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Saturday, January 27, 2024

Parents were used as props to justify the schedule change

 Parents were used as props to justify the schedule change

I hope parents understand that they were used as props in the schedule change. I hope they understand that the district doesn’t care about helping with childcare problems and please don’t take my word for it, take there.

This is what the district said in their specious and self-serving press release.

From the DCPS press release

The change was based on recommendations from the district’s calendar committee, which is comprised of stakeholder groups such as parents, teachers, the teacher union, administrators, district leaders, and community partners. Some of the concerns included the challenges some parents experienced with getting childcare. There were also concerns about low attendance on those early release days and the limited time for instruction.

First notice, anything about testing?

Neither do I, and in fact, I have talked to several people on the calendar committee, and they say testing was never brought up, though helping parents was. Now juxtapose above with what the district told principals.



The 2022/2023 attendance data shows a dramatic decrease in student attendance for the last week of school.  As you are aware the state testing windows go through the last day of school, and several schools received a school grade of an “I” for less than 95% of students participating in the assigned assessments.  Due to the decline in student attendance, and the state testing schedules the Calendar Committee was asked to solicit input regarding the half days implemented during the last week of the 2022/2023 school year.


Now, to be fair, they did mention parent concerns in the second paragraph, but it's obvious that testing kids was their most important reason for the change. This is backed up by the fact they didn’t get rid of any of the other half days. Nope, they just eliminated the ones that were a boon to teachers.   

Parents, there are solutions to the half-day childcare problem. One could be using subs to bridge the gap between the end of the half-day and the extended day, but did the district consider them? Note they just pitted teachers against parents, using parents as nothing more than props. Think about that, friends; if the district doesn’t care about teachers or parents, then just who do they care about? 

My letter to Superintendent Kriznar about the schedule change

So I got a form letter from the super. What you thought when they respond they really care about what you say? Oh, your childlike sense of optimism is adorable. I doubt she wrote it at all. Where she tried to justify throwing staff under the bus for specious reasons. So I told her about how wrong she was.  Her letter to me is below, though if you want your own copy, send her a note saying you disapprove of the schedule change. Because then you, too, can have your own personal copy.

 Hello, and thank you for getting back to me. I am going to be blunt, and I know sometimes that people think blunt can be rude or disrespectful, and that is not my internet.

 The district may have saved some parents from being parents, i.e., providing childcare, but your reasons for doing so are specious at best, and the cost too high. This is compounded by the fact the district will not have come close to solving what the district really and seemingly only cares about, and that is testing more kids. 

 The district took a sledgehammer to a problem that needed a scalpel, and in the process, the district made things worse.

 The district did not solve parents' childcare problems, and Wright's letters to principals show it was never much of a concern. If the district cared about it, they would eliminate monthly half days, but the district did not, instead just eliminating those days that are a boon for teachers.

 Nor will you solve the testing problems, and it's laughable to think those last four days will capture enough students to make a difference. If some admins think we might, it's time to get better admins.

 No, all the district did was say that schools are daycares, teachers are babysitters, and the district doesn't care about making things easier for teachers or what teachers think. All of that is insulting.

 Superintendent Kriznar, I wonder if there were any serious solutions considered? Did the district consider partnering with our sub-service for that last week? Currently, subs don't work half days and are told to leave. Why not have them work full days that last week to bridge the gap between the end of half days and after-school programs? Or better yet, end all after-school programs the Friday before Labor Day. Once again, if the district truly cared about childcare, then it would get rid of the half days too, and that the district didn't speak volumes. 

 As for testing, and once again, there is no way that last week is going to post schools over the top. A better option would be to work with our local legislatures to get them to change the 95% rule. I understand that is more of a long-term solution, and who knows what the rules will be from year to year, but there may be short-term solutions too. If a student misses a test, test them the next day they return and again maybe partner with our sub service to make a class of sub/proctors. Yes, I am just spitballing, but there has to be a solution that works instead of throwing teachers under the bus to employ a solution that has no chance of working.      

 We will never be the district we can be as long as the administration feels it can marginalize and disrespect staff. Never.

 Chris Guerrieri

Mr. Guerrieri,

I appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts with the board members and me. Feedback from community members, teachers, parents, and our students is important.

As you mentioned, there is a District Calendar Committee which is made up of Duval Teacher United (DTU) members, PTA representatives, teachers, principals, district representatives, and postsecondary partners. Committee members are expected to share the thoughts of their representative groups. After all feedback is received, the committee works collectively to make a recommendation for the calendar. 

The committee acknowledged many concerns from parents, teachers, and principals with the half-day schedule. There were also members of the committee in favor of keeping the half days.  While the committee did not come to a full consensus on a recommendation to restore the last week to full days, it was clear that student attendance was negatively impacted, and the half days created barriers for many families.  After reviewing the feedback and attendance data, the Calendar Committee made a recommendation to change the last week of school to full days.  I supported this recommendation.


I expect every day of school to impact student achievement in some way.  Many grade levels have both state testing and district end of course exams through the last week. These assessments have significant impacts on student grades, student promotion, state accountability outcomes, and teacher evaluations.  We need to provide students with as much instructional time as possible leading up to these assessments, which continue through the last week of school.  In addition to these important assessments, the last week of school allows different opportunities for classes which have completed required assessments.  I am aware of teachers who use the time after testing to connect the year’s content with creative projects, real-world application, and student interests.  The last week of school can certainly impact student outcomes and create opportunities for life-long lessons.


