Florida punishes public schools while giving private schools that take public money get a pass.

Becki Couch, school board member Duval County public schools, pointed out a few weeks back that when the state raises the FSA concordant math scores, more kids will fail and graduation rates will go down, but the same kid who would have failed could go to a private school on a voucher that doesn’t have a recognized curriculum or certified teachers and never have to take a standardized test and graduate. She then asked, how is this fair?

Well it’s not and where last week they came for public school students, this week they came for the public school teachers.

I teach life skills to post grads at a center school for profoundly disabled children and adults, since the post grads can stay in school until they are 22.

Today I was informed that the state was changing the certification requirements for ESE teachers. It used to be that ESE k-12 was good enough to teach, Now they want all the ESE teachers to get certified in K-6 as well. This itself is a change because a few years back in addition to my ESE cert I had to get certified in middle school science as well. Why? I taught ESE science at a comprehensive high school and because the state often makes up things as they go among.   

Okay, the state wants teachers to get more certifications but here is the problem, teachers at private schools that take public money don’t have to be certified in anything, they don’t have to have degrees and heck they can even be felons.

From the Orlando Sentinel: 

Last year, the Orlando Sentinel exposed scandals, violations and gaffes galore at voucher schools in this state.

There were teachers without degrees, schools caught falsifying safety reports, schools run by people accused of crimes and schools that were such financial messes they were evicted from their campuses in the middle of the school year.
Demonize public schools all you want. There won’t be a day when you take your kid to an Orange County school only to find the school is no longer there.
It was a culture of dereliction at private schools funded with public resources.
And now the Sentinel has found more problems.
As reporters Annie Martin and Leslie Postal reported Sunday, Florida’s voucher schools are also hiring convicted felons — some of whom are supposed to be barred from teaching under state law.
Florida’s mantra is, tear down, burden, kneecap, harass and harm public school teachers and schools in every way we can while we let private schools do whatever the %$#& they want.
Friends is this what you voted for, the destruction of public education? Well if not stop voting for people whose goal is to tear down public education, while quite often profiting themselves.
Come on Florida, we can, should, and have to do better.

Scott Shine is a quitter and be careful what you wish for.

I can think of one good thing Mr. Shine has done on the board and that is announce he is quitting his bid to get reelected but it makes me that much more angry because back in 2014 there were two great  candidates who I think would have made fine board members, Shannon Russel and Samuel Hall, but they didn’t have the name recognition or money that Shine did, who I believe would have both contributed and wouldn’t be quitting now.

Scott Shine wrote a letter explaining why he quit where it seems like he stopped just short of professing his love for Superintendent Vitti. If you want to read it click the link.


This however brings me to, be careful what you wish for, as somebody has already gotten into the race, a gentlemen who seems to have plenty of cash but little else when it comes to education, Nick Howland.

Now there isn’t a lot out there about him, though you can check out his linked in page.


Notice anything? Like a distinct lack of education knowledge?

Why does district 2 keep trying to send us these business guys? Shouldn’t we at least have a member of the PTA?

Look this Howland guy could be the bees knees but with the limited information I have, I am not impressed and he appears to be more of the same, just some rich guy who won’t know what he is doing but who sees a shot at being elected and is taking it.

District 2, we need somebody who is invested and cares about our schools to run, I know you are there, it is time to step up.

Superintendent search, focus group members

I have to say I don’t like seeing a name or their designee in two spots. Somebody should be willing to come or not and I wish the group skewed more DCPS teachers and parents too. That being said it is what it is. In the next few days I will google the names I don’t know.

Elections have consequences in Florida, education pays a terrible price

Here are some facts, the republican dominated Florida Legislature and Governor Rick Scott passed a budget which only allocated an extra forty-seven cents per student or less than the cost of a stamp and as a result of this districts all across the state are having to make horrific cuts to programs.

These are the cuts Duval is proposing to make up a sixty-two million shortfall. 

