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We wouldn't have half the problems we do if the powers-that-be listened to teachers

Since day one in 2007 when I started writing about education issues I and numerous other teachers have said the district needed more social workers and mental health counselors because often why some kids act up in school has nothing to do with school.

Now suddenly it's a good idea?

I don't know whether to be happy or spit because we wouldn't have half the problems we do if the powers-that-be listened to teachers.

To read more click the link:

Welcome to Duval County where throwing paint against a wall hoping something sticks is the solution to our problems.

The Times Union just did a piece on our new reading initiative and it made me remember our old reading initiative which we started with great fanfare in 2011.

Then when I was looking up what the Times Union and I wrote three years ago about it, I found these stories from 1999 and 2005 about, you guessed it, new reading initiatives..

Okay you are probably wondering what my point it. The reading initiative, the QEA, whatever blue ribbon panel that recently met on education, 8 years of TFA now are all symbolic of Jacksonville's problem and that's we don't address our real problem, poverty.

We say, lets have a new reading initiative, lets pay teachers to transfer, again, and before you say not to this degree well a few years ago they offered people a free masters degree to go to Jackson and I think Ribault too.

We keep throwing paint against the wall hoping something sticks while ignoring the real problem poverty and we could be doing things that address it, that mitigate it but gosh darn it why would we when we can have another reading initiative or try merit pay one more time.

A bad couple days for Florida’s Charter Schools

First three were forced to close on opening day, two in Miami.

and one in Columbia county: 

Another leaves families in a lurch cutting its enrollment just as school was about to start

Then yet another turns away a student whose parents didn’t complete enough community service hours:

Don’t worry public schools will be there to pick up the slack while doing a better job at the same time.

And finally the Florida Courts pushed back against Charter Schools USA, both questioning the way they do things and denying their appeals to expand.

Choice just for choices sake, especially when the alternate choice is substandard and takes money away from public schools and puts that money into the pockets of charter school operators more interested in thier bottom line than educating our children, is a bad choice. 

Rick Scott's ugly math!

He also balanced the state books on the back of teachers (and other public service employees by taking three percent of their pay) and thinks we're to dumb to notice that the Florida Standards are the same thing as the expensive and unproven Common Core.

Ever seen a failing school in an upper middle class neighborhood?

Heck, I really want to vote for Paula Wright now

The Times Union today endorsed Darryl Willie and in doing so they endorsed a small cabal of rich white people (the QEA board who are all Willie donors) running our schools, Teach for America which does the exact opposite of what we know to be best for our children, charter schools, which as a group in Jacksonville way under perform when compared to their pubic school counterparts, half baked ideas like open enrollment, which where somewhat attractive should never have been suggested a few months before the school year was to begin and with no way to pay for the transportation it would have required.

When the Times Union endorsed Willie they also endorsed those things too. A broke clock is more right than the Times Union.

Scott Shine says I am angry and uninformed. He’s half right too.

I am angry. My blood boils every time one of these business types runs for the school board thinking they can run education like a business and turn things around, undaunted by their lack of experience and institutional knowledge. I am even angrier that they use flowery phrases as a substitution for real ideas and solutions.

From Mr. Shine’s website: 

Safety and Security
My first priority is to ensure our children are safe, not only while at school, but coming and going. Shine supports, and will work to maintain, the current level of public safety officers in our schools. I support the increased use of technology and monitoring to prevent outside threats from harming our students. I believe we must always be vigilant.

How different from all his opponents who couldn’t care less about safety who are calling for cuts to safety officers or none of them.  Is he calling for cameras? I can’t tell but an example of an idea is, we must have more social workers and mental health counselors working with our troubled children to prevent them from striking out in the first place and instead of spending 600 grand on a study (something the QEA grant does) we’re going to put people in place to help them.  

Student Readiness
I want to see students achieve the best grades and highest graduation rates they can. What’s more, I support more emphasis on readiness for vocational training and college. Studies show that 9 out of 10 jobs in the new economy will require education beyond a high school degree.
Funny because I think his opponents only want to see them meet 75% of what they can. Now it’s great how he supports readiness for vocational training in college but what he doesn’t address is that most of the kids taking advanced and AP classes are also the ones in our academies too. In effect we are double serving those children while the child who might not be college ready or want to be college ready goes unserved. An idea would be, I would like to see every child by the time they are in high school pick a career academy they are interested in and I am dedicated to finding the transportation money to make sure they can attend.
Support Teachers
More than half of Duval County Public School teachers leave their jobs in the first five years of employment. Studies suggest this is largely due to job satisfaction. This is an important concern, as we know teacher effectiveness increases the longer they are working in the system. I support new methods to improve teacher satisfaction, recruitment and retention. Teachers are the engine that runs our education machine. We need to find the most effective teachers we can, and do our best to keep them in Duval County schools for the long term.
He’s right on the facts, sounds great too except after reading you notice he doesn’t have an inkling of an idea of what to do. How about creating an ombudsman position that teachers can take their complains to. How about ending the practice of overriding teacher’s book selections. How about pledging monthly town halls throughout his term with teachers to listen to their complains and concerns?  How about saying teachers with satisfactory evaluations can no longer be non-reappointed. Come on Scott what’s a brother got to do to get an idea????

