Lots of questions for DCPS, few answers from them

These were my comments read into the record at the DCPS board meeting.


I do not know a teacher or parent who does not want to start school on time.

We must all remember the district making plans to open up, and parents and teachers who have grave concerns are not enemies of each other, the enemy is the problem we are trying to solve which is how to educate our students while keeping both our staff and our students safe.
I also think everyone should acknowledge all the hard work the district has done preparing to get us back. That being said, I have questions I would like the superintendent and board to answer.
Since the district is knowingly sending teachers into conditions where they may get sick if they do, can teachers sue if they do so?
What about the family of a child, can they sue if the child gets sick, or does that family just assume that risk by sending them to school?
If a teacher must quarantine because of exposure, then their family will as well if the spouse is working, will the district compensate their employer for the time/work missed?
If a spouse of a DCPS employee gets sick, will the district cover all their medical costs and expenses?   
Are teachers going to be expected to teach while quarantined or sick? What about students, what is the expectation for them if they are sent home?
If a teacher exceeds the allotment of missed days because either exposure to or catching the coronavirus, will the district hold their PTO harmless, reimburse any medical costs?
How is the district going to require staff to put an app on their personal devices?
If the app tells an employee to stay home, do they have to use personal or sick leave?
The sad reality is there is no way we can open schools safely. In the spring, we shut down the entire city when there were a few dozen cases, now there are hundreds. It took Florida 111 days to get to 100 thousand cases and then just 13 days to get to 200 thousand.    
We are fooling ourselves if we think things will be much better by the start date. Wouldn’t a better and safer plan to use the time we have left to figure out how to make distance learning better?   
We do so many things out of an abundance of caution, and where I get, we are not throwing caution to the wind, everyone knows schools will be dangerous places that the virus will inevitability find its way into.

Even during a Pandemic Jacksonville finds money to give the KIPP school

I can’t, I just can’t.

Deep breaths, deep breaths.

So we have this pandemic, you may have heard, money is tight, things are being cut and still, the city finds almost a quarter of a million dollars to give to the KIPP school. You know, because no other school matters.

From the bill,

Bill Summary: This bill authorizes the Kids Hope Alliance to provide direct funding in the amount of
$631,018 to the Jacksonville Alliance for KIPP School to allow for enhanced services to be provided to
At-Hope Children & youth in Jacksonville.
Background Information:

The Jacksonville Alliance for KIPP Schools has been funded at the same
level for the past three years within the Out-of·School Time (OST) Essential Service Category. Under
the new RFP issued in March 2020, their program model was no longer eligible because the extra
services that are offered as part of extended hours to the school day are for all students, rather
than during after-school hours to a subset of students. Nevertheless, KHA has seen promise in this
model and is able to continue funding it through direct funding to ensure these children continue to
receive the enhanced services.
Policy

Impact Area: Out-of-School Time services
Fiscal Impact: $631,018

file:///C:/Users/cpgbo/Downloads/2020-369%20Bill%20Summary%20(1).pdf

Everybody remember the battle over the referendum? Of course, you do, that was so the benefactor of the KIPP school Gary Chartrand could get paid. The KIPP school owes him something like 7 million dollars. So to get him his money, the district will now lose hundreds of millions, so I guess whats a little more. 

This money, by the way, is to go to pay for their long day not for an extended day program.

This is exhausting.

Trump and DeVos tells schools they will open or else

Everyone wants schools to be open, and nobody likes where we are at. Trump gets that right, it’s after that everything he says makes things worse.


From local 10.com

President Donald Trump on Tuesday launched an all-out effort to reopen schools this fall, arguing that some are keeping schools closed not because of the coronavirus pandemic, but for political reasons against the will of families. 
“We want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it. It’s time to do it,” Trump said at a White House event. “We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.”

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2020/07/07/devos-rejects-part-time-reopening-for-schools-amid-pandemic/?fbclid=IwAR1RN2N-z0DYl7w9hZgqHmvFRdrS-6SryZ3RCSNm0Ry-ZTr_tFHKpzWunXE


You know lets put pressure on people going through a pandemic, what could go wrong.


DeVos is just as wrong,


From ML live, 


Plans for partial attendance are not acceptable to DeVos, according to comments she made on a call with state governors, which was obtained by the Associated Press. 


She said anything less than “fully operational” schools would fail students and taxpayers. 


“Ultimately, it’s not a matter of if schools need to open, it’s a matter of how. School must reopen, they must be fully operational. And how that happens is best left to education and community leaders,” DeVos told governors, according to the Associated Press.


https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/07/donald-trump-betsy-devos-push-states-to-reopen-schools-in-the-fall.html


She just said schools can do whatever they want as long as they do what she wants. 


Fortunately, some education leaders are pushing back.


