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Sunday, September 25, 2022

DCPS sits on 20 million dollars that could be used to pay staff

 I have a feeling it may actually be more.

I am beyond disappointed that the district told the community these were desperate times and we needed to pass a millage increase to help pay salaries, and then after it passed, shrugged their shoulders and said, we will get to that next year. The fact they are sitting on a little over 20 million they could use doesn't help things. 

The district is required to keep three percent in reserves, not 5.07 percent. This means they are sitting on 20 million n dollars that they could use to address staff salaries.

A couple of things, I and most of the city was led to believe something would happen this school year. I was told it would probably be after the winter break.

Everyone knows that when you pass a mileage increase on Monday, money doesn't start to flow in on Tuesday. I figured they would borrow money using the future money as collateral, something they have done many times or they would take from their excess reserves, which right now is 20 million dollars.

I would have supported the mileage increase even if the district would have said it wouldn't kick in until next year, but they never said that. Then if it was so important that the district had to come hat in hand to ask the community to step up, how is waiting till next year to address it even a consideration?

DCPS has long preferred to look good rather than be good, and this is yet another example.     



Sunday, September 18, 2022

The solution to helping teachers has been staring us in the face, it is more work

 I am working on a piece about planning in our elementary schools, and it is abysmal. Now just about every teacher will tell you they need more planning but what we do to the teachers in elementary schools, especially those smaller schools that don't have a full complement of resources, is criminal. This blog, however, is not about that; instead, its about helping all teachers and by having them work more.

Teachers in my district work 7.33 hours a day. I say it that way because that's what I am supposed to put on my leave forms. What would happen if teachers worked 8 hours a day and that extra 40 was additional duty-free planning? I think it would help solve some of our problems. 

That would be the key, though, additional duty-free planning. Districts couldn't look at it, or the other planning teachers and think of ways to load teachers up even more.

Right now, much of my "planning" is already designated for other things. A fifth has been set for common planning, and as an ESE teacher, about 48 of my planning periods, a quarter of my total, will be spent either writing or having IEP meetings. This means almost half of my planning won't be spent, um, planning.    

There are lots of issues in education, and this isn't going to solve the lack of support and respect issues; no, we have to work on the soul of the country to help solve those problems, but it will help with the lack of time and a little with pay too as this would amount to an almost 8 percent bump in pay.

Most teachers work 10-15 and even more unpaid hours after their duty time ends each week. Time they should be with their families or taking care of themselves. An extra 3 hours and twenty minutes a week will help with that. Not solve it, mind you, because the system depends on suckers, err sorry dedicated teachers sacrificing their time and energy, and without it, things would grind to a halt, but it would help.  

So powers that be, if you care about teachers and I have doubts that you do, figure out a way to work them more. It will help us all. 

  


 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

In a letter to Jax Today, the district all but tells teachers to expect mileage money this year (draft)

 I feel duped and betrayed by the announcement the mileage change won't kick in this year, and I know I am far from the only one. Before you lambast me for not understanding, money won't start immediately; I did understand that, and I didn't expect any mileage money until after the holidays; read what the district told Jax Today just a few short weeks ago.

From Jax Today

In an email to Jacksonville Today, a Duval County Public Schools spokesperson says there are three reasons the district chose to bring the tax increase to voters in August instead of November. The first: because “the teacher shortage is real, so the sooner they know about their future salaries the sooner we can impact that trend.”

The district also wanted to start union negotiations for the pay increase as soon as possible. 

https://jaxtoday.org/2022/08/26/askjaxtdy-why-wasnt-the-school-tax-referendum-during-the-general-election-when-more-people-vote/

Um, as things stand now, passing the mileage will do nothing to help this year, absolutely nothing, despite it being sold as a necessity to fend off a pending disaster, and that's how the district sold the mileage rate for months. Help us, please; we need to save our teachers; there was never a "we will do it next year" caveat.

Then how hollow are those excuses? We have to get it done quick so we can get the ball rolling, well friends, that ball screached to an almost immediate halt.

I never expected the district to have mileage money this year, not for a second; I did expect the district would borrow money on expected income and or tap into their reserves to start things off, something I believe they could still do if they wanted to. If they were sincere about taking care of its people, but the reality is DCPS has never cared about its staff; we are all just a means to an end, and up till recently, an easily replaceable means to an end. 

You may not have been one of them, but lots of people voted for the mileage increase with the expectation something would kick in this year, and those people were tricked, and if you want evidence, look at every single thing the district said about it.



Saturday, September 10, 2022

DeSantis's failed teacher pay scheme

 As election season ramps up, so do the lies and half-truths, and as a teacher, the one that infuriates me the most is DeSantis claiming he raised teacher salaries. The truth is he did raise salaries for beginning teachers, people who had never been in a classroom, but he did so by cutting the salaries of veteran teachers, people who had dedicated their lives to the state's children.

