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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The interesting things Scott Shine said today at the special board meeting.

I have to tell you this guy must be a hoot to be around, I mean if he is this informal at board meetings whats he like after a few drinks.

When talking about HB7069 he said,  “If I thought that litigation would work, I’d be on that like a bad rash,”.

Oh my, a bad rash!!! 

To give himself some bonafides, he referred to himself as the "lawsuit cowboy" and as somebody he has threatened to sue a couple times I can attest to that.

Who wants to bet he has other nicknames for himself as well?

Oh and as the meeting was wrapping up he also announced to all those in attendance, he had to pee, hey if you have to go you have to go, but now I wonder what he did when he disappeared for about 15 minutes.

Perhaps however the most inexplicable thing he said was that he unequivocally supports teachers and anybody who says other wise must be lying. I am not directly quoting him and am instead going on memory, when the audio becomes available I will try and remember to look it up, but that was the gist and if true a great sentiment to have.

The thing is he said this despite saying in the Beaches Leader, "the Strategic advantage of converting union-heavy public schools to non-union charters would be a direct connect to eliminating union member jobs..."

Now that is a direct quote, those are his words. Funny, they don't sound to supportive of teachers to me.

Like I said, what a hoot. 

Yesterday was a very bad day for education in Florida.

First the State Supreme Court said district's could fail children for not taking the Florida Standardized test. So much for parental choice right?

From the Orlando Sentinel:

The Florida Supreme Court has declined to take up a lawsuit brought by parents who told their children not to answer questions on the state third-grade reading test and then sued when the students were barred from fourth grade.

The top court’s decision leaves in place an earlier ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal. Judges on that panel, overturning an earlier favorable ruling by a circuit judge, decided against the parents and ruled that the school districts, including those in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, had been improperly sued in Tallahassee.
The court case filed in August was an effort by Florida’s “opt-out” movement — a group opposed to high-stakes testing — to challenge state laws in place for more than a decade. Those laws say that testing is mandatory for public school students, and that students who fail Florida’s third-grade language arts exam can be kept from fourth grade.
So a student can get straight As, show mastery of the material and just because they and their family don't want them to participate in a testing system gone amok, at least in third grade anyways they can be failed and forced to repeat the year. That is the up is down and black is white logic that permeates Florida.
If that wasn't bad enough, the FLDOE published it's rules on recess and I warn you get ready to SMH.
from the Palm Beach Post: 
Daily recess in Florida’s public elementary schools is now law. What will that look like when the first bell rings in August? It’s still unclear – but it doesn’t have to be outside, according to a one-page memo to superintendents that went out last week.
“This law does not specify the location where recess must be provided. The recess minutes could be provided indoors or outdoors,” the memo from the State Department of Education reads.
Now I get it, sometimes it may be raining and you don't want schools to weasel out of having recess, that's reasonable and even laudable, unfortunately we live in Florida and the laudable often turns out to be a disaster, charter schools and using the lotto money on education anyone?
I can just see to many schools and to may classrooms being forced to use this loophole to cut back on recess in exchange for more test prep which has been the problem for years now.
Why put a memo out at all? Does the FLDOE think teachers wouldn't have been able to figure it out when it was raining? Or did they do so winking at those superintendents who fought against recess, to give them an out, my bet it is the latter. Also just a reminder, charters are exempt from the recess rules, what a selling point, come to our charters we are exempt from letting kids be kids.

To read more, click the link:
Yesterday was another dark day for education, sadly I haven't seen a bright one  in a while. 

Scott Shine's gutless response to 7069

After presenting himself as a selfless fighter against House Bill 7069 (he emailed or maybe texted his good friend Aaron bean who voted for the bill), a bill he has also lauded because he believe union teachers will lose their jobs, he had a rather gutless reaction as to what the board should do next.

First he said we should not engage in a law suit because we should not anger the Florida legislature and that they would somehow punish the district. He also said many members of the legislature didn't want to vote for it but they did because they were scared of the speaker of the house and various committee chairs, I guess they may be gut less as well.