From ABC news.com,


The move, which comes as Florida is experiencing a surge in cases, received quick backlash from Florida Education Association President Fredrick Ingram, who said, “It’s clear in communications with our members that educators are scared.”


“They don’t trust politicians to make sure things are safe — rightly so, with the record-breaking number of cases being reported. The governor is trying to brush that off. Safety for students and school employees needs to be at the center of our conversations about reopening schools,” Ingram said. 


Teachers and advocates across the country have voiced concerns about how the reopening of schools is being handled, from concerns about underlying health conditions or the possibility of infecting family members to uncertainty surrounding child care for their own kids.

DeVos and Trump and both billionaires who did not go to nor send their kids to public schools, nor are they in any danger from the coronavirus, so you will forgive me if I think their opinions are out of touch and dangerous.  
If the president and secretary of education are not interested in helping localities do what they think is best for their staff and students, then they should do us all a favor and bow out.

Greene Versus Runcie, 5 days a week

Greene, Duval County, schools must be open 5 days a week.


Runcie, Broward, we not the state will decide what is best for our schools.


Me, sigh


I have to say I was disappointed when I heard Greene say all schools will be open five days a week. She didn’t even throw out any caveats like unless the health department says they should close. Nope, just schools will be open five days a week.


Superintendent Runcie out of Palm Beach had a different take on the FLDOE executive order.  



From NBC Miami.com, 


“At this time, we do not see a realistic path to opening all district schools with 100 percent full enrollment every day as we were before we closed schools due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Runcie said.


Broward, the sixth-largest district in the nation said we will do what we think is best and Duval County said whatever you want FLDOE.
I feel doomed.

Local Private schools double dip with PPP money,

This is just gross.

The district was required by the state (not the federal government) to share its CARES money with private schools.

https://www.tampabay.com/news/gradebook/2020/06/15/school-districts-get-two-weeks-to-apply-for-federal-aid/

 

So for those scoring at home, these schools will get the CARES money for schools and the PPP money for small businesses, but it gets even worse because some of these are voucher schools and received state money as well.

https://www.stepupforstudents.org/schoolsearch/#/map/?

Hey as a bonus at least one of these schools, University Christian, takes money and discriminates against LGBTQ children.

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/education/os-ne-voucher-schools-lgbtq-discriminate-20200123-s5ue4nvqybcgrbrxov5hcb46a4-htmlstory.html

PPP money, CARES money, state money, who does any of this make sense, how is any of this fair?  

Local Charter Schools take advantage of PPP small business loans

I have to say I find this kind of gross.

Charter schools are already taken of through the CARES act and this just means they are double-dipping. Now admittedly these aren’t the corporate chains you would expect that would game the system but this still isn’t right.

These schools also got paid last year, so what did they need the extra money for?

Friends, if you needed more proof charters, weren’t really schools, but instead are just businesses, well here you go.

The American Academy of Pediatrics extremely unhelpful guidance

Anyone who has questions, concerns, or even comments about returning to school during the pandemic invariably gets met with, well the American Academy of Pediatrics thinks children should return to school. Spoiler alert, we all do and the academy was reckless when they buried the lead.  


The Academy did the nation’s schools a disservice when they weighed in on the return to school debate, not because they think kids should, again we all do, but they let that be the entire message when they really said a lot more.


From the American Academy of Pediatrics, 

  • School policies must be flexible and nimble in responding to new information, and administrators must be willing to refine approaches when specific policies are not working.
  • It is critically important to develop strategies that can be revised and adapted depending on the level of viral transmission in the school and throughout the community and done with close communication with state and/or local public health authorities and recognizing the differences between school districts, including urban, suburban, and rural districts.
  • Policies should be practical, feasible, and appropriate for child and adolescent’s developmental stage.
  • Special considerations and accommodations to account for the diversity of youth should be made, especially for our vulnerable populations, including those who are medically fragile, live in poverty, have developmental challenges, or have special health care needs or disabilities, with the goal of safe return to school.
  • No child or adolescents should be excluded from school unless required in order to adhere to local public health mandates or because of unique medical needs. Pediatricians, families, and schools should partner together to collaboratively identify and develop accommodations, when needed.
  • School policies should be guided by supporting the overall health and well-being of all children, adolescents, their families, and their communities. These policies should be consistently communicated in languages other than English, if needed, based on the languages spoken in the community, to avoid marginalization of parents/guardians who are of limited English proficiency or do not speak English at all.

https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/

That is a lot, isn’t it? Notice how the vast majority of it is about keeping kids safe and not about how they should return to school?

Look I get it, we all want to be back, we all think kids being back is the best thing, even us non-pediatric dollars, but more important than them getting back is them being safe and healthy and that is the overall message the Academy has given, and not just, kids should be back in school. 