From the Times Union:

Duval will likely cut the number of reading coaches and academic specialists it sends to schools, as well as the number of assistant principals working at smaller schools and deans in middle and high school schools, Willis said.
Many music, art and physical education teachers will work part-time at two schools instead of full-time at one, she said. Also 34 small elementary schools will share an assistant principal.
There likely will be cuts in athletics, grounds maintenance, math competitions and Junior Achievement. Schools will wait a year longer to replace band uniforms, and only grades 3 through 5 and 6 through 8 will likely get new science text books instead of all grades.
The middle school class schedules will change from four long classes a day to seven shorter classes. The core subjects will be taught every day instead of every other day.
The board is still discussing and ranking other budget-cutting suggestions, such as revising the way the district allocates teachers to each school and cutting some teacher training, Willis said.
I am on record saying we should cut magnet school transportation and extracurricular activities including football before any staff member loses their job. Above they are talking about dozens if not hundreds of lost positions.
When people vote republican and I get it there are more than a few good and principled ones, the sad truth is for the most part you are voting against teachers and students. Some of you might hate to hear that, but the bottom line every republican member of the Duval delegation voted against pubic education and to give DCPS just an extra 47 cents per student which has crippled the budget. Shouldn’t we vote for people who are going to support public ed? Don’t our kids deserve it? 
Elections have consequences and the consequence for voting republican in Florida is the destruction of our public schools. The consequence is students and teachers pay a terrible price.
Also from the Times Union:
We’re going to have some unhappy people … but that’s not our making,” said Cheryl Grymes, a board member. “We’re here because of what they have given us in Tallahassee.”

Scott Shine rebuked by (members of) the school board again!

I had hoped I could make it a week without writing about this guy but he is the gift that keeps on giving.

I will just get to it, this is from a meeting parring down the 26 applicants for superintendent to six.

From the Times Union:

The meeting got off to a contentious start after some on the board scolded co-member Scott Shine for making comments to the media about his preference that they wait until after elections this fall to choose a new superintendent. Shine is running for re-election and board chairwoman Paula Wright and Rebecca Couch are term-limited.
Couch and vice-chairwoman Lori Hershey told Shine he should have adhered to the board’s prior agreement to allow Wright to speak for the board about the superintendent search to present a united front. Hershey noted that Scott’s statements about a teacher blogger has already cost the district money from a recent out-of-court settlement.
Shine left the meeting a few minutes before it ended as Couch was speaking about the need to respect voters in her district who are asking for a quick hire of a superintendent.
Shine said these were personal attacks that were out of order.

Oy vey this guy. Um Scott, pointing out what you have done is not a personal attack and I get you think that it is, but you are wrong, so I am going to help you out.

A personal attack would be like somebody saying, you are a terrible human being who has no business representing people and the city will be better off when you slink back to your cave.
(Disclaimer, I am not saying above about Mr. Scott, I am just giving him an example of what a personal attack would be)

Now that would be a personal attack, saying you needlessly cost the district money, it would be nice if you tried to represent constituents rather than your friends and donors, and you should adhere to board rules, are not attacks, they are just things you should be doing. 

Scott Shine is that guy who feels he can say and do whatever he wants and when people push back he gets outraged and blames them for the problem. Don’t you know somebody like that? Somebody who is always in trouble or has a beef but it is never their fault? Shine is that guy and don’t take my word for it, listen to what his fellow board members have said.

District 2, you have to do better, won’t somebody step up?

Letter to the editor, Fund our Schools, NOW!

Duval County Public Schools is facing a 62-million-dollar shortfall and the superintendent’s solutions all seem to involve either cutting teachers and staff or making teachers jobs harder. She even disagreed with the one suggestion, cutting magnet school transportation, that would require parents to sacrifice. Well I don’t understand why only teachers and staff should sacrifice while parents and the community get a pass.  
I like the superintendent, but she has it all wrong on this one.
I urge the superintendent and the school board to let the citizens and parents of Jacksonville know that before one teacher loses their job, before we assign one class to have more than forty students, or before we get rid of any art, music or physical education classes we will get rid of all extracurricular sports including football and end magnet school transportation.
The super and board should tell parents and the community that if they don’t like that, then they have another option and that is demand the governor call a special legislative session to properly fund education and tell them if he doesn’t and they don’t, then in November they will hold the governor and the legislature accountable.
The republican members of the Duval Delegation, representatives Byrd, Yarborough, Fant and Fischer along with senator Bean voted to give DCPS an extra forty-seven cents per student or around sixty thousand dollars. That is not just laughable but insulting and dangerous as well. If they won’t do right by our children and public schools, we need to replace them with legislators that will.    
Duval’s graduation rate goes up and they underfund education. Duval proves on the NEAP it has one of the best district’s in the nation and are reward is a sixty-two-million-dollar deficit and more unfunded mandates.
Florida is routinely at the bottom of per pupil spending and when we factor in inflation, schools are getting less than they did in 2007 and that was before we had as many unfunded mandates and were required to share money with charter schools many of which are run by for profit companies. If Jacksonville is okay with that then they not the district’s staff are the ones who should sacrifice and if they are not, and I hope they are not, then it is past time they stood up and demanded our schools were properly funded.  

