According to Betty Burney Duval County Schools say one thing and does another

I agree with her too.

This became more evident in an article about discipline in the Times Union.

Betty Burney was quoted as saying, Some School Board members have publicly questioned whether there is pressure to under-report student misconduct.

“I heard from a few principals in the past that they can’t be seen on their report card as having an uptick in discipline violations,” board Chairwoman Betty Burney said. “The superintendent should simply go out and make a formal statement to all principals that is not the district’s expectation.”

District officials insist they’ve never told teachers or principals not to write up or not to suspend students for misconduct.

I don’t think the district formally tell principals that either, but the key word is formally.

No they say things like, promotions may not come through, evaluations may suffer and jobs might be lost

This is what administrators tell teachers any way.

Terrie Brady points out the superintendent doesn’t know what’s happening in Jax’s schools

Terrie Brady head of the DTU thinks the superintendent doesn’t know what’s happening in our schools a charge Education Matters has long made about the school board. In a recent article in the Times Union about discipline the superintendent was quoted saying: … teachers who complain (about discipline being unreported) are disgruntled employees who don’t represent the majority of the district’s 8,500 teachers.

Mrs. Brady disagreed and said: “I believe student misconduct is being
under-reported, but it’s not because of orders from the top of the district,” Brady said. “I believe it’s being under-reported because some administrators believe it makes them look weak, that it will work against them in the formula on school grades, and I think that some might feel pressured from mid-level administrators.”

Here is a simple way to find out who is right and who is wrong. Ask a teacher, there are 8500 of them in Jacksonville, what they think about discipline in our public schools. They will probably be more willing to talk to you than the media because many fear repercussions if they make their feelings public and that alone should speak volumes.

Rick Scott just doesn’t get it

From PNJ.com

by Jeff Bergosh

Recently, a succinct 1-67 ranking of all school districts in Florida was released by the Florida Department of Education. These rankings were based upon a series of calculations directly tied to the administration of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in each county.

Some districts, like St. Johns (south of Jacksonville) and Santa Rosa (ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively) have much to be proud of. Hats off to them for the great work they are doing.

For districts like Escambia (ranked 44th), the data are much less palatable. Are we to assume that because districts like Santa Rosa and St. Johns are ranked so highly that they are exponentially better at learning-delivery than their lower-ranked peers like Escambia? (Caution, humor ahead): I actually think that if Escambia swapped teachers with Santa Rosa and kept everything else equal, Santa Rosa would be holding the No. 1 slot!

OK, maybe that’s a bit over the top, and was of course stated in jest, but according to the press portrayals of this FDOE data, one could easily reason that the higher the district ranking, the better the school district, period.

And therein lies the problem.

The release of data like this without thoughtfully conceived disclaimers, explanations and footnotes can and does lead to incorrect and negative public perceptions. This is because data alone does not tell the whole story. And Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson’s five-second blurb about poverty being a factor, during his two-minute introduction of the data, does not cut it as a disclaimer. (I doubt anyone but me watched that video.)

Complex data should be carefully developed and the “press release” of such data requires thoughtful deployment if accuracy is valued. Apples should be compared to apples.

A striking yet very apt analogy is the community crime statistics released yearly by the FBI. When statistics about murders, assaults, forcible rapes and other vicious crimes are released annually, these data are put into tables and organized by events per 100,000 citizens of a particular community.

For example, utilizing 2010 data, the murder/non-negligent manslaughter rate in New Orleans (pop. 356,000) was roughly 50 times higher than it was in either El Paso, Texas (pop. 624,000) or Lincoln, Neb. (pop. 260,000). Does this mean police departments in El Paso and Lincoln are way better than the cops in New Orleans? Of course not.

This is why the FBI takes great care in providing a carefully worded disclaimer on its website along with the yearly crime statistics. Community issues, poverty, demographics and a myriad of other social ills affect crime rates — and educational outcomes.

So I propose that the next time the FDOE wants to release rankings, perhaps it should consider utilizing the following disclaimer (taken directly from the FBI website, with “school district” substituted for “law enforcement,” and “educational failure” substituted for “crime”):

“Individuals using these tabulations are cautioned against drawing conclusions by making direct comparisons between cities. Comparisons lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local school district jurisdiction. It is important to remember that educational failure is a social problem and, therefore, a concern of the entire community. The efforts of a school district are limited to factors within its control. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual agencies.”

