Parent question’s Vitti’s sincerity on ending extra hour of reading.

Superintendent Vitti wrote the state a letter requesting they end the mandatory extra hour of reading for children at poor performing schools and by poor performing I mean do bad on standardized tests, so take that for all its worth.

From a reader:

Vitti’s comments echo those of the parents who fought him tooth and nail against the extra hour at 11 schools OUTSIDE of the State Mandate last summer. Something that has yet to be made clear in the media, Vitti doubled down on the extra hour last year and forced it on schools that were not even on the absurd “bottom 300” list. 

It’s almost hilarious to see the same talking points that were used against him by parents being taken up verbatim in his comments for this story. Or it would be had he not wasted a year and turned the heat up even higher on teachers already roasting on the spit with this new test debacle on this bu!!shit. 

The data cited in this story is not new. There is no current data on this school year aside from CGA’s, which should be enough but if they were we wouldn’t have the aforementioned testing debacle. So the data in this article is (fanfare) the same data that was pored over and cited in the parent’s argument against Vitti last summer. 

I know because I was one of the parents who gathered and dissected that data from numerous public records. He didn’t listen then despite being widely known as all about the data. He could have and a real leader would have at least slowed his roll and taken a second look. He was playing politics then and he’s playing them now that the wind is blowing in a different direction. 

With the opt out movement growing and the true devastation of this year’s testing mess about to come to light he’s trying very hard to change his image over to a champion for the parents. I hope that all the parents he rolled over last year remember whose side he ultimately is on. Nikolai Vitti’s side.

It was a terrible week for Florida’s Education system.

First a judge dismissed the lawsuit challenging Florida’s voucher system saying the people bringing the suit did not have standing. Since, superintendents, school board members parents, teachers, students and community members, the people that brought the law suit  don’t have standing the only people left, are politicians who want to privatize education. Next year Florida will divert nearly a half billion dollars from the state coffers and education to these largely unregulated private schools.

Then the head line says it all, “They studied, they took the test and the state said never mind”. The state threw out a half dozen end of the year math tests for 550,000 students because there were concerns about their validity and yes that means Florida gave kids tests they weren’t sure were valid.

Next, the extra school hating hour that the state required some readers to take has proved to be ineffective. Hmm imagine that if you make a kid do something they hate they won’t do as well. From the Palm Beach Post: Learning gains for the bottom quarter of students at those elementary schools fell despite an investment of more than $20 million since 2012. Yet reading scores for students overall are improving slightly at the schools, suggesting that low-performing students are benefiting least from extra classes intended to help them most.

Finally despite a predictable botched roll that the states superintendents and school boards warned educator commissioner Pam Stewart about the state board of education praised her and gave her a solid review. The accountability system is in shambles and parents across the state are in open revolt but none of that seems to matter. It makes me wonder what she would have had to do to get a negative evaluation.

Privatization, incompetence and waste rule the day in Florida.

By calling for mentors to stem violenece, community leaders show they just don’t get it.

Bishop John Guns
joined a long list of local dignitaries in a call for mentors and like all the
rest he got it wrong.

From the Times Union:
Guns’ message Thursday
night was clear:
“We need to remove the
stigma that black men don’t care,” he said to the group, which was made up
mostly of black men from the community.
He said the violence
in Jacksonville is not only a problem in the black community but the goal of
the new program is to get volunteers into several schools over the final two
weeks of the semester to show the students there are other possibilities in
life besides violence.
The volunteers will be
sent into Ribault, Raines, Jackson, First Coast, Lee and Westside high schools
as well as Matthew Gilbert, Ribault, Northwestern and Jeff Davis middle
Men in attendance were
strongly encouraged to sign up to be volunteers through the school system since
there is a policy in place prohibiting people from being on campuses unless
they are registered with Duval County.
Interested men can
sign up by going to
The church Thursday
was filled with members of the Duval County School Board, the City Council,
fraternities and area ministers.
Mayor Alvin Brown was
also in attendance two nights after losing the mayoral election to Lenny Curry.
“I’ve been engaged
before I become mayor, working with the schools and working with young people
so I will continue to always do that,” Brown said after the meeting. “That will
be my life’s work.”
Wow members of so the
school board and the mayor was there too!
How nice, by my
unofficial count this is the umpteen millionth mentoring program started over
the last few years here in Jacksonville.

