Pittsburgh and Durham end their contracts with Teach for America, when will Jacksonville get a clue?

From the Diane Rvitch blog

Shortly after posting that the school board of Durham, North Carolina, voted not to renew its contract with Teach for America, I recalled that another major city had done the same, reversing the previous board’s decision to bring in 30 TFA recruits.
Last December, the newly elected majority on the Pittsburgh school board voted 6-2 not to renew its contract with TFA. The issue was how to fill positions at hard-to-staff schools. One of the board members who voted not to renew TFA said, “Board members said they’re concerned resignations from teachers in those schools stem from a lack of support for the educators. “People will come to hard-to-staff buildings if they know they will have support there.”

Jeb Bush really hates local control of education

Common Core, charter schools, high stakes testing all wrest
control away from local communities and Jeb Bush love them all. Funny because I
thought local control was a plank of the Republican Party but it turns out it
is just one more of those things they talk about but don’t really believe in. 
Patricia Levesque of Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education
(re: privatization), weighed in and it’s significant because I bet she doesn’t
go to the restroom without running it by the old Jebster, when Lee County
decided to exercise local control and opt-out at least temporarily of the
states standardized testing system.
“We are deeply disappointed by the Lee
County School Board’s vote to abandon Florida’s academic tests and with it,
their responsibility for the success of the community’s students.
“Not only do these academic checkups
provide an honest assessment to parents of how their children are progressing
in school, they also prepare students for the future because tests are a part
of life.
“Measuring student achievement is the
cornerstone of a strong accountability system that allows our children to learn
to their full potential and be competitive with their peers across the state,
nation and around the globe. Tests also shine a light on where school systems
need to improve, where they need to invest more resources. Without them some
schools and students would fall through the cracks.
“The Lee County School Board is
neglecting its duty to ensure a meaningful education for their students and
uphold state law.”
“Instead of refusing to participate in a
small number of state tests which actually provide taxpayers and the public
with some meaningful measure of how schools and districts are performing across
the state, Lee County should first look locally. Last year, the county required
more than 160 tests over and above state required assessments. A better choice
would be focusing on fewer and better tests in their own community instead of
using the state as a scapegoat.”
Dripping with self-serving hyperbole, basically she is saying, hey
Jeb knows what’s best for your children and you’re worse than pond scum if
you question him. 
Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence tells us to
stand up to unjust laws and in my mind that’s exactly what the Lee County
School board is doing, and doing it because they both know and care about their
children something we definitely can’t say about Bush and his cronies. 

The out of control rhetoric from Voucher Supporters.

First don’t think for a second these people care about
children. If they did instead of filtering them into sub-standard options that
resist accountability they would be working night and day to help improve our
schools, to make sure they had proper resources and programs and that their staff
members were well provided for and treated with respect, or you know the exact
opposite of what is happening now.  
John Legg, who to be honest has been the best of the
worst when it comes to education.
is now apparent to me that the Association’s stance on educating low income
students and access to choice in education is too conflicting with my own. “It
saddens me that the FSBA would take a position that looks to eliminate
customization in education.”
“Over the years and in particular the
last legislative session, I have worked, in good faith, with many that now wish
to eliminate school choice for all,” he said. “It is apparent that these groups
were disingenuous with their efforts and have put their political views over
that of our students’ needs.”
Gov. Rick Scott, “It is unconscionable that trial lawyers
and unions have ganged up to use these children as a political ploy. Quite
simply, this careless action could have terrible consequences on the lives of
Florida’s poorest children, who with the help of this program have a chance to
escape poverty.”
Patricia Levesque of former Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for
Excellence in Education: “If these organizations sat down and talked to
the families benefiting from this hugely popular program, I think they’d be
humbled and embarrassed by their actions.”
John Kirtley, the millionaire bully behind Step up fro Students
threatened to play a larger role in Florida school board races in the future.
“If the
FSBA moves forward with this reckless suit, the Florida Federation for Children
will actively serve the interests of parents and become involved in more school
board races for years to come,”
Gary Chartrand, who sent his children to exclusive prep schools
completely unlike the ones vouchers pay for, “I believe
in choice and in freedom especially for those children that have limited
mobility and limited financial resources. The Florida tax credit scholarships
provide this freedom for our most underserved population to choose a school
that best serves their needs.  The
FSBA “is acting without consideration for this population by filing a law
suit against this program. This is surprising and disheartening, and I call on
them to rethink their position and withdraw the lawsuit.” –
Florida House Speaker-Designate Steve
Crisafulli: “This proven, popular program is essential for preparing children
for success in college and the workforce.  I hope School Board
members will reconsider their actions and put the needs of children first.”
This is the same group who have starved pubic
schools of resources, blamed teachers and deamonized their representatives.
They have subjugated the children to high stakes testing and teachers to VAM
based evaluations, which nobody who is knowledgeable thinks.

