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Pigs Fly, Rick Scott get a little something right about charter schools

We were all, and rightfully so, outraged at the prospect of the state giving for profit charter schools one hundred million dollars for maintenance and construction. Here is the thing, Scott has announced there will be strings attached and real ones too.

From Redefined Ed: To qualify for state capital funding, new charter schools would have to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, obtain a surety bond to ensure they’re on firm financial ground, and “be established primarily to serve students in the attendance zone of a school” that is struggling academically, to the point that it requires state intervention.

The schools would also have to receive a school grade from the state.

The requirements are contained in the proviso language, or fine print, of Scott’s budget proposal, which can be found here. They would only apply to charter schools authorized after July 2015 that seek state capital funding.


To qualify for state capital funding, new charter schools would have to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, obtain a surety bond to ensure they’re on firm financial ground, and “be established primarily to serve students in the attendance zone of a school” that is struggling academically, to the point that it requires state intervention.
The schools would also have to receive a school grade from the state.
The requirements are contained in the proviso language, or fine print, of Scott’s budget proposal, which can be found here. They would only apply to charter schools authorized after July 2015 that seek state capital funding.
- See more at: http://www.redefinedonline.org/2015/01/scott-budget-reserve-facilities-funding-charter-schools-struggling-areas/#sthash.xl8qQE4Z.dpuf
To qualify for state capital funding, new charter schools would have to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, obtain a surety bond to ensure they’re on firm financial ground, and “be established primarily to serve students in the attendance zone of a school” that is struggling academically, to the point that it requires state intervention.
The schools would also have to receive a school grade from the state.
The requirements are contained in the proviso language, or fine print, of Scott’s budget proposal, which can be found here. They would only apply to charter schools authorized after July 2015 that seek state capital funding.
- See more at: http://www.redefinedonline.org/2015/01/scott-budget-reserve-facilities-funding-charter-schools-struggling-areas/#sthash.xl8qQE4Z.dpuf
To qualify for state capital funding, new charter schools would have to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, obtain a surety bond to ensure they’re on firm financial ground, and “be established primarily to serve students in the attendance zone of a school” that is struggling academically, to the point that it requires state intervention.
The schools would also have to receive a school grade from the state.
The requirements are contained in the proviso language, or fine print, of Scott’s budget proposal, which can be found here. They would only apply to charter schools authorized after July 2015 that seek state capital funding.
- See more at: http://www.redefinedonline.org/2015/01/scott-budget-reserve-facilities-funding-charter-schools-struggling-areas/#sthash.xl8qQE4Z.dpuf
To qualify for state capital funding, new charter schools would have to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, obtain a surety bond to ensure they’re on firm financial ground, and “be established primarily to serve students in the attendance zone of a school” that is struggling academically, to the point that it requires state intervention.
The schools would also have to receive a school grade from the state.
The requirements are contained in the proviso language, or fine print, of Scott’s budget proposal, which can be found here. They would only apply to charter schools authorized after July 2015 that seek state capital funding.
- See more at: http://www.redefinedonline.org/2015/01/scott-budget-reserve-facilities-funding-charter-schools-struggling-areas/#sthash.xl8qQE4Z.dpuf
To qualify for state capital funding, new charter schools would have to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, obtain a surety bond to ensure they’re on firm financial ground, and “be established primarily to serve students in the attendance zone of a school” that is struggling academically, to the point that it requires state intervention.
The schools would also have to receive a school grade from the state.
The requirements are contained in the proviso language, or fine print, of Scott’s budget proposal, which can be found here. They would only apply to charter schools authorized after July 2015 that seek state capital funding.
- See more at: http://www.redefinedonline.org/2015/01/scott-budget-reserve-facilities-funding-charter-schools-struggling-areas/#sthash.xl8qQE4Z.dpuf
o qualify for state capital funding, new charter schools would have to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, obtain a surety bond to ensure they’re on firm financial ground, and “be established primarily to serve students in the attendance zone of a school” that is struggling academically, to the point that it requires state intervention.
The schools would also have to receive a school grade from the state.
- See more at: http://www.redefinedonline.org/2015/01/scott-budget-reserve-facilities-funding-charter-schools-struggling-areas/#sthash.xl8qQE4Z.dpuf
o qualify for state capital funding, new charter schools would have to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, obtain a surety bond to ensure they’re on firm financial ground, and “be established primarily to serve students in the attendance zone of a school” that is struggling academically, to the point that it requires state intervention.
The schools would also have to receive a school grade from the state.
- See more at: http://www.redefinedonline.org/2015/01/scott-budget-reserve-facilities-funding-charter-schools-struggling-areas/#sthash.xl8qQE4Z.dpuf
Okay sure it is only for new charter schools but it is something right? Though why do I feel that since there isn't money to be made in the small, rural counties nobody is going to take him up on it.

