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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Elizabeth Andersen on First Coast Connect

 In my opinion, she didn't do very well, and I would encourage you to listen to it.  

https://news.wjct.org/post/covid-vaccine-priority-holocaust-rememberance-day-jax-film-festival-adapt

Look, I know Andersen is smart, and she cares, heck I liked her enough to donate 800 dollars to her when she ran for SB, but you know what all that gets us? More demoralized, sick, and worse, students and staff. As she tries to play paddy cake with DeSantis and keep the republicans at the beach satiated. She is blowing her moment. We need her to fight for students and staff, and if she doesn’t get that, if she’s not up to it, she needs to get out of the way and let somebody who will lead. 

Andersen has been getting a lot of credit for writing a letter to Desantis requesting teachers be vaccinated. It only took three deaths and dozens of other letters from school boards across the state to get her to do so. This is the bare minimum of six weeks late. 

During the interview, Mellissa Ross gave her opportunity after opportunity to call out Desantis, but she refused. Um, what does she think is going to happen? He will ignore her and do what he can to hurt public schools? Spoiler, he’s already doing that in spades.   

When the district's woeful contact tracing came up, she passed the buck to the DOH. This is the same DOH that for months refused to give any guidance and we know is politically compromised by Desantis, who wants herd immunity at any cost.  She must know they aren’t up for the task, and I, for one, am sick and tired of the district absolving themselves of responsibility while people are getting sick. If you know something is bad or wrong, you try and change it, or that’s what leaders are supposed to do. 

Then Ross asked her what the district was going to do if Desantis ignored her request, and she said, well, we will have to keep doing the same. Here is another spoiler what the district is doing isn’t working, and there is a lot of things the district can be doing. 

-The district could cancel all district tests; it’s a pandemic, people are stressed enough, and it will keep people out of the schools. 

- The district could explain to people that despite their mitigation efforts, and I remind you, mitigation means slow; they just can’t keep safe in our schools and encourage families that can go to DHR. This would help with social distancing, which is a lie, and she basically admitted that during the interview. 

-Finally, and most importantly, when there is a case in a class, teachers and families should be notified immediately so they can make decisions for their and their family’s welfare, and that includes allowing staff to take COVID relief days. Furthermore, they could recommend, not require but recommend they quarantine for five days and get a test.    

The district could do all this tomorrow if it wanted too and it should have done it months ago. 

We could and should be doing better, why we aren’t is a %$# @#& mystery, no make that a tragedy. 



Monday, January 25, 2021

When did protecting kids become not become a priority?

For a long time, there was the mistaken belief that children were nearly immune to COVID. The reality is we were keeping them safe, and they just didn’t do the same type of activities that people who were getting it were. Now that we know children can get it just as easy and more and more are getting sick or worse, you would think the powers-that-be would want to do something to protect children. Sadly from DeSantis, Corcoran, and Greene, all we get is an insistence that we engage in more reckless and dangerous behavior.  

From WJXT,  

There has been a 20-30% increase in the number of children who have caught COVID-19 in the last several weeks, according to Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, chief of Community and Societal Pediatrics for UF Health Jacksonville.  

“They can get sick, they can spread the disease, and they can die from the disease,” said Goldhagen, who has warned the public since the pandemic started that any information it has heard that suggests children cannot get sick is “wrong.” 

https://www.news4jax.com/health/2021/01/21/20-30-increase-in-local-children-infected-with-covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR3irkSaLio-ETQ-QRcTxomhszfk2LVhj17nhI0IyFHVGdflTGqyCZas1Cs 

I get it DeathSantis, and Little Boot Corcoran want herd immunity no matter how many people it kills, but is that Greene’s philosophy too? Is a kid here or there worth making sure more take the FSA? What about the school board? Do Chair Andersen and Vicechair Willey have a number for an acceptable amount of deaths? If not, they should demand we make changes. 

We aren’t closing, but there are some things the district could be doing. 

Immediately they should cancel all district tests; it’s not necessary to get more people back in the building. 

They could encourage people to go to DHR, explaining to them that is the only way they can be safe.   

Most importantly, they can deal with our ineffective and reckless contact tracing by letting people know about cases, not who got it, but if there was a case and do so immediately. Then respecting people, including teachers, desire to quarantine. 

The district can keep people safer, sadly they haven’t shown much of an inclination to do so. 

When we can keep people safer, and choose not to, then at some point, deaths become their responsibility. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Board chair Anderson fawns all over Desantis as she finally asks him to do the right thing.

I would like to acknowledge the letter's sentiment to prioritize educators to get the vaccine is laudable if not way overdue.  I also understand the need for some sugar, but to me, this goes overboard.





















So I am torn. I want to give Andersen props for doing the right thing, but I am frustrated it took so long and frankly grossed out by the letter. We should not have to fawn over and beg the governor to do the right thing. I am not saying to be combative, but the facts alone layout an incredibly valid case.

I hate to be that guy but I think the best thing that can come of this and it's very valuable and that's for Desantis's cruelty to be on the record. 

Call me jaded and I know some will, but this is just insulting to all teachers who have given and sacrificed. 

Well, I hope it works, and I hope I am wrong when I say I don't think it will, and when the letter fails, sorry if the letter fails to move our governor, then Andersen the super and the board should finally start to do what they should have been doing since last summer, and that's educating the people about the dangers, implement proper contact tracing and doing all they can to keep people out of the schools.