For the children? Not even close. 

Education Matters looking for more First Coast High School parents and teachers to tell their story

I have already talked to numerous members of the faculty at First Coast high school, those not to afraid to speak  but I would like to talk to more and to get their stories of bullying and abuse of power out there and that goes for any parents who may have been disrespected or slighted by the principal as well.

You can leave a comment here or send a note to cpgbonjovi@gmail.com and I promise to be discreet.

I know some people are afraid but I am reminded of the old saying all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Abuse and disrespect rarely stop just because you hope it does. 

Duval County makes a big mistake hiring Brennan at First Coast High

From a reader responding to the principal at First Coast High School’s bullying of his staff:

Abusers have no concept of the damage they perpetuate, as the boss bullies the employees, the students suffer. If he talks like that to grown, educated adults, imagine how he speaks to and about students and parents. A school should be a Safe Space for all. One must wonder why the district chose to rehire a man with a reputation for bullying, is it ignorance or do they simply believe that the school deserves to be punished? 

Under the leadership of Vincent Hall the school improved in safety and improved the C grade to an A. Perhaps if the district explored stability in the administration by keeping the effective leaders at the schools they are in, like our neighbor Clay County (ex: Clay High), we would not watch schools repeatedly plummet. Ineffective administration shouldn’t be put on action plans and/or moved to other schools or district jobs, they should be either formally trained or fired. This school in particular has also had the unlucky fortune of being saddled with an administrator that had been demoted from her principal throne after tanking an elementary school. I suppose giving her a stab at a large high school is First Coast’s reward for all their hardwork. 

The bottom line is that he believes First Coast teachers just don’t give a damn, according to his statements to the superintendent. On the contrary, they care so much they are staying despite the hostility and desperately trying to save a school that one man hates. No one wants the situation to be true, but only he can change it.

Florida’s failing charter school industry. Students, families and tax payers paying the price.

From the Sun Times Editorial Board
Why do we let charter school owners get away with so much?

Private charter schools are funded by taxpayers, yet Florida law does not require their operators and key staff to undergo background checks — financial or criminal. And unlike traditional public schools, charters are paid to serve special-needs students, yet are not required to actually offer the services. And as the Sun Sentinel discovered this summer, many don’t bother.
Now our reporters have found that failed charter school operators are being allowed to open new schools, under new names, despite past financial or other problems that led to previous charter closings.
No less than seven groups of applicants with ties to failed or floundering charter schools are seeking second chances and public money to open 18 more.
As reporters Karen Yi and Amy Shipley found, most will likely win approval. That’s because school districts say they are restricted from turning away applicants based solely on past problems running charter schools. State laws allows district officials to evaluate what’s on the application, such as academic plans, budget proposals and student services. But the application doesn’t ask questions about previous school collapses or controversial professional histories.
Take a quick look at the type of folks being allowed another shot at public cash:
•A group that opened three new charter schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties this year — and shut them down on the first day of school.
•The founder of two charter schools that failed in 2007 amid accusations of stolen money, shoddy record-keeping and parent complaints, state and local records show. A state investigation later chastised school directors for next-to-nothing oversight.
•An educator who was banned from New Jersey public schools, then consulted for two schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties that shut down last year. The Palm Beach County school district closed one of the schools because of poor academics and financial difficulties; the Broward school failed due to dwindling enrollment.
The list goes on.
But according to Florida state leaders, none of that matters. Because of the political muscle of this growing industry, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott play hands off with these private, but publicly funded schools.
Keep in mind, the charter school business is booming. Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties have received 90 applications to open charter schools in 2015-16. That’s not counting the 620 already operating statewide, double the number around in the last decade.
Given what’s at stake, why are they not held accountable?
After all, when a charter school fails, its students start to fall behind. Parents lose, too, as they scramble to find their child a good school with an open seat.
For these reasons and more, we call on Gov. Scott to stand up for the children in failing charter schools. More attention is needed to ensure their educational gains — not to mention taxpayer dollars — are protected.
Yes, there are plenty of good charter schools. Many serve the needs of parents who want something better than low-performing public schools in their neighborhoods.
Still, charter schools shouldn’t face lesser accountability standards.
Florida needs more oversight of charter schools. Operators should be forced to report sooner than later when they can no longer pay to turn on the lights or keep students enrolled. They should be required to provide a permanent address months in advance of opening, not weeks, like today. And the law should be changed to allow local officials to look beyond the black-and-white print on an application and take past failures into consideration.
The failures in the state’s charter school law cannot stand.

Duval teachers blamed for things outside their control.

