Has the Times Union lost its ever-loving mind? The Wright way?

In what has to be the worst piece of Education Reporting to ever come
out of the Times Union and there has been no shortage of humdingers, Khristopher
Brooks wrote a piece extolling the virtues of former Jackson Principal and current
area chief Iranetta Wright.

The article started: When Iranetta Wright became principal at Jackson
High School five years ago not only was it the lowest performing school in
Duval County public schools but it was ranked lowest in Florid but today it was
ranked a B.

The article never mentioned the grades the school received while she
was principal there, which were F, D, F and B and that the B probably had as
much to do with almost half the student body leaving during her four years, a
change in the state grading system which saw grades all across the state rise
and the fact the district put a heroic amount of resources into the school. At
the very least the Times Union could have waited to see what the schools grade
will be this year before throwing her the parade on page one.


Where is the context, where are the details? As usual they are missing.
I submit an alley cat randomly batting balls around with all the resources and
change in grading formula could have done as well at Jackson high school and
would definitely been more popular.


Later she talked about how she improved the schools grade saying she
kept teachers who were dedicated to their children as if that was a problem
before she arrived and I guess must have been a problem her first three years
too. There was also no mention of the grading formula change, half the student
body leaving or the extra resources.


I don’t know if Mrs. Wright has a monkey’s paw or is a siren from old charming
men in her wake as she chugs towards the top but evidence doesn’t bear out
either her meteoric rise or the papers gushing review of her performance.

Look I hope she gets an epiphany, the schools under her charge are
going to need it and I hope she does a great job but the Times Union shouldn’t
report that she did a good job when the facts do not bear that out. Also couldn’t
the Times Union have written the article without her? All it did was provide
more evidence that the Times Union is out of touch.

Bill Gates legacy, billions of dollars wasted, teachers losing their jobs and kids getting a poor education

Teachers are forced into odious evaluation systems,
kids are forced to take classes they have no desire to take, schools are closed
because of tests scores and what does bill Gates say? Who knows if any of it is
going to work?
Funny because in the past he was sure smaller
schools would work, identifying the best teachers and loading them up would work
and the only reform with real evidence that says it does work, smaller classes
would not work.
This is why we shouldn’t have billionaires driving
education reform. They don’t need evidence or facts, or logic; instead they go
with their guts, which they believe must be infallible because they are rich after
all.  Then when their ideas fail over and
over the hubris they have allows them to ignore the results as they are off to their
next sure fix.
That’s the way it used to be anyway before Gates
dropped, the “who knows” bombshell. But do you think that has slowed him down?
No not for a second, after all since he is rich he is the only one who could
possibly know how to fix our problems.

 “It would be great if our
education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” –Bill Gates

In the meantime because of Gates and others like him, teachers are
being forced out of the profession and kids aren’t getting the education they
deserve and at the end of the day this will be Gates legacy.

Here is a great, Bill Gates please stop meddling in schools website: http://teachersletterstobillgates.com/

9 things you should never tell a teacher.

From the Huffington Post by Rebecca Klein

1. “Teaching sounds like such a sweet gig. I mean, you get summers off.”
As teacher bloggers around the Internet can attest, the idea that teachers get summers off is often nothing but a myth. During the summer, many educators teach summer school classes, participate in teacher training, earn advanced degrees and plan for the next year.
2. “I could so be a kindergarten teacher. It’s like babysitting, and I love finger-painting.”
Really? You’re fooling yourself if you think managing an entire class of children is anything like babysitting.
3. “It’s great that when you go home you have no more work to do while your students have to do homework.”
If only that were true. Try coming home and grading homework, working on the next day’s lesson plan, having conferences with teachers and filling out mountains of paperwork. According to a 2012 article in The Washington Post, teachers, on average, work 53 hours a week.
4. “So if you have students who are ‘X’ years old, does that mean you could have basically stopped going to school when you were that age?”
By that logic, couldn’t kids just teach other kids?
5. “It’s awesome that the point of teaching is to make a difference, but do you really think any of your students will remember you?
Do you remember your best teachers? Kids these days do, too.
6. “Don’t you just get to tell kids what you think all day?”
The role of the teacher is not to teach kids what to think, but how to think.
7. “If you get tenure, you pretty much can never get fired, right?”
Wrong. Tenure does not guarantee job security for life, it just requires that a teacher be given due process before being terminated. As noted in a National Education Association blog, “Tenure is about due process — not about guaranteeing jobs for life. And it’s not about protecting ‘bad’ teachers — it’s about protecting good teachers.”
8. “Can’t you just sit back and let the textbook teach for you?”
Teachers do get evaluated, you know.
9. “Do you have a lot more free time now that a lot of kids have private tutors?”
Tutors are meant to supplement. They are certainly no replacement for the real thing.


