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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Teachers that vote republican vote against their self interests, and kids, they vote against kids too.

First I could care less about who you vote for dog catcher, city council or the mayor of your hometown. I myself voted for a republican candidate in the mayoral primary in Jacksonville in 2015, but if you are voting for a republican for governor and as a member of the state legislature you are voting against your profession and kids too, don't forget the kids.

Let me lay some knowledge on you. The republicans have been in complete control of the state government for over twenty years. That means they have been in complete control of education policy and we all know they have done everything in their power to starve and harm public education.

They have voted to enrich their donors, family members and for more than a few even themselves with the expansion of charter schools of which over 330 have taken public money and failed.

They have starved public education. This year only allocating an additional 47 cents per student to pay for increased costs and teacher raises and speaking of teacher pay, when you factor in cost of living, Florida teachers are the lowest paid in the nation.

They have funneled billions into voucher schools that don't have to have degreed let alone certified teachers or recognized curricula. 

They ignored the will of the people TWICE with the class size amendment in effect gutting it.

I could go on and on about how they have attacked public education and the teaching profession and by extension children. That is unacceptable to me and how somebody could be a teacher and continue to vote for those policies is mind blowing.

Now are all state republicans horrific and all state democrats saintly? No and I am looking at you Kimberly Daniels but if you are playing the odds your chances of finding a pro public education politician are a lot greater if you support a democrat.

It is like this, I rail against Teach for America all the time, but I know there are some great members  and I also know there are some professional teachers that have chosen the wrong field, but if I am playing the odds I want a professional teacher every time.

My republican teacher colleagues, you can be pro gun and anti abortion and vote democrat too. Reasonable gun restrictions are not confiscation and will keep us all safer. You want to keep abortions down? Well allow democrats to put in meaningful sex education, and provide family planning and birth control.

Look I get it, it isn't going to be easy. I thought Obama's education policies were dreadful and in 2012 I looked hard for an alternate but there wasn't one. The thing is if you care about the teaching profession, if you care about public education and the 2.7 million children that attend our schools, don't you have to look hard for an alternate to the republican party? Don't you owe it to yourself, and your family and the states children. Don't you?

It's time for a change.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Shopping is no longer a pleasure. The betrayal of Publix.(rough draft)

Can I still go to Publix if I support Public Education?

That is a question I never thought I would ask, though I have boycotted companies before. I haven't been to a Wall-Mart in about six years.

So if you have missed the controversy, in a nut shell the owners of Public have come out hard for Adam Putnam our current agricultural commissioner and candidate for governor.

From the Tampa Times:

The Florida supermarket giant Publix has given more money to Adam Putnam's gubernatorial bid than any other candidate since at least 1995 and likely for the entirety of the company's history.
Publix, the heirs to the company's founder and its current and former leaders have given Putnam $670,000 in the last three years — or enough money to buy 74,527 chicken tender subs.
No other Florida candidate has ever come close to that kind of subsidy from Florida's largest Fortune 500 company. Its most recent contribution, a $100,000 donation on April 30, was the largest, too, according to the latest campaign finance filings.

The employee-owned company has also helped bankroll a handful of well-connected business groups who have contributed millions of dollars to the Republican candidate.

This support has also gone both ways, Also from the Tampa Times:

In 2016, WFTS-Channel 28 discovered seven Tampa Bay area Publix stores failed health inspections. In those stores, food inspectors found rodent droppings, hundreds of pounds of meat and other food stored at unsafe temperatures, bugs and employees not washing their hands, according to the report.
Putnam responded the next day by pulling the inspections from the department's website and eliminating the pass/fail grading system.

He replaced it six months later with a new rubric. Instead of a failing grade, the worst rating issued now is "re-inspection required."
Wow, talk about pay for play and shady.

Many people are upset about Publix supporting Putnam because of his A rating from the National Rifle Association and I find this very troubling as well,but what I find equally as troubling is Putnam is a long time member of the republican power structure that has done all it can to kneecap public education.