As bad as that is what he said next was worse.

From the Times Union:
Shine said most legislators didn’t know the ramifications of the education law before they voted on it, but they were pressured by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land ‘O Lakes and powerful legislative committee leaders, who control the fate of most Tallahassee bills. Suing the state, Shine said, will only worsen the ongoing fight between Corcoran and statewide teachers unions, putting Duval in a vulnerable position.
“If I thought that litigation would work, I’d be on that like a bad rash,” Shine said. “But I don’t believe it will help us.”
If other districts’ lawsuits are successful, Duval could still benefit, Shine said.
If other districts’ lawsuits are successful, Duval could still benefit, Shine said.
Oy vey, he wants other people to fight, while Duval hunkers down in a bunker and sits it out. Isn't that the definition of gutless?
I want school board members like Wright and Hershey who want to fight tooth and nail for our schools and children. I want board members who are passionate about our schools like Couch is.  
We already have a "bad rash" on the board, a rash who isn't on the board because he cares about our schools and children but one who is interesting in placating people who would destroy our schools.
The entire board was for fighting back against HB 7069, though admittedly Smith-Juarez wanted to exhaust other avenues before agreeing to a law suit and Couch had financial concerns (Grymes was not in attendance), except for Scott Shine who was more concerned with not upsetting his friends in Tallahassee. 
When Shine said his friends didn't know the ramifications and were pressured into voting for the bill he basically called them ignorant and gutless.
With a board member like Shine, we definitely don't need enemies. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Scott Shine takes money from the district's blackmailer

This is the Urban Dictionary's definition of black mail:

  Blackmail refers to a situation that arises when a person threatens another person with some form of punishment if they do not offer some form of concessions.

This is what Gary Chartrand recently did, from the Times Union: 
The Quality Education for All Fund, or QEA for short, wrote letters to all seven Duval School Board members, threatening to cut ties with the district if it reneges on an “implicit understanding” that the district would continue supporting the programs.
“We in the private community want to continue to honor our part of the Quality Education for All Fund commitment … but only if we can believe that we can count on the underlying partnership that has existed since we began this journey to improve public education for our most at risk students,” said the letter signed by former Jacksonville Jaguars owner and philanthropist J. Wayne Weaver, who is QEA chairman. Other signers include Gary Chartrand, Lawrence Dubow, Cindy Edelman, Matt Rapp and David Stein.
“If you are not willing to invest in those programs that have proven successful, we must consider that this bond has been broken and we will have no choice but to step back our part of this arrangement until a new understanding can be established.”
First there is a lot of debate and not much data that the programs have been successful but regardless the implication is clear. Chartrand is saying if you don't do what we want you to do then we'e going to take away five million dollars. This is particularly egregious because of the budget shortfall and as a member of the state board of education, Chartrand as far as I can tell did nothing to stop the district's budget from being negatively impacted. 
But here is the kicker, Shine has already taken a thousand dollars from Chartrand, he has taken money from the man who in effect is blackmailing the district.
Oy vey, I can't make this up. Here is a man, Shine who is supposed to support and fight for our schools and instead he is gleefully taking money from a man, Gary Chartrand, a grocer by trade, who is attempting to hold the district hostage. He is saying, do what I want or I will inflict pain on you and Shine doesn't seem to have a problem with it.
Also from the Times Union:
 Duval Board member Scott Shine said he believes the district should not endanger future private donations by failing to find a few hundred thousand more for QEA programs. “I think it’s important to maintain that relationship,” he said. “I’d like us to do what we can to fund the programs. …. We’re only a couple hundred thousand dollars away.”
Shine is bowing down to Chartrand there and the reason is he doesn't represent the people of District 2 and instead he represents Chartrand and his bad ideas. Hey here is an idea, Chartrand and Shine are both millionaires, if they like those programs so much, then why don't they fund them, Shine whines we're only a few hundred thousand dollars away, and he does while most paraprofessionals live below the poverty line. Despicable!  
Neither of these men should be allowed anywhere near our schools let alone be in leadership positions. 
District 2, come on, you have to do better.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Another district joins the HB7069 lawsuit. Why hasn't Duval? One word Chartrand

Today St. Lucie joined the law suit against the public school killing HB 7069.

