed to both gin up the base and marginalize the LGBTQ community and public education.

Trinity Christian where the bill was signed, emphasizes this because they willfully and gleefully both take public money and discriminate against LGBTQ children. 

The attacks on Critical Race Theory are just as despicable. First, once again, C.R.T. was not being taught in our schools, but it has been characterized over and over by G.O.P politicians and talking heads as indoctrinating our children to hate their country. In an anti-knowledge is power message, DeSantis, Corcoran, and their shills on the state board of education, said looking at history through an honest lens would not be permissible.   

This goes along with how commissioner Corcoran said recently that public school teachers can't be trusted and constantly monitored. To the willfully ignorant, they are painting a picture of teachers indoctrinating students to hate and, in the case of white students, their race, and their families when nothing could be farther from the truth.

The solution to both fake problems is to have families send children to the recently expanded voucher program. They say there won't be no gay stuff, and Merica will be celebrated daily. 

DeSantis with voucher schools is like the Wizard of Oz, saying, look at me and not behind the curtain. The problem is some people have looked behind the curtain and what they have seen is appalling. First, these schools are allowed to discriminate, and many do against LGBTQ and disabled children. They can teach whatever they want. The Orlando Sentinel reported that more than a few taught Dinosaurs lived with humans, and slavery was really black migration, among other ridiculous subjects. They can hire whoever they want, college degrees optional and have so little accountability you might as well say they have none. Heck, most don't even have to account for how they spend the money they receive.

Apparently, no Gay stuff/Merica great is more important than accountability and standards to Florida's G.O.P.  

I don't want to downplay how awful and unnecessary the trans athlete and CRT bans are. I don't, but at the same time, we have to acknowledge where decency and the truth are victims; another of their targets is public education.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Lori Hershey chooses to be on the wrong side of history for political expediancy

 This is is such a disappointing piece to write. I have liked Hershey and supported her.

First, some facts.

Hershey was just elected in November

8 months into her term, she has filed to run for House seat 16, the one about to be vacated by Jason Fischer, who also filed to run for Aaron Bean's senate seat six months in his term. 

When voting to change the names of the schools named after Confederate generals, Hershey joined Charlotte Joyce and voted against history and decency. I am not so much mad at Joyce, I don't know it for a fact, but I am sure it is true, but Joyce tried to pray COVID away, and she just doesn't know any better. On the other hand, Hershey does, yet because she wants what she considers higher office, joined with what she thinks her base is, and think about that. She thinks her base wants black children to attend schools named after people who thought they were sub-human and should be enslaved. 

She gave some excuse like she was voting against it for financial reasons, but that excuse falls flat. I will also give her the benefit of the doubt that she didn't know Fischer, the most craven politician in Duval history, and that's saying a lot, was going to file to run for a different office, but so the %#$@ what. The school board should not be a stepping stone on the way up or a landing spot on the way down, and Warren Jones, I am looking at you. It should be for someone who cares about and wants to improve education, and $@#^ if I know anyone on the current board fits that description.

The think is Hershey went and doubled down.

From WJCT news,

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he wants to prevent the teaching of critical race theory.  

Duval County school board member Lori Hershey agrees. 

“The core idea of critical race theory is that racism is a social construct, and it’s embedded in legal systems and policy,” she said. 

“We’re at a time in our nation that I really think we need to stay away from theories that are divisive in the classroom, and particularly theories that tend to lean more towards a political perspective, and lean towards indoctrination of students in a specific political mindset,” said Hershey, who has also filed to run as a Republican in the District 16 state Senate race

Critical race theory is not taught in any Florida K-12 schools. But Hershey said she saw a trend in that direction, and she thought the rule would prevent that. 

https://news.wjct.org/post/dcps-board-member-lori-hershey-stands-desantis-against-critical-race-theory

Um, she sees it trending that way? Um, where can we get some examples? Get the %#$& out of here.

This ban was about whitewashing history and marginalizing teachers, and Hershey said, sounds good to me. 

@^$%

%$@#

Hershey has thrown away 8 years of goodwill, she has said to hell with history, the teaching profession, and decency, she betrayed her supporters and our schools and for what? To pander to a bunch of racists, which she thinks will be the margin of victory in a house race.  

@#&$ 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Governor DeSantis's blatant cruelty

 Governor DeSantis said it was just a coincidence he signed a bill excluding transgender girls from sports on the first day of gay pride month.   

DeSantis also said it was a coincidence he signed the bill at a private school, Trinity Christian, that takes public money and actively discriminates against LGBTQ children. The Orlando Sentinel did an article on Private schools that take public money and actively discriminate, and it turns out that Jacksonville has seven, including Trinity Christian.   

