The runaway train wreck that Tallahassee has become

The Florida Legislature is once again attempting to
subvert the legislative process by jamming into two bill, Senate Bills 524 and
1166, nearly thirty nominally related topics. It’s become typical in
Tallahassee to add bills that are going nowhere to bills that have a real
chance at passing. The reason behind this is the hope that some legislators
will hold their nose and ignore the things they don’t like in order to support
the things they do. 

Originally SB 524 and SB 1166 were very small bills that only dealt with public
universities’ performance funding and education funding.

Now the 59-page SB 524 includes the “Best and Brightest” teacher
bonus plan that most teachers have rejected, forcing school districts to share their
tax revenue with for profit charter schools and at least a dozen more topics. 

Then the new, 85-page version of SB
1166 now includes open enrollment that would allow students to cross district
high school athletics proposals that many believe
would create a type of free agency and a proposal to give high impact charter
schools fifteen years contracts. I want to remind you that currently high
impact teachers hired after 2010 only get one year contracts. 

Most of these proposals were
unlikely to pass on their own but now they have been give new life.

These are called train bills but the truth is they are
more like train wrecks. I think they should be called Frankenstein bills
because they are cobbled together from different bills and in the end all they
create is a monster.

One proposal, almost universally supported by parents
and teachers, mandatory recess, however didn’t make these train bills, which
should tell you all you need to know about who are legislators in 
Tallahassee are
truly representing.

This is not how the legislative process is supposed to

The Florida Legislature plans to force districts to give local tax money to for profit charters.

Pro charter school bills are moving through the Florida
Legislature. Perhaps the worst would require local districts to share their tax
revenue with charter schools, the majority of which are run by for profit management

One of the biggest beneficiaries of this give away
that will also hurt public schools by siphoning away resources is Charter
Schools USA who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to republican legislators
in Tallahassee.

Then despite the fact that CUSA does the lion’s share
of its business in Florida and none in Delaware, CUSA is incorporated in Delaware.
According to NPR Delaware is
helping wealthy individuals and multinational companies hide assets and avoid

This means that not
only are we not requiring CUSA to pay taxes in Florida but now the Republican
dominated legislature is proposing giving them even more money.

Why should Florida be giving any money to charter schools other than the approved per child rate? I want to also remind you was that one of the selling points of charters was they could educate children cheaper and better than public schools, neither of which turns out to be true. 

I always thought
republicans were for local control and against crony capitalism. With this one
bill which will force local districts to share tax money with for profit
charter schools they have shown what they really are is hypocrites.

Becki Couch points out that Scott Shine doesn’t know what he is talking about.

From the Folio: 

His (Jason Fischer) tag-team fellow conservative on the school board, Scott Shine, called for the
district’s internal auditor, who received the text, to be fired.
also recently left a comment on educator Chris Guerrieri’s blog referring to
the latter’s “liberal friends” on the nonpartisan board — Wright, Hall, and
Couch. Guerrieri, who is known for his bombastic and hyperbolic style, often
criticizes Vitti and board members in his blog.
was ostensibly celebrating the
decision to renew training for its teachers on social media policy, but
according to Couch, the policy targets teachers’ statements about and
interactions with students, not teacher blogs.
Limiting government employees’ speech would run afoul of
the First Amendment, after all.
Hyperbolic and bombastic? Sigh…

I don’t know what is more disturbing the fact that he
gloated on the blog about me and by extension other teachers losing their first
amendment right or he doesn’t even know what he is talking about.

Remember friends this is the same man who has voted
for Charter Schools to go into district 2 despite the fact they aren’t needed
and will siphon away resources from the schools there hurting them. This is the
same man who will be voting on our curriculum, uniforms and numerous other 
subjects. Is he informed about what 
those things mean? Or is he just making it up as he goes along?

He has to get it together.

What else is this kid clueless about? It’s my bet the
list is long.

Ron Littlepage completely misunderstands the importance of school grades

I will let his words do the talking for him.

In an article defending Superintendent Vitti,
Littlepage wrote.

Hall and the NAACP
complained about the increase in the number of Duval schools that the state
recently tagged with D’s and F’s.
They conveniently
ignored the fact that those grades are meaningless because the state keeps
changing the rules, making year-to-year comparisons worthless.

Sure they are meaningless unless you are trying to sell
your house and you live in a neighborhood with an F or D school.

Or unless you are a teacher and your VAM score is low
because students at our poorer schools don’t do as well. Not only can you lose
out on school recognition money but you can potentially lose your job.

Sure they are meaningless unless you are a charter
school operator looking for easy pickings. Wait who am I kidding, charter
schools only set up in affluent neighborhoods now.

School grades are so meaningless that superintendent
Vitti warns whoever he can that unless we blow up our neighborhood schools the
state will take them over.

They are not meaningless. they are clubs used to punish schools, teachers, students and neighborhoods. Unless they are associated with Vitti, then according to Littlepage they are totally meaningless (sic).

Ron Littlepage should keep to writing about the river
and stay away from things he doesn’t know anything about. 