From TCPalm:  ST. LUCIE COUNTY — The School District is joining the fight against recently passed education reforms. 

School Board members on Tuesday unanimously agreed to jump into a lawsuit, proposed by the Broward County district, challenging the constitutionality of House Bill 7069, a sweeping education bill that has been widely criticized by superintendents, teachers and parents statewide.

Duval sadly has not joined in on the law suit and I think I can explain why in one word, Chartrand.

Look how deferential the board is to the man even after he basically tried to blackmail them by threatening to withhold donations if they didn't do what he wanted them to do. 

From the Times Union:

Board Chairwoman Paula Wright said they tried to meet the QEA’s request to the best of the district’s abilities. She said she hopes to set up a joint meeting between the QEA and the district boards.
“We value the QEA partnership and understand that their commitment and dedication to children is genuine,” she said.
Duval Board member Scott Shine said he believes the district should not endanger future private donations by failing to find a few hundred thousand more for QEA programs. “I think it’s important to maintain that relationship,” he said. “I’d like us to do what we can to fund the programs. …. We’re only a couple hundred thousand dollars away.”
He also predicted that state funding will improve for districts next year...
(Warren) Jones said the district’s top leaders should meet with QEA board members, hash out differences and explain their rationale.
“It is sad that it has gotten to this point,” he said. “The QEA board has done tremendous work in our community and they are to be commended for their philanthropy…. Unfortunately we have a limited budget to operate with.”

I believe Chartrand, undoubtedly a supporter of 7069 has the school board running scared and that is why they are not opposing it.

Gary Chartrand, a grocer by trade, while the district is going through a budget shortfall, tried to blackmail the board and instead of telling him to go ^%$& himself, several members of the board, two of which received money from Chartrand are bending over backwards to placate him and his thugish behavior. That is unacceptable.
The board and I mean other than just Couch and Hershey need to recognize they represent the people of Jacksonville not this millionaire who sent his children to expensive and exclusive private schools and who doesn't even live in the city.
Come on School Board send this guy packing, his donation is not worth the cost.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Scott Shine is all over the map when talking about the district's budget. Looks like he doesn't know what he is talking about.

First District 2, we need to have a come to Jesus moment. You voted for this guy and sure he had name recognition and more money than all his opponents combined but he also lacked the knowledge and ability to do his job. You have to do better.

Think I am being to harsh? Continue reading and then let me know if you feel the same.

In the Times Union when talking about a budget shortfall and dipping into the district reserves to cover it. 

Duval Board member Scott Shine said he believes the district should not endanger future private donations by failing to find a few hundred thousand more for QEA programs. “I think it’s important to maintain that relationship,” he said. “I’d like us to do what we can to fund the programs …. We’re only a couple hundred thousand dollars away.”
He also predicted that state funding will improve for districts next year.
He says this year is just a blip, well here is what he said just a few weeks ago.
 He calls the budget shortfall created by HB 7069 catastrophic, not that he didn't say he supported it anyway because union teachers will lose their jobs. He didn't say, oh don't worry, it's just a bump in the road like he did in the Times Union.
Then before that in News4Jax, he didn't think there would be any shortfall at all.
On Friday, Scott vetoed the $11.4 billion share of the Legislature's budget that funded public education. The veto came after education advocates said the Legislature had not provided enough money for public schools in the new budget.
That veto means lawmakers will have to pass a new Florida education finance program bill during next week's special session. Scott and legislative leaders have agreed to add $215 million to the program, increasing per-student spending by some $100 in the coming academic year.
“That should offset, completely, the financial impact that this bill (HB 7069) is going to have on the district,” Duval County Public School Board member Scott Shine told News4Jax Saturday. “We still have the other things in the bill to deal with, but the crisis, in my opinion, was the financial shortfall. It could've been anywhere from $8 million to $30 million, and that would have really put the district and a critical situation.”
Here everything is fine.
On the subject of our budget he says three different things, it's catastrophic (but okay since union teachers will be fired), it's a bump in the road, and we have nothing to worry about and will have plenty of money. 
It turns out he was only off by about 12 million
OY VEY!!!!!!!
District 2, you have to do better.