There is a lot Andersen and the board could be and should have been doing; hopefully, this letter is just step one.   

This week, 2 deaths, 199 cases and nothing from Greene

 It seemed like we were getting a rah rah email a week from Superintendant Greene for a while. I find it interesting what she comments about and doesn't because DCPS just experienced its most dangerous week ever, and we didn't' get so much as a peep.

Graduation, mental health (that's rich), vaccinations, winter break, and her being named superintendent of the year (speechless) have all gotten emails since the beginning of December. This week got crickets.

I get it, Florida is run by madmen who will let die as many as they have to, in order to achieve herd immunity. That's a sad and apparent fact, but that's not to say Greene and the board couldn't do more to keep people safe. 

 They could end all-district testing, stay home, folks; we will be okay with it.

They could encourage people to go to or back to DHR, explaining that there is no way we can keep people safe.

They could pick district staff in our schools as subs. I know they think what they are doing is super important, but right now, slowing the pandemic and keeping people safe should take precedence over everything.

She could be lobbying for teachers to get the vaccines, and before you jump on me, I think there is a big difference between the elderly in assisted living facilities getting them and people in the villages. Heck, we just stopped medical tourism, on Thursday. 

They could take contact tracing seriously. What we are doing now is reckless and dangerous, and everyone knows it. The schools can let people know and at the very least let them decide what's best for them and their safety. Passing the buck to the woefully unqualified DOH is weak. 

They could address class size to help social distancing, and if some bosses from the Ivory Tower have to go back to the classroom, good, maybe they can learn something.  

 Green has things she could be doing. Greene could be keeping staff and students safer, but she's not, she's shrugging her shoulders, and this week, the most dangerous week ever, we don't even get one of her emails.  

Thursday, January 21, 2021

It's been 5 days since the COVID dump and DCPS's numbers are outrageous

 DCPS changed the way it was doing its dashboard, now instead of waiting for the DOH, they are just reporting cases the schools hear about. That first day was crazy as you might expect as the district cleaned the books. The problem is the numbers have not gotten any better. 

So in the last five school days, DCPS reported 151 students and 84 staff have tested positive for COVID, that's 47 a day. We are averaging 47 cases a day. Throw in the dump and we are averaging 66. Friends contact tracking was reckless when the dashboard was reporting five or six a day, how bad must it be now. 

 

https://c19sitdash.azurewebsites.net/

In a little over a week, DCPS has lost a teacher, a para, and a student and had 393 plus cases of COVID reported. At one point do things become critical? Asking for a friend.

Terrible

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

School Board Chair Andersen says she is devastated about the DCPS deaths, well then how about doing something.

 I had high hopes for Mrs. Andersen, so high I donated 800 dollars to her campaign. A former educator, I thought she would fight for teachers and against the state. Now people are dying, and she may feel devastated, but it is way past time she did something.

From WJXT,

Board chair Elizabeth Andersen made the announcement Wednesday morning on Facebook.

“I’m sad to report that we have lost more members of the DCPS family. Ms. Martin was a beloved Paraprofessional at Neptune Beach Elementary who passed away from COVID, and a student at Twin Lakes has passed away from MIS-C, an illness thought to be COVID related,” Anderson wrote. 

“I’m devastated for these families and school communities,"

https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2021/01/20/neptune-beach-elementary-employee-dies-due-to-covid-19-complications-board-member-says/

You know what her being devastated without action is going to give us? More deaths.

I am devastated, too, as I am sure tens of thousands of people across the state, but unlike Andersen, we don't have the power to do anything about it.

She is the school board chair; she could call for adequate social distancing, transparency, and robust contact tracing. She could be out there letting people know the truth, and that's a basically toothless mask policy, and plexiglass shields aren't going to keep people safe. Instead of sitting back while the district encourages people to head to school, she could be telling people to stay home if at all possible.

Devastated, you know what her being devastated gets us? Absolutely nothing, but if she wanted to, she could change that. 

I urge her to have a special meeting to address the district's woeful contact tracing and to encourage people to switch to DHR if possible. How many more people have to get sick or worse before she and the district do something.

Three members of team Duval have passed in a little over a week. Where is the coach?

I got an advanced copy of Superintendent Greene’s email, the one we all know is coming after three members of our school family passed away in a little over a week.  Hopes and prayers, hopes and prayers, hope prayers, hopes and prayers, hopes and prayers. Best  

I, for one, am tired of hopes and prayers and would like some action. We desperately need to address contact tracing and social distancing, you know, half of the things that are supposed to keep us safe.  The board and super can no longer sit idly by.

Imagine this, you get home, and the lead story is forty people died on Jacksonville Roads in one day. That would freak you out, wouldn’t it? What about police or gangs kill forty Jacksonville citizens today, or forty die in Jacksonville from eating tainted subs from the public deli. All of those would be shocking and demoralizing. But when 40 people die of COVID, which is how many died yesterday, we all kind of shrug our shoulders and say, glad it wasn’t us. Well, friends, when teachers, paras, and students start dying, it is us.    

Everybody should stop right now and go to the DCPS COVID dashboard. 

 https://c19sitdash.azurewebsites.net/

 There were 51 students and 29 staff! This wasn’t a dump day like last week either; this was just a day. This is going to be the new normal. 

The thing is, contact tracing was abysmal when they were reporting a handful of cases a day. How’s it going to be now that the number is dozens?  