Look I
think mentoring programs are valuable and I wish we had a hundred thousand
mentors for our students but the truth is mentors are pretty low on our list of
needs and by constantly calling for more mentors the powers-that-be continue to
show their complete lack of understanding, they aren’t trying to solve the
problems in our schools and streets, instead they are paying lip service to them.

We need
apprenticeships where kids can learn about jobs and if they do well have a foot
in the door at companies.

We need
busses to take kids home who stay after school for disciplinary reasons or for
extra academic help (I was told at my last school we didn’t do after school
detention because there was no way to get the kids home). Why isn’t extra help
compulsorily? You know who usually stays after for tutoring? The good kids who
want more and the desperate kids who let their problems snowball.

We need
electives to school isn’t complete drudgery for many. We need arts, skills and
trade programs because not every kid is going to go to college and we need to
provide for them as well. We need legitimate summer school opportunities not
putting kids on computers or stuffing 25 in a class and we need school
psychologists and social workers because so often why kids act up or do poorly
in school has nothing to do with school.

What do all these
things have in common besides being more important than mentors? They cost

ribbon panels, politicians, editorial boards, bishops and business groups all
say mentors are the way to go ignoring most of our real needs and I believe the
main reason they do so is because mentors are cheap. Yes they are important and
we need them but as a teacher in the school system let me thank you for putting
a hello kitty band aid on a shot gun wound.

The two faces of Gary Chartrand

If you don’t know Chartrand is the Jacksonville Grocer who parlayed
campaign support to Rick Scott into a spot on the state bard of education. He
is actively trying to privatize our schools and has often showed open disdain
towards teachers.

He has also called for the state legislature to Pass Rick Scott’s education

From the Times Union:
Education has always been a passion of mine. And as a Florida
taxpayer and parent, I applaud Gov. Rick Scott for proposing historic per-pupil
funding in his “Keep Florida Working” budget.
The Florida Legislature will soon start a special session to
develop the state’s 2015-2016 budget, and I implore them to make our state’s
students a priority.

Florida is one of the largest states in the nation with 2.7
million students in more than 4,200 K-12 public schools, and I know that some
of the best and brightest minds are sitting in classrooms throughout the state.

Unfortunately, I also know that without adequate support, many
of these students will not reach their full potential or even set academic and
career goals.

Educators, as well as school and district staff, can make all
the difference in the life of a struggling student, but they must have the
necessary resources.

Technological advances have given educators the ability to teach
students in a way never before possible and have also created entire industries
that expand career options for our students.
It is critical that we take this chance, while we have a budget
surplus, to invest in our state’s education so that when our students graduate
they are valuable assets to our workforce.

I am optimistic that our students’ tremendous success in recent
years — which includes ranking seventh in the nation for student achievement
with an all-time high graduation rate — will be evidence enough for the Florida
Legislature to allocate record per-pupil funding.

Sounds great right? What can I complain about?  Well the
truth is a lot.

First Rick Scott’s budget is far from historic, it is an
increase true but it does not match 2007’s budget and furthermore how can any
budget be thought of as historic as long as the three percent pay cut teachers
took during the great recession is still in effect. Later he talks abut a
budget surplus, a surplus which was built on the backs of teachers.

He also he talks about educators. These are the same people he
gleefully helped strip of work protections. Every teacher hired since 2011 is
an at will employee and can be fired at the end of the school year for any
reason, or none as none has to be given. Gary Chartrand has zero concern for
teachers and how can you really care about kids while at the same time hating
those people charged with educating them?

Then he talks about taking a chance on technology.
 Chartrand’s entire education philosophy is based on taking chances, very
few of which have paid off, Take a chance on charter schools well over 280 in
Florida have failed. take a chance on vouchers, well they have practically zero
accountability, both academically and financially and nobody truly knows how
they are doing. But hey, lets roll the dice, its not his kids that will pay the
price if it comes up snake eyes.    

Finally he talks about student achievement and graduation rates.
Florida’s teachers, despite the many obstacles put in their path and the state
treating poverty like it is an excuse rather than the number one factor in
student achievement, by Chartrand and Tallahassee are doing an amazing job. He
got that part right but since that is the case, why is he one of the leading
figures in the push to privatize our schools. If he thinks Florida is doing a
great job, then why is he trying to outsource our kids futures to mercenaries,
charlatans, and barely regulated private schools? Is he a crazy person or is he
talking out of both sides of his mouth?

Chartand has what I believe is a pathological need to be liked
and where it is true he has donated a lot of money to several worthy causes, at
the end of the day he is not the hero of the story he is the villain.

Elementary school reading teachers feel set up to fail, not optimistic about future.

