White men praise Rick Scott for inviting so many white men to education summit.

State senator Dwight Bullard
criticized governor Scott for inviting so many white men to the education
summit (scroll down my main page to see what he was talking about).
President Don Gaetz and Senate Education Committee
Chairman John Legg, both
known to be white men disagreed.
“Governor Scott should be
commended for elevating the conversation on education in the State of Florida,”
Legg wrote in a statement last week. “It is of utmost importance to convene the
stakeholders to create a comprehensive strategy and I am honored to take
Gaetz said the summit would “provide the leaders of our
Senate committees on education and education appropriations the opportunity to
collect various perspectives and ideas.”

Stakeholders and Leaders of Senate Committees of course they meant more white
also hit the nail on the head when he said: “In order to get it right you have
to recognize where you went wrong,” Bullard wrote. “Over testing,
misdirection of dollars, failure to listen to stakeholder input, and countless
other misfires that have now muddied the water of education. Clean up the mess
and start from a good place in which all ideas are weighed on the value of
their merit and not the size of their checkbook or political affiliation.”

Common Core, the New Coke of Education Reforms

I think one of the big problems with common core is the
scope of it. We are going to totally change everything that we do and on a
little more than a whim. What if we spend billions of dollars and then five years
from now somebody says, oops, man we got that one wrong. Let’s face it Florida
hasn’t done well on reinventing education, charters, vouchers, A-F grading
scale, merit pay anyone?
I am also reminded of the recent Advanced Placement scandal.
For the last decade kids unprepared for them were thrown in those classes
because of some anecdotal evidence that said it would improve their lives. Well
after a decade we now know that wasn’t true and in many ways prevented kids
form getting the skills they needed.
I have other concerns, increased testing, the hit schools
will initially take will energize the privatization crowd and all the resources
siphoned out of the classroom, but mostly nobody really knows if this is the
best thing since sliced bread or if it is new coke.
Why don’t we slow down and get it right or make sure it is
right anyways. Carvalho in Miami seems to love it, why don’t we put it there
for three years and see if it works before we blow up what we have now.

Is it too much to ask that we get things right? 

Chartrand denies homophobic remarks. Tampa Times stand by story

wonder if anybody asked him, if he still beats his wife too?
the Miami Herald: 
the midst of a good explanatory piece, the Tampa Bay Times wrote this State Board Chairman Gary
Chartrand recommended that reading lists for students be screened to avoid
potentially upsetting subjects such as socialism and homosexuality. Later, his
group suggested that instructional materials be “aligned with Florida’s
values and culture.”
But Chartrand is adamant: He never
said this.
Instead, Chartrand said, he was
explaining to the group why some others oppose aspects of Common Core.
“Some people are anti-Common
Core, and particularly on the far right, because they object to some of the
reading materials that would reference such things as homosexuality or
socialism or some contentious issues,” said Chartrand, recalling his
comments. “That’s all I said. That was my comment.”

You see he’s not a bigot he
just thinks people on the far right are. Oy Vey, open mouth, insert foot. 

Is Gary Chartrand homophobic too? Union members, black kids, poor kids, who is next?

Is Gary Chartrand homophobic too? Union members, black kids,
poor kids, what is next?
How is this guy allowed near education again? From the I
can’t make this up category, today at Florida’s education summit he said: Florida Board
Chairman Gary Chartrand suggested that the state look for a curriculum or instructional
materials for Common Core that “align with Florida’s values and
culture.” He said reading lists could upset people; particularly in they
mentioned topics such as socialism or homosexuality.
Where do I start? Oh I know, throwing up in my mouth a little
Replacing professional teachers with scabs is not a value I
share but it is a value he has. I am not a big fan of raced based goals or
handicapping those schools, neighborhoods and students that can least afford it
either.  Charters, A-F grading scale and
ignoring poverty anyone?
Next reading lists should be about expanding horizons and
boundaries, opening up student’s minds and allowing them to explore.  They shouldn’t be narrowed to reflect Gary
Chartrand’s supposed values. 

Chartrand talks about values and then proposes we ignore homosexuals as if they didn’t exist. I guess for him it would be better if they were all back in the closet.

Shameful: How Duval County used A.P. tests to end teacher’s careers and shortchange students and continues to do so.

What happened to
accelerated courses of study in Duval County?