We must get serious as a district about contact tracing. That’s what anywhere who has successfully fought back against the pandemic has done. Sadly, Greene and the board seem content to let the DOH do a job they are incredibly incapable of doing. Oh, it’s their fault; they are the ones doing it; it's not on us. The buck certainly doesn’t stop with the board or super. 

At the very least, people, families, and staff should be made aware if there is a sick teacher teaching their kid or a sick kid in their room and should be made aware immediately, and then they can decide how they want to protect themselves. DCPS is robbing people of the ability to defend themselves, and that’s reckless and unacceptable. 

We could and should be doing better, but all we are getting is hopes and prayers.    

DCPS must just sit around and think of ways to #@&% with people

At my school, we have several certificated staff that doesn’t have classroom responsibilities. This isn’t to say they don’t have responsibilities; they do, a lot of them.   

So because of the completely foreseen sub fiasco, they have been covering classes, a lot of them. Not just a period here or there but entire days. 

Well, the district just told them because they don’t have planning periods, they don’t need to give them even the merger sub pay that teachers get. Apparently, they are little more than yoked livestock that can be told to do whatever.  

I call bull @#%#! 

The district is nickeling and diming these professionals. This is an amount that can’t be more than a few thousand dollars too. But hey, as long as it $@#&s somebody over, let's roll with it. 

So petty and disheartening, why can’t we do better? 

Monday, January 18, 2021

DCPS admits there is a sub problem, sort of...

  Last summer Superintendent Greene said having subs wasn't a problem and we had 2k ready to go, though almost immediately when the school year began we knew that wasn't true, and the school board admitted it, sort of, when they signed an MOU with the union, to increase teacher sub pay.

This MOU proves two things, the district completely disrespects elementary school teachers, and there has been a bog and persistent problem with getting subs.

We all know Greene wasn't honest last summer, or at the very least should have known better and in my mind, this just proves it.

Here is the MOU

COVID-19 has imposed a hardship upon us all. The Substitute System has not escaped that hardship as they have struggled in their responsibility to fill vacant teacher positions. Classroom teachers are often called upon to be used as substitutes in order to provide appropriate coverage for classes. To that end, DTU and the DCSB has reached an agreement to increase compensation for teachers who voluntarily agree to act as substitutes or who accept students from another class when a peer teacher is absent, and a substitute can’t be acquired.


A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed to provide additional compensation for classroom teachers who assume these responsibilities as follows.



Coverage Time

Compensation

Secondary Schools on a 4 Period Day

$28.00

Secondary Schools on a Seven-Period Day

$22.00

Alternative Schools on a 4 Period Day

$28.00

Alternative: Students Divided Among 4 Teachers

$22.00 for Full Day; $11.00 for Half Day

Elementary: Students Divided by 4 Teachers

$22.00 for Full Day; $11.00 for Half Day


The MOU is in effect from January 18, 2021 through June 30, 2021 and will not be applied to days prior to the effective date of this signed agreement.

Last week there were 172 student cases, 88 staff cases and nothing but crickets from the district.

 Those numbers are beyond scary, and they beg the question, how can effective contact tracing occur? The answer is it can't, and that means more people will get sick and worse. So what is the district doing to improve it? If you guessed nothing you would be correct.


When I got COVID, I notified my school on Sunday. The health department got in touch with me on Wednesday and promptly did nothing, even though I had been within six feet of everybody in my class every day, including days when there was no doubt I was infected. 

I got this note last night,

Still, no word from DOH, and now the whole family has it, so he’s out another week. Another 5th grader has it in one of my switch classes! We were told to send packets home, but no concern for our safety or the other children who have been exposed!

Unfortunately, I get notes like this all the time. 

If we cannot contact trace, we can't keep people safe; how don't Greene and the board get that? 

At the very least, they should tell families and parents, hey, there is a case in your class and then respect their choices to defend themselves, which as teachers, should be to take the COVID leave.

This is so reckless and dangerous, and as we can see, the numbers are getting worse and worse, and the district, if they care if they want to address it if they want to keep people safe, has done zero to do so. 

For %#$s sake DCPS you are going to get people killed.

Note, yes, the district changed the way the dashboard reports, which makes me wonder how many cases haven't made the dashboard, and my bet is it's hundreds if not more. The thing is, this just shows how incredibly inadequate their contact tracing has been. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Europe says schools are vectors for spread. DCPS says we are wide open for business.

Remember when DCPS said they were going to let science drive their decisions? I don't think science has influenced any of their calls, the only things that seem to drive them are DeathSantis and Little Boot Corcoran, oh, and cowardice that drives them too. 

There has been plenty of evidence that schools help spread the virus. That they contribute to the pandemic. Now they may not be bars and gyms but they are playing their part and sadly as we now have millions of cases of pediatric covid, we are learning too late that the reason kids didn't get it at the beginning is we kept them safe. Something we are no longer doing as we funnel them back into schools. 

From the Wall Street Journal,

BERLIN—As U.S. authorities debate whether to keep schools open, a consensus is emerging in Europe that children are a considerable factor in the spread of Covid-19—and more countries are shutting schools for the first time since the spring.

Closures have been announced recently in the U.K., Germany, Ireland, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands on concerns about a more infectious variant of the virus first detected in the U.K. and rising case counts despite lockdowns.