From a reader about the Brennan piece:

I have been fortunate to be under principals who really seem to value their teachers as much as they can with the resources they are given. I have heard horror stories like those above, and they are not hard to believe. Now, AP’s have been another story; they have been varied and inconsistent in terms of quality. 

Overall, Vitti seems to support methods that make teachers feel like powerless peons, like we are the ones who created the system in the first place and now have to pay for it. WE did NOT send students to school without early learning, lunch, school supplies, or discipline. WE did NOT put people in charge who have the power to uplift or destroy teacher morale. WE did NOT create the massive paperwork or testing issues that occur every day. Those downtown don’t seem to value teachers at all; otherwise, we would have our stipend right now to pay for basic supplies. We would have 2 days to give the baseline test, not 1. We would have less than 40-50 students in electives. We would have technology that actually works. We would be valued over TFA. We would be supported if students have to be sent out for ANY reason. We would be able to use our time effectively. We would have an ID machine that works. We would have an effective tardy policy. We would have a Student Code of Conduct that enforces discipline consistently. 

Seriously, I really like my principal; however, he is bound by the “gods” downtown who lord over everyone, staring down from a crumbling ivory tower of ignorance. Vitti and those with whom he surrounds himself do NOT understand how learning really works, how students can truly make gains, or that we TEACHERS will still be here when he has handed off the baton to the next person who makes promises he/she cannot or will not keep.

I will say that there is 1 thing that I can praise Vitti for, and it is the Grade Recovery policy change. It has altered how my students think about their progress in class. I wish I could think of something else that he has done to revolutionize DCPS. 

Maybe someone else can come up with something/anything for which downtown can be praised…

Principal Al Brennans most despicable comments at faculty meetings. First Coast HS parents he is in charge of your kids.

I met with numerous members of the First Coast teaching staff and sadly they are a miserable lot. It doesn’t have to do with the kids either and to be honest it rarely does but with the principal who talks to them in a fashion that would get them fired if they did the same to a student. Bullying, intimidation and threats are alive and well at First Coast High School but its not kids people have to worry about but the principal Al Brennan.

Below are confirmed quote from multiple sources.

(First Coast Parents) are Malicious and Vile and they would lie about anything.

I didn’t even want to be principal here… preferring a school closer to his house.

You (teachers) are in the palm of my hand as I (pick who to) surplus

Go to Kinko’s if you want to make copies (as he changed the locks on the copier room telling teachers there would be no more ink or paper).

If you show up Sunday, (during pre-planning for teachers to work on their rooms) I will open up my window and laugh at you.

If only I didn’t have to depend on teachers, who are to incompetent to count students (paraphrased over the intercom during classes).

Teachers can’t tutor students anymore unless you can support it by data and have my permission. (paraphrased)

This is my rodeo!

Finally and I hope you read this twice.

At a staff meeting Mr. Brennan told a story where he crossed paths with an autistic student at Walmart, he then  proceeded to mock and ridicule the child. What they told me was to reprehensible to write.

Finally it is truly horrifying when you consider that above has very little to do with the bullying and intimidation tactics he uses which is why the staff contacted me in the first place.

This man is in charge of staff and students.

Welcome to Duval County.

First Coast HS parents are the most vile around

Or that’s what their principal Al Brennan said though his exact quote was, First Coast parents were malicious and Vile and they would lie about anything. So according to numerous members of his staff.

But don’t worry parents Mr. Brennan seems to think even worse of his staff.

Follow this story as it develops. 

More Duval discipline horror stories.

From a reader in response to, Duval’s big Discipline Lie. 

Very similar things are happening at my high school. Kids are being sent back to class who are cursing at the teacher; students are literally refusing to work, won’t follow the phone policy, are late every day, and generally create havoc in the classroom. The excuse/line from admin is that if teachers have good classroom management, then there won’t be any discipline issues. That is rubbish. I have been in Duval for 8 years, and there are always two or three students in class whose goal in life is to undermine teachers and do nothing all day. Are they in every class? Sometimes. Admin should support the people who are actually trying to teach those students, not condemn them for seeking help.

Currently, we have admin roaming the classrooms, micromanaging every element of a teacher’s day. We don’t have time for that and are constantly stressed out. It has only been 2 weeks! We spend our Common Planning doing inane things like that I learned in the College of Ed, being yelled at by the AP, and wasting precious minutes in the day. By the way, the average admin has less teaching experience than I do at 9 years. It is ridiculous that I have to sit there and listen to people, who I would not let teach my own kid, lecture on how I should teach. 

The myth that things are getting better is untrue on all sides. The admin and those downtown are constantly undermining the teachers who do the actual hard work. Yeah, I said it! The students are who they are. They will always be great or frustrating. It is the adults who make life difficult, not the students.