When are children supposed to go to the library in Duval’s schools?

Both Fel Lee, chair of the school board and Trey Czar, director of the JPEF nonchalantly quipped
about the fate of our school’s libraries in a recent Folio article. The
sentiment was, sure it’s unfortunate but things aren’t as bad as they seem.
Well a reader asked, just when are students supposed to be able to use the

 In middle school children get 30 minutes
for lunch. The school day was reduced by 15 minutes to accommodate busing. So
students cannot go to the library during lunch. After school, they probably
catch the bus………so when would they have a chance to get a book? 

The truth is it is worse than it seems, especially since a pair
of our so-called education leaders don’t get it and instead make lame excuses. 

Rick Hess can’t help criticizing teachers.

First let me say I don’t understand why Education Week gives
this anti-teacher, privatization lover a forum.
Rick Hess wrote about the failure of the new teacher
evaluation bills but he didn’t think they failed because they were universally bad
bills, he thought they failed because they didn’t ferret out enough bad
From Ed Week: In Florida, reformers responded in part by
passing the controversial Senate Bill 736. Of SB736, Governor Rick Scott
enthused, when signing the bill, “Exceptional teachers will now be
distinguished, celebrated and rewarded for their dedication and skill.”
The bill
mandated that all teachers be evaluated based upon a set of formal observations
and student gains on achievement tests (requiring a slew of new tests to gauge
learning in every subject and grade). But after all of the effort and political
capital expended to enact the program, tens of thousands of hours spent
observing and documenting teachers, and tens of millions of dollars spent
developing the requisite tests (some of which are still being hotly debated and
so have yet to be implemented), the preliminary results announced in Januaryshowed that
97% of teachers were rated effective or better. In Tennessee, another state
regarded as an exemplar of teacher-evaluation reform, 98% of teachers were
rated at or above expectations. In Michigan, the figure was 98%. These results
meant that all the effort and expense invested in these teacher-evaluation
reforms have thus far achieved next to nothing.
The reason is straightforward enough. Legislators can change
evaluation policies but cannot force principals to apply them rigorously. And
it turns out that, even after policies were changed, principals still were not
sure what poor teaching looked like, still did not want to upset their staffs,
and still did not think giving a negative evaluation was worth the ensuing
tension and hassle — especially given contractual complications and doubts
that superintendents would back up personnel actions against low-rated

Instead or realizing the vast amount of teachers are dedicated,
professional, and knowledgeable he believes there is a conspiracy to protect
bad teachers.  

In case you or Fel Lee were wondering what instructional coaches do.

