DCPS does the right thing, the wrong way on security

Last week’s shooting outside a Raines high school football game rattled the district, and their desire to come up with a speedy solution is admirable, it’s just to bad they went about it the wrong way.

School board meetings are supposed to be noticed 48 hours in advance in order to give any relevant parties and the public notice. This school safety meeting Monday however did not give 48 hour notice and even worse it was closed to the public.  

From the Times Union:

Earlier kickoffs and different game days will be the “new normal” at about a dozen public Duval County high school football games this fall after a triple-shooting at Friday’s Raines-Lee game.
Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene announced the change at a 4 p.m. Monday press conference that followed a closed-door executive committee meeting of the School Board.
It is not clear whether the game schedule was discussed at the 2:30 p.m. board meeting, as neither the Times-Union nor First Coast News were allowed into the meeting, despite raising objections with the district beforehand and at the district’s Southbank office.
Greene was joined at the announcement by five of the seven School Board members — Ashley Smith Juarez and Scott Shine were absent — as well as school police chief Micheal Edwards, Jacksonville Undersheriff Pat Ivey and Mayor Lenny Curry.
Ahead of Monday’s School Board meeting, three members said that the board would meet at 2:30 p.m. to discuss school-safety protocols. Notice of the meeting was not given in advance on the School Board’s online calendar.
In Florida, nearly all meetings of government boards are open to the public and few exemptions are allowed under the state’s open meetings law.
Tracy Pierce, district spokesman, cited Florida Statutes Chapter 281, which allows meetings and documents to be exempt from public access if they relate to “the security or fire-safety systems of any property owned by or leased to the state or any of its political subdivisions.”
“It is a conversation that is by law able to be held in executive session,” Pierce said, but did not elaborate further.
Um wait, Scott Shine wasn’t there? This guy, ugh. Are we still paying him?
Anyway, I think you are losing when you use some obscure rule to circumnavigate the long standing meeting notice process and to exclude the public. I get it there is a sense of urgency, but if they had the meeting today and invited the public, we still have over three days before game time to make any changes.
You know I think moving game times is a fine idea. I think we get caught up with the mystique of Friday night lights and not competing against college games. The thing is college invaded Friday nights ears ago and there is usually a full slate of games and a marquee one or two as well. 
Saturday mornings, during the day on Friday, these are both acceptable alternatives.
In the article superintendent Greene said we were in a new normal. I hope that new normal does not include excluding the public going forward.

Things the media hasn’t told you about the local school board races.

We have three very important school board races that will influence the direction of our school system for at least the next 4 years if not longer. District 2 at the beach, district 4 on the north side and district 6 on the west side and riverside will all have new representatives. Two of the people leaving, Paula Wright and Becki Couch have been fierce advocates for public education while the other school board member, Scott Shine, duped the people at the beach into letting him check get elected off his bucket list.

This brings me to what the media has not told you about the three races.

Darryl Willie was instructed by the school board to take down a campaign video where he put public school students on blast with out their parents permission.

He also has a lot of small dollar donors which is cool, if it wasn’t a self serving attempt bid on his part to get a lot of self serving donors. Why do I think this is the case? Well its because among them his wife gave him a dollar, though I guess that could mean she thinks about his campaign about as much as I do. 

Darryl Willie has also received a lot of campaign contributions from the same people who are supporting Kimberly Daniels in the house district 14 race, i.e. a lot of anti public education, pro charter and pro voucher republicans.

Speaking of republicans Nick Howland in 2 partnered with the Duval Republican party to canvas for him, which where not against the rules is bad form in races that are supposed to be no party affiliation. Not that people didn’t know who he was when he announced he was a conservative businessman in his campaign commercial. 

He also accepted an endorsement from a charter school and tons of money from charter school proponents, but he won’t be in the pocket of charter schools, wink wink.

Perhaps what he did that was most egregious is he often used misleading data when he sold his, schools aren’t safe narrative. He either knows what he is saying is wrong and doesn’t care or he doesn’t do his homework and I don’t know what of the two is more unforgivable. Inexplicably when the Times Union endorsed him they praised his use of data, which says to me either the knew what he said was and didn’t care or they didn’t do their homework and I don’t know what of the two is more unforgivable.

Along with David Chauncey he also said he was undecided about Amendment 8, a poison pill proposal designed to strip local control of schools away from school boards to benefit charter schools, you know because despite accepting lots of money from charter school interests, neither are in the pocket of charter schools, wink wink. It was struck down by a judge for being misleading which makes me question even more why they weren’t against it. 

Chauncey a thirty year old Teach for America alum (Willie is an alum too). Raised a ton of money. 75 percent cam from outside district 6 and over 80 percent came from donors who gave him a thousand dollars. Um what parents and teachers do you know who can drop a grand on a school board race.