Jeff Bergosh represents District 1 on the Escambia County School Board.

http://www.pnj.com/article/20120129/OPINION/201290315/Viewpoint-Data-doesn-t-tell-whole-story?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cs

The corporate war on public schools picks up steam

Though National School Choice Week has some liberal support, its primary backers are deeply conservative activists whose goal is to dissolve public education in the US.

To read the whole article click on this blog’s title or paste the address below into your browser.

http://www.alternet.org/story/153858/5_biggest_lies_about_the_right-wing_corporate-backed_war_on_our_schools/

Districts will be forced to build and maintain charter schools if the legislature has its way.

By Kathleen McGrory

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

TALLAHASSEE — While education isn’t likely to take center stage in Tallahassee this year, one message is clear: Florida lawmakers want to continue growing charter schools.

Proposals are poised to help the state’s charter school movement in a big way.

One would require local school districts to share their construction and maintenance dollars with their charter schools.

“The legislation you are seeing is a reflection of some of the core values and beliefs we have,” said Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, vice chair of the House Education Committee. “Any time you have choice, it encourages everyone to excel.”

There is, however, pushback from the other side of the aisle.

Some Democrats want the Legislature to slow down when it comes to charter school growth — and to hold charter schools more accountable. To that end, two South Florida lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would require charter schools to disclose more information about their finances on their websites.

The bills were filed after a Miami Herald investigation found that the charter school movement has given rise to a cottage industry of for-profit management companies, some of which have almost total control over the charter schools they run.

Charter schools are funded by tax dollars, but run by independent governing boards. Some are managed by for-profit companies.

Enrollment in charter schools now tops 175,000 students statewide, accounting for one out of every 16 children in Florida’s public schools. The results have been mixed. On average, charter school students and their counterparts in traditional public schools post comparable scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests.

Last year, state lawmakers made it easier for high-performing charter schools to replicate and increase their enrollment.

This year, the focus is funding.

Charter schools receive less state money than traditional public schools – partly because traditional public schools have the power to levy taxes to support maintenance and construction projects.

A proposal currently under consideration would require school districts to share some of those capital dollars with charter schools based on student enrollment numbers.

“Our public resources should be fairly and equitably distributed among all public schools,” said Adkins, who is sponsoring the bill in the House.

Cheri Shannon, president of the Florida Charter School Alliance, said equal funding has long been a priority for charter school advocates.

“Why should one child’s education be worth less because that child is in a charter school?” she said.

But opponents of the bill say tax dollars shouldn’t support charter school facilities, which are often privately owned and not a public asset.

What’s more, school district officials say that revenue is needed to pay down the debt on existing schoolhouses.

“The capital outlay dollars are needed in the public schools,” said Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, who is also Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/28/2612310/lawmakers-want-charter-schools.html#storylink=cpy

High stakes tests, bad or really bad

From the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet

By Larry Cuban

Test scores are the coin of the educational realm in the United States. No Child Left Behind demands that scores be used to reward and punish districts, schools, and teachers for how well or poorly students score on state tests. In pursuit of federal dollars, the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition has shoved state after state into legislating that teacher evaluations include student test scores as part of judging teacher effectiveness.

Numbers glued to high stakes consequences, however, corrupt performance. Since the mid-1970s, social scientists have documented the untoward results of attaching high stakes to quantitative indicators not only for education but also across numerous institutions. They have pointed out that those who implement policies using specific quantitative measures will change their practices to insure better numbers.

The work of social scientist Donald T. Campbell and others about the perverse outcomes of incentives was available and known to many but went ignored. In “ Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change ,” Campbell wrote:

“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor” (p. 49).

Campbell drew instances of distorted behavior when police officials used clearance rates in solving crimes, the Soviet Union set numerical goals for farming and industry, and when the U.S. military used “body counts” in Vietnam as evidence of winning the war.

That was 40-50 years ago. In the past decade, medical researchers have found similar patterns when health insurers and Medicare have used quantitative indicators to measure physician performance. For example, Medicare requires — as a quality measure — that doctors administer antibiotics to a pneumonia patient within six hours of arriving at the hospital.