There is a reason you
don’t make policy based on anecdotal evidence. It’s so if that evidence proves
false you haven’t made a mess of everything. Drug companies are required to go
through many trials to prove their product is both safe and does what is
advertised. Unfortunately education policies don’t work that way, they get enacted
when the powers-that-be, who are rarely educators, read a pamphlet during a flight
delay, or their sister’s neighbor’s cousin says “hey try this.” Nowhere is this
more evident than in the use of advanced placement classes here in Duval County
and Florida.
For years people went
around saying there was evidence that said just exposing regular or poorer performing
students to advanced classes led to a life time of enrichment. The problem is according
to a recent study by the College Board just exposing them to the classes has
not led to a lifetime of enrichment. On the contrary it has held many back from
acquiring the skills they needed. Teachers actually teaching the classes have known
this for years. You see they were forced to either dumb down the classes,
handicapping the students who were their legitimately or to pass the kids who
weren’t despite the fact that hadn’t come anywhere close to mastering the
It is even more
insidious than that in Duval county because many of the students were put in
classes that were over their head not to expose them to higher material but so
the county could get bonus points on school grades which would mask the
problems the county has. For years Ed Pratt Dannals and the school board would
say look at us we are a B district, when the truth was they were using accounting
tricks to hide the district’s problems. And all it cost us was millions of
dollars and the futures of some of our children.   
Prerequisites were in
place In Duval County Prior to 2000. Students were required to meet defined
levels of performance in courses prior to registering in Advanced Courses in
middle school, Honors and Advanced Placement Courses in high school. These
practices ensured the readiness of the student to handle the rigors of this
level of study. As a result, accelerated courses could move at the pace
required to ensure students would cover the necessary material with the depth
and breadth essential to meet the academic integrity of the respected course.
Most, if not all, prestigious private schools still follow this model as well
as most school districts in the nation. The logic is simple: past performance is
an indicator of future success. The College Board recognizes this and publishes
the AP Expectancy Tables. This illustrates the percent of students who pass
Advanced Placement Exams as a correlation of their PSAT math and verbal scores.
Parents who felt adamant that their child should be enrolled in these courses
against the recommendation of the educators could over-ride this policy.
Students also had to be recommended to sit for the administration of the exam.
This policy ensured the prudent expenditure of public funds ($80 per exam)
consistent with probability of the student receiving a passing score of 3 or
better based on course performance.
Around 2000, with former
Superintendent Dr. Joseph Wise and with former Governor Jeb Bush’s A+ school
grading scheme, common sense went out the window while school statistics were
manipulated to present the facade of high performance. This mirrors the
corporate business model in which many outside the educational profession seek
public schools to emulate. With the A+ plan, the number of students enrolled in
AP courses bolstered the school grade provided they merely sat for the exam. Dr
Joseph Wise’s decision to add many students who were ill prepared to enroll in
these courses were at best an attempt to artificially inflate school grades, or
at worse, self-serving since he had a working relationship with College Board
and sought to join them in their employment in the future.
The District’s adopted
an unrealistic policy that every child will receive a college ready diploma was
soon copied by the state as a failed attempt at social engineering. Students
with FCAT reading scores of 1 were enrolled in AP English Literature courses
and, against the recommendations of the College Board, the average 14 year old
9th grade students were enrolled in AP courses. Teachers were under
pressure to pass the students along through Grade Recovery and through the
deflation of course content. Algebra II had the same content as the Algebra I
of a decade ago. Honors Classes had less rigor that the Standard Classes of the
same time span. Add to this the Florida Virtual School in which some students
have admittedly paid people to sit for the exams and cheated by pulling up two
screens on two computers at home and looked up the answer on one while being
tested on another. The structure of delivery of accelerated course content
moved from one of intellect, emotional maturity and personal responsibility to
how can I trick the students into learning a minimum level of content while not
requiring the students to complete homework assignments, taking notes, or
studying. Research papers once comprised research cited in APA or MLA styles
were reduced to posters and dioramas.
With this, students had
little ownership in their performance and received weighted grade which were
not reflected in the body of knowledge for which they were responsible.  Consequently, it is common practice for
students to simply not show up for AP exams and faces no consequences, or sleep
through the exams since it has no bearing on their graduation or GPA.  As a result educators which teach these
classes are evaluated on the number of students who pass these exams are powerless
to control the fate of their careers. 
Students have used this to blackmail teachers by telling them they will
intentionally fail exams to have the teacher receive a poor evaluation and
possible have them fired if they do not receive a good grade in the course. It
is very hard to fail in Duval County; you really have to work at it.
Failed curricula such as
Math Investigations, CPM Math, Chemistry in the Community, Active Chemistry,
Active Physics and Readers and Writers workshops were and are still pervasive.
We will suffer the effects of these choices for years to come. Teachers asked
to select curriculum and instructional material were overrode by administrators
who never taught these courses, taught decades ago, or who don’t even hold
credentials in these disciplines. Recent evidence of this is apparent in the
selection of the Active Chemistry. An overwhelming number of chemistry
instructors rejected this curriculum only to be overridden by Ms. Leroy, who is
no longer working in this district. Prior to this CPM (College Preparatory
Math) and Math Investigations were instituted against the recommendations of an
overwhelming majority of math teachers. Until recently, Math teacher were
forced to use this curriculum until parental outrage ended these practices
Now students are not
counseled out from courses in which they do not perform well. In turn, the
educator is asked to reduce expectations to ensure success. These policies affect
the retention of educators who are forced to accept students who are ill prepared
to undertake or accept the rigors these classes. Now the educators who teach
these courses will pay for these decisions as their continued employment
depends on the performance of students on district, state, Advanced Placement,
and national common core examinations, which are due to be implemented. The tax
payers of Florida will pay to have students enrolled in AP Classes with little
probability of achieving a passing score and who will sleep through the AP exam
at a cost of $80 per test, Duval County routinely spends over a million dollars
on failed tests. I have heard administers say, “The grade a student receives in
your AP class should have no bearing on what the student receives on the AP
exam.” I have seen many gifted and talented educators leave the profession
rather than run down this rabbit hole.
The state and district cannot continue
to put students and teachers in positions where success is unlikely and then scratch
their head wondering why they failed.  The
state and the district should not be allowed to use accounting tricks to make
it appear that we are doing better than we are and the state and district should
just do better, Florida deserves better.  