While the debate continues, recent studies and outbreaks show that schoolchildren, even younger ones, can play a significant role in spreading infections.

“In the second wave we acquired much more evidence that schoolchildren are almost equally, if not more infected by SARS-CoV-2 than others,“ said Antoine Flahault, director of the University of Geneva’s Institute of Global Health.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-schools-are-closing-again-on-concerns-they-spread-covid-19-11610805601?reflink=desktopwebshare_twitter

Almost equally if not more infected sigh.

Hey superintendent Greene and school board. One of the reasons DCPS kids weren't getting it in the spring is we had closed schools. Now with schools open the number of kids getting it is spiking.

What we are doing is reckless and it would be nice if we had an education leader who would speak up. Anyone? Anyone?

#@&$

CDC puts Duval County in Red Zone, DCPS says things are just fine.

 The CDC says Florida is in real trouble that we do need to do something quickly. Juxtapose that with DCPS, which is encouraging some and cajoling others to return to the schools. What we are doing is reckless, and DCPS should know better.

For a district that has gotten rid of latex and peanuts in some schools and limited field trips in an abundance of caution, we have thrown caution to the wind as putting people in danger is the order of the day.   

From News4Jax.

Florida is in “full COVID-19 resurgence,” according to the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s latest report, which also predicts more deaths to come.

The report, which was sent Sunday to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also said most areas of the state are seeing an increased spread of the virus. The report puts Duval County in the red zone, meaning Jacksonville, like most of the state, is seeing more than 100 cases per 100,000 population.

"Florida has seen an increase in new cases, test positivity, and hospitalizations and is in full COVID-19 resurgence,” the report said. “Nearly all metro areas over 500,000 persons are in full resurgence and aggressive action must meet this increasing community spread in our large metro areas. Metros that continued to improve post-Thanksgiving are now destabilizing.”

https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/2021/01/15/white-house-coronavirus-task-force-report-puts-duval-county-in-red-zone/?fbclid=IwAR0VVll_I3Klqxl7hL1nepgl9eK2Q4-Xla6fzHwt-1L9eyvMIDEUrXfbus8

Now I know what you are saying, that this is on the state that DCPS is just doing what they are told. Two things, when has just following orders ever worked as an excuse and putting people in harm's way is what DCPS wants to do. We can blame the state, but the reality is the state is just giving Greene cover for what she wants.

I get it too, we aren't going to quarantine; our state is run by madmen who ignore science, but that doesn't mean we can't do things a lot better, and step one is the district being honest with people about how dangerous it is. Step 2 is instead of encouraging people to come back into the building, we could encourage them to go to DHR. Throw in robust contact tracing, a universal mask policy, and insist on social distancing, and we can be a lot safer.

If you have to give Greene a pass for having people in school, don't give her a pass for a lack of social distancing and contact tracing, she is 100 percent responsible for that.

The reality is we're in trouble, and the district is pretending we aren't.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Just how bad was the DCPS Covid dashboard

 So DCPS has changed the dashboard AGAIN. Supposedly to increase transparency. I think anything THIS district does to improve transparency is a good thing, but I wonder why now. It's probably because most people have known the dashboard has been tragically wrong, and this gives them the opportunity to pass the bunch to the DOH.

From the Times Union,

Wednesday evening, when Duval Schools families refreshed the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, they saw a massive spike in cases. But the district says it’s because of the new, more proactive way they're reporting things, not a school-specific case surge. 

Instead of waiting for confirmation from the local Department of Health, Duval County Public Schools announced Wednesday that it will start reporting potential COVID-19 cases into its system as soon as officials become aware of a case.

The change took effect Wednesday night, with 170 new cases populating for one day.

The district said in a post to its website that this will help families and the community make informed decisions and with overall transparency. 

This marks the second time the district modified its dashboard and, in turn, how the community is notified of cases impacting its respective schools.

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/education/2021/01/14/duval-schools-says-spike-cases-prompted-expedited-reporting/4149337001/

Informed decisions? Ugh, DCPS hasn't been making informed decisions about the virus since the summer. It's hard to be truly informed after a 170 person dump.

Transparency, now, it's good? Before, not so good? I have my doubts it will improve, and they are based on the district's past performance.

The thing is, the dashboard, whether it's accurate or not, is just eye candy. It is the contact tracing that has to dramatically improve. We can no longer wait days or weeks to do it. We can't continue to do the asinine things we have done for months. This has to happen automatically, and people in contact with somebody infected whether they have symptoms or not have to leave until they get a positive test. I mean, if we truly want to make a difference, that is. Unfortunately, DCPS does what it does best with this, and that passes the buck. 

Oh, to answer my question, it was really, really bad, and don't take my word for it, take the districts.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Duval County school board just doesn't get it

A school board member told me they must be careful about what they say (about how terrible the state is) because they may and try and harm or do something to the district. Um, does that mean things could be even worse because the board capitulates like that and not educating children is its job, and things are terrible? Spoiler alert Duval County School Board, the state will do all it can to harm public education, whether you suck up to them or not, and since that’s the case, how about you start doing your jobs.    

What don’t these school board members get? 

Instead of giving in over and over to policies they know are bad or destructive, they could be out there educating the public and fighting for pro-education candidates. Do they think Jason Fischer gives a #@%& that they aren’t out telling people how bad he is? Do they think he could be even worse if they did?    

The state of Florida stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the district, and there hasn’t been a peep. 