Four of those 1000 dollar donations came from Gary Chartrand who has been the golden goose for all three candidates. Gary Chartrand a grocer and member of the state board of education, who never taught a day in his life and who sent his children to expensive and exclusive private schools, has long been a foe of public education and the teaching profession and loves charters, but none of them will be in the pocket of charters, wink wink. 

There are good candidates in each of the three races, Chauncey, Willie and Howland are not among them, and the local media has done a terrible job pointing out their conflicts and misdeeds.  

Betsy DeVos’s plan to improve schools? Buy teachers guns.

From the I can’t make this up file, Betsy DeVos is eyeing using grants intended for our most impoverished schools to buy guns for teachers. um, wha?!?

From the New York Times

When Congress created its academic support fund three years ago, lawmakers had in mind a pot of money that would increase student access to art and music, mental health and technology programs at the nation’s most impoverished schools.
But back-to-back school shootings this year and inquiries from the state of Texas have prompted the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, to examine whether to allow states to tap the school enrichment fund for another purpose: guns.
Such a move would reverse a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weaponry. It would also undermine efforts by Congress to restrict the use of federal funding on guns. As recently as March, Congress passed a school safety bill that allocated $50 million a year to local school districts, but expressly prohibited the use of the money for firearms.
Department officials acknowledged that carrying out the proposal would be the first time that a federal agency has authorized the purchase of weapons without a congressional mandate, according to people familiar with the discussions. And while no such restrictions exist in the federal education law, it could undermine the grant program’s adoption of “drug and violence prevention,” which defines a safe school environment as free of weapons.
In its research, the Education Department has determined that the gun purchases could fall under improving school conditions, people familiar with the department’s thinking said. Under the current guidelines for that part of the grant, the department encourages schools to increase access to mental health counseling, establish dropout prevention programs, reduce suspensions and expulsions and improve re-entry programs for students transitioning from the juvenile justice system.

When Trump’s proposal to arm teachers flopped I kind of thought this idea was dead, DeVos saying some schools needed guns to protect themselves from bears notwithstanding, but like a bad penny the idea has resurfaced. 
I don’t know whats more outrageous though. That they are pushing an idea educators are overwhelmingly against, they plan to use money designated for our neediest schools to fund it or they think gun purchases would fall under the guise of improving school conditions. You know what improve school conditions? The things the grants are actually designed to pay for. 
Friends, I just don’t know what to say anymore.

Kimberly Daniels and Darryl Willie, startling similarities

A rose by any other name is still a rose. I hope I didn’t butcher that quote to badly and my analogy isn’t to obtuse.

Kimberly Daniels and Darryl Willie share a huge similarity, and that is they are both supported by anti public education republicans.

They have also both claimed to be democrats, Daniels is in fact the democrat incumbent for the house district 14 seat and Willie can be seen making the rounds at a lot of democrat functions as he tries to get on the school board too, but like I can claim I am not over weight and I don’t have a love of peanut butter, that doesn’t make it true.

I think it is even more important to look at who supports a candidate than to listen to what they say because talk is cheap, while money is money.

Both have received significant funds from republicans who have pushed charter schools and demonized and marginalized the teaching profession. heck Daniels was called a champion by Bush and Gary Chartrand funneled Willie five million dollars through the QEA initiative.

Look if you want to dismantle public education and don’t think teachers are professionals, um what are you doing here, these two are your candidates.

However if you care about public education and think teachers should be treated with respect and given the tools they need to be successful, then these are the two you should stay as far away from as possible.

In House District 14 you have Paula Wright a fierce education advocate who deserves your vote. And in  the School Board district 4 race you have several great candidates to chose from.

Wright has also beaten Willie and is hope she beats Daniels too.

I guess at the end of the day you have to choose what is important to you. I hope schools, teachers and the state’s children make that list. 

The Florida legislature refuses to fund school safety

When you head to the polls this November I hope you remember that the Republican lead Florida legislature had opportunity after opportunity to properly fund school safety and refused at every turn.

In my home town of Jacksonville they sent 3.6 million dollars to do a job that would cost over ten and they compounded this farce by allocating only an extra 47 cents per student in discretionary spending.

When Rick Scott in an admittedly self serving move, meant, I am sure to generate publicity more than to protect kids, asked the state legislature to release unused funds, the republican leaders in Tallahassee said no.