Becki Couch calls out Gary Chartrand and the board of the QEA

Gary Chartrand had a tantrum in the paper today when some if his ill advised pet projects appeared on the chopping block. Becki Couch who apparently doesn't have time for his childish behavior called him out.

From the Times Union:

Several Duval School Board members said Florida’s newly signed education law also forces the district to cut nearly all department funding and to reel back or eliminate other valuable district programs.
“It seems pretty clear that we’re limited in funding,” Couch said. “If we have an increase in one area, we’ll have a decrease in another. You have to decide what you’re willing to give up.”
Couch and other Board members said QEA leaders could have helped the district’s lobbying effort in Tallahassee to block the new education law. They said few QEA leaders lent their support and political influence in that effort.
“We needed their help on this and we needed people to use their politic connections to support us,” Couch said.
Few local QEA leaders stepped up, to her knowledge, she said. One exception was Michael Ward, newly retired CSX CEO, who wrote a letter to Gov. Rick Scott
Chartrand said QEA leaders decided to “stay out of” the political battle. “We’re not a political organization; we’re here to help fund things that work. They’ve got their own lobbyist,” said Chartrand, who personally contributes tens of thousands of dollars to political campaigns and action committees.
Um what the beep?!? Gary Chartrand isn't political??! This grocer bought himself a seat on the state board of education and he and his family has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to mostly far right and education hating candidates.

This guy is incredible! Look up chutzpah and you will find a picture of him. He's trying to stay out of the political battle, ugh, that is laughable.

Chartrand is the villain of the story who uses his money as a club not to help education but to get what he wants.

Thanks Mrs. Couch for pointing out Chartrand's hypocrisy.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

When will Duval County fight back against House Bill 7069?

Other school districts are. Broward County just appropriated 25 k to do so because their legal counsel said it violated the following provisions.

From the Tampa Times:

- Violates the state's constitutional requirement that bills focus on a single subject, by encompassing more than 60 separate measures.
- Circumvents the constitutional mandate that school boards operate, control and supervise all public schools in their district, with the creation of a separate "schools of hope" charter school system.
- Violates the constitutional rules regarding ad valorem taxes for schools, with the requirement that districts distribute a portion of their capital funding tax revenue to charter schools.
"Although I believe this is a full and accurate review of the legislation, I am sure there are additional details and nuances that would further support the position that a Constitutional challenge is an appropriate action to take at this time," Broward general counsel Barbara Myrick wrote to the board.
Why hasn't Duval County decided to push back as well? School Board members Couch and Hershey along with new Superintendent Willis have all been very vocal with how devastating this bill will be, heck even the Times Union in a moment of clarity came out against it.

In fact only school board member who has openly supported the bill is Scott Shine and he did so because he said a benefit would be certain teachers would lose their job. Yes, folks that's right, he in an op ed in the Beach's Leader said teachers losing their jobs was a good thing.

However Shine can't alone be gumming up the works which makes me think it's possibly the district's close relationship with Gary Chartrand who undoubtedly supports the bill. Though perhaps it is district counsel Karen Chastain who I personally wouldn't let fix a parking ticket for me who has shown some reservations as she did when instead of fighting back against the proliferation of charter schools she threw up her hands and said it wasn't worth doing so, a position other school districts have also disagreed with.