Duval County's new policy is to stop writing referrals, teachers told the discipline problem is fixed.

Well you would think it was anyways considering what Superintendent Vitti said in the Times Union.

Vitti cited a 24 percent drop in in-door suspensions, a 12 percent decline in out-of-school suspensions and a 20 percent decline in arrests to show that school discipline and safety are improving, but “this is an area I must continue to hone, address and improve,” he said.
http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2015-01-26/story

Well it got me thinking about how many times I heard something similar to above.

From 2009, describing how suspensions have dropped 30 percent from year to year;
http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/schools/2009-12-08/story/duval%E2%80%99s_number_of_suspensions_drops_dramatically

Here is something from 2010 when they said we had a 71 percent drop in suspensions.
http://jacksonville.com/opinion/editorials/2010-01-17/story/school_suspensions_altering_the_tide

From 2012, talking about a 35% drop in suspensions over three years. I guess the bulk of that came in 2010. Here they at least questioned the possibility of under reporting.
http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2012-01-28/story/discipline-duvals-public-schools-are-students-really-behaving-better

From 2013 talking about how suspension centers saved Christmas:
http://jacksonville.com/opinion/premium-opinion/2013-05-29/story/suspension-centers-have-been-big-success-jacksonville

And I could have went on and on. As you can imagine there have been quite a few stories about dramatic drops in suspensions and referrals over the years.

Who knows too maybe we were suspending kids at to great of a rate and we needed to make changes but from what I hear the change we have made is to ignore discipline which I think leads to much greater problems.

Here is the thing friends, I am willing to entertain the thought I am just plain wrong on this one and if so I would love for you to enlighten me. How is discipline/behavior where you are at?

Is getting a step really getting a raise? If DTU thinks so they are falling down on the job.

Duval Teachers United sent out an e-mail today saying we have gotten a raise every year but one for the last ten years. Now yes it is true when I have got my step my salary did go up a few nickels here and there but I always equated it with the difference you would pay a plumber verses a master plumber. A fifth year teacher does get paid a little more than fourth year teacher but that’s because we value years of experience. The salary schedule hasn't changed in something like seven years.

Semantics, some might say, and I guess it’s a lot easier for the union to go “hey look at us, we’re looking out for you” but I also don’t think it should be lost on anybody that the year they acknowledge teachers didn’t get a raise, the district was sitting on over a hundred million dollars in reserves.  Furthermore I think for professional teachers that plan to make a career out of it, taking a 900 dollar bonus in lieu of a step, something we did in 2011- 12 is a suckers trade.

The union mentioned something else and that I think was a bit disingenuous. They mentioned the 2,000 dollar bonus that teachers got last year. Well that was money given by the state to districts to give to teachers as a raise and many districts did just that, they gave raises. Duval with the support of the union optioned instead to give a 2000 dollar bonus which was also less than what most districts gave their staffs. Again I feel like we’re falling behind and it is frustrating.

This is from their e-mail:  There is speculation that we haven’t received raises in years.  Teachers have received raises each year but one in the last ten years. We completed a three year salary agreement in 2013-2014. In the first year of that agreement (2011-2012), teachers received a $900 bonus in lieu of step. That year, money did not go on the salary schedule and is why teachers are behind one step.  In the 2nd and 3rd years of the agreement, however, teachers received step and $500 at the top step. In addition to step and money at the top in the 3rd year of the agreement (2013-2014), teachers received a negotiated $2000 supplement from additional state monies that were allocated to districts. This year, step will be received along with additional money as a result of the conversion to the new Grandfather Schedule. The missed step in 2011-2012 was the only time in the recent past that teachers did not receive a raise.

Finally no matter how you split it up, no matter what spin you put on it I and every other teacher are still in the hole from the three percent salary the state took from all teachers three years ago and DTU and Duval have done nothing to make that up while several other districts have.

I know we have a lot of hard working and dedicated people working on our behalf from the union and I hope I am wrong but I just get the sense that the district is playing chess and the union is playing checkers.   

School choice week, really bad or the worst thing ever?

It is school choice week and I think people should know school choice is a scam. Parents shouldn’t have to pick a “good school to attend”, just like they shouldn’t have to pick clean water or air, or dependable police and fire departments.  A high quality and uniform public schools system is a contract its citizens should have with each other and it is also what the Florida constitution calls for.

School choice is really a euphemism for school privatization and the people behind the movement hope you don’t notice. In Florida over 270 charter schools have taken money and closed leaving communities in a lurch. Some job the parents sending kids to those schools did right? Charter schools are businesses and their primary goal is to make money not to educate our children.

As for schools that take vouchers we really have no idea how they are doing because the system is set up that way. Sure some might be great but there are undoubtedly terrible ones too and rather than weed out the bad apples the supporters of choice just bang the drum of expansion.  