So if somebody says that to you, let them know, that yes they did, but only if schools can be safe, because that is an important part of the message that most people are leaving out.

The academy should clarify, and clarify quickly before one part of what they said is taken out of context and used to put teachers and students in danger.

Does DeSantis and Corcoran work for Trump or the people of Florida?

Trump, through his tweets, asked Ron DeSantis and Richard Corcoran to jump, and they gleefully replied how high. 

At three O’Clock Trump tweeted the following,

Um, everyone wants them to open, just not everyone seems to want to open them safely. If we are honest, the safest thing to do is to continue distance learning until there is a vaccine, but if we are honest, distance learning did not work for many which begs the question why haven’t we spent the last month figuring out how to do it better. I mean, to me, that seems like a better plan than risking lives and spreading the pandemic.

I also have to say, until about two weeks ago, I was all for in-class instruction with safety measured in place, but we went from 100k cases to 200k cases in less than two weeks, and there seems to be no end in sight. 

Two hours later Trump tweeted this,

Sigh, there is a lot to unpack there. First democrats don’t want schools to open in the fall? Everyone wants them to be open, most people just want them to be open safely. Then they want them closed for political reasons? Is it political to want people to be safe?  Is it political not want people to get sick? If so, sign me up. I have been thinking about going back a lot, but not once how it affects the campaign has never popped into my mind. I can’t imagine many people have thought about it.

The president’s remarks over the weekend when he excused teachers teaching children to hate the country in their schools shows how little regard he has for the profession, but politicizing people wanting to be safe is low even for him.

I want to remind DeSantis and Corcoran they don’t work for the president’s campaign; they work for the people of Florida, some of whom they have now just sentenced to catching the coronavirus, sentenced to becoming sick or worse.

  

Richard Corcoran and the FLDOE push to risk lives with school openings.

It took Florida 111 days to reach a hundred thousand coronavirus cases and thirteen days to reach 200,000.  Instead of urging districts to pump the breaks, Corcoran screamed the economy, the economy, the economy, and ordered schools open 5 days a week to all students. He just assured the pandemic will spread, and people will get sick and worse. That isn’t me being hyperbolic that’s just me stating the facts.

Now there are a few caveats but who expects the Department of health who asked to close the state when there were a few hundred cases a day back in the spring but now shrugs their shoulders when there are six figures daily. Also, remember when they said the coronavirus would burn out over the summer it couldn’t stand the heat? Um, that didn’t happen.

To read the entire order, click the link.

http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/19861/urlt/DOE-2020-EO-06.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1Cvh2O3wxnaZuAoax5qF3QHADJoLEgWz_dJ5vzNDj4A5VZXA_YUoDF4rM

This is a real punch to the gut. Teachers want to go back but they had hoped to go back safely and I didn’t think that was asking too much.
I will write more later but right now I just want to curl up in a little ball.’

To learn more click the link, https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2020/07/06/florida-education-commissioner-mandates-all-schools-must-reopen-campuses-in-fall/?

I have questions for the District and I think you should too

This is what I sent the district for tomorrows board meeting. It is a hair over 400 words so I hope the read it.
I do not know a teacher or parent who does not want to start
school on time.
We must all remember the district making plans to open up
and parents and teachers who have grave concerns are not enemies of each other,
the enemy is the problem we are trying to solve which is how to educate our
students while keeping both our staff and our students safe.
I also think everyone should acknowledge all the hard work
the district has done preparing to get us back. That being said I have
questions I would like the superintendent and board to answer.
Since the district is knowingly sending teachers into
conditions where they may get sick if they do can teachers sue if they do so?
What about the family of a child, or does that family just assume that risk by
sending them to school?
If a teacher must quarantine because of exposure, then their family will as well, if the spouse is working will the district compensate
their employer for the time/work missed?
If a spouse of a DCPS employee gets sick, will the district
cover all their medical costs and expenses?   
Are teachers going to be expected to teach while quarantined
or sick? What about students, what is the expectation for them if they are sent
home?
If a teacher exceeds the allotment of missed days because
either exposure to or catching the coronavirus will the district hold their PTO
harmless, reimburse any medical costs?
How is the district going to require staff to put an app on their
personal devices?
If the app tells an employee to stay home, do they have to
use personal or sick leave?
The sad reality is there is no way we can open schools
safely. In the spring we shut down the entire city when there were a few dozen
cases, now there are hundreds. It took Florida 111 days to get to 100 thousand
cases and then just 13 days to get to 200 thousand.    

We are fooling ourselves if we think things will be much
better by the start date. Wouldn’t a better and safer plan to use the time we
have left to figure out how to make distance learning better?   

We do so many things out of an abundance of caution, and where
I get, we are not throwing caution to the wind, everyone knows schools will be
dangerous places where the virus will inevitability find its way into.