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, here is the address.

An end to Friday night lights

I don’t get it; will
somebody please explain it to me. Jacksonville’s schools, which mean
Jacksonville’s children, are facing 62 million dollars in cuts, yet I don’t see
any public outrage. There is no clamoring in the streets and no shouts that
something must be done. All people seem to muster is a barely audible sigh and
a shrug of their shoulders. Don’t people know how catastrophic a 62-million-dollar
shortfall will be or is it they just don’t care.

The district will be expected to provide the same services it did this year
with 62 million fewer dollars, and this as prices have risen, the legislature has burdened the district with one
unfunded mandate after another and siphoned more money to charter schools.
Could you do the same with considerably less money? Well the legislature, and
by extension us through our inaction think it’s okay that our schools and our
children do.
With the financial
mess left behind by Superintendent Vitti, wouldn’t he have some explaining to
do had he stayed and with the state allocating just an additional forty-seven
cents per pupil, we are about to be in real trouble.
Let me describe to you
what 62 million dollars in cuts is going to look like, and please don’t think I
exaggerate for dramatic effect. Dozens if not hundreds of teachers and support
staff will lose their jobs. Those that remain will have their workloads which
are already daunting increased. Programs like art, music, physical education
and other electives will most likely see huge cuts Class sizes may be expanded as
field trips, extracurricular activities, most supplies, teacher training and
after school programs are cut to the bone. These are some of the changes your
children and the district are facing if nothing is done.

In effect education in Jacksonville will be done by fewer already over worked
teachers, doing more with less, servicing more kids who will have fewer options.
Is that the future you want for our schools and our children, don’t they
deserve better?

Which brings me back to the part I don’t get, shouldn’t people specifically parents
be outraged by the prospect of this? Why aren’t they in mass writing letters or
calling their elected officials and demanding a special session that increases
funding to our schools?

This isn’t eight years
ago when we had a massive shortfall during the great recession. Times are good,
and the state is flush with cash yet for some reason Tallahassee won’t properly fund our public
schools? I ask you again, what is more important than our children; perhaps
just one thing, football. 

If the residents of Jacksonville don’t demand the republican members of the Duval delegation call for a special session to properly fund education then the district should cancel the 2018 football season.  

Every Friday night in the fall thousands of local children will suit up and
play the game of football, they will be watched by tens of thousands of fans
and coached by hundreds of teacher/coaches and these games all will cost the
district money and when you include all the other sports, the costs are in the
millions; millions of dollars that could be used to fund needed reading and
after school programs, to save teachers jobs and a whole host of other things
that will have to be cut if we stand idly by and nothing is done. 

I played sports while in high school and I believe they have been and can be
very important to the development of many children. As for me they kept me off
the streets and gave me a purpose, I felt like a member of my community when I played,
and they taught me about things like discipline and team work. Furthermore I
developed a work ethic by playing sports as I knew if I wanted to be successful
I needed to work hard to do so, and I with all sincerity say cancel them all,
cancel every single one of them if it saves one art teacher or one music
teacher their job or if it allows a group of third graders to have PE. more than once a

I urge the superintendent and the school board to let the citizens and parents
of Jacksonville know that before one teacher loses their job, before we assign
one class to have more than forty students, or before we get rid of any art,
music or physical education program we will get rid of all extracurricular
sports including football. Hopefully that will motivate them to get involved and fight for proper education funding.

This would be an unpopular decision, but leaders often need the courage not to
just do the popular thing but to do the right thing as well. Before jobs are
lost and necessary academic programs are impacted, extracurricular activities
should be cut, because even though they are important and do serve a function
in the end they are extra, it’s right there in the word. 

Nobody wants to see this happen, but the school board, Jacksonville’s teachers
and students need the parents and citizens of Jacksonville to understand there
is a pending disaster on the horizon; that parents must get involved before we are
forced to endure the impending financial crisis. We need them to let the
legislature know it’s not all right that they continue to under-fund education. We
likewise need parents to let the city council know we want them to pass similar
measures to the ones that have been passed in south Florida and other places
that invest in our children. We need parents to do it because neither the
legislature nor the city council is listening to the people on the front lines
and in the trenches of education and that’s the teachers.

