The problem with administrators and evaluations

The paper today had an article about a teacher who was fired. Her evaluations were satisfactory and then a new principal transferred in and things went downhill. I can‘t speak about this particular case but it is more common than you might think for teachers to go from satisfactory or better to needs improvement or worse all because of a change in school leadership.

Here in Duval we have had a huge leadership problem. Under the former super’s reign who you knew and who you were loyal to rather than one’s ability determined a lot of promotions. Where we do have a fair amount of outstanding leaders this sadly led to a lot of bullies masquerading as administrators and 27 year old vice principals being responsible for the day to day running of many schools.

A lot of these so called leaders play favorites on one hand and are vindictive of perceived slights on the other. Then sprinkle in the fact that many principals do like younger teachers, not for their ability mind you but because they are easily malleable and most don’t know what they don’t know and we have some real problems. The district has been skewing young for years now and that has led to many of our problems. We need a mix of young and energetic teachers and experienced teachers too.

Right after refusing to acknowledge let along mitigate poverty, school based leadership is probably the districts biggest problem and that is why we can no longer do things the same way. The district needs to be proactive and recruit leaders from the surrounding counties and then it also needs to recruit its next generation of leaders from the current group of teachers. Newsflash just because you can pass a test it doesn’t make you a leader and neither does being able to schmooze the higher-ups. Furthermore every school has teachers that most of the other teachers look up to and go to when they need help and they too should be recruited for leadership positions. Yes losing them in the classroom would be a blow but if we have learned one thing over the last few years it should have been that one principal or a couple vice principals can make or break an entire school.

Like I said above I won’t make a judgment about the teacher who got fired but I can say I was alarmed at something that Superintendent Vitti said in the article: Vitti said the teacher might have had a previous principal who was lenient.

I guess that is possible however he has only been here for a few months so I doubt he knows one way or another but you know what else might be possible? The principal in place now is a bully masquerading as an administrator. Having worked in Duval for over a decade, I know that is a real possibility too.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2013-05-31/story/terminated-duval-teacher-appeals-districts-decision#ixzz2Us3HEHo1

Duval’s lax consequences for bad behavior or you got to be %$#@ing kidding me!!!

DCPS recently made the national news for the treatment of a serial bully who put a classmate in the hospital. A judge temporarily banned her from attending school and the superintendent fought to have her readmitted.

I guess reasonable people can disagree on the harshness of her punishment. I personally think she should be at an alternative school for kids with discipline problems for the foreseeable future. But what no reasonable person should think is that she should have been allowed to go on a class trip to Universal Studios.

When I read that her victim ran into her on the trip I first felt bad that it happened but then I was outraged by the fact the bully was allowed to go. What’s next cripple somebody and give them the key to the city. Break somebody’s leg and get a cruise.

Sadly this is not a lone example either. All over the county children don’t get the consequences they deserve for unruly behavior and this little monster was even rewarded.

For shame Duval County, you better get with it before we remember the days when kids sent their classmates to the hospital as the good old days.

Jeb Bush hates Unions more than he cares for students

Do you want to know why Jeb Bush likes charter schools, virtual schools and vouchers? It is not because they do better than public schools and it’s not because they are more innovative either. It’s because they are staffed by non-union teachers. If charter schools started to unionize then Jeb Bush would drop them like a hot potato. It is pathological with Jeb, he can’t help himself.

The latest example of this comes from a recent stop of his in Michigan which if possible is even worse off than Florida with how it treats its teachers and most vulnerable students. Bush hates unions so much he is willing to mislead, cajole and outright lie to sell his anti-union, anti-public school snake oil.

Joy Resmovits and Ashley Woods in the Huffington Post wrote about how he lauded Michigan’s charter schools which as a group are doing worse than even Florida’s charter schools. Not swayed by facts, Bush even said that Michigan’s charters were outperforming public school. Resmovits and Woods however found things differently:

But it is difficult to concisely characterize charter school quality nationwide, and the study on Michigan’s schools Bush touted is less definitive than he made it sound.

That study, released in January by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, found that while students in Michigan’s charter schools are raising their test scores more quickly than their peers in public schools, they are still performing at much lower levels. Charter school students in the state gain about two months of reading and math knowledge over their peers each year — but 80 percent of charter schools perform below the 50th percentile of achievement in reading, and 84 percent perform below that threshold in math.

Another study — this one by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers — found that about a quarter of Michigan’s charters fell into the bottom 15 percent of the state’s schools on eighth grade math and the bottom 21 percent in eighth grade reading.

That poor performance has disappointed education advocates like Amber Arellano, who directs the nonpartisan advocacy group EdTrust Midwest.

“A lot of people here … had hoped that charters were really going to be the solution to urban children’s lack of quality options,” Arellano told The Huffington Post in a January interview. “They’re not. There are not enough high-performing charters here [in Michigan] to really address the educational inequities that we have here in the state. Just letting the market decide isn’t the answer.”

