Stop the presses, Teachers are dissatisfied in Jacksonville?!?

I would say it was the worst kept secret in the city that teachers were dissatisfied except it hasn’t been anything close to be a secret. I mean except to the JPEF and the Times Union who were apparently in the dark.

Here is the recipe for how it happened.

One part incompetent superintendent and a rubber stamp board. The previous superintendent must have had compromising pictures of the long term board members because they rubber stamped everything he brought to them and much of it was to the detriment of the district. Not that things were perfect before him but he gutted student accountability and turned teachers from valued colleagues to easily replaceable and marginalized cogs. I also can’t emphasize enough how he gutted student accountability a huge problem that continues to plague us. Then as a bonus he put people in leadership positions not based on ability but who they knew and sadly now many of our schools are filled with bullies masquerading as administrators. Despite Vitti’s impressive beginning, it will take the district years to recover from Pratt-Dannals, Burney, Barrett and Hazouri.

Throw in Jeb Bush and his debunked Florida miracle and teaching went from a field that prided itself on creativity and flexibility to one that filled in bubbles and taught to the test. Jeb Bush has done more to harm education than most people know or it sometimes seems, want to know.

Add a sprinkle of the Times Union and the rest of the local media giving the previous super and board a pass. I must have read a half dozen editorials in the Times Union that said Pratt was the right man for the job, this as he drove quality teachers to the surrounding counties or out of the field all together. Pass after pass they gave him as our schools, teachers and students languished.

Then throw in low pay, Florida teachers are some of the worst paid in the nation and expensive benefits, that’s right, they aren’t as great as people have been led to believe. As altruistic as many teachers are they still have to feed their families. Then when you couple those with an ever increasing demand to drill and kill kids, rich kids get taught poor kids get tested, and mountains of superfluous paperwork and then a lot of teachers decided to look elsewhere for employment. I mean if they are going to be miserable they might as well be getting paid for it.

John Thrasher and Steve Wise, two local legislatures constant anti-teacher drum beat also played a role as did all the anti-teacher/public education legislation that has come out of Tallahassee over the last few years. Instead of fixing our problems they have exacerbated many as they have sought to privatize our schools.

Finally the well financed campaign to besmirch teachers, portraying them as money grubbing self-indulgers who couldn’t care less about kids, you know the opposite of what is true, hurt.

With all that what really surprises me is it’s just 50%.

The good news is we can turn this around and listening to teachers concerns and suggestions would be a good first step.

Jacksonville really isn’t interested in retaining teachers and I can prove it

The headline read, Group looks to raise $50 million to strengthen Duval teachers, principals, administrators. A laudable goal I guess but when you get to the fine print it loses some of its luster. Over 11 million of the dollars would go to Teach for America. Teach for America’s business model is the exact opposite of what people in education call best practices. They take recent grads without education degrees and put them first through a six week access course and then into the toughest classrooms the city has to offer where they serve a two year commitment; after which 90 percent of them leave.

This is made particularly ironic because another article in the paper talks about the difficulty in retaining teachers. Sadly the district by using TFA to fill openings tells its teachers it really interested in doing so. Instead preferring an ever revolving door of cheap and malleable fodder.

Wouldn’t the money be better spent developing teachers who would be in the classroom for a lifetime? Wouldn’t that strengthen our teachers?

The hypocrisy really is dizzying if you think about it.

Michelle Rhee’s ever growing credibility problem

Michelle Rhee used to talk about what a great teacher she was until people looked into her claims. Now she is silent on the issue though for some reason she does like to tell the story about how she once ate a bee.

This was followed by a disastrous turn as the Chancellor of the Washington D.C. school system. As more and more comes out, the achievement gap increased, scores went down, they lost money by closing schools and the cheating scandal which gets bigger every day, her legacy is quickly unraveling.

Then there is the Students First, her anti-public school teacher group, petition she passed off in Florida that supposedly supports the parent trigger. Filed with duplicate signatures and with people who report not having signed it, it cannot be taken seriously.

I’m starting to wonder what she was ever right about. I long ago wondered why anybody would listen to her.

The irony of Michelle Rhee of using petitions to sell the parent trigger

The Parent Trigger if passed would allow parents to petition to change the school that their children attend. Since this is the case does anybody find it ironic that the petition Kelli Stargel, R-lakeland presented as support for the parent trigger legislation (provided by Michelle Rhee), is so full of problems? We are talking about duplicate signatures, and the signatures of people who say they were either tricked about what they were signing or who say they didn’t sign it.