The facts that Florida is routinely at the bottom when it comes to per pupil
spending, when we factor in inflation we spend less than we did before the
great recession and that we spend more on testing and mandated items than ever
before meant we were heading for a disaster and with a looming 62 million
dollar shortfall, I would say it is here.

The legislature
expects schools to get by on an extra 47 cents per pupil which tells me they
don’t care about our students, but I must believe the parents and citizens of
Jacksonville do, they just don’t know how bad it will be. I must believe that
because the thought that they do know but just don’t care is too terrible to

It’s time the citizens of Jacksonville got it and realized how dire the
situation is and realized that things are only going to get fixed if they stand
up and demand that the powers that be, and start with the republican members of
the Duval delegation all voted for the woeful funding, do something, that not
funding our schools will no longer be tolerated.

If you want to contact the Duval delegation and demand they call for a special session to properly fund education, here is a link to find them: http://www.coj.net/departments/duval-legislative-delegation/delegation-members-jacksonville-info

Scott Shine uses his position on the school board to influence professional practice investigations

I know it is hard but I would like you to take me out of the story. I hate that I have become part of it. I wish instead I could be writing about the hard work by the school board and administration and the incredible work of the district’s teachers or even about Tallahassee’s attempts to dismantle public education. That being said I and I think many of you will find it unacceptable that we have school board members who thinks by virtue of his position he can say and do whatever he wants to.

The thing is this what follows isn’t about what happened to me, that is over and finished. The story here is about a school board member who in my opinion tried to use his position to influence the outcome of an investigation, it is about an egregious abuse of power.

Now before I continue I want to say we have some excellent school board members. Paula Wright and Becki Couch will be sorely missed when they are term limited out. I also don’t believe what happened to me would have happened under superintendent Willis, who I think has done a great job leading the district. She has a calm leadership that our prior superintendent didn’t have. 
So here is some background. Last summer the school board was weighing entering a lawsuit against the public school kneecapping bill, HB 7069. Board member Shine wrote a piece that appeared in the Beaches Leader where he said overall he was against the bill but it had some good points and the main one was “union teachers” would be fired, the implication being that union teachers made some schools poor performing.
I spoke at the SB meeting where the board was discussing  joining a law suit against HB 7060. There I talked about Mr. Shine’s comments, that I found them reprehensible, and encouraged the district to join the lawsuit, which they did.
Shine also spoke at the meeting saying he was against the bill (though he didn’t mention his position about union teachers) and later said that the members of the Duval Delegation, who voted against public education and for the bill did so because they didn’t know what was in it and that they were afraid of Speaker Corcoran. 
You can listen to the meeting here, it is the 7/19 recording.
I wrote several blogs about the meeting, including one which said, Shine calls members of the Duval delegation ignorant and gutless.
He then filed a professional practice complaint against me, the third one in less that two years that the district investigated.
I think filing a specious complaint about me was bad enough but then he attempted to use his position on the school board to influence the investigation and that is unacceptable. Of course I disagree with him filing the complaint but even if you don’t I can’t see you agreeing with him trying to influence the outcome.
The school board often says it has one employee and here Shine is saying to his one employee that he needs to hear a decisive statement of action from her and if he doesn’t get it he will seek “declaratory judgement” against the district and as bad as that is, it gets worse.
Here he lets the OGC, outside general council, know he thinks they are not defending his point of view, and I read this as he is infuriated by it, but he is also telling them when to finish the investigation by ominously letting them know, “time is running out.”
But it gets worse than this too
Here he is saying his claim should be substantiated (which is wasn’t) because another claim was substantiated, (that one was and wasn’t by the way, creating a paradox but that is an entirely different post).
He is furthermore telling the investigators how to do their job, and what their findings should be, he is demanding another investigation because he didn’t get the outcome he desired and he is also asking for somebody else to do an investigation. No matter what you might think of me or my blog, school board members should not be allowed to interject themselves into investigations and that is the bottom line.  
I have several other emails where he is telling a variety of people “time is running out” which are disturbing as well but I think with the three above we see an unacceptable pattern with  how he tried to influence the investigation.
Scott Shine isn’t a random teacher or parent. He is on the school board. He has power and influence and here he tried to use it in an inappropriate manner.