As one physician said: “The trouble is that doctors often cannot diagnose pneumonia that quickly. You have to talk to and examine the patient and wait for blood tests, chest X-rays and so on.” So what happens is that “more and more antibiotics are being used in emergency rooms today, despite all-too-evident dangers like antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic-associated infections.”

He and other doctors also know that surgeons have been known to pick reasonably healthy patients for heart bypass operations and ignore elderly ones who have 3-5 chronic ailments to insure that results look good.

Here are some more examples:

TV stations charge for advertising on the basis of how many viewers they have during “sweep” months (November, February, May, and July). Nielsen company has boxes in 2 million homes (representative of the nation’s viewership) that register whether the TV is on and what families are watching during those months. They also have viewers fill out diaries. Nielsen assumes that what the station shows in those months represents programming for the entire year (see 2011-2012-Sweeps-Dates). Nope. What do TV networks and cable companies do during those “sweeps?” They program new shows, films, extravaganzas, and sports that will draw viewers so they can charge higher advertising rates. They game the system and corrupt the measure (see p. 80).

And, ripped from the headlines of the daily paper, online vendors secretly ask purchasers of their products to write reviews and rate it with five stars in exchange for a kickback of the price the customer paid. Another corrupted measure.

Of course, educational researchers also have documented the link between standardized test scores and narrowed instruction to prepare students for test items, instances of state policymakers fiddling with cut-off scores on tests, increased dropouts, and straight out cheating by a few administrators. (see Dan Koretz, “Measuring Up ”)

What Donald Campbell had said in 1976 about “highly corruptible indicators” applies not only in education but also to many different institutions.

So why do good policy makers use bad indicators?* The answer is that numbers are highly prized in the culture because they are easy to grasp and use in making decisions.The simpler the number — wins/losses, products sold, profits made, test scores — the easier to judge worth. When numbers have high stakes attached to them, they then become incentives (either as a carrot or a stick) to make the numbers look good. And that is where indicators turn bad as sour milk whose expiration date has long passed.

The best policymakers, not merely good ones, know that multiple measures for a worthy goal reduce the possibility of reporting false performance.

See: *Steven Glazerman and Liz Potamites, False Performance Gains: A Critique of Successive Cohort Indicators,” Working Paper, Mathematica Policy Research, December 2011, p. 13

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/how-high-stakes-corrupt-performance-on-tests-other-indicators/2012/01/29/gIQAQrxAbQ_blog.html?wprss=answer-sheet

Jacksonville Teacher Disagrees with the Superintendent on Discipline

Dear Ms. Stepzinski,

I read today’s Times-Union article (http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2012-01-29/story/discipline-duvals-public-schools-are-students-really-behaving-better) about discipline in Duval County’s public schools and I believe that you have overlooked an important component or two that I would have gladly shared with you.

The difference between a merited and frivolous disciplinary referral is whether the teacher has made a good faith effort to contact the parent or guardian. The discipline committee and the shared governance committee at my school have specifically asked that parents be included when the teacher is taking disciplinary action regarding a student’s behavior. This means that the teacher should use at least three interventions (Including at least one parent contact) to make a good faith effort at correcting the child’s behavior before going up the chain of command – excluding, of course, egregious violations of the Code of Conduct that warrant immediate action (Class II, III violations, etc.). I agree that teachers cannot and should not simply send a student to the dean’s office for less than valid reasons or for reasons that fail to include reasonable interventions.

What are these interventions? The first intervention is a verbal warning that the teacher uses to redirect the student to comply with the Code of Conduct. The second intervention may be for the teacher to send the student to time out in another classroom. The third intervention may be to either call the student’s parent/guardian or to send a note home. These are just examples, but a teacher’s documenting these previous interventions helps to identify a pattern of behavior that justifies writing the disciplinary referral. As a matter of fact, teachers at my school are advised to document the previous interventions on the disciplinary referral in order for it to be processed. These documented interventions are useful as they give the student a chance to improve his/her behavior and it communicates to the parent/guardian that the teacher is attempting to correct student behavior that involves constructive communication with the family. It can be overwhelming for all involved for a teacher to write a disciplinary referral on the spot because it gives the administration the impression that the teacher has no other classroom management tools and gives the parents the impression that the teacher is not even trying to help the student change his/her behavior.