To raise beginning salaries, the state took money from two programs, Best and Brightest, and school recognition funds, two admittedly flawed programs that mostly benefitted teachers in affluent schools but did put money in veteran teachers’ pockets. The effect was tens of thousands of veteran teachers took pay cuts. So while DeSantis was saying look at me, look what I did, veteran teachers were looking at their bank accounts shrink.

Then think about the plan that DeSantis was so proud of. He made it so that a teacher who just started and a teacher who spent over a decade in our schools was paid basically the same. He did not just shrug his shoulders at this disrespect, but he reveled in it. He could have made it, so every teacher got roughly a 2,700-dollar raise, but no, he decided hurting people who had dedicated their lives to the children of Florida was the way to go, and now we are reaping what has sown with none thousand teacher vacancies a problem he promised would go away with his teacher pay scheme.

DeSantis has been a failed education leader for many reasons, but one of the biggest and most unnecessary was his teacher pay scheme that robbed Peter, veteran teachers, to pay Paul, people who had never even stepped foot in a classroom. 

 


Saturday, September 3, 2022

The school board should consider firing Greene before they can't. What comes next will be worse.(draft)

 DeSantis replaced most of the Broward county school board. Four democrat women, with four republican men, and they promptly took over.

https://www.local10.com/news/local/2022/08/29/newly-appointed-broward-school-board-members-prepare-to-take-seats/

DeSantis used grand jury findings as his reason for doing so; the same grand jury now has DCPS in its crosshairs. 

From Florida Politics, 

 The grand jury report that shook up the Broward County School Board last week also prompted the state Department of Education to send letters to four other school districts warning of failures to follow the state’s school safety requirements.

The letters arrived Monday asking superintendents in Broward, Duval, Orange, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties to meet with officials from the State Department of Education (DOE) to address items that Tim Hay, director of the Office of Safe Schools said required an in-person meeting due to the “gravity of the issues.”

“We have reason to believe that some of the policies and actions the grand jury found are ongoing and require immediate action,” all five letters dated Monday say.

https://floridapolitics.com/archives/553484-grand-jury-report-puts-four-more-school-districts-safety-procedures-under-state-scrutiny/

What has to be most troubling in the grand jury findings is the DCPS police chief was allowed to keep his job a year after the findings had come out...

https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/education/executive-director-of-duval-co-school-police-department-resigns/77-1774378c-e549-4eb5-91c7-ce6ab9e3888a

and Duval Schools administration enabled Edwards' actions, the report says. 

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/education/2022/08/19/statewide-grand-jury-former-duval-schools-chief-underreported-crimes/7843861001/

DeSantis is coming for duly elected democratic school board members in blue counties, and Willie, Jones, Hershey, and Andersen may all be replaced in the next few days or weeks. If you don't think it could ever happen here, look at Broward County. The Governor is not a man who plays by the rules; like a fascist, he makes the rules up as he goes along.

A couple of things. You might think Greene's been great and the district should keep her; well, she hasn't, and even her victories, the referendum, and millage have been two steps forward and one step back. The referendum didn't pass until after the district was forced to give charter schools hundreds of millions of dollars, and the district has still not committed to giving staff milage money this year. After some token resistance to Tallahassee when she started, she has been all in on the destructive agenda because, in my opinion, there is only one person Greene cares about, and that is Greene.

Hershey's a republican; they would never let her go. Hershey has been a reliable supporter of public ed and accept those calculated hiccups when she considered running for state office as a solid school board member. The Governor wouldn't hesitate to cut her if it meant a complete takeover of the school board.

How could the Governor keep Joyce and get rid of Willie? Well, I could see a scenario where the Governor says he was in leadership on the board, and Joyce was not. Her incompetence, in effect, saved her. 

Couldn't Greene resign and take the hit for DCPS after all, she has to be at least partly and probably mostly responsible. HAHAHAHAHAHa good one; I couldn't imagine her doing anything that doesn't advance or serve her agenda. 

The board could preempt any moves by DeSantis by laying all the problems on Greene's feet, where I am sure they rightfully belong, and move on. Heck, if they rush things, they could have a new super in place before our insurrectionist Barbie sb member is sworn in.

I get the board has inexplicably been some of Greene's biggest cheerleaders, but if they don't do something soon, they may never be able to do something, and what comes next will be worse for everyone, everyone that cares about public ed, that is.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Passing the millage increase was the right thing to help teachers, but it wasn't the neccassasry thing.

 Passing the millage increase was the right thing to help teachers, especially veteran teachers who had seen their salaries go backward and were the victims of Governor DeSantis's pay new teachers more scheme. 