He was not asked, but he may have said it was just a coincidence that he signed the bill at a podium with a sign that said, Save our Girls.  

I wonder what he was saving our girls from because when asked, the bill's sponsors in the house and senate couldn’t indicate one example of Transgender athletes dominating sports in Florida, despite them participating for decades. However, one of the sponsors, Senator Kellie Stargel, did say during the sente debate that being gay was a choice, and there we have the crux of the matter.     

The true intention of this bill other than to gin up the Republican base, who constantly needs somebody to be mad at or fear, was to send our LGBTQ citizens a message that they are not valued. They have gone too far integrating into society, and Florida was putting a stop to it. 

We should at least be thankful that the final bill did not include a provision that passed the house, which called for the inspection of children’s genitalia. Still, we can’t be because the attacks on the LGBTQ community and decency were just part of the bill. 

The biggest part of the bill strips the right to authorize charter schools away from school districts, ignoring the constitution, which says only school boards have the right to manage public schools in their districts. Of course, since the state has basically made it impossible to say no to charters, this was only a nominal power they had, but now there is no pretense.     

People are saying SB 1028 is an anti-trans bill, and it is, but it is also an unprecedented power and money grab from local school districts.   

 Finally, on the same day, Jacksonville was saying no to racism by changing the names of six schools' named after confederate generals, the governor said yes to prejudice, and told the LGBTQ community they were second class and would be treated thusly. but I guess the governor would say that was just a coincidence. 


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Greene's (lack of) leadership style

 Hoo boy, where to begin.

This is what Greene said about changing the school names.

“I want to thank all of the people who participated in this process, and I want to thank the school leaders and district employees who have managed this over the last several months,” Dr. Greene said. “We’ve had dozens of meetings, hours of public testimony, and thousands of votes. All of this input has helped shape my recommendations, which I will discuss publicly with the Board next week.”

https://www.teamduval.org/2021/05/25/superintendent-shares-school-name-change-recommendations/

Sigh, my decision was made last June when Warren Jones first proposed changing the school names. On the one hand, I thought schools shouldn't be named after confederate generals, and there was no on the other hand. I didn't need a year and more meetings than we had for the referendum either. Greene took a no-brainer and turned it into a year-long ordeal that emboldened racists and divided the city. 

This is bad and embarrassing. How did she not know right off the bat what the right thing was?


An actual photo from the SB building today. 


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Troubled IDEA charter chain coming to Jacksonville in even more trouble

 Some of the post may seem familiar as I wrote most of it last year. I am just going to update it every time a new IDEA scandal hits the news.

IDEA Public Schools CEO JoAnn Gama and Chief Operating Officer Irma Munoz have been fired after a forensic review found “substantial evidence” that top leaders misused money and staff at the state’s largest charter school network for personal gain, the organization’s board president announced Tuesday.  

Jacksonville needs another charter school like the average person needs another hole in their head and I think most people would agree. That however isn't going to stop DCPS from approving a massive expansion at their next board meeting. Here is the thing, the state despite the Florida constitution saying the school board is the final say doesn't give them a lot of leeway, but that being said wouldn't you like a little fight out of the board?


The IDEA charter school wants to open, and this is just a start, three new charter schools. You may have heard about them in the media and none of it is good.

From the Washington Post

A U.S. congressman is demanding answers from the U.S. Education Department, alleging department employees complained to his office about political interference in the awarding of a multi million-dollar federal grant to the controversial IDEA charter school network.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/04/27/idea-charter-schools-landed-grants-with-political-help-education-department-congressman-says/


From the Houston Chronicle

Several weeks after IDEA Public Schools nixed plans to spend millions of dollars on a charter jet lease, the charter network’s leader announced the end of additional “hard to defend” spending practices Thursday...

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/After-jet-backlash-IDEA-charter-schools-curbing-15017880.php

From ASUMAG

IDEA Public Schools, with nearly 50 schools and 51,000 students in Texas, has been criticized for spending $400,000 on basketball tickets and seeking to spend millions on a private jet lease.

https://www.asumag.com/facilities-management/business-finance/article/21121935/leader-of-charter-school-network-vows-to-end-questionable-spending

You know just run of the mill charter expenses... sigh...

Sigh

Sigh

Did I mention sigh?

Duval last year was less than one point away from an A, who knows how much better we will be in two years, yes two years when the first IDEA charter school is scheduled to open.

Here is an excerpt from the board agenda.
 


https://duvalcosb.civicclerk.com/Web/GenFile.aspx?ar=2349

Charter schools, nobody likes, that we don't need, coming for money we don't have. This is the system Florida has set up, That being said, wouldn't you like the board to say no? I sure would.

Education Matters: Can you buy and sell public schools? Apparently ...