That said, it is true that there is pressure on administrators and teachers to limit the number of disciplinary referrals. Everything from the school’s overall grade to the principal’s evaluation are riding on how a school handles those students who are not abiding by the Code of Conduct. In my opinion, this is a game of smoke and mirrors that ultimately harms those students who truly want to learn and see that precious class time is being wasted on having to deal with students who have little to no interest in their own education. Is it any wonder that so many parents are choosing to send their children to private or charter schools? They should not have to send their children to a school where they are not secure in knowing that their child’s education will not be interfered with by those students who fervently reject education.

As for the ‘disgruntled’ former teachers, what does the superintendent expect? I do not know of any teachers who are currently employed who would want to go on the record and make comments about the relatively lax discipline in their schools. Our profession is very political and I do not think that anyone wants to open themselves to retaliation from either downtown or their own principals for speaking truth to power. Hence, it is easy to dismiss critics as being bitter ex-employees with an ax to grind. It is an excellent red herring that enables us to ignore their grievances because they are obviously out to embarrass the superintendent – right?

Well, I am not a former employee as I am still teaching school and I believe that our teachers do deserve more support from downtown and our administrators. Studies show that the average teacher spends ten percent of class time on having to deal with students who fail or refuse to comply with the Code of Conduct. This amounts to a total of 18 days wasted on handling such issues. If we are to improve our school grades, we need to work to improve the educational situation without having to paper over our disciplinary deficiencies for the sake of keeping up appearances.

Furthermore, when we handle serious behavior issues with kid gloves, we are doing no real service to these students. They end up with a sense of entitlement that allows them to feel that they can flout authority in the ‘real world.’ The criminal justice system is already clogged up with criminals who believe that they are above the law. Wait until this generation of children grows up and decides to break the law because they expect leniency that absolves them from facing any consequences.

I am fairly passionate about this issue because I have seen excellent teachers leave the profession because they are rightfully ‘disgruntled’ by how our school district and our administrators are mishandling this issue. They, while no longer with the system, deserve to be heard as they and many currently employed teachers deserve to have a say in making our school system better.

v/r,

//signed//

John Louis Meeks, Jr.

Educator

For profit charter schools want more money from tax payers

From the Miami Herald

By Kathleen McGrory, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

TALLAHASSEE — While education isn’t likely to take center stage in Tallahassee this year, one message is clear: Florida lawmakers want to continue growing charter schools.

At least two proposals are poised to help the state’s charter school movement in a big way.

One would require local school districts to share their construction and maintenance dollars with their charter schools. Another would allow charters to offer programming for parents.

“The legislation you are seeing is a reflection of some of the core values and beliefs we have,” said Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, vice chair of the House Education Committee. “Any time you have choice, it encourages everyone to excel.”

There is, however, pushback from the other side of the aisle.

Some Democrats want the Legislature to slow down when it comes to charter school growth — and to hold charter schools more accountable. To that end, two South Florida lawmakers are sponsoring a bill that would require charter schools to disclose more information about their finances on their websites.

The bills were filed after a Miami Herald investigation found that the charter school movement has given rise to a cottage industry of for-profit management companies, some of which have almost total control over the charter schools they run.

Charter schools are funded by tax dollars, but run by independent governing boards. Some are managed by for-profit companies.

Enrollment in charter schools now tops 175,000 students statewide, accounting for one out of every 16 children in Florida’s public schools. The results have been mixed. On average, charter school students and their counterparts in traditional public schools post comparable scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests.

Last year, state lawmakers made it easier for high-performing charter schools to replicate and increase their enrollment.

This year, the focus is funding.

Charter schools receive less state money than traditional public schools – partly because traditional public schools have the power to levy taxes to support maintenance and construction projects.

A proposal currently under consideration would require school districts to share some of those capital dollars with charter schools based on student enrollment numbers.

“Our public resources should be fairly and equitably distributed among all public schools,” said Adkins, who is sponsoring the bill in the House.

Cheri Shannon, president of the Florida Charter School Alliance, said equal funding has long been a priority for charter school advocates.

“Why should one child’s education be worth less because that child is in a charter school?” she said.

But opponents of the bill say tax dollars shouldn’t support charter school facilities, which are often privately owned and not a public asset.