It started at the beginning of the year when curriculums in
reading classes with little notice were shifted down a grade. What kids would have
learned in third they were now going to now learn in second, in first,
second and so on. The district claimed it would bring more rigor. People doing
the actual teaching pointed out, harder and developmentally inappropriate does
no equal rigor.
Furthermore the curriculums given to the teachers could be
charitably described as jumbled messes. There were links to different articles
over different grades to be carried out at different times. There didn’t seem
to be a lot of rhyme or reason but what was consistent was teachers were often
required to make copies.  The state of
copying in the district could be an entirely different post but let’s just
suffice to say this was problematic for a whole host of reasons.
A lot of veteran teachers with years of experience knowing
what does and doesn’t work were able to game the system so to speak and instead
of following the poorly thought out mandates gave their students the instruction
that they needed to the best of their ability. Newer teachers or teachers being micromanaged at the transformative
schools however weren’t so lucky.
The district also promised additional training, help and
resources but none of the teachers I have spoken to said any ever came and now the district has decided to scrap what they have going on now to go
completely on-line next year. Maybe that will be better because it’s hard to imagine things being worse.
I spoke with somebody close to the situation and the
district contends that it is teachers who came to them pushing for the change
and that it will save a lot of money though the teachers I have spoken to have
their doubts.
I haven’t heard of anyone
being in a focus group. And I don’t know a single Primary teacher that was
happy with the curriculum this year. They are saying it is a savings over a two
year period? A textbook adoption is 5-6 years. So no savings if you think about
the amount of copies and materials printed over 5-6 years versus purchasing
textbooks once. Also, the district doesn’t make the copies for us. They send
links. We print out copies on our own and then sometimes put in for copies at
the school. BUT…we buy our own ink for the printers because the district does
not provide it. Also, they aren’t fixing or replacing printers that die out. We
are told to share, and that eventually they want to go to a centralized printer
in the main offices.

Young children K-2 still
need to have books in their hands that are written in their level. We can’t do
everything on a projector screen or on copy paper. Some of the links/resources
they send are long with no pictures. K and 1 are learning how to read. They
need larger print and pictures to provide support. We don’t need lessons
written by former teachers who are now district level coaches, who have no
researched based curriculum writing experience!! The textbook writers are
specialists and professors who know how to help students learn to read!! The
online reading and materials may be good for intermediate grades, middle, and
high school. Primary students need researched based materials and lesson that
build on one another. They can’t tell me that Scott Foresman, HM, or Harcourt
don’t have common core aligned lessons that build in skills.” 

I guess the bottom line is, if the district and the people
doing the actual teaching are not on the same page then we can’t be successful. Though the real problem might be that the district doesn’t seem very interested in getting on the same page.

Gary Chartrand thinks YOU and your children should take what you get.

Words have meanings
and I think the latest from Gary Chartrand are quite telling. If you don’t
remember Chartrand is a grocer who parlayed his campaign donations to a spot on
the state board of education.
From the Tampa Times,
when talking about a possible misstep from education commissioner Pam Step:
“I’ve admired her
work ethic and her desire to do right by kids,” chairman Gary Chartrand
he quickly added, “Nobody is perfect.”
said he didn’t want to get into details. “But there’s always room to
improve,” he said. “I know you were not satisfied with the glitches
we had in testing.”
Oh, he knows YOU were not satisfied by the glitches
we had. I personally am not satisfied with the word glitch because the state
roll out was a disaster.
Why did he say, you, instead of we? Probably because
he doesn’t really care what happens to public school kids, in fact I bet he
thinks families that send their kids to public schools are morons and beneath contempt
for doing so. He sent his kids to expensive and exclusive private schools that
were exempt from the tests and he wants to funnel public school kids into
barely regulated private schools that don’t have to take the tests either. 
You may not have been satisfied with the roll out
but I bet he loves it because it gives public schools a black eye and will
cause even more kids to leave. He is part of a regime that created a disaster
and now seeks to benefit off of it.
The question now is will YOU let him?  