If the supporters of the parent trigger are willing to lie and use subterfuge now even before the bill is passed, what won’t they do once the bill is passed?

To read more click the link:

3,2,1… Down go Bush and the Parent Trigger

First I would like to thank the handful of republicans that voted against the parent trigger, Senators, Nancy Detert, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Rene Garcia, Jack Latvala, Greg Evers and Charlie Dean. Education should be non-partisan and what’s best for kids is what we should do. It’s nice to see a handful of republicans agree.

Now to Jeb Bush:

First the RNC, Jeb’s own party, came out against the Common Core, his baby.

Then his mother said; there had been enough Bush’s in the white house.

Finally Florida changed the graduation requirements something he fought against and voted against the parent trigger something he fought for.

Bush like the trigger which has failed two years in a row now is hopefully down for the count.

Why all the decption around the Parent Trigger?

From MyEducationNext, by Rita Solonet

Watching the Florida Senate debate the so-called Parent Empowerment bill, is like watching an episode of Truth or Dare.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Kelli Stargel (R)- Lakeland,  clumsily danced around answers to pertinent questions, like,  “Why is a parent trigger even needed in Florida?”  or, “Who supports parent trigger in Florida.”

I’m tired of the non answers, the wrong answers, and frankly, the lies presented with gusto such as the fabricated parent group with the slick video that support this bill. The truth about SB 862, aka, the Parent Trigger bill is as follows:

1)    Does the parent trigger bill offer a new option to parents?
No, it does not.  Florida already has a law permitting public school conversion to charter school. That law gives the parents power to initiate a conversion of a school to charter. It was used in Key Biscayne and in Lakeland.

2)     Does this bill truly empower parents as the title suggests?

No, it does not. Parents are actually less empowered when a school is converted to a charter.  Charters frequently select students for admission. Oftentimes, they avoid disabled children, English Language Learners, those dubbed hard-to-teach.  Further, charter schools expel children at any time they desire.  Parents have no appeal process. Oftentimes charter schools don’t allow parents to attend board meetings.  Charters change school attendance days (including Saturdays) and hours. Parents have no say.  Many charters now demand volunteer hours from parents dictating that students will be expelled if parents don’t volunteer.  This is empowerment?
3)     Do parents have a voice in Florida’s public schools now?
Absolutely they do. Whether they are involved in the school or not, parents can seek out a peer parent on a School Advisory Council (SAC).  SACs are mandated by law and their boards must comprise, by law, 51% or more with parents and business leaders.  SACs actually write school improvement plans.  Parents gather input and help to write plans to improve the school. That’s empowerment!  Any parent can and should attend SAC meetings with issues or seek out parents to help with issues.  I’ve been on SACs over a decade and we help every parent who comes before us. 
4)     Do charter schools have the same accountability?

No.  Contrary to Senator Stargell’s remarks, charters do not close after two years of F-ratings.  First, by law, they are not graded until after the second year. Then, if they receive F-ratings, and a district wants to close them, charters turn to the State Board of Ed to appeal the closure.  At best, you cannot close a failing charter for three years. Just look at all the failing charters that still exist!

5)     Florida needs to offer parents more Choice

Florida has more choice than any other state in the nation. Florida offers:  McKay Scholarships;  Vouchers;  Florida Virtual;  600+ charter schools;  Magnet schools;  Homeschooling;  Cyber Charters and 100% Virtual schools for parents; along with an existing conversion clause to charter.

6)     Does FL need more avenues to open more charters such as the parent trigger?
Florida has 600 charter schools in operation today. When you consider Florida has more charters than Texas, you need to consider that Texas has 4.8M students to educate vs. Florida’s 2.4M.  Perhaps it’s time to slam on the brakes and fix the charters in existence vs. opening the floodgates for more that are not needed.
7)     Who opposes parent trigger in Florida?
Senator Stargel shamefully misled the Senate with her answer today. Over 1M citizens oppose parent trigger. Groups such as:


 and many more…

FACT:   There is no entity – no grassroots parents group that has chosen to form support for the concept of parent trigger of their own volition whatsoever.  That lie was exposed in Kathleen McGrory’s Miami Herald article on April 26.