From the Tampa Times:

Florida’s top incoming legislative leaders are rejecting Gov. Rick Scott’s push to redirect $58 million so school districts can hire more campus police officers. The lawmakers say the state should stay with a program they crafted that puts armed security guards and staff members in its public schools.
House Speaker-elect Jose Oliva and incoming Senate President-elect Bill Galvano, both Republicans, said Wednesday the money should remain budgeted for the state’s guardian program. The Republican governor, who leaves office in January and is running for the U.S. Senate, wants the unspent money freed so the districts can hire more officers.
An Associated Press survey found two-thirds of the districts want police officers or sheriff’s deputies in schools, with most saying their communities aren’t comfortable with anyone but sworn law enforcement officers carrying guns on campus.
The state’s 67 countywide districts were given the more expensive choice of hiring additional police officers, also known as school resource officers, or supplementing the officers they already had with the cheaper guardian program. Any money not covered by the state had to be picked up by the districts.
Some districts, however, said they can’t afford officers and are hiring full-time guardians. These include Broward, Stoneman Douglas’ district. A police officer can cost $100,000 a year in salary and benefits, while guardians are estimated to cost between $30,000 and $50,000. Some districts, mostly in rural parts of the state, are supplementing officers with armed staff who get a $500 stipend, saying their communities support that arrangement.
That’s what the republicans’ in Tallahassee wanted, armed school personnel, specifically teachers, and when that was overwhelmingly rejected, they said, we’ll show you and only play lip service to protecting our children. Like petulant children who weren’t allowed to run wild, they took their ball and went home, except in this case the ball is tax payer money and it should be being used to protect our children. Though I guess we should be thankful they didn’t channel the left over funds to charter schools.
The republican party has done all it can do damage public education and the teaching profession and the people of Florida collectively shrugged their shoulders, hopefully now that they have shown they don’t really care about the state’s children, people will be motivated to vote them out.
We need a change in Tallahassee and the reason this time may literally be about life and death. 

Parents and teachers are not supporting Dave Chauncey, SB district 6 candidate, who is, is troubling

John Kirtley, who has a construction company that builds charter schools and who is Florida’s voucher king, supporting schools that don’t have to have teachers with degrees and who can teach junk science and history and Gary Chartrand a grocer by trade that parlayed huge donations to Rick Scott into a spot on the state board of education and who is notoriously anti teacher, jump out.

And where I can go on and on about them, it’s the amount of maximum donors, or donors that gave Chauncey 1000 dollars that I want to talk about here, because I don’t know any teachers or families who can afford to throw a grand at a school board race.

Dave Chauncey has raised $72,925.69, an impressive amount, but of that he received 57, 1000 dollar donations. That’s 79 percent of his total. Even worse than the 75% of his money that comes from outside district 6.

That’s not from 57 donors by the way, Chartrand gave to him 4 times and Wayne Weaver at least twice.

Who are his other big donors? Well there are lots of charter school interests, lawyers, and company executives that’s who and I encourage you to take a look for yourself, but there aren’t a lot of teachers and parents.


Friends, Chauncey who couldn’t even say he was against Amendment 8 has taken money from special interest after special interest. Who do you think he is going to answer to if elected. Here is a hint, it’s the people who pay his bills and not parents and teachers. 

JSO is charging DCPS to protect our children

Let me just get right to it.

From WOKV:

Off-duty officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office are currently being used to protect more than half of Duval County’s public schools, so that the District complies with a new Florida law. But, fresh in to the school year, there are big questions about who exactly will be picking up that bill. 
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office budget was recently under the spotlight by the City Council Finance Committee, as part of their hearings on Mayor Lenny Curry’s $1.2 billion City budget proposal. In that came a warning that JSO overtime hours would likely be up, because they’re mandating off-duty officers work shifts at Duval County Public School elementary schools. 
“We’re gunna need this Council’s support, to support us in demanding that we get reimbursed. Because $12/hour doesn’t buy one of our JSO officers,” says Curry’s Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa. 
Sheriff Mike Williams says they’ve been coordinating for weeks with DCPS to ensure Duval County would be in compliance with a new state law, which requires all schools have armed security on campus. This can be achieved through a sworn police officer, a school resource officer, or a guardian- who is a non-teacher school employee that goes through screening and training, and has a license to concealed carry. 
So, with more than 100 sworn officers working overtime at local schools as of now, JSO is keeping a detailed account of the cost they’re racking up. 
“With the legislation being very clear that the District is responsible for this, my expectation is that we are reimbursed from the School Board for those costs,” Williams says. 
But he says the District has alredy told him they will have challenges in doing that. 
“This is what’s kind of frightening- the payback after all this is over, from the school system,” says Councilman Tommy Hazouri. 
Hazouri says the District should currently be paying around $12/hour for SSA’s, but instead, there are fully sworn JSO officers being used for that job- meaning the District is racking up an even bigger bill. 
“We’re gunna need to go after our money,” Mousa says. 
Where I think Williams and Mousa come off as #$@^s I can’t really get (completely) mad at them.
You see the state sent the district 3.6 million dollars to pay for a job that if you wanted to do it right was going to cost over ten. because they didn’t really believe in protecting our children, just playing lip service to it. The district has been put into an impossible position and instead of chipping in JSO and the mayor’s office are demanding an IOU.  
Here is the thing, isn’t it the police’s job to protect our children? Instead of setting up another speed trap on Roosevelt maybe put that officer in a school. Isn’t it the mayor’s job to go through the couch cushions to find money to pay to keep our kids safe.
I can’t help but think that wasted 5 million the QEA sent to Darryl Willie and TFA Jax could really come in handy now.      
If we want better we are going to need a change in Tallahassee and maybe some local places as well.