In addition, the extra minutes we have in the schedule allow us some flexibility when we have to make decisions about make-up days when school is cancelled for inclement weather.  For instance, this year we missed 4 days and only had to make up 1 of those days. 


The recommendation was approved by the board at the January board meeting and communicated via website and social media, which is the same process used anytime a calendar is updated.  However, moving forward I will commit to doing better with communicating directly to principals to allow for better communication with teachers ahead of social media posts and website updates.

Historically, high schools have had an early dismissal schedule for the last week of school due to commencement ceremonies, and all schools have had an early dismissal on the last day of school. This practice will remain in place for the 2023/2024 school year.  The exact dismissal times for high schools for the last week, and all schools for the last day of schools will be shared once the logistics are finalized.


Kind regards,


Dr. Dana Kriznar

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

DCPS doesn't care about parents child care or teachers workload, they took away half days, to increase testing

 DCPS took away four half days at the end of the year, and they gave a lot of specious reasons, including parents needing child care and the need for more instruction. It turns out it was testing that they really cared about, and don't take my word for it; take the word of the memo they sent to the district principals. 

They don't even mention parents needing child care until the second paragraph, and they imply in the first that it wasn't parents who asked for the change.

Parents were little more than a prop to justify their manifestly disrespectful decisions, and teachers didn't even make it to that level. Nope, as usual, the driving force was testing, testing, and more testing because that's what, and perhaps all, the district really cares about.

So to give you some context, schools are supposed to test 95% of their students, but for whatever reasons, one being kids just refuse to take them, some kids miss the first go around. So it looks like students can make up tests until the last week, and giving them a few more hours in which to do so, was the paramount reason they ended those half days, which is manifestly short-sighted. How many more kids do they think they are going to capture, and was it worth throwing the staff under the best to get those handfuls? The answer is not many and sadly and apparently yes.

Finally this letter is just one more example that you can't take anything the district says seriously, you don't just need a grain of salt, you need an entire salt shaker.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

My letter to the school board about the calendar change


I was wondering if the administration and school board knew how disrespectful they were to staff and even parents when they changed the last four days of the school year from half days to full days with scant input and then released the news through Facebook. This has gone over like a lead balloon with staff, and I know because, unlike the district, I spoke with teachers.

Making a big change without allowing staff input tells staff you don't appreciate or respect them. I read the district's self-serving announcement, which said it included teachers. That's laughable because there are only five teachers out of 45 members on the calendar committee. How does that include teachers, especially since I know, at the very least, the middle school representative voiced concerns? The bottom line is teachers were ignored, which goes straight back to not appreciating or respecting them.

I understand that some parents, especially in elementary school, were concerned about child care, and where I am sympathetic, schools are not daycares, and parents need to be parents. Also, if those last four days are a concern, parents will be in for a huge wake-up over the next ten weeks when there is no school. If those last four days are a concern, are you getting rid of early release days? Or is it just days when teachers can get the voluminous amount of paperwork done that needs to be cut? A way to fix this problem instead of blowing up the calendar was to start now by reminding parents and then canceling extended day programs that last week. 

Let's talk about that last week. That last week will not in any way lead to increased test scores. There won't be much meaningful instruction; discipline will be poor, attendance may improve marginally, and that mountain of paperwork teachers must do at the end of the year will have to be pushed back The longest week of the year just got exponentially longer.  

We will never be the district we can be as long as the administration and school board treat staff like they are easily replaceable cogs whose feelings and thoughts don't matter. Never and why you would make such a huge change so late in the year without consulting those who are directly affected is beyond me. I want you all to do better. 

I would urge you to reconsider your decision at least until you get staff input. That is the respectful thing to do. That is what leadership looks like.

DTU finally ways in on the district stripping teachers of the end of the year half days

 Where is the union now that DCPS has stripped away four end-of-the-year half-days and replaced them with nothing?

Saturday, January 20, 2024

DCPS sticks it to staff... again

     Duval County just changed its end-of-the-year calendar with despite what they claim, barely any input from staff. 

The last four days of the year were scheduled to be half days, and now they, including the last day of the year, will be full days. To justify it, they put out a ridiculously self-serving memo.

After reviewing feedback? Get out of town, after being ramrodded through by Corey Wright and a few parents, the district decided to make the change. Feedback, fellow teachers, how much feedback did you give? Or did you just hear about it through Facebook because that seems to be more likely? 

As for the calendar committee, most of them don't work in the classroom, roughly just 5 out of the 45 members, and nobody is worried about losing instruction that last week, when testing is finished, and EVERYONE wants summer to begin.

I am sympathetic to parents who need to find childcare, I am, but if this week is going to be a problem, they are in for a big surprise the following ten weeks. I also firmly believe parents have to be parents, and any shortcomings they might have shouldn't fall on teachers' shoulders. Teachers aren't here to fix all of society's problems. They are here to teach. 

You know DCPS has routinely, over the years, told staff they don't care what they think. That staff, you are just cogs, and we will replace you. Your feelings, heck, your expertise, don't matter, and because of this, I don't believe DCPS will ever reach its potential. Never, it's impossible to do, but does the Ivory Tower care? Nope, and see this latest example as more proof.