What’s more, school district officials say that revenue is needed to pay down the debt on existing schoolhouses.

“The capital outlay dollars are needed in the public schools,” said Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, who is also Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

Another charter school initiative – this one sponsored by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs – would allow charter school operators to establish “family charter academies” where parents could take adult education classes.

“Many charter school parents believe in education – so much so that they themselves want to stay at the schools and take classes,” Simmons said. “This would make charter schools like a one-stop shop.”

Simmons envisions parents taking vocational, language and lifelong learning classes, he said.

But whether the charter schools would be eligible for the state dollars that fund adult education programs remains to be seen. “That would be the next step,” Simmons said.

Shannon, of the Florida Charter School Alliance, said the bill “would make good use of the school buildings.”

The state teachers’ union sees its differently.

“These bills are taking money away from traditional schools and giving them to charter schools that have no accountability,” Florida Education President Andy Ford said. “And we as taxpayers don’t even know if charter schools are a good investment.”

Ford said lawmakers should instead be focusing on providing adequate funding for traditional public schools so they can provide a broader array of class offerings and services for children.

Not every charter school bill is aimed at expansion.

Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, and Rep. Luis Garcia, D-Miami Beach, have legislation that would require charter schools to post information about their management companies prominently on their websites. Charter school operators would have to disclose if they are managed by for-profit companies, and if so, how much they pay in fees. They would also have to report the management company’s management and administrative personnel.

“People are now profiting from charter schools,” Bullard said. “That was not the intent of the law.”

Kathleen McGrory can be reached at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/28/v-fullstory/2612310/lawmakers-want-charter-schools.html#storylink=cpy

Duval County creates criminals by ignoring discipline

My friend leaned forward to better hear what the administrator was saying. At first he wasn’t sure because he couldn’t imagine a school administrator saying anything close to what he thought he had just heard.

If you want to make merit pay, the first thing we look at is referrals, if you have written a lot of referrals you will not get merit pay. Also If you think you are on the bubble of being retained or being surplused the first thing we look at is referrals, if you have written a lot you may have room for concern. Not even with a wink and a nod here was this leader of teachers telling her staff not to write referrals that to do so could cost them both money and or their jobs.

Sometimes a lot of referrals can be indicative of poor classroom management other times however it can be indicative of poor classes. If a kid doesn’t respond to my teacher voice or look, doesn’t care if I call home, can get on the computer or where they sit. If a kid doesn’t care about school then there is no other option but tot send them out on a referral that way I can teach and other kids can learn. But what do I do now that money and my job are on the line. Well some teachers scared for their futures will endure toxic leaning environments in their classrooms and that leads to a whole host of other problems.

Duval County doesn’t get it. When we fail to discipline, the problems don’t miraculously go away. On the contrary they get worse and they create other problems as well.

This year the Duval County school system will create doctors and lawyers, teachers and business men, they will create engineers, scientists, and accountants too but sadly they will also create more than their fair share of criminals and bad citizens as well. And they will do it at the same schools that your sons and daughters, your nieces or nephews or your neighbor’s kids go to.

If you want evidence think about my friend who was pistol whipped last January during a robbery or my neighbor who was recently gang raped in broad day light on the street or the residents of 45th street and Moncrief who were terrorized for over a year by a gang of street punks. Of the thirteen young men arrested for crimes ranging from homicide to drug possession four are still teenagers. Over the summer a half dozen young men all under the age of 18 were convicted of murder one case involved a pizza another three dollars

If you want further evidence just walk through the halls between classes at most neighborhood schools there is little fear of or respect for authority.

I can point them out to you, the second year freshmen with six F’s and one D on their latest report card. The junior who doesn’t bring any materials to class and tells me he can’t write with a pen only a pencil when I offer him a pen. The multitude of students who have massed dozens of tardies in my class with no penalty, or seem both outraged and confused when I announce to them that we have work to do, something we do even on Fridays. You can also see the girl that hijacks my forth period class every day, yelling at me telling me no, even when I ask the most reasonable of requests like please take your seat and quietly do your work. I could go on and on.

For the most part day after day I let it go. You see I have to pick my battles. If I fight everything then I am considered the problem and my classroom management skills are questioned, or if I write up to many black students it’s whispered that I might be a racist. These are things that as a teacher you don’t want to be thought of as.