Seriously look at his page and then demand he do better.
So I am angry that this guy is in his den right now thinking, hey I can do that job. I am angry that he lacks ideas and I am beeping pissed off that he might become of my bosses too especially since it seems like he is just hoping his name recognition gets him there.
As for being uninformed, it’s true I am not a Scott Shine expert and apparently I did get it wrong about him being paid for his government work, but his problem is I am informed about what is happening in our schools something I can't say about Mr. Shine.

The Times Union is hardly fresh or effective.

In a disappointing but not unexpected move considering the Times Union's record on education issues, the editorial board endorsed Darryl Willie over Paula Wright in the district 4 school board race. Nobody in the city has been a harsher critic of Paula Wright than I have but even I think she would be heads and shoulders above Willie.

The unnamed writer twisted themselves into knots in order to do so including writing,  He (Willie) also supports using fresh strategies to help struggling students learn, such as Duval’s current practice of hiring young Teach for America instructors and putting them in Duval’s toughest schools.

The Times Union may not know it but Teach for America has been in our schools since 2008. They are hardly fresh and they are hardly effective. All they have done is assured our neediest students have had a constant revolving door of neophytes or the exact opposite of what they desperately need. 

Once again the Times Union gets it wrong on education issues.

Just who gives a bleep who has endorsed Scot Shine?!? Corrected.

Scott Shine is quite proud of the endorsements he has received. He has gotten them from the members of the QEA board (the rich white cabal that is trying t buy our schools) former school board members that represented district 2, Peter Rummell and a whole host of others. Just go to his web site and he has an entire section dedicated to them.

To which I reply who cares.

Unfortunately none of the people who have endorsed him know a hill of beans about education and I am including those former school board members. If Shine is serious about representing our schools then he has to get serious with ideas and the only three I heard him mention while he was dodging answering questions at the district 2school board forum were, more charter schools to alleviate overcrowding in district 2 schools, and that is a problem but his solution is worse, more teacher surveys to find out why they are so unhappy (I guess the last ten or so weren’t good enough) and to sell the school board building and move the district offices into district 4 to help alleviate poverty. I kid you not, when talking about how to mitigate poverty in our schools that was his idea.

It seems to me like Shine is pulling a Hazouri and just using the school board position as something to do after a lifetime of living off the public dole and he is hoping to ride his aging surfer boy looks to 1701 Prudential avenue.

In a comment below Mr. Shine says I am incorrect about above and all his public service has been voluntary and he has not been paid for it, I will take Mr. Shine at his word. Mr. Shine has touted his public service and I wrongfully assumed that he was paid and for that mistake I sincerely apologize. It's important to me that Education Matters gets things right and I plainly failed to do so above and again I apologize to Mr. Shine and my readers. 

I would however like to point out that he doesn't say what else I got wrong.     

The thing is we don’t need another person who looks at the school board as another line on a resume. We need somebody who loves public schools and wants to fight to make them better who has both the ideas and energy to make it happen.

Am I being too hard? I don’t think so, go look at his issues tab, it’s amazing how so much is written but so little is said.

I would say Shine is the frontrunner, though the beaches are fortunate to have two other legitimate candidates but before anybody even thinks about voting for Shine they should demand to hear his ideas, something that if he has any has been drowned out by him talking about his endorsements.  

More and more Florida cities are pushing back against testing and charter schools. When will Jacksonville?

You know the super says all the time that he wants to bring students back from charter schools but then hires charter school executives and approves charter school after charter school even when there are opportunities to push back.

He and the entire board say there is too much testing going on too but then do noting to stem the tide.

Other cities are pushing back however. Other cities are pushing back against the privatization of our schools and the warping of education into nothing but churn and burn.

Look at what they are doing in Leesburg:

"Lee County School board members unanimously expressed their disdain for standardized testing at the school board meeting Tuesday evening, pledging to research the possibility of "opting out" the entire district from standardized testing.

"There needs to be a come-to-Jesus talk about these issues point blank," Chairman Tom Scott said.

Board member Don Donnie Armstrong said the district cannot afford to continue testing like it does now.

"A lot of our money is being poured out of this county to go to one company, I won't say names," he said. "But on this board or not on this board, I won't stand for it anymore."

Then Charter Schools USA has descended on Jacksonville like a plague of locust building one school before it was even approved. The boards response, a shrug of their collective shoulders before approving it.   Tampa however is fighting back.