You see, two years ago, when DeSantis, with much fanfare, announced he would solve the then emerging teacher shortage problem by raising starting teacher salaries, he did so not by allocating new money but by ending two admittedly flawed programs, school recognition funds and best and brightest, that despite the flaws did put money in the pockets of many veteran teachers, pockets DeSantis reached his hands into to pay for his new program.

Fast forward two years, and this disrespect where the state robbed Peter, veteran teachers to pay Paul, new ones, and exacerbated by his constant culture wars against education and the pandemic, the emerging problem had transformed into a full-on disaster, one where a 13-year veteran teacher and a first-year teacher made basically the same amount. 

So the city did the right thing by fixing another of DeSantis's education mistakes, but it did not do the necessary thing.

You see, during the run-up to the vote, the Superintendent, school board, the teachers union, and various public education supporters pushing to pass the milage increase kept a secret from the public, a secret that if the public knew, might stop them from supporting the mileage increase and that's it will do very little if anything to stem the tide of teachers leaving. In short, it will have a negligible effect at best.  

Most veteran teachers, those in the profession for 15 years or longer, lifers, weren't going anywhere. They had decided that despite the overwhelming demand, unrealistic expectations, the odious and often ridiculously unnecessary legislation, and the constant attacks from the governor and his allies, they weren't going to stay. Teaching is in the blood, and if they haven't left by now, they weren/t whether the mileage passed or not.

The real churn and burn in the teacher corp are younger teachers where the mode, the most common number of years of experience is one, and the majority don't last five years. 

More money will not fix that exodus, and the governor's beginning teacher pay scheme more than proved that. No, if we want to save public education, something that will be made worse with the governor's latest veteran and first responders scheme, we have to address what I mentioned above. The crushing workload, the unrealistic expectations, and the governor and his allies constantly using teachers as punching bags to gin up their culture wars. 

A higher salary is the right thing. It was great that the citizens of Jacksonville said that just because Tallahassee has shirked its responsibility to adequately fund education, we won't. It is a good feeling to know a sizeable portion of the city has teachers' backs. That being said, I think it's important people understand what they did, that they understand they did the right thing, not the necessary thing, if they want to stem the exodus of teachers, that is.

You see, most teachers don't make decisions based on money; if they did, they wouldn't be teachers.  

Teflon Greene helps cover up, up to 159 batteries on school board employees

 First, let me say discipline was bad before Greene got here; and what was reported in the grand jury report outlining gross mismanagement and coverups of discipline can't be laid entirely at Greene's feet; that being said, she was hired on 7/1/2018, and this report goes through 2019, the first 18 months of her tenure.

A scathing grand jury report came out in December 2020 about what was happening here. 

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

However, the fact the DCPS chief of police was allowed to keep his job for another year can be laid at her feet.

https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/education/executive-director-of-duval-co-school-police-department-resigns/77-1774378c-e549-4eb5-91c7-ce6ab9e3888a

He kept his job until January of 2021, despite the grand jury saying his leadership was a debacle. Greene must have looked at it and thought, whatever, he's doing a good job.


It gets worse because the grand jury reports to cover-ups by administrators. 

From the Times Union,

"We will have more to say about other Districts in the future," the grand jury said. "But one District provided an illustration of these infirmities so flagrant and unambiguous we have little choice but to acknowledge it now and take direct action."

"No other law enforcement agency treats any crime in this fashion, much less such a serious felony," the report said, voicing concern that serious crimes would not be reported to state law enforcement or go through the education department's mandated School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting process. "This conduct is not simply irresponsible; it is absolutely criminal." 

Duval Schools administration enabled Edwards' actions, the report says. 

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/education/2022/08/19/statewide-grand-jury-former-duval-schools-chief-underreported-crimes/7843861001/

Duval's school administration enabled Edwards actions, read that again, and then ask yourself, while those people that enabled, felonies, buried batteries on employees, and ignored accusations of child pornography and bomb threats still have their jobs.

Greene left Manatee county with a horde of scandals, and whatever she does here seems to slide off the backs of the SB, and it's not right.

What the &#%$ Duval? 



Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The system lets another teacher down

 You know there was a time when being a teacher meant something. It was a noble profession held in high esteem. Not anymore, and if you want proof, look at how the system ruined the life of a local teacher of the year.

 A slight 5'2 teacher was accused of bloodying a much larger student who had recently engaged in death threats against the teacher. Without any evidence, she was removed from teaching and forced to wait in limbo while the system took 10 months to come to its conclusion. There was no video evidence, and the teacher passed a lie detector test, but that didn't matter. The student who posted death threats was given every benefit of the doubt, while the teacher who had their life upended was given none.