Whatever the reason the board has been hesitant to do something it's past time they decided to join the good fight. This bill is the worst of the worst and should not go unchallenged by our school board. The fate of the districts, teachers, schools and children are at risk and that is not hyperbole that is the reality of the situation.

Come on school board it's time for you to do your job and stand up against those who would dismantle our schools.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What to remember about school grades

Via Facebook

Florida DOE has released school grades today, so you will see a lot of references on social media for the next few days. While you are reviewing this data, here are some things to keep in mind (via Donna Yates Mace ):
Whatever the grades might be, it's important to remember several things:

1 - The state changes the scale every year to suit their political purposes. It is a moving target.
2 - School grades offer parents a false sense of security. Children at D and F schools can and do receive a good education.
3 - They are not "easily understandable" like this press release claims. The formula is complex and utilizes invalid and unreliable data.
4 - Scores are based on 3-6 hours worth of testing, not 180 days worth of work.
5 - We can predict a school's score by their socioeconomic status just as well as any manipulated, fraudulent formula. That should set of alarms for everyone who cares about ALL children receiving a free and appropriate education.
Now that you know this, what can you do?

1 - #OptOut of high-stakes, standardized testing. Deny the state the data so they can not use it against our hard-working students and teachers.
2 - Vote for local and state representatives who want what's best for children, not their pocket book or political ambitions.
3 - Share this message to help keep your community informed.
h/t Jennifer Sabin

Want to see your school's grade? Follow the link below

Monday, June 19, 2017

Supporters of charters have to take responsibility for all their fraud and failure

The founder of two Duval and fifteen Florida charter schools, Marcus May is in big trouble, accused of stealing money from Florida's taxpayers and children and a local politician, Scott Shine and business leader, Gary Chartrand because of their charter school advocacy are partly responsible. 

Why do I single out Chartrand and Shine when there are many republican politicians and "business leaders" who advocate for charters?

Scott Shine recently said he is okay with a massive expansion of charters because union teachers would lose their jobs and Gary Chartrand has spent tens of thousands of dollars to elect charter friendly politicians. 

But to be honest anybody who has advocated for charters and their loose restrictions is also partly responsible. 

That doesn't absolve Chartrand and Shine though because of they really cared about our public schools and children, instead of advocating for more charters they would be advocating for both less and serious restrictions on those that remain. 

From the Times Union:

The founder of a charter school company that managed two schools in Jacksonville was charged Monday, along with a business partner, with racketeering and organized fraud allegedly involving 15 charter schools in Florida.

Prosecutors say Marcus May, owner of Newpoint Education Partners, is accused of misusing and co-mingling charter school money, as well as taking excessive payments and “kickback” fees, and spending the proceeds on such things as cruises, numerous trips to foreign countries, plastic surgery, home mortgages and a personal watercraft.
“May obtained more than $1 million of public funds from a pattern of thefts from the state department of education, six school districts and 15 Newpoint-managed charter schools,” said District 1 State Attorney Bill Eddins, in a prepared statement.
In total, Newpoint’s charter schools in Florida received $57 million from the state and from six school districts, including Duval, between 2007 and 2016, the affidavit attached to the charges states.
I can't say for a fact how all of the Newport Charter schools did but I can say the two on Sunbeam, San Jose Academy and San Jose Preparatory High schools grossly under perform when compared to other schools in the area as many charter schools do.
More outrageous is Tallahassee has just passed a massive expansion of charters supported by local business man Gary Chartrand and School board member Scott Shine which guarantee more of above, more fraud, waste and more kids getting a substandard education.
Over 350 charter schools have closed in Florida so what does Tallahassee do? They set aside 130 million dollars of crony capitalism for more expansion. What a %$#^ing travesty. 
More from the Times Union, but make sure you are sitting when you read it because its outrageous.
The new charges go beyond last year’s indictment, said Russell Edgar, assistant state attorney on the case, because they involve more charter schools and counties. “We thought this was not an isolated case,” he said. “It appears to be a pattern throughout the state.”
He said May used Newpoint to convince parents and others to start charter schools, form nonprofit corporations and take positions on school governing boards. (Charter schools are public schools run by non-public boards rather than elected school board members.)
These charter board members had little or no experience operating schools or handling bookkeeping, payroll or facilities, according to the affidavit.
May, through Newpoint, charged the charter schools a management fee of 18 percent of whatever the state sent the schools in per-student funding, plus his expenses, the affidavit says.
Instead of expanding charters we should be calling for a moratorium on them before more of above happens, because we all know it will.