Attrition at Ed White Should concern us all

I have to tell you; at one time Ed White was something
special. It had a huge art department and a model U.N. Team, physics club and
drama department of some renown.  However
with 4 principal changes in six years and a tremendous turnover in staff Ed
White is just a shadow of its former self.
Every year there is turnover at our schools and in the five
years I was at Ed White we probably had about a hundred new teachers come
through the doors, though the vast majority of the new arrivals came after Jim
Clark the long time principal there retired. I remember one staff meeting
towards the end where we met two 
new reading teachers who we then never saw
Sadly though since I left three years ago turnover has occurred
at an unprecedented rate, with about 140 teachers leaving.  I am told there are about 65 new faces this
year alone. Why the turnover? Well part of it is because teaching isn’t the
country club job that the blame the teacher crowd would have the public believe.
It’s stressful, for college educated professionals the pay isn’t that great and
the pressure especially for content areas at a high school is unbelievable. A
good leader however can mitigate some of this, and 65 teachers leaving should
tell you about the type of Leadership Ed White has.
Another reason people flee is because of poor leadership. They
don’t have that leader that can mitigate the hazards of being a teacher but
teachers also avoid principals that see them as numbers rather than
individuals. They don’t want to work for principals who use fear and
intimidation as motivational tactics.  Some
principals treat teachers in a fashion that if teachers treated students similarly
would see them in the unemployment line. True leaders inspire, they don’t
threaten, brow beat or cajole.
Furthermore when there is constant upheaval with teachers it
trickles down to their students too. No veteran teacher ever said they were
better when they first started which means more kids are getting shortchanged
by having an ever revolving door of new teachers. Furthermore unhappy teachers
aren’t nearly as effective as happy ones. They don’t stay late, they don’t
grade from home and they physically can’t give their all.
Under the previous reign (or error) who one new rather than one’s
ability often determined who was promoted.  Superintendent Vitti who moved a record number
of principals got a glimpse of that but he didn’t go nearly far enough, merely
moving some around while inexplicably keeping some in place.
Vitti said he wanted to usher in a new era where teachers were
valued colleagues not easily replaceable cogs and the quickest way to do this
is to insist all his principals treated their staffs with respect and to send
the ones who are incapable of doing so on their way.
Ed White has had 4 principals in six years but the truth is
it should have been 5. 

The Florida education summit, recap day 1: Usual suspects meet to kneecap education

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart leads a discussion at the opening day of the education summit Monday.

Look at the picture; it is from the Florida’s education summit
happening in Clearwater. What they couldn’t find anymore-rich old white guys? I
do see one back guy in the picture, ironically enough sitting in the back.
There are obvious problems in education, if there wasn’t
then why are we having this summit? My question then is why are the same people
that drove us off the road and into the ditch the same ones at the summit. Now
there are a few faces but for the most part there are a lot of the usual
suspects, people who would like to drown public education and profit off our
children there too.
This is Rita Solnets observations: It’s seems clear to me that the
following is the outcome the leaders of this education summit are looking for –
they’re driving the meeting this way:

1) Dump PARCC
assessments entirely
2) Re-confirm their support for
Common Core though (political reasons)

3) Write all new assessments for FL (no doubt
driving business to Pearson)

4) Endorse and reiterate that FL has a terrific
accountability system – “we are the leaders!”