The state of Florida gave veteran teachers a pay cut, and there hasn’t been a peep. 

The state of Florida is forcing staff and students into unsafe conditions, and there hasn’t been a peep. 

Not fighting and just going along hasn’t been working. Hoping Corcoran and DeSantis come around is not a strategy that is going to work. It is way past time the board stood up to Tallahhee while there is something worth standing up for anyway. 

The school board has a voice; they could be out there fighting and explaining to the public, but they haven’t done so, and that’s unacceptable. 

I would like to mention that Board member Willie voted last summer against going back to school.  


 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Teacher fear in DCPS is real and palpable.

 I have written many times about the lack of contact tracing, and social distancing, and how the dashboard shouldn't be believed. If the district cares, they sure haven't shown it, and the fear for many teachers and staff is real.  

I received this from a reader. I have edited it to take out anything identifying because, sadly, in DCPS, teachers have a lot to be afraid about.

So one of my students is positive. I only found out because I asked the secretary. The only thing my principal has said to me about anything is that their absence has been excused. Telling me in the hallway because he happened to see me.

I’m not going to lie. I’m having a slight panic attack because no one is telling me anything. The only reason I know is because I asked our secretary. If it was just me affected, that is one thing. But it isn’t. It is my class and all the kids. It is all the resource teachers. It is the other teachers on grade level because they make us move kids around for their stupid pet program.

It is my two personal children. It is their classes, their teachers, their middle schools. It is my parents because my youngest stays with them because they are close to his middle school. It is my ex and his parents, his wife, their kid, his grandparents. Friends, the list is endless. I am so upset I can’t even think straight enough to know where to begin other than getting myself and my kids tested.

I have heard this story a dozen times, if not more, from teachers all across the district. When I got sick, I was concerned about my students and my paras more than anything. I wanted t make sure they were safe, but sadly I seemed to be the only one.

Where is the board? Do they not know, or is it they don't care?

We could and should be doing better. What we are doing now is reckless and not designed to keep people safe but butts in seats.

Terrie Brady and DTU stick up for veteran teachers

A few weeks back, I was told something may be coming, and Terrie Brady yesterday confirmed it when she asked the district to renegotiate on behalf of veteran teachers, many of who are about to take a pay cut.  

To be honest, I don’t think it should have come to this. The district has money extra in reserves and is saving money from the referendum. They didn’t have to throw veteran teachers under the bus. That was a choice they made.  

They also could have read the room; with the new stimulus package DCPS is scheduled to get a hefty sum, and with the Democrats winning Georgia, states and localities will get their aid preventing budget cuts.  

Yet despite this, the district thought at least in the first go-around @#$& over people who have dedicated their lives to the children of Jacksonville was acceptable. 

All that being said, I am glad Terrie and the Union haven’t stopped fighting for us and have requested to reopen negotiations in the hopes of getting something done. 

Now we just need to work on fair planning across grade levels and about a thousand other issues.  

Some good news from DCPS

People have accused me of writing only about bad news, and they are right. I don’t do a good news blog but, in my defense, I am a teacher in Florida, and I do work for DCPS, and they give me plenty of bad news to write about. That being said, there were a few signs of hope at yesterday’s board meeting.  

Last Monday’s COVID-19 shots for school board employees apparently went over well, I mean very well, as the staff has raved about the efficiency. That’s great, and hopefully, it can serve as a larger scale template when the governor decides teachers are worthy of getting the shot.  

The district is going to get 159 million in PPE money. I have asked what we can do with that money, and when I get that, I will share it, but at the very least, that should open other money for things like taking care of veteran teachers, and who can use a printer? 

The union requested a reopening of negotiations to take care of veteran teachers.  After a terrible reading of the situation, DCPS decided to screw over veterans. Hopefully, now they can be treated equitably, and then we can treat our paras and office personal as well.  

Then finally, DCPS and DTU have negotiated a continuance of COVID sick days until June 1st. This means if somebody gets sick or must quarantine, they can use ten days of this before they get to their PTO. And look, I get it, the District thinks COVID in our schools is like seeing a unicorn, but this is good news that will probably play a huge difference. 

Now there were some things that bugged me, and I went home early. Yay, we got a new charter school; this makes the eight new or expanded ones in less than a year. A 15th-year teacher now makes 500 dollars more than a first-year teacher; how that is acceptable is @#&$ing insane. Then there was the entire they voted to give themselves huge raises while veterans teachers took pay cuts thing and finally the board just gave me a vibe they were completely clueless about how bad contact tracing, social distancing, and the dashboard are. Maybe I am wrong, but yeah, that is how it seemed.        

School Board votes to give themselves a nearly 6,291 dollars raise while giving veterans a pay cut.

You know I had hoped they might do the right thing, and there is a glimmer of hope as the union has requested to reopen contract negotiations for veterans, but at the end of the day, the SB voted to give themselves a 6k plus raise many while veterans took a pay cut. 

Teacher salary increases, as well as contract language modifications, were approved by the Board on January 12, 2021. The contract included an increased starting salary of $45,891 for teachers. 

Just like a first-year teacher’s salary went from 39,600 to 45,891, an increase of 6,291 dollars, so did the school boards. This as veterans who got the best and brightest and or school recognition money just took pay cuts. 

Now the union has asked to renegotiate for veterans. Still, the truth is this disrespected instigated by the state was compounded by the board, and their universal silence has been deafening.  