High stakes testing, blame and attack the teachers, don't pay the teachers, starve our schools of resources and heap upon them one unfunded mandate and bad policy after another. Funnel billions to charters and voucher schools, paying off donors and ignoring the will of the people about class sizes are just a few of Tallahassee greatest hits. I could go on and on about the unfairness, dishonesty and hypocrisy that has come from the elected republicans in Florida who have been completely in charge of both branches for over 20 years, and Publix is supporting Adam Putnam republican candidate for governor. What the beep Publix?!? Who do you think has been buying your subs?

I love Publix too. When I was single I survived on their BOGO selections and every time I go I get a free cup of ice, so I can't express how disappointed I was when I found out they had picked a man who had helped kneecap public education and was unlikely to change if elected.

What does Publix think will happen if a democrat is elected? That they will outlaw BOGO items or maybe its they don't think they will have friends in high places that will continue to cover up their scandals.

Publix is like that old friend who you love but you found out was a Trump supporter and won't be swayed by any of his formerly disqualifying actions. They continue to defend the indefensible.

So what am I going to do? Well I used to be a Publix or bust guy but those days are definitely gone. I haven't decided if I am going to stop going but know this, shopping is no longer a pleasure.

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Tallahassee says our schools are over staffed and over funded. Who the %$#^ are these people.

As thirty-five democrats in the Florida legislature push for a special legislation to address inadequate school funding the republicans in the legislature pushed back and in cringe worthy fashion said our schools are over funded and over staffed.  

Before I continue here is a little context. When we factor in inflation, Florida spends less on its schools than it did in 2007 and if we factor in cost of living the state's teachers are 49th in pay. Florida even in good times has been at or near the bottom in education funding. Yet despite all that instead of dong the right thing the republicans in Tallahassee want people to believe everything is just fine. 

They and I am guessing they used tax payer money to do so, created a misleading add blaming union bosses and media allies for attempting to trick the public.

Here is the video but warning, don't watch while eating or drinking. 

Sigh, I guess the makes of the video think if they say union bosses their base will believe anything.

From the Tampa Times:

The ad takes issue with the "union bosses" and the media who "parrot" them in suggesting that education spending will rise by less than a dollar per student overall. Most reports have noted that the concerns have been that the amount available for unrestricted use was limited, particularly after lawmakers funneled large amounts into school safety.

But "working Floridians who pay for our schools are not fooled," the narrator intones.
"To those Floridians, if it walks like education spending, and talks like education spending and comes out of their wallet like education spending, then it's education spending."
The ad also takes to task districts it suggests spend too much money outside the classroom. It states that less than 55 percent of school employees are classroom teachers, with more than 1,100 social workers, 31,000 paraprofessionals, 22,000 secretaries and clerical staff, and 45,000 service workers in the ranks.
"That's why we put this $100 increase in per student funding directly into the classroom, bypassing the bureaucracy," the narrator says. (Much of the new funding is allocated into security and mental health services.)
She adds, "To them [bureaucrats], it's not about kids. It's about control."
Piccolo acknowledged that making such statement could be viewed as over broad, in that many districts do not face such concerns as too-high administrator to teacher ratios. But the goal, he said, is to get the message out that problems like this do exist in some large systems that need to control their spending.
The ad sparked discontent among some groups that were displeased that tax dollars might be spent to promote such "propaganda." The current House leadership has made several ads like this one, promoting its education priorities and taking to task its opponents.
Piccolo said the video came out of the House Majority Office, which like the Minority Office can do "more political things."
"The Democrats have the ability to do things like this too," he said. "They just don't."
Piccolo is right the democrats don't make misleading adds, they are just in Tallahassee fighting for adequate funding something the republicans don't care about as they attempt to starve our schools.
Let me break it down. The republicans in the Florida legislature are saying school boards and superintendents, teachers and the media all over the state are lying and for people not to believe their eyes when they are presented with statistics showing how woeful education spending in Florida is and has been. Everybody is a liar but them. 
Well who do you believe? The teacher with the ten year old car buying schools supplies for their children  or the republicans in Tallahassee who routinely ignore the will of the people and who routinely funnel money to the donors, those that aren't enriching them and their family members that is? Who do you believe?
We need a change. We need to elect people who will support the states teachers and schools.