In my class students get several opportunities to be disrespectful to me or to refuse my reasonable requests, instead of just the one they should, before I send them out. When I do some students question my logic, they tell me nothing’s going to happen to them and that I will be the one that gets in trouble, though when they say it, expletive deletes usually accompany their words.

Sometimes they are back in a few minutes with cat eating grins on their faces because they were just asked not to do it again, though administrators call it counseling. Other times they receive the most minor of inconveniences, I say inconveniences because for something to be a consequence it has to be meaningful. That’s if even that happens.

A colleague of mine recently stumbled across boxes of unprocessed referrals from last year. I suspect they weren’t processed because referrals affect a schools grade, the only alternative I could think of is the administration is either lazy and doesn’t care or they were directed to ignore the referrals by higher ups. Who cares if children are taught its okay to be defiant, disruptive and disrespectful, which is what happens if they receive no consequences for their actions as long as the school grade improves.

Above isn’t exclusive to my class or school by any means, it happens all across the county and at every grade too. First graders threatening teachers, fifth graders caught having sex, middle schoolers assaulting school board employees and wore are all nearly daily occurrences here in Duval County. A few here and there are removed but most are sent back to their classes with no real consequences where quite often their behavior worsens. A student attacking a teacher and scratching their cornea gets a one dy suspension in at least one county school. Looking up a teachers adress on google maps so they can come visit them later gets a period of in school suspension at another.

When we ignore bad behavior or don’t deliver a real consequence for it, it invariably worsens and why wouldn’t it. I am not a bring swats back to school kind of guy, but what about having children work all day Saturday or after school. Why can’t schools mandate community service hours like the legal system can, and then have the police pick them up to make sure they do it. What do you think happens to children who receive no consequences, well I will tell you, they grow up to be adults who think they can do whatever they want and are easily angered when they can’t. They join gangs, they commit crimes and they are not the person you want sitting next to you at work.

Involved parents of good children don’t think this doesn’t apply to you or your family. What does your child think we he sees no consequences given to the disruptive student, do they think they are cool; do they mimic their behavior or fall into that crowd? Do we want to even take the chance that they might. Furthermore even if they don’t, if a teacher spends just ten percent of his or her time dealing with the unruly student, then your student is missing 18 days worth of instruction. I know teachers who say they spend up to fifty percent of their time working with the students who are discipline problems or don’t care. If your child is in one of those classes, do you know how much instruction they are missing? Also what about the child thaat just needs that consequence one time to straighten out, to see the light. Whats going to happen to them if they never get it.

I know what you are thinking and you are right, of course it’s the parents of disruptive children’s responsibility, and yes it is their job to keep these children in line, to raise them right. The thing is, if we know some parents are abdicating their responsibilities, and it is painfully obvious that more than a few are, then isn’t it up to us, society, and the school system to step up and do something because if not us then who. Isn’t it time we stopped just hoping they did the right thing and did the right thing ourselves, regardless of effort or cost.

And the cost being prohibitive is another tired argument, because make no mistake we are already paying for it. Its’ not pay now or pay later, it’s we are already paying now and we are going to have to pay a lot more later. Think about it, we are already paying for it through higher insurance rates, crime and more police on the streets; we are footing the bill with violence and blood. How much is it worth for your daughter not to be raped or your son not to be murdered, or are you just content hoping it doesn’t happen to them, you or somebody else you know or love.

How many of those kids in the 45th street gang did schools make by ignoring their behavior or by giving them no real consequence for it. How many mothers are saying he was such a good boy until he got mixed up in the wrong crowd? How many could we have saved had we done something, my bet is more than a few.

Please don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good kids here in Duval County the vast majority in fact want nothing more but to come to school and learn. but there are kids that the schools need to look out for, because if they don’t then society will have too.
at Sunday, September 05, 2010

Is the superintendet lying about discipline? Ask a teacher what they think

Leave some behind

I and nine thousand of my fellow teachers roll up our sleeves and go to work every day work, sometimes excited for what the new day will bring and other times pessimistic that it will be more of the same.

When I first became a teacher nine years ago, after a decade working in special needs camps, I thought I was going to change the world, that every student who came threw my classroom would leave not only educated but a better human being as well. However the sad fact is some of my students weren’t just learning they were teaching to, and what they taught me was, you can’t save them all.

