Tim Sloan, SB district 4 candidate uses his daughter as a prop at forum

First let me say I have no doubt that Mr. Sloan loves his daughter and with him supporting her she will be nothing but successful, but with that being said, come on, she and the public deserve better than him using her as a prop.

Let me set the scene. Fours school board candidates were finishing up a forum put on by the Friends of Northwest Jacksonville Schools had organized and put on. When it was Sloan’s turn he left the table and approached the crowd and eventually called his daughter up. Just as surprised as I am sure the audience was it took a little coaxing on his part for her to join him.

When she did so, he promised to do for our children (the people of district 4) what he would do for his.

A nice sentiment for sure but one he could have made without embarrassing his daughter. 

You might have picked up that I am not a fan of Sloan or his candidacy and I am not. His main qualification seems to be he is retired military (thank you for your service) and he has plenty of free time.

At the forum he neither seemed to have a grasp on the issues and lacked ideas. Though one idea I have heard him sell before, the involuntary transfer of teachers I think is horrible.

He would like to see our most successful teachers go to our must struggling schools and when put that way the idea has merit. The problem is he wants to force them to go there, transfer them against their will. Now I have long thought with smaller classes and a combination of behavior and academic supports we could get a fair amount of transfers, notice I didn’t say bribes which is what the last super tried to do, but forcing teachers to move I believe would have disastrous consequences. 

Then he once told me when he ran, he would take that sweet sweet Chartrand and Rummell money and not think twice about it.

Finaly to be honest how serious is he? It’s almost July and he has neither a web site or a Facebook page.

Undoubtedly Tim Sloan loves his daughter and I have no reason to believe he is nothing short of a great parent too, that being said, it is hubris not care for our schools that has motivated his run for the school board.

If Sloan cares about his daughter the way he says he does, he should drop out of the race and let people with experience, ideas and a track record proceed forward without him muddying the waters. 

Jason Fischer continues to harass Duval County Pubic School while shilling for charters

Jason Fischer was a terrible school board member who didn’t care about our schools and he has continued his ways as a representative in the state house. Just weeks after he inserted two million into the state budget for his donors charter school, Fischer has called for an investigation of Duval County pubic schools because the district did well on the civics exam.


From the Tampa Times:


A group of conservative lawmakers has asked the Florida Department of Education to look into allegations that three school districts manipulated which students took the spring civics end-of-course exam to influence the state’s school grading system.
The six legislators — Sen. Dennis Baxley and Reps. Jason Fischer, Michael Bileca,  James Grant, Bob Rommel and Jennifer Sullivan — repeated criticisms raised by members of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members, an organization that formed to oppose the Florida School Boards Association’s legal challenge of the state tax credit scholarship program.
Fischer, a one-time Duval County School Board member, is a former coalition member.
District officials explained they intended to have the students take the exam as eighth graders, after they are better prepared. State officials have confirmed there’s nothing wrong with that approach.
But the six lawmakers suggested in a letter to education commissioner Pam Stewart that the “questionable testing practices” could undermine the state’s testing and accountability system. They suggest without any detail that other districts might be participating in “these same shameful practices.”
The lawmakers’ underlying motive? It appears to be support of their recently created program that allows select charter schools to move into communities where the public schools have persistently low scores on state exams.
Fischer and his compatriots don’t care about our public schools they just want more charter schools, and who makes up a huge share of Fischer’s donors? Charter schools that is who. 
It’s monstrous how Fischer would accuse DCPS and the other districts of cheating while giving his donor’s school millions of dollars.  

It is time to close Jackson High School

I know especially with their back to back B grades and their magnet possibilities this may not e a popular opinion but here me out before you excoriate me.

https://dcps.duvalschools.org/ajhs

I have no doubt great things are going on at Jackson, great kids being taught by dedicated teachers but in this day and age sadly that isn’t enough.

I asked the district for the enrollments at Raines, Ribault and Jackson and this is what they told me.

Whoa, 415 students, now I admit they have room to grow, lots and lots of room to grow but should they be allowed too?

You know who also has lots of room to grow? Raines and Ribault. It wasn’t that long ago that both of those schools had well over 2000 students.

Jackson is also a dedicated magnet school now which means the kids in the neighborhood that aren’t interested in their programs have alternatives.

Speaking of their programs I am not saying we should get rid of them, on the contrary they should be allowed to find homes at Ribault, Raines, Paxon or Stanton.

We just can’t have a high school that is that small. We can’t, it’s a terrible misuse of our limited resources.

But I am not done, what I think we should do next is move the school board to Jackson high school which will serve to give that community and economic boost and then if we get the right price we can sell the prime property where the school board building currently sits.