At the school board meeting, I asked how they could look veterans in the eye with them getting a big raise with vets taking a pay cut, and it appears the answer was very easy. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Duval Courts close, Duval schools stay open, um wait what?!?

Chief Judge Mark Mahone and Superintendent Greene must be looking at the same information. So what do they do? The chief Judge closes the courts until February 22nd while Superintendent Greene encourages children to return to the buildings. Greene's reckless behavior is going to get (more) people sick or worse.  

From the Times Union, 

In a Jan. 6 email to top officials in the courts and criminal justice system, Chief Judge Mark Mahon said virtually all in-person courthouse functions will be suspended until Feb. 22. Mahon stopped short of officially returning to Phase 1 Covid protocols, but his email directive is materially identical to the Florida Supreme Court's definition of Phase 1...

... “Duval, Clay, and Nassau Counties’ health conditions have drastically deteriorated over the last month to the point that the entire Circuit is now trending up faster than or exceeds the state averages for weekly new cases and positivity rates,” Mahon said in his email. “As a result, we must modify our current operations plan.”

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/coronavirus/2021/01/09/chief-judge-orders-shutdown-all-person-court-functions-until-feb-22/6608868002/?

The judge is right. The situation in Duval has deteriorated, and it is bound to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Duval has been averaging 891 cases a day in 2021. You know that's about 17 times more per day than when we closed our schools last March. What gets 17 times worse, and you declare victory? DCPS would have you believe all is fine when it is not.

Things are getting worse, and DCPS's answer is to make things worse.

Here is a link to the Florida Dashboard so you can see it for yourself.

https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/96dd742462124fa0b38ddedb9b25e429

This is the Chief Judge's entire letter.

As the charts below show, Duval, Clay, and Nassau Counties’ health conditions have drastically deteriorated over the last month to the point that the entire Circuit is now trending up faster than or exceeds the state averages for weekly new cases and positivity rates. As a result, we must modify our current operations plan. The Circuit remains in Phase 2; however, I am implementing the following modifications:

EFFECTIVE THURSDAY, JANUARY 7, 2021, ALL IN-PERSON PROCEEDINGS ARE SUSPENDED UNTIL A TENTATIVE DATE OF FEBRUARY 22, 2021. THERE WILL BE ENO IN-PERSON PROCEEDINGS IN ANY OF THE CIRCUIT’S COURTHOUSE FACILITIES. EXCEPTIONS SHALL BE GRANTED BY THE CHIEF JUDGE OR NASSAU COUNTY OR CLAY COUNTY ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE ONLY.

EFFECTIVE THURSDAY, JANUARY 7, 2021, THERE WILL BE NO INMATES TRANSPORTED TO ANY COURTHOUSE FACILITY UNTIL A TENTATIVE DATE OF FEBRUARY 22, 2021. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS.

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, ALL JURY TRIALS ARE SUSPENDED. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS.

ANY JURY TRIAL SCHEDULED FOR FEBRUARY 22 OR AFTER MAY REMAIN SCHEDULED, PENDING FURTHER NOTICE.

DCPS is either deceptive or incompetent about COVID numbers and either is unacceptable.

There have been 7236 cases of pediatric COVID in Duval; of that, only 519 have made DCPS's dashboard. (see the links below). Absolutely nothing DCPS says can be taken seriously. Either their deception or incompetence is unacceptable.

Now I want to be fair the COVID Dashboard didn't even exist until August, so cases from April to them wouldn't make the dashboard. Likewise, the board doesn't include charter, homeschool, or just not in school kids. That being said, DCPS would have us believe that from August to today, as the pandemic has raged out of control, it's only affected, 519 students? I call bull sh*t.

Teachers have told me all year long that they know students who have had it, but they don't hear it from the school or see it on the dashboard. They hear it from the kids or families.

This is reckless and deceptive, and if the district doesn't know it, then they should.     

Pediatric cases in Florida by county.

http://ww11.doh.state.fl.us/comm/_partners/covid19_report_archive/pediatric-reports/pediatric_report_latest.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1mGVpbTy_uGt6GL9hnUoVfseYW9Z0nTttSvswBNImjF6gODK7Sbvye4ic

DCPS Covid Dashboard

https://c19sitdash.azurewebsites.net/

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Lot J and the school referendum are both reflective of Jacksonville's problems.

 There are many similarities between City Hall's battle to get Lot J passed and their battle against the school tax referendum in the summer of 19.  

Lot J was unpopular with the citizens of Jacksonville, and the Referendum was popular, but in both instances, they ignored the will of the people. 

Fighting for Lot J and against the referendum are both going to cost taxpayers a lot. The city auditor and other professionals with insight into development have come out and said the Lot J deal as is, is a bad one, and taxpayers will end up losing out. 

Then when the city fought against the referendum delaying its pass, Tallahassee was able to change the rules, and now hundreds of millions of dollars will not go into our schools but instead into the pockets of charter school owners and then out of the city.

Finally, both involved big donors of the mayor, Shad Kahn with lot J and Gary Chartrand, and a few other charter interests have given heavily to Mayor Curry and more than a few others on the city council.  

I believe there should be another similarity, and that's a vote by the city's citizens. One of the specious arguments several city council members gave when opposing the referendum, was they didn't believe it would pass; well, if Lot J is such a great idea, they should believe it would pass with no problem.