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A Klan rally is more diverse than the Florida State Board of Education

Marva Johnson checks off a lot of boxes for the state board of education. She is a woman and she is black. Now if she had any education experience she might actually be qualified.

She however wasn't there this week as the State Board of Education voted to ratchet up concordant scores to the Algebra I test which will undoubtedly cause a drop in our graduation rates effecting mostly poor and minority students. 

This picture is from the Tampa Times and it doesn't do the meeting justice.

  The State Board of Education has six rich and white businessmen on it, and to say their combined education experience was lacking would be an understatement. These are the people responsible for creating and implementing education policy. I don't know if Marva Johnson missed the meeting to protest her "token" status, but I wouldn't be surprised. 

These men got theirs, what do they care if they hurt poor and mostly minority children.

The only woman in attendance, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said,  Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said the board’s vote means districts will have to offer students better instruction and more options to relearn material but can no longer let them “get through the system through a loophole.”

You know because teachers suck and have just been going through the motions. Hey Florida to help teachers out why don't you pay them poorly, make their classes huge and not give them the resources that need (sic). Oy vey, Pam Stewart is apparently a terrible and uncaring human being as she casually dismisses the future of children.  

Come on Florida can't and shouldn't we be doing better than this?

Gary Chartrand and the BOE vote to stick it to children... again

Despite pleas from school boards and education experts that changes to the Algebra I end of the year test concordant scores (an alternate test students could take) the state board of education thumbed their nose at our students and changed them, making them more expensive and less available at the same time.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

State education leaders voted today to make it tougher for students who can’t pass required exams to earn high school diplomas.

The State Board of Education eliminated one alternative test, the Post Secondary Education Readiness Test, dubbed PERT, as an alternative option for students who don’t pass the state exams. And it made the scores needed on the ACT or SAT higher. It also added the PSAT, a preliminary version of the SAT, into the mix.
Educators and students asked the board not to make the changes, saying they will keep some teenagers from graduating. In Seminole County, for example, about 430 fewer students would graduate this month from district high schools if the new rules already were in place, they said.
In Duval County school leaders are predicting an 8 to ten percent drop in graduation rates with poor and mostly minority children suffering the most.
This is also more evidence of Florida constantly moving the goal posts for success for public schools students which is why this is so insidious.
Gary Chartrand, a grocer who parlayed huge donations into a spot on the state board of education is a big proponent of school vouchers. Students who take vouchers don't have to even take the test Chartrand just made harder for public school students. Chartrand is the villain of the story. 
Friends we take over a billion dollars away from public schools and send them to private schools that take vouchers and that don't have to take any tests, not a one. How is this fair?
It's not and that's the point Chartrand and the BOE want to funnel more and more kids to voucher schools and not because they do better but because they have an almost pathological hatred of public schools. 

As the meeting was ending, Chartrand said, "I do think we should look at alternative pathways to graduation, not that we would lower the standards," Chartrand said.

Yeah Gary, we all know what you mean when you say alternative... sick...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mayor Curry has one constituent and it's not you!

The Duval County School Board has been sounding the alarms about the state Board of Education (BOE) raising algebra 1 scores and doing away with one concordant (a test students can take instead) option known as the PERT.  They say it will cause about a thousand mostly poor and minority students to be unable to graduate.

Paula Wright wrte an op-ed about it here:

The school board has asked the community to get involved and ask the State Board of Education not to change the rules.

Well Anna Brosche and the city council got on board and passed a resolution asking the state Board of Education to keep things the way they are.

This is a great thing because often the city council seems tone deaf to the plight of the school district. The city council should be applauded for stepping up and joining the school board in asking the BOE not to change the concordant scores and to eliminate the PERT test.