It took ten months for there to be a conclusion, not an exoneration, not an apology, and definitely not a consequence for the student who posted death threats, just a decision where the parent of the child and the state's attorney agreed that the teacher could no longer work at the school where the allegations occurred. 


$&%# that, it's the kid who should be sent packing, not the teacher, but as usual, the system doesn't care about teachers; nope, all it wants to do is chew them up and spit them out.

Friends, I am stuck in the teaching profession, 5 years from retirement, but if you are not, run.

To learn more, click the link, https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2022/08/22/charges-dropped-against-former-teacher-of-the-year-accused-of-striking-student/?Q


Monday, August 15, 2022

Just some run of the mill corruption from DCPS

 So this is the long and the short of it; at the P.E. in service, a district person told all in attendance to not use one vendor and instead you a vendor owned by the husband of a district staff member; I wish I could make this up. 

For years various district sports teams have used BSN uniforms, and at the training were told to stop.

https://www.bsnsports.com/team-uniforms

Instead, they were steered to T5

https://www.t5sportswear.com/

Which is owned by Robert Talley, 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-talley-8445294/

and that name should sound familiar to you. He is married to Tammy Talley, the district's very own award-winning athletic director.

https://www.news4jax.com/sports/2022/06/23/humbled-and-honored-duval-county-ad-tammie-talley-stunned-to-win-national-award/

Humbled and honored and perhaps about to get a lucrative payday. 

I was told a few days later BSN came off the banned list, but the damage may already be done. Then think about this if you are in district sports and want to curry favor, what better way to do it than by supporting the husband of the athletic director? The phrase appearance of impropriety comes to mind. 

I am pretty sure none of this was illegal, and as far as I know, no one is slipping Mrs. Talley twenties under the table, or she is promising whatever she can promise to teams that buy her husband's uniforms either, but that doesn't make what transpired right.

We should and could be doing better. 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

For a district with a reading problem, DCPS seems to be doing all they can to make it worse.

 First, let me start with my disclaimer. 

Before people blame the state and try and let DCPS off the hook, let me say I know the state is terrible, I know the state does DCPS and public education no favors. Still, I also know DCPS has a nasty habit of taking bad things and making them worse; this is just another example. 

So teachers were told not to create new or add to classroom libraries.

This despite nowhere in the state guidance is classroom libraries mentioned.

https://info.fldoe.org/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-9557/dps-2022-83.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0oLXUOOPjMEY00FDp46n4WaORl7qCdgX5tQDHzlp9Fg1NaCHIlE8RKx6A

 Now they do mention media specialists a lot; unfortunately, DCPS long ago got rid of most of their media specialists.

The Florida Freedom to read project offered guidance to the districts, which included not neutering teachers and treating them like professionals, or you know, the opposite of what DCPS prefers to do.


https://www.facebook.com/groups/flfreedomread

And did I mention that DCPS long ago got rid of most of their media specialists? If I did, I am not sorry because it begs to be repeated often. 

What the district is doing is a choice, they did not have to play it this way, and would it kill the super or board to stand up for public ed? Fight back? Inform the public? Treat teachers like professionals? I ask because my view from the cheap seats seems to indicate it would.

A district media specialist who is about to become insanely busy reached out to me and said.

I wanted to let you know that many of the media specialists at Wednesday's district service were left with more questions than answers. The person in charge of textbooks & instructional materials basically told us to "not make a big deal out of the new law" and everything would "blow over" in time. Dr. Renfroe basically echoed these comments and told us the district was still trying to receive guidance from the state and in a reactive position. Other counties have gone so far as to ban media centers til further notice. They have not done so in Duval but we were advised to cancel any fall book fairs with Scholastic because they were not vetting their books to make sure they were in accordance with state law. (I do not blame Scholastic as I would not like to open myself up to lawsuits either.) We were encouraged to seek out other vendors, but as you probably Scholastic is by far the biggest in the country.

One of my colleagues also inquired about DTU's response to all of this. They were stonewalled and given the impression that media specialists were pretty low on their priority list. Many of the media specialists at the district training are worried about what might happen if we read the wrong book during read-aloud. Will DTU protect us, or will

we be thrown to the wolves/helicopter moms? Dr. Renfroe seemed to suggest that we could not be held liable since the training media specialists are to receive to be in compliance with this law will not be until JANUARY. This did not ease our concerns. Many of us hold master's degrees in Library Science and have been certified for years. Yet we are told that we need this training to review the content of books for whatever they don't like at this time? To me, a good book is one that offends somebody. It's all subjective. There are forms available for parents to fill out if they do not wish for their children to check out certain types of books. But for those same parents to dictate what other parents want for their children is to me censorship.

It is censorship, and if the district has a problem with it, it sure is hard to tell.

In fact, it is censorship and the district seems to be reveling in it.