The most maddening thing is public schools do better as a group than charter schools and voucher schools fight against accountability so we have no idea how they are doing but our leaders in Tallahassee tell us we need more of them not less.  

Instead of diluting our resources and making charter school and private school operators rich for doing a substandard job we should invest in our public school system and make it one we can all be proud of. Choice just for the sake of choice is a poor choice indeed.

It is the "JPEF teacher of the year" now

or at least according to WJCT it is. Today they did an article and the title is, 

Fifteen Duval County Teachers In Running For JPEF Teacher Of The   The JPEF teacher of the year, you know kind of like the Tax-slayer Gator Bowl.

http://news.wjct.org/post/fifteen-duval-county-teachers-running-jpef-teacher-year

I wrote the writer to ask if it was some in artful title writing, I know I have been there and done that but they didn't get back to me, but even if it is a bad title its just another example of how in Bed with the city's privatizers that WJCT is. 

They have taken their thirty pieces of silver from Gary Chartrand and can't even entertain the notion that maybe his ideas are bad for education and that his ideas hurt children and teachers despite the fact evidence says it does. They have crossed over from newscasters to shills for Chartrand's privatization anti-school teacher agenda and it is a shame.

Picking Condoleezza Rice to head his education foundation, Jeb Bush shows his disdain for teachers.

When deciding to think about running for president one of the first things Jeb Bush did was to distance himself from his Education foundation, like me he probably doesn’t think his support for common core is going to go over so well with the base.

To replace him he has tapped former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Not bad credentials if you are going to run a think tank on foreign policy but where is her education experience?

There isn’t an educator he could have went too, even a conservative one? None?!? This is par for the course with these guys and sadly society too. Education is the one job that the people who actuary do it are constantly marginalized and Jeb Bush is the worst of the worst.

I also think it shouldn’t be lost on anybody that just a couple years ago Condoleezza Rice said the state of our schools was a national security problem, blaming our schools and teachers for society’s problems and attempting to use this false flag narrative as a reason to overhaul public education.

Then on a side note, I think this should also show how far Michelle Rhee who has been conspicuously absent in recent months has fallen. Once the darling of the right in education circles, this would have been right up her alley but instead she has completely fallen off the map.

To read more check out the link: https://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/

How Sh*tty does Duval County Public schools pay it's paras?

Two things, first we already know the District pays their teachers very poorly, we were something like 108 out of 115 in pay for large school districts.  Furthermore this is my 14th year as a teacher and I am fifteen thousand dollars below the national average. There hasn't been a raise in seven years and the district has withheld steps twice now over that same span. 

With all that being said, what we pay our paraprofessionals is not much different from how other districts and states pay their paras and it's a crying shame how little we give these employees. There may however be a little leeway as the district is looking at 32 extra million dollars next year. Sadly most of that comes from the three percent pay cut teachers too three years ago.

When talking about additional funding next year this is an idea Vitti had. 
From the Times Union: Among Vitti’s ideas: add 46 more paraprofessionals at a cost of $1 million. Similar to education aides, paraprofessionals in Duval spend 80 percent of their time helping students in class and 20 percent on other tasks.
http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2015-01-14/story/duval-schools-look-forward-32-million-budget-boost

Are you freaking kidding me? We can hire 46 people, and when you add their salaries and benefits together that come to a million bucks?!? That's 21,739 dollars a person. That's not take home salary by the way, that's the whole kit and caboodle. That's what we are paying these people to take care of our children. That's shameful.

Next year the district is looking at an extra 32 million dollars and I believe we must use every penny of that not on more of Vitti's computer programs and not on more slots for his ever growing cabinet but on teacher and para pay.

Pro School Choice (privatization) group has a chief story teller!

Sometimes Step-up for Students, the states chief voucher supplier is honest even if unintentional,

From ReDefined Ed, SUFS propaganda blog: Public school options  especially those that emphasize the arts  got a shout out from Florida’s Teacher of Year, Christie Bassett, who leads the art department at Highlands Grove Elementary in Polk County.

“When parents have more say in where their children go to school, everybody wins,” she said, adding: “We love having choices in every area of our lives. Education should be no different.”
Step Up For Students Chief Storyteller Lisa Davis contributed reporting


Wow what inspirational words from our Teacher of the Year, who must have taken a day off to come speak. We like choice when picking milk or shoes, so picking a school should be the same thing right? I hate to denigrate a teacher but how did this moron sell out get voted teacher of anything?

Anyhoo, I wanted to draw your attention to Lisa Davis, SUFS chief story teller, and since she is the chief one, it implys they have an entire team of story tellers, who contributed to the ReDefined Ed post. They need story tellers to peddle their propaganda, a team apparently. You see that's all they have, because when facts and evidence are applied to charter schools and vouchers the veneer quickly fades away.  