Unfortunately mayor Lenny Curry had a different idea and refused to sign the resolution and sent a rather snotty letter to council president Brosche when dong so.

Friends do you know who is on the sate board and is most likely the so called expert that the mayor went to? Well it is mega donor and foe of public education Gary Chartrand that is who. Chartrand a grocer by trade with no education experience used huge donations to Rick Scott to basically buy a position on the state board of education where he has attempted to manipulate the state's education policies. By the way he sent his children to expensive and exclusive private schools

Why would Curry side with Chartrand over both the city council and the school board? Well it is because Chartrand owns Curry and we saw a lot of evidence of that last year when the children's commission changed their rules to fund Chartrand's charter school KIPP's school day.  And by the way Chartrand doesn't even live in Jacksonville though his money must spend just fine here.

Curry went against the board and the council and thus the city's citizens and children because there aren't enough zeroes behind our donations to him, where Chartrand and his pac have filled Curry's coffers until they are overflowing.   

So thank you City Council President Anna Brosche and the members of the city council who voted for the resolution to protect our children but shame on you Mayor Curry for siding with one of your agenda driven donors against our children.

For shame Mayor Curry, for shame.  

Since Scott Shine has quit doing his job, he should resign immediately

Scott Shine is in the process of proving everything I said about him right and where it should make me happy it infuriates me. 

While watching Diana Greene's interview I noticed Shine was absent, so I emailed somebody I know is closely involved with the selection process to see if any board members had missed Dunsmore's interview from the day before and they wrote back:

Scott Shine has said he will not attend any of the three school board interviews but will attend the 4 p.m. meeting tomorrow to indicate his preference for a superintendent. He missed Mr. Dunsmore's and Ms. Greene's interviews today and yesterday.

Um, what the %$@#?!?

So he just quit, he is refusing to do his job, but here is the thing, I bet he isn't refusing to get paid.

I get it he's frustrated with the process but do you know who else is frustrated with the process? teachers everywhere that s who.   

Teachers are tired of being under paid and not given the resources they need to do their jobs. They are tired of huge classes and of having to spend their own money. They are tired of teaching to the test and of having $#@&  excuse me leaders like Shine who think they can just quit when they don't get their way.  

Teacher's don't quit, they roll up their sleeves and make the best of a bad situation and they do so because unlike Shine the care.

I say since Shine no longer cares he should do us all a favor and resign so we can put his sorry tenure behind us.

Now ask me how I really feel. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

The board should just hire Diana Greene for superintendent now!

I mean I guess we could go through the motions and bring the the other two semi finalists, Dunsmore and Pruitt but why?

At tonight's SB meeting, Couch, Hershey, Grymes and Wright voted to exclude Harrison Peters and Sito Narcisse from further consideration.

While, Shine, Jones and Smith-Juarez voted not to bring back Pruitt and Dunsmore, which means only Diana Greene came through the process unscathed.

It also means the final three applicant are Greene, Dunsmore and Pruitt though if we are being honest only Greene has a chance and I think that is by design.

This was a master stroke by the ladies because they in effect eliminated any competition that Greene might have had as in my opinion Pruitt and  Dunsmore aren't viable candidates while Peters and Narcisse were.

I am not saying they made the wrong decision either, in fact I am saying well played on their part.

Diana Greene is all but assured to be our next superintendent.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Oh for Beeps sake, can we get Cindy Edelman and Nina Waters out of education???

Cindy Edelman and Nina Waters were part of the 21 community members picked by the school board to interview the superintendent applicants.

This means the rich white lady from Avondale segment of the community was as well represented as  the district's 8,000 plus teachers were and the entire North side of town was, insert eye roll here.

Who are these ladies? Nina Waters runs the Community Foundation and Cindy Edelman is on so many boards you could build a rustic two story house with her and they both run with Gary Chartrand and the Civic Council.