I understand we shouldn't have referendums for everything. Running the city is exactly why we have a city council and mayor. The thing is, this is a huge and controversial issue that will cost taxpayers over two hundred million in investment. Maybe when things get that big, we should let the citizens weigh in with a vote.

What would be wrong with having a special election in two months and letting the citizens decide, I mean, unless not letting the citizens decide is what they want all along. 

We have a city that worked very well for those at the top, those connected to city council members and the mayor, but the thing is it doesn't work so well for the rest of us as the broken sidewalks around the corner from my house and the hundreds of millions raised with a referendum that won't go to any of our public schools show. 

233 million dollars would fix many potholes and help a lot of people; instead of giving of city hall just giving it to a multi-billionaire, let us let the people decide. 

Nothing the FLDOE does should be taken seriously.

 Nothing the FLDOE does should be taken seriously and I can prove it with two words, Fred Piccolo.

Fred Piccolo was Governor DeSantis's all too often combative spokesman who never delt with facts and only dealt in attacks and hyperbole. I say was because he was shamed into resigning after he made light of the hundreds of thousands of dead from Covid. Don't fret for Fred and his family. Despite having zero experience in education he landed a six-figure job with the Florida Department of Education, as the Vice-Chancellor of the college system, a job and you probably guessed it he is entirely unqualified for. 

From the Orlando Sentinel, 

Fred Piccolo, a longtime GOP operative who most recently served as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ spokesman, will focus on workforce education issues when he joins the Florida Department of Education on Wednesday. 

Piccolo will earn $120,000 in his new job working for the department’s division of colleges. He has been tapped to help state colleges and other department divisions “elevate” programs related to career and adult education, key needs as Florida looks to recover economically from the pandemic, said Taryn Fenske, a spokeswoman for the education department. 

Piccolo’s resignation was announced in late December, as he faced criticism for a controversial Christmas Eve post on Twitter about COVID-19 victims. Piccolo, however, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, that he had submitted his resignation letter to DeSantis on Dec. 23. 

Piccolo will be an executive vice chancellor for the department’s college system, which oversees Florida’s 28 community colleges. In his new job, he will earn $34,500 less than he did as DeSantis’ communications director. 

Piccolo’s career has been spent almost exclusively in politics. Since 2006, most of his work has been serving as a spokesman or chief of staff for Republican campaigns and elected officials, and he has no experience in Florida’s public schools or state colleges, according to his LinkedIn profile.

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/education/os-ne-piccolo-education-department-20210105-uufee7kanna4jleqns6dj7xxr4-story.html

Ni experience huh? Well, I guess that makes sense commissioner Corcoran doesn't have any experience either. It just goes to show that Republicans in Tallahassee don't take education seriously and just view it as a way for them and their friends to get rich.

What a $%#&ing insult to education and decency.  Nothing they do should be taken seriously. 

Let's talk about social distancing in DCPS

 Social distancing is part of the holy trinity of protecting oneself and others from the coronavirus. It's also a lie that it is happening in our schools. I know it, you know it, and Greene and the board know it too, the difference is where we might be outraged and horrified the board and super are shrugging their shoulders. 

Have you ever heard the phrase bread and circuses? It's how the Roman emperors kept people content. The idea wasn't to fix their problems but to distract them from their problems. It's also the ancient version of telling parents we will protect your children by having them social distancing.

Let me tell you about my room. My room has nine students and three adults, and social distancing is impossible. Now imagine a class of 15, 20, or 30 children?  Well, it's a nightmare because most classes are that size or bigger, a byproduct of Greene and the board cajoling families to send students back to our schools. 

From the Tampa Times, 

Medical experts stress that masks and social distancing are key to mitigating the illness, noted Joanne McCall, the union’s executive director.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with. 

District negotiators said they empathized. But they suggested that, from a practical standpoint, keeping children a set distance apart from one another could be problematic. 

“How do we govern the space when kids are in class, and school is taking place?” asked Gibbs High principal Barry Brown, a member of the district team. “How do I ensure this truly takes place?” 

https://www.tampabay.com/news/education/2021/01/07/pinellas-teachers-want-social-distancing-rules-as-virus-conditions-worsen/

You know district negotiators (in Pinellas County) empathized, but hey, they can't do anything about it. At least they are getting empathy. In DCPS, we can't even get that.

There were solutions, like opting every one out and then having people opt-in, or just opening up schools to small groups of ese students or those the district was concerned might fall behind, but DCPS passed on them and chose a pack em, and stack em strategy that they knew would make social distancing difficult if not impossible. 

In a lot of blogs, I try and give a solution, I tried to give the district solutions last summer, but short of sending kids home or hiring a bunch of new teachers at 45k a pop, I don't have one, but that's what I think the district wanted. They wanted to get to the point where nothing could be done.

This is the thing we shouldn't pretend there is social distancing and let families know that. Pretending doesn't do anybody any good, but it is one of the things DCPS is good at.  

 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Juking the stats DCPS graduation style

Superintendent Greene sent out an email blast touting the district's improvement in graduation, a stat that has steadily gone up for a decade. This is my question, can any of you point to a specific policy that she implemented that has led to our increase? I can, and that’s the district requiring teachers to promote students whether they deserve it or not. Like with COVID numbers, the district's focus is appearing to do good rather than actually doing good.