Does Duval have union problems?

From a reader:

Talk to an AP (no union for them) and you know that the supe is a wage-bustin' man. I'm not surprised the bargaining is hard. But our steps are not keeping up with increased prices. Since the last raise, not step, in the salary schedule--7 years ago--our standard of living has been declining. 

DCPS has the money. If Vitti can purchase a major program/curriculum like i-Ready for middle school in the middle of the year, he's stashing the money somewhere. When he lays off 160 security guards in the summer, crying the no-money blues, but can add two additional to my school in the middle of the year, he's got cash in his desk drawer. I'm sure others can contribute examples.

What sours the taste in employees' mouths is DTU giving up the "salary supplement," provided by the legislature for this year, without a whimper. And frankly, some of the zone reps have an arrogance when they condescend to meet with members at building sites that people are PO'd. I know one school where the members are getting up a petition to demand a change in zone rep. She won't meet with the members but pals around with the region super. The optics are terrible. The Brady regime is under scrutiny.

It's hard to feel bad for the families of Scholar Academy

The Duval County School Bard has voted to close the Scholar Learning Academy Charter School at the Bank of America building and this is what I have to say. 

I want to feel bad for these parents. I really do. But it's like trying to feel bad for people who smoke cigarettes for the health benefits and then are shocked and upset when they get cancer. It's like people who buy a long-haired dog and are upset that there's fur on the furniture. It's like people who hit themselves in the head with a hammer and complain about the headache.

Here are two things for charter school customers to remember, so they can avoid being shocked, stunned, angry or otherwise surprised in the future.

Charters are not run by elected school boards. They do not have to answer to the voters. They do not have to answer to the customers. They do not have to explain anything, and in some cases have gone to court to fight for their right to be just as non-transparent as they want to be. They are a business, and they don't have to show you their decision making process any more than McDonald's has to show you the recipe for their special sauce. 

Charters can close at any time for any reason. People seem to automatically associate the idea of a school with the idea of permanence. That's incorrect. Public schools are permanent. Charter schools are not. Public schools represent a community commitment to provide schooling as long as it's needed. Charter schools represent a business decision to operate as long as it makes sense. Enrolling your child in a charter is making a bet that the school will be in business as long as you want to send your child to it. If you lose the bet, you have to know that losing was always a possibility when you made the bet in the first place.

Considering a charter? Do your homework and understand the risks that come with choosing a charter. Pro tip: "doing your homework" does not mean "listening to charter sales pitch and nothing else." That's like getting info about the car you want to buy only from the salesman trying to sell it to you.

I believe it's possible to find charters that do a pretty okay job out there, but any charter comes with certainly fundamental differences from public school, and some come with differences that can be shocking or stunning if you haven't been paying attention. Bottom line? Charter schools are not created to be just like public schools-- and they aren't. If you're going to understand anything about putting your child in a charter, that's the bare minimum that you need to grasp.


http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2015/01/more-hard-charter-lessons.html

Here is the thing, I didn't write above, and the author who did, Peter Greene of the Curmuducation blog wasn't even talking about the Scholar Academy, he was writing about two charter schools that just failed in Indiana. What he wrote however fits perfectly for whats happening here and in so many other communities.

All across the nation charter schools are opening in communities promising great things on the front end, making profits on the back end and then closing down leaving communities, families and students in a lurch. Over 270 have closed in Florida alone, on average one every three weeks.

It's just not right what Charter Schools ave become.


Systemic problems in Duval County Public Schools

From a reader:

Unfortunately this (the problems with the roll out of Edgenuity) is symptomatic of a much deeper problem, which is the managerial style of the Chief of Academic Services.

He has insisted that academic directors route all communication with principals through him. That means directors send him essential information schools need to know, but since that is too much for one person, communications from directors to principals sit for weeks on his desk waiting for his attention.

Decisions are held up until the last minute, which leaves schools scrambling to comply. People are left out of the loop so they cannot perform their functions of improving what happens at the school. One wonders if the problems at the top are merely growing pains or simply the manifestation of the good ol' boy/girl network that has plagued this district for decades.

As the big cheeses try to out maneuver each other, squeeze out lower levels for their own people, the schools and the students suffer.

One wonders if Dr. Vitti is in charge anymore or whether a palace coup has taken place. NV is himself known for sudden, unanticipated decisions that roil communities and their schools. Remember open enrollment? The conceit is that they can turn the organization on a dime. The problem is DCPS is huge. The captain of the Exxon Valdez thought the same, but when they woke him up 20 minutes before his oil tanker hit the reef, it was already too late. The ship's momentum carried it into the worst environmental disaster of our lifetime.