I am going to try to be as generous as admittedly they have been with their money. These two could be the nicest ladies in the world. Mrs. Waters was very cordial with me at the superintendent interviews. They also may just be dupes of the privatization movement.

There are zealots of privatization that approach it with a relionesque type fervor and nothing will change their minds which is where I would put Gary Chartrand, and then there are mercenaries, people looking to just profit off the movement which is where I would put Jason Fischer and numerous members of the Florida Legislature are and then there are dupes.

Dupes are people who don't understand what damage charter schools, vouchers and groups like Teach for America inflict on the education system. These ladies are two rich to be mercenaries,which only leaves zealots and dupes. I think that since their friends at the country club are into privatization, they jumped on the bandwagon, after all they have to fill their days somehow.

This is the thing, I would take any member of PTA or any teachers opinion over theirs because quite frankly they would know more, they would have a much better understanding of what's going on, yet for some reason, and probably because DCPS doesn't want to turn off the money faucet, the district keeps putting them in these groups and it is time they stopped. 
Like I said these ladies might be great, but if we want to have a great school district it's time we listened to parents and teachers instead.

And for beeps sake, stop putting them on these panels.

To learn more about Cindy Edelman, click the link,

to learn about Nina Waters, click the link,

Superintendent Interviews final thoughts

I didn't like the process, if you wanted to see all the applicants you couldn't listen to their answers to both sets up questions as two were going at a time. I ended up listening to two sets of answers to business/community members questions and three sets of answers to the questions from the teacher/parent group.

I also didn't like that the questions were scripted. It gave no room for follow up and I hated most of the questions. There were for the most part terrible. I didn't want to know about that one time you had to fire somebody, I want to know what you are going to do about the budget hole, the achievement gap and violent ESE students here and now if you get the job. I want to know how you are going to address teacher moral (which was asked) and how you keep arts in all the schools despite the budget cuts. What are you going to do about foreign language classes that have 50 students and so many other subjects. 

The most disappointing thing however was the make up of the groups. There were more members from the civic council than there were teachers. There were more people from Avondale than there were from the north side too. The make up of the community group was embarrassingly bad, it was a black mark on the day.

As you read on remember I was only able to see the applicants answers to one group of questions. They had three other meetings, two of which, with the cabinet and students, that the public was invited to and as I said above if you wanted to see all the applicants you could only hear their answers to one set of questions.

Micheal Dunsmore is probably a great guy but he is the wrong fit for the district.

Eric Pruitt seemed like a great guy as well, but he lost me with his fiscal responsibility thing. He wants to have at any time 250 million dollars in reserves? It was confusing to say the least.

Diana Greene superintendent Manatee was the front runner coming in, and I love that she helped her district get a half cent sales tax for education, something I have been suggesting for years. I also hear good things from her staff too but I found her answers were lackluster and they ran long.

Sito Narcisse, seemed sincere and prepared but I hated his answer about charter schools. He likes choice, but I am not sure if he knows that in Florida, choice really means privatization.

Harrison Peters was the most personable and engaging. He had good answers and memorable lines too but is that enough to be superintendent? I don't know but if he performed as well in the other groups I am sure he closed the gap on Greene. 

I guess at the end of the day all I really learned was the school board seems to value the civic council more than teachers and that was incredibly disappointing.

I will say I do trust, Wright, Couch and Hershey to steer us in the right direction. I don't think they will let us down, this dog and pony show of a day notwithstanding.   

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Superintendent interviews, Diana Green

Trey Csar from the Jacksonville Public Education fund has been here all day too but he spent it on the business leaders side, read into that what you will.

I believe Dr. Greene was the front runner for the position and if she wasn't she should be. She is a superintendent in Florida and her learning curve would undoubtedly be the briefest too, also when I met her she a heck of a handshake.

It is about empowerment not about delegation.

She was able to get a half cent sales tax for her district, something I have been calling for, for over a decade. If she could do that here then it would be a huge benefit.

Pushed her board to hire a lobbyist.