According to an EdTrust Midwest study, the operators of new schools that opened up after Michigan lifted its cap on charters in 2011 have below-average academic track records.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/29/jeb-bush-talks-education-mackinac-charter-schools-michigan_n_3354180.html?utm_source=Alert

All of this begs the question, what won’t Bush say? I also have no doubt that when the education apartheid movement has finally run its course; people will consider Jeb Bush one of the biggest villains of the 21st century.

Dear Charter Schools, taking public money doesn’t automatically make you a public entity; if it did, Halliburton would be its own branch of the military.

The U.S. Census Bureau says most charter schools are not public schools and a rose by any other name is still a rose but just because it has feathers and flies it doesn’t mean it is a duck.

It is way past time we stopped calling charter schools public schools and the only reason education deformers do so is they think it gives their anti-public school privatization agenda some cover. What they really are is publically funded private schools and despite numerous advantages many perform worse than their public school counterparts.

The US Census Bureau doesn’t think they are private schools: http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/11f33pub.pdf  and they aren’t the only ones.

Neither does the National Labor Board: http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-charter-school-subject-private-sector-labor-laws-104660

Many legal scholars: http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-charter-school-subject-private-sector-labor-laws-104660

And education policy scholars as well: http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/charter-schools-are-public-private-neither-both/

And if you still think they are, I have a bridge to sell you cheap.

Above was inspired by the Jersey Jazzman post: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/05/us-census-bureau-most-charters

Which had the great quote: Taking public money doesn’t automatically make you a public entity; if it did, Halliburton would be its own branch of the military.

In 2000, 1 in 8 schools were considered high poverty schools, now it is 1 in 5

From the Hechinger Report

Poverty is getting so concentrated in America that one out of five public schools was classified as a “high-poverty” school in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education. To win this unwelcome designation, 75 percent or more of an elementary, middle or high school’s students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. About a decade earlier, in 2000, only one in eight public schools was deemed to be high poverty. That’s about a 60 percent increase in the number of very poor schools!

This figure was part of a large data report, The Condition of Education 2013, released by the National Center for Education Statistics on May 23, 2013. There’s a lot to chew on in it. But school poverty jumped out at me as a really depressing data point showing the growing income inequality in America.

Qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch is an imperfect measure of poverty. A mother with two kids who makes under $35,000 a year would be in this group. Certainly, that’s poor family in New York City, but maybe not destitute in Utah. I’ve also heard that many poor families feel that it is such a stigma to accept a discounted or free lunch that they don’t sign up for the program. So the poverty rates in many schools are probably much higher than the official statistics say they are.

http://educationbythenumbers.org/content/the-number-of-high-poverty-schools-increases-by-about-60-percent_161/ 

Duval County poised to cut most media specialists

As the school board seems bound and determined to keep nine percent, or three times what they are required to, in budget reserves, you just knew something was going to be cut. Well friends it looks like it is going to be the county’s media specialists.

The scuttlebutt is principals have a choice whether to get the Testing Coordinator/Curriculum teacher position — or keep their Media Specialists. Based on the heavy emphasis this state puts on learning-by-testing, guess which one principals are picking?

Education Matters also received the following e-mail:

Latest news on media specialists in the budget

I hate to be the bearer of more bad news, but my principal told me on Friday that all high school media specialists have been cut from the budget. She said that Title I schools will have the option of paying for the position out of their Title I funds. All of this news is such a shocking and drastic change from the plan to have a full time media specialist in every school.

I believe these cuts stem from the School Board workshop which was held last Tuesday. I heard on the news last week that the Board wants a larger reserve fund (an additional 3-5%) than is required by state law (3%). I am sure that cuts must be made in order to achieve the larger reserve fund. I don’t think that the timing of the budget workshop last Tuesday and the news about cuts to our positions is a coincidence. There is another Board budget workshop scheduled for this Thursday so the budget is still in flux.

Mind you above was from a district media specialist not from a member of the district staff but if it is true it certainly is troubling and is the opposite of what the district has been saying. I also wonder how the people in Jacksonville will feel about the district sitting on 50 million dollars and cutting librarians.

For a district with a reading problem, getting rid of the county’s media specialists seems incredibly short sited.

UNFs disappointing blame the teacher agenda

I am just going to get right to it.
First no response to Jeb Bush’s desire to blow up teacher’s
colleges. You would think a, hey we respectfully disagree, would come from the
college that has supplied many of the state’s teachers.
Next, their round table with the JPEF to discuss teacher
evaluations, first JPEF is a proponent of TFA, which has a business model the
exact opposite of what we know to be best practices and hey ignore poverty
much?
Finally they recognized Gary Chartand as a pillar in the
community. Other than being incredibly disdainful towards teachers and their
representatives, being a proponent of large class sizes and believing in race
based goals I’m not really sure what good he has done for the community. I
guess being rich and a republican in Florida practically guarantees you an
award.

I am a graduate of UNF and up till now I was a proud UNF
graduate.

Education reformers seek new victims, colleges of education.

Teachers have long been the target of the Education
Reform movement but after years of abuse teachers have began to push
back.  Then after the Sandy Hook and
Moore tragedies it has become harder to straight up demonize teachers.
Education deformers no longer feel comfortable blaming them for society’s
problems especially after a few gave up or risked their lives for their
children. That however hasn’t stopped the corporate reform movement; no they
just switched targets going from educators to their schools of education.