From Scathing Purple Musings: But it is Elia’s presence on Scott’s transition team which is most poignant here. Also on that transition team was Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage. The two now find them facing off against in each other this morning over the future of four CSUSA facilities belonging to Hage in Elia’s district. Last night’s stunning report from WTSP reporter Noah Pransky that Elia had notified Hage that she would be closing three of his schools for a pattern of ongoing illegal oversight was indeed a show stopper.

I personally told the board that the members of the charter school boards weren't local, so much for local control, democracy and the concept of charter schools being parent teacher driven laboratories of innovation right and suggested they make a rule that at least have of the members of a charter school board be from the city. The DCPS board didn't care. Maybe since many have taken money from charter schools it is no surprise  

Tampa isn't the only city pushing back either:

From the Sun Sentinel:

Tamarac city officials have shot down a proposal to open a charter high school within the city.
At a recent City Commission meeting, officials went against staff's recommendation and voted unanimously against granting a special exception to open an alternative high school named International High School. The denial is in the backdrop of complaints by city residents that too many charter schools are opening in the city.

While our school board members ignore the problems and instead slap each other’s backs for taking money from privatizers and as our scores and grades sink lower and lower cities across the state are fighting back. 

It is a sad state of affairs.

Teaching the one profession where they expect you to cut your own throat.

It wasn’t always like that. At one point teachers joyfully collaborated and mentored the new ones. You see they were a team only as good as their weakest member and they all had a stake in bringing them up. Now if you bring somebody up it might cause you to be on the way out. 

If veteran teachers, you know the ones often demonized for wanting to have work protections and the ones practically everybody acknowledges do a better job help their cheaper, younger counterparts it can have both detrimental employment and pay ramifications if they prove successful and since that is the case where is the incentive to help the newbies, to nurture them and see that they improve.

The powers-that-be have created a gladiatorial setting where only the best is assured a job and those elusive merit pay bonuses. Their shortsighted run it like a business method encourages teachers to cut their own throats and many teachers are more than wiling to do so. They are nurturers who can’t help themselves and that’s also what the powers that be are counting on.

I hate to say it but if I was at a school with a Teach for America teacher, I would say good luck to you but that would be the height of level of assistance. I also hate to say it but its time teachers played the game and instead of being selfless they were selfish, their jobs may just depend on it.

Peter Green of the Curmudgeon blog, has an excellent piece on the subject:

Why is accountability only for public schools?

By Greg Sampson

One of the catch-phrases of this blog is “I threw up in my mouth a little.” Well, this article made me throw up a lot—not a little bile around the teeth, but a mammoth Thanksgiving feast all over my clothes, in my lap, and a pool that my feet are soaking in.

To save you this disgusting experience, the writer of the article, and the Washington think tank behind him, The Heritage Foundation, says that accountability is only for traditional public schools. To force private schools that take state government vouchers to take the same annual assessment as public school students would ruin the ability of private schools to be a laboratory for innovation.

(I reread the article carefully. The author does not add charter schools to his pronouncements,
but we can logically infer that is what he really means. Private schools have never been looked at as labs for experimentation and innovation, but that is the original reason for charter schools to exist.)

Oy Vey! (Chris, you’re having a bad influence on my writing … just kidding.)

Demolishing arguments—pay attention, Heritage:
1. The fourteenth amendment: Equal protection under the law. Why are private/charter school students a privileged class? How about fair play? Schools used to teach that to students. You’re saying, Heritage, that no longer applies?
2.       Taxpayers should not expect accountability over where their taxes are sent? You demand exactly that in all other areas of government expenditures, Heritage.
3.       Private school accountability leads to fewer seats? What they mean is that private schools don’t show up for the game—they send in a forfeit because they cannot win.
4.       You talk about a “decentralized learning process.” Okay, I’ll buy into that. To decentralize the learning process, we need to:

a.       Repeal NCLB.
b.       Junk the Value Added Model that everyone except self-interested politicians and technology-selling billionaires says is ridiculous and invalid. Everyone includes mathematicians and statisticians—people who have built their careers constructing valid statistical measures. Is it really about the data? Then get good data.
c.       Eliminate all conditions of the federal waivers from NCLB that the federal Department of Education, under the leadership of Arne Duncan, forced on the states. States knuckled under during the Great Recession to get the money the DOE dangled. But we know that, under the law, contracts entered into under duress are invalid.
d.       Force state Boards of Education to return autonomy to local school districts and their leadership.
e.       Reduce the testing that goes on. Stop labeling students—give teachers back the respect and autonomy they deserve.

5.    Private means just that—not public. If a private school starts taking money, it ceases to be private.

I used to respect these people (The Heritage Foundation). Now I wonder if they have gotten it so wrong about education, how can I render them credibility about anything?