Way to many students come to school with no pretense of learning, they come to be with their friends, they come because society tells them they have to and more than a few come to see what trouble they can find and these few bad apples are spoiling the whole bunch. You hear it everyday, in the offices and teachers lounges of schools, if only Johnny wasn’t in my classroom I could teach. If only little Suzy would stop disturbing class the other kids could learn, I had a good day today because so and so was absent, I felt like a teacher. If that one bad apple was gone the whole class could thrive.

Every year you see the same students in the hall after the tardy bell rings, they aren’t carrying books and they aren’t in a hurry to get anywhere; then when you ask them where they are supposed to be, they inform you often with the word fuck added in somewhere, that it’s none of your business, well I say enough is enough because if not now, if not this year then when? It’s time we took back from our school system from those unruly few that have hijacked it.

If you don’t believe me, try this parents wait a week or two after school begins and then go ahead and ask your little Suzy and/or your little Johnny, if there is a student or two in their class that the teacher always has to discipline, and then ask them if the same student picks on their classmates or does their work, if you don’t already know, I believe you will be unpleasantly surprised.

And now parents let me ask you a couple of questions, at your place of employment are you routinely threatened and harassed, and what would you do if you were, and your bosses did nothing about it, would you show up the next day? Also do you think this would be a good way to run a business; well sadly that’s how some of our schools are run, and it’s one of the reasons that our school system is suffering.

Did you know over half of the districts teachers have five years experience teaching or less and two of the things that make teachers leave the field so quickly are unruly students and lack of support from our administration when it comes to discipline. Teachers for the most part only write students up as a last resort when every other option has failed, but there is nothing more defeating than to see this same student returned to our classrooms a few moments later with no consequences, now something may have happened but for a consequence to be effective it must be meaningful, and what we do to the kids is not meaningful. To make matters worse often we receive visits from our administration wondering why we have written the same student up several times, instead of supporting us they question our teaching methods when the blaring reason we have done this is they haven’t done anything.

Furthermore what type of message does this send to the child, well I’ll tell you, that’s they can do whatever they want whenever they want to and they can then expect no real punishment. I often wonder how many times these criminals we read about in the news or see on television were in trouble while they were in school or what punishments they received, I would bet the answers would be often and little.

One of the reasons discipline is so bad is it’s nearly impossible to remove a student to an alternative school unless they are caught with a gun or physically assault a teacher, no matter how often they are in trouble. The thing is by letting them stay with just the meekest of consequences after they misbehave over and over is just courting tragedy. Do we need a student to be shot or a teacher to be beat up before we do anything? Instead of being reactive it’s time our school system stepped up and was proactive. If you get in two fights in a year you should be gone. If you get written up five times in nine weeks you should be gone. If you miss more than nine days in nine weeks without a doctor’s note you should be gone, if you are late fifteen times in nine weeks you should be gone, if you get arrested while not at school for violence, stealing or drugs you should be gone, and if you threaten a teacher or school board employee once, and just once is all it should take, you should be gone.

I and many of my colleagues are tired of ignoring bad behavior because we figure nothing will be done. We are tired of being looked at in an accusatory matter when we attempt to impose discipline. We are tired of not being backed up and seeing the same student returned to our classrooms with no consequences, but most of all we are tired of not being able to teach.

You see we spend so much of our time on the five percent of students who create ninety-five percent of the problems, we have lost focus on those students who want to be there and want to learn, and sadly many of these students are falling through the cracks, because they aren’t getting the services and attention they deserve.

These disruptive students are a cancer to our school system, and when a body has a cancer we don’t say, it didn’t mean it, lets give it a chance, then another chance and another, we don’t ask if we think it’s being serious, no what we do is cut it out, and we do so because that’s the only way we can save the body, and it may be the only way we can save our school system to.

Mr. Superintendent I call on you to get your teachers back, to make sure we have a safe working environment and to reinstall discipline into our schools. You want f-cat scores to go up, you want student achievement to improve lets try that. No child left behind should be changed to; we’re leaving about five percent of them behind until they shape up. By doing so we can help make sure the ninety-five percent of students who want to learn, who want to achieve can be as successful as possible.