Duval schools strategic plan focuses on reading: readers have issues

The Times Union printed an article on how Duval County’s revised strategic plan, http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2010-10-31/story/duval-schools-strategic-plan-focuses-reading, and a few readers as many teachers do had legitimate concerns, these are some of their comments.

Targets, by Teacherboy:”… reduce the number of teachers teaching outside of their field …”
– Why the hell do we have teachers teaching outside their field?

“… and increasing the percent of high-performing teachers who teach in struggling schools …”
– With all the emphasis placed on teacher accountability, we should no longer have struggling schools. Wait a minute, you mean there is no student accountability or parent accountability? Damn!! I guess we’ll still have struggling schools, then.

“… Pratt-Dannals said the goals around teachers are fluid and may change as the state more concretely defines “what is an effective teacher and principal…””
– After all these years, these people STILL do not know how to define an effective teacher or principal? This is just plain crazy!!

“… Board member Betty Burney said she was happy to see the district added to the new plan an objective to reduce the number of students who are two or more years behind grade level from 7.1 percent to 5.8 percent by 2014…”
– Why do we have students two or more YEARS behind grade level? Either they have a learning disability or they aren’t interested in learning. There should be special schools to accommodate their needs, or they should get out of the system. These are our future car-washers, janitors and tree-cutters. And nothing’s wrong with that.

“… I think the district is truly beginning to take a look at making sure students go in and come out on time,” she said…”
– That’s a huge pile of crap!! They have ALWAYS done whatever they could to ensure that students go in and come out on time whether they have mastered the material or not. It’s called Grade Recovery! Teachers have to pass every single idiot who comes through their doors, or jump through hoops to prove that the kid didn’t deserve to pass. Case in point: I have a 9th grader who cannot add 1/2 + 1/4, cannot solve “4x = 36”, cannot calculate the radius of a circle if I give him the diameter, cannot multiply 12 x 5 without a calculator, uses his fingers to solve “15 – 4”, produces no homework, fails every exam, and is wondering why he got an “F” on his first report card last week. But he passed middle school last year.

“… The new plan did pull out the goal of increasing the number of African-American male teachers in the district. Attorneys told the district it could cause legal problems for the school system…”
– So let me get this straight. In largely disproportionate numbers, the black male students are acting out in class, getting referrals, being suspended, not graduating, ending up in jail, or selling drugs. I think what they need are black male role models. And the attorneys in their infinite wisdom think that’s a bad idea? I am a black male and I will tell it like it is. If we don’t push these kids off this cycle of dependency, mediocrity and failure that they’re on – black, white, green or purple, we ALL lose!!

To Teacherboy: by Cactus 58

For the most part middle schools in DCPS are terrible! I know for a fact that at Southside Middle School if a teacher had too many Ds and Fs the teacher was placed on a Success Plan. (Instead of making the student rise to the occasion). Students knew the teachers were pressured to pass them so many laughed at the system, did little work, did not study….thereby learned very little. They did learn how to work the system however.

Discipline was out of control! The only people who appeared to be held to any standards were the teachers. Pressure stopped with the teachers. Nothing wrong with pressure but it needs to filter down to the students so they feel motivated to learn.

So if you wonder why the students get to high school without knowledge and skills just look at was is going on or not going on in the middle schools.

Cactus and Teacherboy, by Idolfan

First let me apologize to teacher boy for every student he’s receieved who could not do their work. I fail many students, but they are passed along to you anyway. Somewhere over the summer, a miracle happens and they vanish only to show up at your front door.

I’ve recieved many students this year from lower grades who when I pressure them to do work tell me point blank ”I didn’t do work last year and passed.” or “I’ll just do grade recovery”. Now what goads me most about these kids is they then sit there and disrupt class for the wonderful students who i do have who are trying to educate themsevles and also disrupt that learning disabled student, and the struggling student who need my extra time but are not getting it because I’m too busy with discipline. I can’t write referrals either. Not until I’ve had a one on one conference, sent them to ”time out” (and no these are not three year olds), called home, had a parent conference, seat change, etc etc. All of this must be documented with dates on the referral when I finally am able to write it. Then said student heads to the administrator’s office where another long list of ”must dos” must be done before any type of suspension is given. So of course now when I use the phrase ”If you don’t stop disrupting I’m going to have to write you up” I get ”go ahead, nothing happened the last time you did.”

As for African American role models. I’m all for this of course. I worked in an all African American school for awhile and we had great role models who worked with the kids and the kids looked up to. However, those were the good kids and those who just needed a bit of guidance. There are however some real tough characters out there who actualy resent the male role model. Usually it’s because the one male they counted on most let them down right from the beginning and because mom resents him, the kid usually does too, along with every other male who comes his way. I’ve also seen this work opposite, where a mother has abandoned their child and so they resent the female teacher. Not every student is the same, and many bring baggage that really has to be examined in order to determine the best course for them. And that is true no matter your ethnicity. When I grew up I brought a ton of baggage with me, being abused at home, as well as being bullied at school. But I didn’t act a fool, and I brought home the best grades possible, because that was what was expected of me. Education was deemed important back then, a necessity. This is not the view of most students these days. Just last week a student (who is reading five grades behind) told me if he could he would drop out now. When I asked him why he said ”I”m young, I have better things to do than be at school. I need to live my life.” I like this young man and I can see he does need a lot of guidance. Overall he is a good kid who had been steered in the wrong direction by those he feels are his role models. I thought a lot about him and his words and I wonder what the future holds for him. It’s kind of scary to think about.

Teachers should not be teaching out of field. But we must look at what is going on and really see ”are they out of field”. I just got flagged for being out of field and it was a mistake made by the state that i must now figure out a way to straighten up. I’ve taught the same subject for 11years…also some teachers are purposely put out of field as a way to get rid of them,since they will get fired. I’ve seen it happen in the past. Supposedly a school CAN NOT put you out of field knowingly….so why is it happening then?

As far as what makes a good teacher? In this county it seems to be the teacher who goes along and gets along…not the one that says ”hey this isn’t right, I have a better way.”. If you speak out, you can be retaliated against in your yearly evaluation. And more and more principals are using that as a tool to get rid of teachers who question things, or who go against the county’s craziness with test after test, collecting data, putting up matching bulletin boards, etc etc.

But I know teachers in failing schools, who put clothes on the backs of children, who feed children, who guide them into the right choices, who discipline them as their absent parent would, who give a listening ear to a girl who has been raped, or a kid who has seen a parent in jail, or a friend fell by a bullet. These teachers may not see FCAT gains that wow the powers that be, but they have touched the lives of those they teach. And to me that can be just as powerful

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