5) Reconfirm and support Florida’s Grading system

Oh, yes, and don’t ask silly questions about
students or learning or achievement gaps.

More of the same friends, more of the same.

Education needs a game changer, lets start with getting rid of Arne Duncan.

From the Washington Post, by Matt Farmer

By Matt Farmer
A lot of my friends are public school teachers. They’re scattered throughout the country, working in classrooms from New York to California. And as students head back to school, many of my teacher friends are already wondering how their local districts plan to “change the game” this year.
Talk to enough veteran teachers and you’ll get an earful about the annual roll-out of new initiatives and assessments that get handed down to them in August, only to serve as the educational “flavor of the month” until the following year, when those programs are supplanted by a whole new set of acronyms, benchmarks and buzzwords. (“I’ll take Rigor for $600, please, Alex.”)
Why, these teachers wonder, does the game keep changing?
Look no further than Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. School superintendents from Maine to Montana know that the 6’5” small forward from Chicago is “a big fan” of “game-changers,” so many of those administrators undoubtedly look to please the Big Boss by constantly changing the game in their own districts.
Unfortunately, though, so many things seem to “change the game” for Arne that it’s getting harder and harder for state and local school officials to figure out what game he’s even playing on any given day.
Think I’m joking? Let’s go back to 2010.
That February, Duncan called a proposal for increased funding of student loans “a real game-changer.” 
His thinking had obviously evolved by the end of July, when he concluded that “the big game-changer is to start measuring individual student growth rather than proficiency.”
August, however, brought another epiphany. Duncan realized that the “big game-changer…revolves around the issue of teacher quality.” 
And Duncan, like a lanky philanthropist filling the tin cups of educational panhandlers, continued doling out change in 2010.
In November, he hit Paris to address the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Arne changed the game so often during that speech his UNESCO audience needed copies of “According To Hoyle” just to keep up with him.
After noting that in “the knowledge economy, education is the new game-changer,”Duncan assured the crowd that the sweeping adoption of “common college-ready standards that are internationally benchmarked . . . is an absolute game-changer.”
The secretary of education then called a “new generation of assessments aligned with the states’ Common Core standards” a “second game-changer,” even though it was actually the third “game-changer” Duncan had offered the assembled UNESCO masses during that difficult-to-diagram, five-minute rhetorical stretch.
And Duncan hasn’t lost a step over the last three years, recently calling digital badges “a game-changing strategy,” while also noting that increasing Latino enrollment in pre-school “could be a huge game changer.”
I recently asked some of my teacher friends what they thought of Arne’s seemingly endless supply of “game-changers.” They told me to a person that the one “game-changer” they’d like to see come out of Washington, D.C. during the new school year would be the appointment of a Secretary of Education who actually has a background in education.

What subbing in Duval looks like

This is from a reader and dozens and dozens of classes started the year with a full time Sub

I have subbed in one class since the first day of school.

My classroom has no supplies. I had to bring a marker from home.

Every day, students are added or removed from one period and moved to another one. Students in fifth period will be moved to eighth period and then to first period. This of course makes grading (and keeping track of grades) difficult. I also do not get paid well enough to grade papers at home. Nor am I given any kind of gradebook to keep track of grades.

I did manage to repurpose an attendance sheet set to be a rudimentary gradebook, but they are running out of space and are falling apart.

One of my classes has forty students in it. Is that even legal?

I have no idea.

11 reasons not to like Common Core

By Mike Harris

Common Core…………
1. Developmentally inappropriate especially for Pre-k-8 kids.
2. Tied to high stakes testing that is used to judge schools and teachers more than student learning.
3. Tied to Privatization efforts and the dismantling of Public Education.
4. Tied to Corporate efforts to get taxpayer $$$ from privatizing.
5. Takes away community control of education.
6. Not supported by research yet being rushed…..a giant expensive gamble that makes kids guinea pigs.
7. Several states are withdrawing as local and state legislators start learning and listening to educators.
8. Along with Common Core, testing regimen will cost huge $$$ for technology requirements.
9. Narrowing of curriculum as schools scramble for “good” test scores in order to maintain funding.
10. Diversity of learning styles and teacher use of differentiated instruction to be replaced by “scripts”, provided handsomely by such self-interested corporations such as Pearson………
11. Assumes, without credible evidence, that public education is in dire need of drastic and radical change.

To read more click here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/24/3583858/for-common-core-a-new-challenge.html