8)  Why do parents oppose parent trigger?

Simply – we oppose the conflict it inflicts upon communities pitting parents against principals, teachers against parents, parents against parents and students against students.  You only have to look to California for proof that this law divided communities such that families moved away.  NO AMENDMENT will resolve this conflict you are willfully inflicting upon Florida’s citizens.
PLEASE LISTEN TO CONSTITUENTS AND VOTE NO ON PARENT TRIGGER!I am not a teacher – not a union member – and I haven’t got a clue what the so-called union talking points are.  I’m a parent, a business woman who spent her own savings to beg you to say no to a very destructive bill.

What raise did teachers get again?

The Governor reverted to form taking a victory lap over the
legislature agreeing to give teachers at least a 2,000 dollar raise, which for
most is less than the 5% they have lost over the last two years.

However buried in the fine print is the raise isn’t suppose
to kick in till the 14-15 school year.  The
governor doing his best Last of the Mohicans impression told teachers, to hang
on, submit, to somehow survive and then eventually he would throw us a few
Governor Scott if you are hoping to buy my vote, you are
going to have to do a bit better than that.

To read more click the link:

DCPS is a horrible place to work

That was the start of Reader 422’s comment on a Times Union piece about why teachers leave the district. This is the rest of it.

DCPS is a horrible place to work. I have decades of experience and am National Board Certified and I just got my evaluation today. My score: 58/100. Retaliation for asking a question of my dictator, I mean principal. Petty comments are on my evaluation such as:

“Put everything in one binder.” Really? Do they make 3 ft. binders?
This job involves paperwork!
One child spoke without raising his hand, so I got a Needs Improvement in Managing Student Behavior.
“Some of my notes are handwritten.” Can I not jot down a phone #?
Anonymous complaints were made about me. Undoubtedly parents of children who failed. How can I respond to that?
I thought their goal was to recruit and retain great teachers. Every day is a demoralizing experience. I work all day, every evening, every weekend. I spend every Saturday morning going to garage sales looking for books for my students.
The illiterate bimbo who evaluates me gave us a lesson plan form and sent an email acknowledging that it takes 2-3 hrs. to fill out at first, but gets easier. That’s my whole planning!
I hate my job. I won’t work nearly as hard next year. Why should I? The evaluation is all about who shuts up and sucks up!
My son told me he wants to be a teacher. I told him I wouldn’t pay for college if he majored in education and I mean it.

I am at a good school now so I don’t feel Reader 422’s angst but for the last 3 years I was at Ed White I felt it everyday and its a sentiment I hear frequently from teachers throughout the district. -cpg


Common Core will provide the bullets for the parent trigger

If you have been following Tallahassee recently you know that the DOE has made a mess of how they grade schools. Constant changes to the formula mean nobody knows exactly where they are or where they will be when the system is finally decided upon. Take last year for instance when they decided schools would only be able to fall two letter grades whether they deserved to fall farther or not.

So when the supporters of the parent trigger bill say it will only affect 25 schools or so, the truth is it will most likely effect a lot more. Then once we add common core to the mix, the system designed to toughen the standards that bring a whole new set of standardized tests with it, who knows how many schools will now be eligible for the parent trigger. Some estimates say the number will be in the hundreds.

Two things, some of you might be thinking, failing schools should be taken over. Well friends as long we ignore poverty any improvement will be slow but at the end of the day who do you want working with the kids a corporation whose bottom line is the bottom line or professional educators.

Then shouldn’t the solution be to fix our problems, to provide the resources that mitigate poverty, rather than giving away the public’s resources to for profit companies. Doesn’t that make more sense?

The common core will undoubtedly cause problems and school grades to drop and the powers-that-be in Tallahassee have acknowledged this. So yes right now the parent trigger might just affect a handful of schools but who knows how many it will in the future.

My bet is a lot more and I think the Florida legislature and their charter school backers are betting on it too.

Kelli Stargel, todays latest greatest worst Florida politician of all time

Kelli Stagel R Polk County told the Miami Herald that she “has
no reason to doubt the signatures” on a pro-parent trigger petition she floated.

Um how about all the people who have come forward and said
they didn’t sign it? At best she is ignorant, though disingenuous and deceptive
also come to mind