By Greg Sampson
Instructional coaches, both reading and math, are tasked
with improving the instructional quality of the reading or math teachers that
work at the school. Their function is not to work directly with students, but
to work with teachers to help them achieve the desired proficiency and learning
gains for the school.
As such, these coaches are directed to engage in the
coaching cycle: Modeling instruction for teachers in their classrooms,
co-teaching, and observing teachers implement different methods of instruction.
Each stage is preceded and followed by planning and debriefing sessions. Done
right, it is a collaboration between two professionals with discussion about
teaching and student learning.
Instructional coaches support teachers. Nothing they do or
observe can be used for evaluative purposes by administrators.
Instructional coaches conduct professional development.
Since secondary teachers now receive 90 minutes for planning each day, DTU has
agreed with DCPS that one day a week the planning session may be designated for
professional development by the school’s administration.
Reading coaches in particular oversee some of the required
testing (e.g., DAR) and assist teachers in completing the testing that requires
one-on-one assessment. They also interpret data and assist teachers with data
analysis. At the moment, reading coaches are engaged in reviewing the Iowa E
results to make sure that all students are placed in the correct reading
enrichment class.
Math coaches are about to begin the i-Ready diagnostic and
implement the district-provided RtI process in the classroom.
According to Dr. Vitti, it is through the coaching efforts
of these persons that students, schools, and the District will improve. It is a
key part of his strategic plan. With all the changes implemented this year,
coaches are helping teachers adapt and understand what to do. They have the
time to research and troubleshoot that a busy teacher cannot do.
DCPS has mandated that a minimum of 80% of the coach’s time
should be spent in the classroom or otherwise in direct support of teachers:
data analysis, gathering resources, planning, professional development.
Coaches may be assigned other duties by the principal, but
the principal must remain within the 20% guideline. Coaches turn in weekly logs
in detail that describe their work. These logs are reviewed by an assistant
principal at the school, the principal, the district specialist, the district
director, and are available to other officials up to the superintendent

That’s the gist of what instructional coaches do. I hope it
has given you an idea of their function. If you have questions, I will be glad
to answer them.

Trey Czar of the JPEF basically says anybody can be a librarian.

In the Folio he said: “It is important to have a media center. You might be able to staff those facilities at lunch or after school with volunteers or staff additions,” Csar said.

Yeah have a media center and just throw anybody in their to man it, that’s how important they are. You know anybody can be a librarian. A reader sent me the following …school libraries could be manned by volunteers without any special training whatsoever. Could this guy be any more condescending to media specialists? The majority of media specialists hold a master’s degree in library science. But what does he care?? 

The answer is probably not much.

Does Fel Lee know what reading coaches do?

In the Folio he said: “Most of our secondary schools chose a staff position to support testing over media. The choice, I believe, stems from the fact that for the first time, every school in this county has a reading coach, a resource to enhance and improve literacy,” Lee said.

As I mentioned before most of the schools that lost their librarians already had a reading coach but then today I received the following message: The reading coach comment is out of touch with reality. Coaches have to turn in detailed time logs that are reviewed by several levels of hierarchy. I pity the poor reading coach who spends half a day in the school’s library to make it accessible to kids instead of in teachers’ classrooms. It will be noticed and stopped.

Poor Fred is out of touch on this one.  

Fred “Fel” lee’s misleading defense for cutting librarians.

I like the honorable Mr. Lee but his defense of cutting
librarians is laughable at best and misinformed and deceptive at worse.
He was quoted in the folio saying, the School Board was
faced with the problems of limited dollars.
“While there was an original plan submitted by our superintendent to fund
media specialists in every school in 2013-’14, budget realities did not afford
us an opportunity to adopt that plan,” Lee said.
Well that’s not true. The district was required to keep 3
percent of its budget in reserves, some 28 million but instead chose to keep 7
percent some 65 million, well friends if we would have kept just six percent,
double what we were required to we could have afforded librarians.
He then commented about how all our schools now had reading
coaches and they were in effect taking the place of librarians, well the truth
is most of our schools already had reading coaches and certainly most of the
schools that lost librarians did.
But the craziest thing he said was, there are media clerks,
teachers and staff who are using and enhancing library use,”
This is what he might think is going on but the reality is
much different. Random classes may be meeting in some libraries so some
learning is going on but for the most part they stand empty and please don’t
take my word for it, ask a teacher.
I wish one of these guys, Lee, Czar, or Vitti would just
say, look its 2013, we’re smart and if we need some information we have access
to the internet at our homes and on our phones and since we have people who
write our papers for us we don’t need libraries, and since we don’t need them,
well, we don’t think anybody else does either.  
That would at least be honest.