What can I say friends, except we deserve better from our school board members and hopefully as a result of all this we will get it.

Scott Shine costs district six figures

That was the sentiment a letter writer to the Times Union had.

From the Times Union:

Costly dispute with Duval school

teacher could have been avoided
When Duval school teacher/blogger Christopher Guerrieri and his attorneys cash the $60,000 check they will receive from the district, they have two folks they need to graciously thank: School Board Member Scott Shine and the city’s Office of General Counsel.
The ineptitude of Shine and the city’s legal office is staggering, and someone should be held accountable for this trivial yet expensive miscalculation. If Shine had just swallowed his pride and apologized for his unnecessary comments about Guerrieri — or if he had he gotten intelligent, sensible legal direction from the Office of General Counsel — the hard-working taxpayers of this county would not be ponying up the $60,000 to settle this mess.
That $60,000, by the way, could have been spent on an additional teacher salary — or for much-needed school security personnel.
I agree with the writer except 60k is not all the expenses incurred by the district. When we settled my suit the district also settled a public records lawsuit for ten thousand and paid five thousand in legal fees to the union. Then they took all the mediation costs which I believe was at least five thousand more and we are just getting started. 
Then there is the cost of hiring a Tallahassee law firm to investigate several grievances which couldn’t have been cheap and the cost of the district’s lawyer fees. 
Then think about all the high salaried district employees who had to work on this for over a year. It’s true that money may be hard to quantify but it is without a doubt dozens of hours lost and that lost productivity has to add up as well. 
I don’t have any invoices in front of me but I believe this entire episode cost the district at least 120,000 dollars and likewise believe whatever the final tally is it falls at Scott Shine’s feet. I hope the media does a thorough investigation into how much money was spent because the taxpayers deserve to know.
People may not like me or my blog or think I deserve a penny but at the end of the day I did not cost the district six figures, the antics of a school board member did.
Finally I think we should all be glad we have a superintendent and a majority of the board who recognized that this needed to be settled rather than continue to fight a losing battle which is seemingly, based on his comments in the Times Union, what Mr. shine wanted to do.  

Scott Shine has police watch me, tells them I am a danger to those around me (rough draft)

Let me start by saying I will be very glad when I never had to write about Shine again and I can get back to how Tallahassee is trying to dismantle public education or how the district is improving, which are by far more important stories.

I will let Shine’s words do the talking for him.

Um, blood shot eyes? Oy vey.

I did speak at the board meeting where I encouraged the district to join the lawsuit against HB 7069, and pointed out that Mr. Shine said in an article to the Beach’s Leader that a positive benefit of HB 7069 is that union teachers would lose their jobs, a sentiment I vigorously disagreed with.

When Shine spoke he said he was against both the bill and the lawsuit and went onto to say the members of the Duval Delegation that voted for the bill only did so because they were both ignorant and scared of speaker Corcoran, which if true is pretty gutless on the delegation’s part if you ask me.

You can listen to the 7/19 meeting here,  https://soundcloud.com/dcps-board-meetings

I am pretty sure that Mrs. Wright who came and spoke to me after the meeting about a piece I did on Gary Chartrand and the Quality Education for All initiative had a different perspective on my demeanor and felt safe enough to do so.

If anything I was very happy after the meeting, after all the board voted to join the lawsuit and Shine both called himself the lawsuit cowboy and announced to all those in attendance that he had to pee which amused me greatly.

Unbeknownst to me Shine had the DCPS police watch me, and where I am not saying my life was in danger, people with guns were put on alert about me and Shine told them I may be a danger to those around me, that is disconcerting to say the least.

Then he questions my state of mind to both the superintendent and the assistant superintendent in charge of human resources and not because I was threatening or bothering him but because he doesn’t like me and what I had to say. I am a teacher and he is a school board member saying I might he a danger to those people around me, do you know who is around me a lot? Children. If he felt I was potentially such a danger how can he allow me to continue in the classroom.

I have said many things about Shine’s performance on the board but I have never said he was a danger to people (and friends I have seen his YouTube channel and I found at least one of his videos disturbing to say the least), just that I vigorously disagreed with his beliefs but my words never put him in physical danger.

This is who is representing district 2 and we can and should do better.