I know closing schools is an unpopular proposition especially in a neighborhood which has endured such abuse at the hands of the powers that be but as I look at it, in these times of scarce resources, and especially since we can help out that community while doing so, it’s time for Jackson High school to go.

Now feel free to tell me how I am wrong, and if you are passionate about it, I get it. 

Darryl Willie says the most Teach for America things at the district 4 SB forum

Oy vey as affable as this guy is, he is also unbelievable.

When talking about improving reading, he said babies in the womb will read better when their mothers read to them as if DCPS should develop a strategy to facilitate this and this will lead to better reading scores. Oy vey, let that sink in.

Um what about libraries Darryl, which have been on the chopping block for years, might they be an option too?

It is true children that are exposed to more words and reading at a young age do better as a group than those that don’t but how is DCPS going to improve the mother’s reading to fetus rate? Maybe we can get some Teach for America corp members to volunteer their time.

He also said one way to keep teachers longer is to fund the alternative assessment cost that non education majors incur when going from their second to third years. Now who would this give away most benefit? Why Teach for America of course as the vast amount of them are non education majors and that right there should tell you something.

Now I think the alternative assessment pathway to teaching is out of control. When I went through it I had to write what amounted to about 12 essays and undergo a few more observations. It did not cost me thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time like the current iteration does.

I agree there needs to be changes to keep more teachers just as they figure out how to teach but the thing is I am not the director of a TFA chapter looking for another hand out.

Willie wasn’t a complete disaster at the forum, he did have one point about how we need to let kids, mostly black boys, move and not sweat the small stuff and I and I believe most teachers agree and have called for this but at the same time it was painfully obvious Willie is not ready for prime time. 

Shouldn’t we all be tired of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund blaming teachers by now?

The definition of a juxtaposition is the fact of two things being seen or laced together with contrasting effect.


JPEF was founded by Gary Chartrand who has worked tirelessly to injure the teaching profession yet they run DCPS’s teacher of the year program. How does that work?  


Then they have through social media tirelessly run a thank a teacher campaign while writing the following on their webs site.  

From JPEF’s website: Over 90 percent of teachers are rated Effective or Highly effective based on the district’s evaluation formula: 50 percent student growth, 45 percent observations and 5 percent individualized professional development.
However, tens of thousands of students don’t pass the Florida State Assessments English Language Assessment each year—our state’s indicator for literacy. Passing this test in tenth grade is one of the requirements to graduate with a standard high school diploma.
The implication is quite clear, Duval’s teachers suck and its their fault more students aren’t passing state tests.
I have a different take, I thank God they are there because without them and their tireless efforts Duval’s kids would be in a much deeper hole.
I looked for the part about poverty and how it is the number one factor when predicting performance, kids who live in it do worse than kids who aren’t but I found nothing.
Furthermore JPEF criticizes our teachers while being a friend to Teach for America which does the exact opposite of what we know to be best for our children. 
JPEF continuously shows they are on the wrong side of the education debate.
Ugh.

Becki Couch questions Scott Shine’s motives

We are all going to miss Mrs. Couch when she leaves the school board. Unlike Shine, she is always prepared, knowledgeable and cares about our district, teachers, schools and students.


Via Facebook about Shine saying the district was gaming the system on civics tests.


The board voted 7-0 on the student progression plan that has the course pathway included. 


Mr. Shine did not pull the item nor ask questions at the time. 


But now, when the data comes out he goes straight to the press with an allegation of gaming a system of accountability? 


When Dr. Vitti was here, the reason Mr. Shine says he ran for school board, we did the same thing in Algebra, Geometry, and Biology. I asked about the Algebra I A and B courses and we were told, “we don’t want to set students up for failure if they are not ready to take the test”. That makes sense to me because not all kids are prepared to take Algebra I in 8th or 9th grade. I am unsure why this situation would be any different. 


The law mandates students take the (civics) exam in middle school. Some students take it in 6th because they are advanced. 


Should we hold them back because a conservative group of five board members thinks the test should be given in seventh grade? 


I am saddened that a school board member would criticize districts for making decisions for the benefit of individual students but on the other hand say that is the very reason we need more charter schools because we are making school so “cookie cutter” and school should meet the individual needs of all children. 


The students will take the exam in middle school because that is the law.


I didn’t say above, That comes from a school board member who has had to work with Shine for nearly four years.


Scott Shine does not and has not represented our schools, teachers and students and instead cow-tows to people like Gary Chartrand who would destroy our schools. We will be so much better off when Shine is gone.



Is Scott Shine clueless a hypocrite or both? Roots for failure, criticizes success

I ask because he doesn’t seem to understand how things work while complaining about things he has previously supported.  