Before I debunk their latest attacks I want you to first think about the amazing
hypocrisy of the education reform movement. Teach for America is the darling of
the ed reform movement. It takes non education majors and puts them through a
five week course and then places them in our toughest classroom or what people
in education like to call the exact opposite of what should be happening. Yet
somehow that is supposed to be okay and college of ed graduates who spend years
studying and at least a semester teaching is somehow substandard. It’s worse
however as the right often uses a study by Arthur Levine, who complains about
lax requirements to get into colleges of education to validate their concerns
but they never mention how the same Arthur Levine rails against TFA and saying
it is not the answer. This however will not be the only example of the right
trying to have their cake and eat it too. 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/how-to-improve-teacher-education-now-and-why-teach-for-america-isnt-the-answer/

Jeb Bush likes to take credit for Florida’s improvement over the last dozen
years and there has been some modest gains the thing however is most of these
gains are the results of the efforts of Florida’s teachers and the majority of
them are graduates of the state’s colleges of educations not his Florida
miracle which has been thoroughly debunked. These are the same colleges that
Jeb Bush said he wanted to blow up at the Champions for Education meeting. Jeb
Bush should not be allowed to have his cake and eat it to, not that that has
ever stopped a politician for taking credit for something they had no control
over while simultaneously and erroneously bashing their enemies. 

Their main argument seems to be that people who go into the college of
education have low GPAs and SAT scores. First there is a lot of debate about
where the education deformers got their information and its reliability http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2009/11/15/do-teachers-really-come-from-the-bottom-third-of-colleges-or-is-that-statistic-a-bunch-of-baloney/  and
 http://www.ocala.com/article/20120318/OPINION/120319723?p=1&tc=pg

 I get it though, each side could say I’ll see your study and show you one
more but I want you to think about this. Only slightly over 30% of all
Americans over the age of 25 have a four year degree. 100 percent of public
school teachers have to have a four-year degree. So in effect the education
reformers who are so critical are saying that teachers are the worst of the
best.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/education/census-finds-bachelors-degrees-at-record-level.html

Then according to the national center for education statistics, 52% of teachers
have advanced degrees where only 10% of the general public does and doesn’t
that shoot a hole in the poorly educated teacher theory? http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=28

Once again however in their zeal to bad talk teachers they don’t realize or
they do and don’t care hoping that the public will miss it, that this argument
points to inconsistencies in another one of the other crown jewels of education
reform, vouchers. Private schools play by different rules including the
education levels that their teachers are required to have. Sure all the
teachers at schools like Boles and Episcopal have bachelor’s degrees or above
but what about the small private schools in strip malls or on the recesses of
town, you know, the ones that advertise on their web sites that they take
vouchers. Many of the members of those staffs don’t have bachelors’ degrees at
all let alone degrees in the subject areas that they are teaching. Yet the
powers that be aren’t calling for universal certification requirements instead
they are just screaming that colleges of education are substandard.

These reformers, many of who are seeking to make a buck off education, with
their most sincere faces say, if of only children had better teachers they
would graduate better prepared for life. That teacher quality is the number one
in-school factor that determines how children do. They say in-school mind you
so they can continue to ignore poverty which is the number one factor for
determining success in school. Kids in poverty don’t do as well as those who
aren’t and over a fifth of our kids live in poverty and another fifth just
above it.

To those education reformers who say those things I respond instead of
demonizing teachers for not being able to overcome the dehabilitating effects
of poverty, parental indifference and so many other factors beyond their
control, I believe we should get down on our knees and thank them because the
vast majority of our children would be much worse off without them.

This isn’t to say every teacher is great or graduate from a college of
education made the right choices to get into the profession but when one of my
kids’ acts up I don’t punish the whole class because of them but that is the
road that the education reformers have chosen to take. They see a few bad
teachers and instead of working to replace them they decide to kneecap the
entire profession instead.

During my third year of teaching, like many teachers do to hone their craft I
went back to college and was taking a nature of the learner class. One day the
professor showed a couple videos of teachers and asked the class to rate them
zero through four, four being the highest. One of the videos showed a rather
shrill woman who I found a bit boring and short with the kids. After the video
was over I turned to my buddy and said I am giving her a zero, what are you
giving her? He said, one. 

At first I was a confused, I asked quite dismayed, what, how can you give this
lady a one? He looked at me and said Chris, she showed up. So many people bitch
and complain, blame and point their fingers at teachers not knowing what they
do or go through but you know what they don’t do? I was silent. They don’t show
up. They don’t go through the training and make the sacrifices. They don’t
fight for better conditions for teachers, a fair wage and curriculums that give
teachers and students a chance at being successful. They don’t do any of those
things and as flawed as this lady was, she showed up and that is worth a point
in my book. Feeling a little ashamed for my initial reaction and my short
sitedness, I to gave her a one too. 

And if above doesn’t make you wonder about the true motives of the education
reform movement, most of whom have never been in a classroom and none of whom
have fought for decent wages and working conditions for teachers, who blame
them for societies ills, and many of who’s main goal is to make a buck off of
education then nothing will.