Scott Shine admits amendment 8 violated the law and he was still okay with it.

Ugh, from the I can’t make this stuff up file, Scott Shine one of the few supporters of amendment 8 admits it was against the law, but that didn’t stop him from supporting it anyways.
from WJCT

Shine, the only board member advocating for the amendment, said he didn’t find the ballot language misleading but he’s not surprised by the ruling.
“Those who had been participating in the case said that the judge seemed to have a hard time understanding the issues at play,” Shine said. ”We had a sense this judge was probably going to rule against us.”
But he said he’s not upset with the ruling as it’s “just another step in the process” of education reform. He said the ruling will “undoubtedly” be appealed.
“There’s a lot of different options,” Shine said. “One is that a higher court could rule in our favor. Two, at some point the ballot language could be changed so that’s it’s consistent with the law.”
“Two, at some point the ballot language could be changed so that’s it’s consistent with the law.”
Right there he is saying the ballot language is misleading that it isn’t “consistent with the law. Shine had a rare bout of candor there.
Everyone who has been following 8 knows what it is about and that is giving away local control to charter schools.
Later in the article he says the part he really liked was term limits for school board members. Um not only is he a one term wonder, but Duval already has term limits and other districts should they choose have them too. We don’t need a constitutional amendment to make it happen.  
Shine has been historically bad on the board and he can’t be gone soon enough.

Amendment 8 thrown off ballot for being deceptive

Oh those pro school choice advocates, if they didn’t have deception they wouldn’t have anything. Fortunately for the state of Florida a judge said, not this time.

From the Associate Press:

Florida judge on Monday threw off the November ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that includes a provision to make it easier to set up charter schools in the state.
Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that the amendment placed on the ballot by the state’s Constitution Revision Commission does not tell voters what it really does. Cooper pointed out that the amendment does not even include the words “charter schools” in its wording.
Cooper in his ruling stated that the “failure to use the term voters would understand” means that voters are not told the “chief purpose and effect of this proposal.”
Supporters of the amendment acknowledged that the purpose of the charter schools provision was to undo a previous court ruling that struck down a law that created a statewide charter school commission.
“Voters should not have to read between the lines to figure out what changes they are being asked to make to their constitution, and fortunately we have a process that protects their right to make informed decisions at the ballot box,” said Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters Florida president. “We applaud the court for seeing Revision 8 for what it is — a calculated deception aimed at shifting control over our schools from our locally elected school boards to state politicians.”
350 failed charter schools, billions wasted and communities left in a lurch all for schools with little innovation, and with most now set up in neighborhoods with great schools.
A billion dollars a year diverted from public schools to voucher schools that don’t have to have certified teachers, let alone degrees schools that can teach junk science and history with practically no over site.
Then they wanted to add a cherry on top and strip communities of local control.
That is the face of school choice in Florida as the powers that be do all they can to dismantle and harm public education.
No more.

As early voting starts, please vote for pro education candidates, like Paula Wright in HD 14

The district needed  a little over ten million dollars to properly secure our schools and Tallahassee sent them about 3.6 million dollars.

Tallahassee allocated the district just an extra 47 cents per student in discretionary funds as costs rise and teachers leave.

Speaking of teachers leaving, Tallahassee has kick started a teaching shortage.

Now there is money in education, unfortunately more and more of it goes to charter schools of which about 350 have failed and many of the rest are run by for profit businesses and voucher schools that don’t have to have teachers with degrees and can teach junk history and science because oversite is practically nill.

I could go on and on an on, and that is why we need to elect representatives that are going to stand up for our public schools, people like Paula Wright in HD14.

In Duval we have school board chair Paula Wright versus Kimberly Daniels a republican in democrats clothing. Most of Kimberly Daniels funding comes from republicans, she was called a champion by Jeb Bush and she received the lowest grade of any democrat by the Florida Education Association.

Paula Wright on the other hand did not resign to run like Jason Fischer did two years ago and has been a fierce advocate for our children.

Friends we have a choice to make, more of the same where public education is marginalized and starved of resources or something better, and if you want better Paula Wright is really your only choice in HD14.