Just how out of touch is the State Board of Education? Very Apparently

Pam Stewart’s term as commissioner of education has
arguably been a failure. Not only has the accountability system untraveled, the
state rushed headlong into tests they weren’t ready for and during her tenure she
has systematically ignored the states superintendents, teachers and parents.
All of that gives her two thumbs up from the state board of education which I
remind everyone once again does not have a true educator on it.
From the Tampa Times: Board members largely praised her work
during the nearly two years she has served, lauding her efforts to improve
student achievement while shepherding new standards through a politically
charged atmosphere. She is the longest-serving of four education commissioners
during Gov. Rick Scott’s five-year tenure.
were two others not counting her two stints as intern commissioner)
were not as kind, probably because they are ignorant like the board is to what
is happening.
Their favorable treatment of the commissioner drew barbs
from Florida BadAss Teachers, a vocal statewide educators group.
“Florida has become Alice in
Wonderland,” group spokesman Thomas James, a Miami teacher, said in a
He added: “Today, the inept State
Board of Education showed why we have become the laughing stock of the country
when it comes to education policy. … After a disastrous year filled with
repeated failures and a badly bumbled transition to new state tests,
Commissioner Stewart is given a glowing evaluation.”
Just yesterday I asked
what Pam Stewart has to do to be fired and the answer is apparently nothing.
She can do anything she likes to the states teachers, schools and children and
the clueless board will smile and give her a thumbs up.
Florida’s teachers get
a lot of flak mostly for not being able to single handily overcome the debilitating
effects of poverty, it’s just sad that their already tough jobs have been made
harder because of inept leadership.

Let me explain to you how bad Duval’s discipline is.

Action News did a story about a fight at Grand Park the alternative school for kids with discipline problems. Let me stop right there, discipline is so bad in some of our schools I imagine the kids there either murdered nuns or drowned puppies.

Action New’s take was look at this fight filmed by a student, and how a teacher did not rush to break it up. First why would they, teachers that break up fights now days get suspended or seriously injured and the kids that fought get a righteous, finger point and a please guys (or girls) don’t do that again.

Where action News saw the video and thought gosh why didn’t that teacher break up the fight, I saw the video and thought what is a kid at the alternative center doing with a phone?!? These kids have behaved so poorly they can’t be in a normal schools but it hasn’t occurred to the powers-that-be to take away their phones. What the $%#@!!!!

It’s unbelievable what we let these kids get away with. Discipline was not good before Superintendent Vitti arrived but since he has got here things have gone off the rails and it’s a wonder we haven’t had a repeat of what happened on the alternative school bus last week happen in one of our schools.

Kids need consequences for poor behavior and our most vulnerable kids need follow up by social workers and mental health counselors, they don’t need pat on the backs and please don’t do that agains. Discipline is hard and our super is making things worse. Now will somebody take that kids phone away?

What does education Commissioner Pam Stewart have to do to get fired?

First there was her saying that common core would cost
nothing extra, spoiler alert it has cost tens of millions of dollars more.
Then she outsourced our test development to Utah at the cost
of five million dollars, because you know they are so similar to Florida.
She then said districts would be ready for the new state
tests despite all the districts saying, um no we won’t.
The latest guffaw is the end of course exam for algebra and
various other math subjects won’t count because they weren’t validated in time.
Did the end of the school year catch her by surprise?
If all of above was not enough the lost confidence and out
right revolt over testing that has taken place on her watch should be more than
Mrs. Stewart should be let go and the state board of
education which does not have one true educator on it should follow quickly
behind her.
Then before anybody gives her credit for the graduation
rates rising, I would like to point out that across the nation they have gone
up and I sincerely believe here in Florida the elimination of the mandatory Algebra
II and Physics or Chemistry requirements is mostly responsible.

Education is serious business unfortunately here in Florida
we have put people in charge who have not been up to the task.  

Florida issues no apology for ruining school for so many students.

Today Florida shrugged it’s shoulders and said, you know
what, all those intensive reading classes that we forced kids into, you know
the ones that were often over crowded, that didn’t have enough resources and
kids universally hated, well it turns out we were wrong on that one and now we’re
going to let districts, you know the ones closest to the students, come up with
plans they think are best for each student.
There was no apology to the decade of kids they made hate
school and robbed of job by replacing elective classes with remedial ones that
turned out to be ineffective.
It reminds me of the time they made every kid take chemistry
or physics and algebra II, you know incredibly hard classes that most kids will
never ever, did I mention never use or they wouldn’t be allowed to graduate. I
don’t think it is a coincidence that grad rates started going up a couple years
ago when they said, maybe that’s not the best plan. Jeb Bush and his foundation
fought against getting rid of those classes by the way.
Who is going to want to bet that in a couple years, after
hundreds of millions of dollars are spent and hundreds of thousands of teachers
and kids are made miserable the state will say, yeah about that common core

If you want education to improve get Tallahassee out of it.