Here is what happened, the district had some students take a prerequisite, law studies, before they took the civics class which has a state mandated test. The students who tool civics and who were better prepared did well on the test and instead of thanking the district, Shine attacked it and said it was playing the system. Spoiler alert the whole system has been rigged, mostly to set poor and minority children up for failure, and when the district found a way around it Shine called foul. In effect he was rooting for failure and mad when it didn’t happen. 


From WJCT


In 2017 8,649 Duval students took the civics test compared to 5,739 this past school year. The Florida Coalition of School Board Members said fewer test takers likely contributed to higher scores.
The Duval County School District’s Chief Academic Officer Mason Davis said there was no wrongdoing, adding although fewer students took the test, Duval is complying with state statute and the school board’s policy. He said the change started with the district’s yearly review of both the student progression plan and master scheduling guidelines.
“Through those reviews, multiple data points are reviewed and changes are made to better prepare students by adding prerequisites and course progression pathways,” he said.

Now some people might be saying all we are doing is preparing kids to take tests and that is no way to run education and you know what, I completely agree with you. We have a bigger problem than a terrible school board member throwing bombs on the way out the door. We need to address testing but the sad truth is we aren’t going to get to while the drill and kill republicans are in charge of education. We need to vote them all out.


A couple people had great comments about Shines ignorance and hypocrisy, I have omitted their names just in case Shine decides to send out nasty emails or threats.


Shine uses taxpayer resources to legally intimidate teachers. He has temper tantrums at SB meetings before walking out. He whips up press to announce the candidacy of his heir-apparent. He telegraphs his every intention, independently of his board, to the reform crowd through the press. “Reformers” want high-stakes testing and privatization. Now they want to whine about it when schools figure out how to better prepare their students for the test? We’re not buying it.


Only the kids who scored low on the FSA had to take law studies, next year, when they take civics alongside the high 4s and 5s, civics scores will normalize. It’s not sketchy, it’s basic math.


But when Vitti did it, by sending low-performing students from Geometry through “Advanced Topics” to avoid them bringing down results on the state’s Algebra 2 test or by removing students from Algebra 1 into Algebra 1A based on low-performing December interim test results so they wouldn’t take the EOC and count in the results, Shine said nothing.


Vitti also changed several schools to game the system but since Shine had a man crush on him, it was okay.


Well friends Shine is nothing if not consistent, and we will all be better off when his tenure on the board mercifully comes to an end.  

DCPS confirms Teach for America is still in the cards.

Before I get into it. I want to thank the district for routinely replying to my questions, which I understand can’t always be easy. The communication team is always professional and they are a credit to the district.

So here is the back drop. With so many teachers being surplussed and the district not allocating any money (thus far) for finders fees to TFA, I was surprised to find that there was a new TFA class in Jacksonville. So I asked the district if going forward they were going to pick up any new Teach for America teachers and this was their thorough and reasoned response. 

1.       Teach for America (TFA) and Duval Schools had a multi-year contractual relationship in which TFA was compensated as one element of the District’s comprehensive program to recruit teachers to fill needs in the district.
2.       Last school year, 2017-18, was the final year of that contract, and that contract was not renewed.
3.       The TFA contract of the past and the current TFA presence in our region have no impact on the process known as “surplussing.”
4.       Each year, enrollment changes and instructional needs necessitate the “surplussing” of employed teachers at schools throughout the district.
5.       For the upcoming school year, state law requires for the first time that surplussing decisions be based on teacher performance, not job seniority.
6.       Teachers who are surplussed are not laid off or fired. Suplussed teachers are reassigned to a different school.
7.       In some cases, a school year begins before a surplussed teacher is placed. These employees are then placed in temporary roles until they are permanently assigned.
8.       Unrelated to surplussing, the district anticipates 1,400 to 1,500 teacher openings each year due to retirements, teachers moving out of district, and teachers leaving their roles for a multitude of reasons. 
9.       District and school based staff work very hard to recruit teachers into these open posts.
10.   New teachers are recruited from multiple sources including in-state and out-of-state teacher education programs and alternative certification programs.

11.   TFA continues to be a source for new teacher recruitment throughout northeast Florida. The district will interview and potentially hire teacher prospects provided through TFA. 

12.   Similar to many of the district’s recruiting efforts, teacher recruits who are interviewed and hired by the district, including TFA affiliated individuals, are offered an open contract.
13.   An open contract means the recruited teacher will have a job. Once the district knows its school and grade level openings, new teachers with open contracts, including those sourced through TFA, are placed. Currently the district has offered 114 open contracts.
14.   Placing a TFA teacher does not cause another teacher to be surplussed.
15.   Placing a TFA teacher does not prevent a surplussed teacher from getting an assignment.

A lot of that is background information and I think they are right, just because a Teach for America teacher is hired it doesn’t mean a surplussed teacher won’t be given a position.