Before I continue, I just want to say I am not for failing kids. I think we should do everything we can to promote them. I guess a difference between me, and the district is I believe teachers are already doing so.

Two years ago, I did a series of blogs about how the district was limiting teachers' ability to fail students.  

https://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2019/05/dcps-fails-students-when-it-refuses-to.html

Then we shouldn’t forget that Greene left a graduation scandal in her last district.

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

When Times-Union writer Emily Bloch posted a piece on Facebook about our graduation rates improving.

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/education/2021/01/07/florida-graduation-rates-released-duval-hits-new-record-high/6587827002/

She received a few dozen comments, overwhelmingly from teachers and overwhelmingly negative. They spoke about:

Grades being changed behind their backs.

Being cajoled or encouraged to pass children who didn’t deserve it.

And how the number of hoops teachers must go through to retain a child was daunting.

Like I said, I am not for failing children though I am for children learning a work ethic, and there can be consequences for their actions. Likewise, I am for putting in place resources to help children pass. We might not want to admit it, but some of our kids need a little longer to master material, and for some of our kids, their behavior is standing in their way to be successful.

Growing up, I went to summer school twice to remediate math. Instead of pushing kids through, we should say to families, hey, we are going to have to hold them back, or they are going to have to spend the next six weeks in school catching up and hope they do the right thing.* Throw in some extended day and behavioral assistance, and I think we have a recipe for success. 

Another thing we can do is to eliminate grades things that can be manipulated. People and I get it to want the bonus and the better grade, so some will do what it takes to get it, even if that isn't the right or proper thing to do.

It is way past time DCPS changed its priority from appearing to do good to doing good. 

*I think we should have a ton of summer school, but at the same time, we can’t make it drudgery. We must have recess and electives to balance out the day. Now some people might say we don’t have the money for that; well, friends, where is the super and board out fighting to make sure we have the resources we need? Nowhere as far as I can tell. 


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Greene just doesn't get it.

 Greene just doesn't get it, and please don't take my word for it. Take hers.

Greene penned yet another letter to the staff, and in it, she points out how completely tone-deaf she is. 

Bold is my commentary.

Team Duval,

As we begin this new year, I am once again calling on you to be the voice of calm and the hand of stability during uncertain times.  Our students are certain to be affected by the events in Washington, D.C. earlier today.  Um, what about the pandemic every day? What about the learning environment set up by the district that isn't super conducive to learning? What about the risks everyday staff and students are required to endure? Yesterday was stressful, but so has every day since the election. This smacks of she saw something on-line and said, hmm I will send out a note.

 

I know that much has been asked of you already this year.  You think? Since you know, that is the case why learning arcs, why double downing on testing? Why, when many of us are just trying to survive, are you adding to our plates? I also understand that many of you are deeply troubled by the political turbulence throughout this election process, even before the violence we witnessed today.  My first message is to take care of yourself.  Nothing about veteran teachers getting screwed over? Teaching during a pandemic, your doom and gloom budget cuts? There is a lot to be troubled about, and with some of the issues, your silence is the same thing as complicity.


You could practice those breathing and mindfulness activities we have been teaching our students through our Wellness Wednesdays, or take a walk on your planning period with a trusted colleague.  There are times when we all need support, and I urge you to do whatever works best for you. Walk on our planning period??? Gulp, what about the teachers who had to go to common planning today or who didn't have a planning period because their school doesn't guaranty them one every day. Or you know what if we are just swamped by all the extra work? This was laughable and shows me that teachers are nothing more than ants to a giant.

 

The authors of our Calm Classroom curriculum have provided several techniques we can use to calm our minds and emotions during particularly stressful times:

1.       Limit our input of news and media exposure. We can stay effectively informed with just very occasional input from TV, social media and reading the news.  Stay ignorant.

2.       Eat and sleep well. Exercise, drink enough water and eat foods that you believe to be nourishing for your body. Practice mindful calming techniques. Yeah, maybe if you aren't exhausted at the end of the day or don't have to take home work.

3.       Make a personal decision to allow yourself to take a break from the world and recharge. We have the ability to make this positive choice for our own self-care.  Take a personal day, but don't expect a sub.

4.       Cultivate peace for yourself and others. Please, on the one hand, don't ask me to risk my health and safety and ignore my needs, and on the other, don't tell me to cultivate peace for myself and others.

 

As a reminder, Employee Assistance is available to all employees and their families.  These are trained professionals that can assist with issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, and anger.  They can also refer you for additional support, as needed.  

 

In the next days, our students may be experiencing similar anxiety and uncertainty.  Your everyday normal interactions with students will go a long way in reassuring them that they are in a safe space.  The best thing you can do is be present and watchful, particularly during unstructured times such as class changes and lunch periods.  You know your students best and can usually tell when something doesn’t feel quite right.  If a student seems to be exhibiting especially volatile behavior or signs of a deeper issue, please refer him or her to your school counselor or school administrator.  They have access to additional resources to provide support.  Our district website has outlined a crisis response protocol that includes warning signs at https://dcps.duvalschools.org/Page/19843I just can't.

I don't know about you, but I don't find her notes calming or reassuring anymore. Not since last spring, when she said teachers were heroes for distance learning, but then by the end of summer, that they were zeroes. Getting a 41 dollar raise while school board members are about to take home 7 grand and giving up a fifth of my planning doesn't help either.

Being super is a tough job, I get it, but maybe she could lighten her own load by giving up these notes.