The future of public education if the republicans in Tallahassee get their way

One picture says it all as the Florida Legislature moves to replace public schools with charters.

Picture from the Hechinger report

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dear Republicans, please stop trying to destroy public education. Thank you, a tax payer.

Republicans have dominated state government since 1999. They have been in charge of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion and since the governors appoints supreme court justices the legislative branches as well. That is 18 years.

Since Jeb Bush was governor with a brief slow down by Charlie Crist, Republicans have done all they can’t kneecap public education. High stakes testing, a republican idea, ignoring poverty, a republican idea, basing teacher’s evaluations on a nearly incompressible VAM formula, a republican idea, underfunding schools and underpaying teachers, a republican idea and there is school choice, the worse republican idea of all.

Vouchers for private schools annually drain hundreds of millions of dollars from the state coffers and where run of the mill republicans may like the idea of vouchers, I bet they don’t like the idea of them not having any accountability. Schools that take vouchers don’t have to take the state tests which are so important for public schools, have certified teachers or a recognized curriculum and most do not even have to report how they spend the money.

Then there are charter schools. I bet most people don’t know that over 350 charters schools have taken money and folded. I bet most people don’t know that as a group they underperform when compared to public schools and most of the ones that do well, are set up in neighborhoods and communities that already have public schools that are doing well.  

Most of the charter chains are for profit and business has been good making their owners multi-millionaires and one of the biggest special interest’s groups in Tallahassee giving millions to politicians who push their expansion. In fact, several republican legislators who introduce and push charter school bills either work for or own charter schools or have families that do. That blatant conflict of interest is okay here in Florida too, which again is a republican idea.

Charter schools admittedly a noble concept are nothing more than crony capitalism that destroys home rule. Up till now I thought were two things that real conservatives and republicans railed against.

Then there is the abomination of house bill 7069. This 278-page train bill was created on the last day of the session, behind closed doors without input or debate from the public. Senator Corcoran, one of the men sequestered away crafting the bill, wife owns a charter school by the way. Then the governor didn’t sign the bill until after a special legislative session where his pet projects, Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida were funded. Public schools, the children that attend them and the teachers that work at them were reduced to bargaining chips.

The bill makes it easier to close schools and creates a 130-million-dollar fund to replace them with charter schools despite their awful track record. It also forces cash and resourced starved public schools to share tax dollars earmarked for repairs with for profit charter schools.   

Republican’s is this what you wanted and voted for?

Republicans argued, we must change the status quo. Well friends they are right, except the real status quo is how republicans have been completely in charge of education for nearly 20 years, to which the bulk of the time they have spent knee capping, starving and chipping away at public education. Not unions, not democrats, but republicans.

Are there problems in public education? Yes definitely, the biggest ones are ignoring poverty, a lack of resources and republicans who have done all they can to hurt public education. Republicans, ordinary ones, not those getting rich in Tallahassee, isn’t it time you said, enough.  

Gary Chartrand has already donated to Scott Shine's reelection campaign.

What does it mean when a millionaire gives another millionaire a thousand dollars?

The election is still 14 months away and Shine I bet plans to raise more money, most of which I am sure will come from charter schools an their supporters than any candidate in Duval history. He knows because of his shoddy performance the only way to get reelected is to buy the seat.

Just a reminder that Scott Shine blamed union teachers for school performances and said a benefit of school closings would be union teachers would lose their jobs.

District 2 if you are looking for I am sure yet another reason to replace Scott Shine here it.