This however is what I think. The district should be more interested in developing teachers who may spend a career in the classroom, and at some point we need to decide what kind of district we want to be. One that strives to put professional teachers in front of each class or one that is okay with hobbyists working in our most vulnerable classrooms while they wait for grad school. 

I guess at this point it is what it is, which is disappointing.

JPEF doesn’t advertise for their own SB candidate forum

It is 9:35 on Sunday the 24th and I have known about the district 4 school board forum for almost a day. A heads up from the good people at the Friends of Northwest Jacksonville Schools.

The NAACP, The Friends of Northwest Jacksonville Schools and JPEF are putting on the forum.

JPEF has quite the immersive social media presence.

Their last post was about Why did the U.S. stop seeing teachers as professionals? A very important and relevant topic and problem, but sadly it is a problem exacerbated by JPEF’s founder and grocer Gary Chartrand, who has been very anti teacher and treating teachers as professionals.

Scrolling down, they have an article about low cost solutions to deal with teacher shortages, ugh, low cost? Another one about Teacher leave in NYC and the National Merit program.

Keep scrolling if you like but they have nothing about the forum on their Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/JaxPEF/

Why, well maybe they haven’t got around to publicizing the Monday the 25th evening forum. I mean that leave in NYC story is a big one.

Or maybe just maybe they don’t care if you or anybody goes or not. You see numerous members of JPEF’s board have already put their support behind a district 4 candidate and that is Teach for America director and darling of Gary Chartrand, Darryl Willie. You might also remember he ran for the seat in 2014 and when doing so spread false and misleading stories about Paula Wright.   

See I don’t think JPEF wants people to go because they want the candidate must aligned with corporate reforms and privatization, their candidate Darryl Willie to win.

Could I be wrong? Sure, they don’t invite me to their strategy meetings, but their bread crumbs are abundantly clear and easy to follow.

An organization designed to help our public schools would be a great thing to have, unfortunately we haven’t had one.

When I post this blog, I will have done more than JPEF has done to publicize their very own forum and that should speak volumes.

Bill Gates didn’t know the price of groceries why did we expect he would know something about education reform?

 Is Bill Gates a smart man? I don’t know. I know he is a rich man and all to often in America we confuse wealth with intelligence and we do so to our detriment. If Gates doesn’t understand how grocery stores work, why should we expect him to know how education works?





The answer is we shouldn’t have but for years we let him experiment on our children and teachers like they were lab rats. How many good teachers lost their jobs or left in disgust? How many children didn’t receive the education they deserved because he decided to dabble in education. Gates isn’t a hero for trying to help, he is a villain because his hubris not facts dictated what he spent his millions on.


From Chalkbeat:


Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address reflected the heady moment in education. “We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000,” he said. “A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance.”

Bad teachers were the problem; good teachers were the solution. It was a simplified binary, but the idea and the research it drew on had spurred policy changes across the country, including a spate of laws establishing new evaluation systems designed to reward top teachers and help weed out low performers.
Behind that effort was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which backed research and advocacy that ultimately shaped these changes.
It also funded the efforts themselves, specifically in several large school districts and charter networks open to changing how teachers were hired, trained, evaluated, and paid. Now, new research commissioned by the Gates Foundation finds scant evidence that those changes accomplished what they were meant to: improve teacher quality or boost student learning.  
The 500-plus page report by the Rand Corporation, released Thursday, details the political and technical challenges of putting complex new systems in place and the steep cost — $575 million — of doing so.
The post-mortem will likely serve as validation to the foundation’s critics, who have long complained about Gates’ heavy influence on education policy and what they call its top-down approach.

https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/us/2018/06/21/the-gates-foundation-bet-big-on-teacher-evaluation-the-report-it-commissioned-explains-how-those-efforts-fell-short/


575 million dollars wasted. What would have happened had he invested that money in smaller classes, mental health counselors and social workers and wrap around services for children, or you know things teachers have been begging for.  


Maybe this could be excused if this was his only failed education initiative but the thing is he has failed over and over again and our school system has paid the price for people letting him try his mad scientistesque experiments. He is a lot closer to Victor Frankenstein than Horace Mann.

Bill Gates, is a teacher blaming union busting, charter loving, voucher promoting hobbyist and it is truly stunning that this really rich and supposedly smart guy is on the wrong side of every education issue.  


http://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/search?q=bill+gates+

When made aware of the results, the Gates foundation had the following to say, also from Chalkbeat


“We have taken these lessons to heart, and they are reflected in the work that we’re doing moving forward,” the Gates Foundation’s Allan Golston said in a statement.


Well $#@% you Allan Golston and $#@% the foundation too. Unless you are going to listen to teachers and parents your assistance is not wanted.