Had to revamp health insurance costs in her county. Cut spousal coverage from 80 percent to 40 percent.

All schools should have a standard of care assessment to do with security.

Teachers have the autonomy to teach lessons however they see fit. Not interested that everyone is on the same page on the same day, interested in teachers receiving a high quality education based on the standards, but will do quarterly benchmark tests.

Says will regularly meet one on one with board members, and will be painfully honest with them.

Superintendents can't be the leader of every project. They must take responsibility when things aren't but share credit when they do.

To level the playing field some schools need extra resources. Equal access to opportunity.

Gave teachers forced to move the first opportunity to pick where they wanted to go.

I felt like Diana Greene was the favorite going in but as they day closed Harrison Peters had closed the gap with Sito Narcisse being in the running as well and what's the difference between them all, personality. Peters was dynamic, Narcisse a little less so while Greene was stoic and all her anwers ran long and in a competition where people gave shades of the same answer, they all believe in teacher autonomy and they all say they will listen, that may be her downfall.

I have heard nothing but good things about Dr. Greene and her producing a half cents sales tax for her district is as close to a necessity here as you can get, but at least here in these meetings she didn't do anything to distinguish her self.   

Superintendent's interviews, Micheal Dunsmore

22, community members, only one the retired Miami Dade administrator that Shine brought in feels they need to say who they are representing. Um she shouldn't be here representing Shine, she should be hear representing the people of Jacksonville.

Has a background in counseling and is soft spoken.

He reminded me of Dale Robbins who we probably should have hired in 2012 for superintendent but like Robbins he may be to old, I have a feeling this group is looking for someone younger, though as Mrs. Willis has shown us over the last year a steady hand can be a very valuable one.

Says he is a big picture person and likes to challenge his staff.

Says we have allowed anti-public education legislators to control the narrative about school and boy have we. As bad as it may be there I have to think the problem is probably worse in Florida than it is in North Carolina.

Spoke about allowing teachers to be creative and autonomous and how teachers know their students best. Probably the best answer I have heard to any question all day long.

Closing a schools was his hardest job. 

Hardest day of his career was when he lost a teacher. 

Dunsmore is obviously a detailed oriented and compassionate man with a wealth of experiences and I like that he was a wrestler too but that being said he doesn't have a chance to be picked and it's not because his answers were bad and he wasn't prepared. His low key demeanor would just be to hard of a sell to all the competing interests in the district.    

Superintendent Interviews, Harrison Peters

I switched to the teacher and parent group

Shine had an administrator from Miami Dade schools come in, I guess because he doesn't know any local ones.

The second community group had 3 parents, 5 employees, 2 community members and shine's inexplicable pick. For those scoring at home that means the Civic Council was as well represented as all the 2, parents. 

Peter's starts with a story about how he wanted to play basketball at Florida state and how some teachers helped him. He immediately stated with trying to build a rapport with his audience. I thought he was doing great until he said it didn't matter what neighborhood you lived in be in Moncrief or San Marcos, and that's not a spelling error on my part. He later repeated, San Marcos.

Assets strength management, three primary assets, people, time and money. People are our most important asset.

So far they have all spoken about meeting with and listening to the community. Vitti often met with the community but rarely listened.

He addressed the masturbation incident.

I have been here nearly five hours and finally a question about teaching. Peters was asked about flexibility  with pacing the guide and teacher autonomy versus a manged instruction guide where the district determines everything. He came down on the side of flexibility and Autonomy.

Change happens at the speed of trust. I have to admit, that is a great line.

Stressed the importance of communication

Peters, seemed the most polished and the smoothest talker of the first three candidates, though it's a little unfair because I can't hear his or any of the candidates answers to all the community members questions, not if I want to see all the applicants because two are going at a time. This along with the community members being forced to ask scripted question and the make up of the groups, the under representation of parents and teachers has made the day a bit disappointing. I think this process is unfair to Peters and the other candidates but most unfair to the people of Jacksonville.