The Times Union circles the wagons to protect the anointed one

Wow, the Times Union being in the tank for the superintendent was really on display this week as he got three separate editorials supporting him. Talk about circling the wagons to protect the anointed one.
It’s easy to debunk most of the sited data used to justify their support too. Yes the grading system is terrible but we can use it to compare ourselves with other large districts that have to play the same terrible game of which for the most part are doing better than us, yes we did have encouraging NEAP scores but they were so encouraging the district saw fit to replace the old curriculum with the universally reviled Engage NY, then yes our graduation rates up but they were heading up before Superintendent Vitti got here and so are everybodys, everywhere. 
To be honest I don’t blame the super for the districts grades which have dipped marginally under his watch, though I am not sure that’s why he was brought here or expected after three years. I blame him for his terrible ideas and policies. We don’t need to blow up our neighborhood schools to bring families back, the curriculum he picked is terrible, teacher morale is rock bottom and discipline is worse than ever and under his watch charter schools have increased over 300 percent. 
Furthermore he’s not passionate about public schools as evident by his constant association with charter schools, Teach for America, The New Teacher Project and Gary Chartrand entities and people who would privatize our schools given the chance and he throws ideas like paint against a wall hoping something will stick. Is this really the best we can hope for? The Times Union is like the captain of the Titanic telling his passengers everything was fine after they hit the iceberg. 
Finally I wonder if anybody at the Times Union bothered to talk to any teachers. And let me suggest before the Times Union prints any more misleading all is well we have the man for the job editorials that they should.

DTU doesn’t give us a lot of cover to say no to the New Teacher Project coming into our classrooms.

Hey I agree with DTU, just respectfully say no. Here is the thing what if you are on a one year contract and are afraid of your principal or are even a veteran but don’t want to get on their bad side?

Well now you may feel stuck and forced into saying yes.

Couldn’t and shouldn’t have DTU said, no thanks, if you want this to happen what are you (the district) going to give up?

Isaaiah Rumlin president of the NAACP comes out against Teach for America

At today’s press conference I asked Mr. Rumlin about how the
district puts Teach for America teachers in our lowest performing schools.
Just a reminder, TFA takes non education majors, puts them
through a five week teacher boot camp and then places them in our neediest
schools where about a fifth leave before the first year is over and most leave
after two.
Mr. Rumlin seemed well familiar with TFA and said that, we
don’t need them in our schools, most leave after two or three years.
Mr. Rumlin’s assessment of the districts use of TFA is
correct, we are condemning our most vulnerable children to an ever revolving door
of barely trained and novice teachers who quickly leave.

And some people wonder why the NAACP is frustrated with
Superintendent Vitti’s leadership.  

Why would Scott Shine call out Ashley Smith Juarez like that?

Scott Shine complained about dysfunction on the school board
last week. Then when the school board chair reminded the members of the board’s
policy not to publicly criticize other board members he complained to the media
about her.
He didn’t say, can we talk about this, I think the policy is
wrong, let me plead my case, can we meet about this or anything reasonable
people might do when they have a disagreement with a co-worker. 
Nope he called
Action News and said lookie here.
This is the same guy who complained about dysfunction on the
board. I wonder how his call to Action News where he publicly states Ashley Smith-Juarez
is trying to censor his first amendment rights is going to go over. Here is the
thing, I don’t disagree with him but isn’t there a better way to do things?
Also since this is on the heels of him calling for the
firing of a female employee for simply receiving a text, and calling blogger
Chris Guerrieri a liar because he disagrees with him, I wonder what is next.

Unhinged people have better weeks. 

Scott Shines hypocrisy, the first amendment is for board members not for teachers.

From the, I can’t make this up file and ActionNews: 

A Duval County school
board member is pushing back against a call for his fellow elected officials to
stop criticizing each other in the media. 

Scott Shine said it’s
a violation of board members’ First Amendment rights and voters’ rights to know
what elected officials are saying to each other.

this is what he quite gleefully told me the other day in a comment on the blog:
Just an fYI on the social media policy, this
was proposed as a policy addition from Dr. Vitti and was taken up by your
liberal friends on the board in the policy review subcommittee (against my
wishes)a month ago. They were unanimous in moving it to next years employee
professional standards. So, you only have a few months to add to your resume of
false and reckless statements. Sadly, I did not even get a chance to vote on
it. So, give your thanks to Hall, Wright and Couch for the
“anti-Guerrieri” code of conduct addition next fall. While I am
highly disappointed I did not get in on the action, and still want to bring it
forward as a policy addition as originally submitted by the superintendent, so
it can take affect in before the end of this school year.
the First Amendment is sacrosanct for board members but teachers should have their
rights stifled? He’s bragging there because he thinks my voice will be silenced.
from ActionNews:
“They (board members) have a duty and
obligation to speak to the public and some of the things that need to be told
may not be comfortable things to talk about,” said Shine.

Um, yeah Scott I feel you on that one,
sometimes the public needs to be told uncomfortable things like how your hypocrisy
knows no bounds.