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Monday, March 12, 2018

District employees, give your two cents about who the district should hire for superintendent on 3/14

Wednesday, March 14
  • Time: 6:00 p.m.
  • Location: DCPS District Office, Cline Auditorium, 1701 Prudential Drive

I get it, we're beat up, we don't think anybody listens. It's two days before spring break and the last thing we want to think about is who the next super will be.

I get it.

But at the same time don't we have to stand up and make our voices heard? Don't we have to? I think we do.

Things are never going to change for the better as long as we keep our heads down and just hope for the best.

Tallahassee gives Duval an extra 47 cents per student

No I didn't make a mistake there, forty-seven cents per student is all Tallahassee budgeted. Earlier in the year Governor Scott asked for an extra 120 plus dollars.

That is about sixty thousand dollars or less than the cost of one teacher when you factor in salary and benefits. That is all Tallahassee allocated and its shameful.

That can't possibly keep up with increases in fixed costs like teachers salaries, health care, transportation and so many other things.

This also happened while the state siphoned billions more away from pubic schools to charters and private schools most of which have practicaly no over site, that take vouchers.

You just knew something was going to get hurt when the state budgeted extra money for school security, and it's sadly public schools that are going to pay the price. It's one step forward miles and miles back.

Tallahassee is purposely starving our schools and I have to ask is that what my republican friends voted for? If so shame on you.

Here is a letter superintendent Willis sent out explaining how dire the situation is.

In my role as superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, I am strongly urging Gov. Rick Scott to veto the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) portion of the 2018-19 General Appropriations Act as proposed by the Florida Legislature.

Superintendents from the 10 largest school districts in Florida are united in opposition to this budget, which provides a mere 47-cent increase in the base student allocation (BSA). The BSA is the only source of flexible funding school districts receive to address the inflationary costs of running an education system and providing needed raises for our hard-working teachers and school support personnel.

Gov. Scott’s recommended budget included a $152 increase in the BSA, acknowledging school districts’ financial needs in a $88.7 billion budget that would be the largest in Florida’s history and $5 billion more than the current year. Gov. Scott also proposed funding of $450 million for his Keep Students Safe plan. Duval’s portion of this proposal based on FTE should be about $18 million of new funding. Our overall increase, including operating funds and school safety funds, was just $9.9 million.

The proposed BSA increase of 47 cents per student (.01 percent) equals an additional $60,505.95 for Duval County Public Schools for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This amount does not even cover our average teacher’s salary plus benefits.

The overall FEFP per-student increase for Duval’s children is only $69.31 each, compared to the statewide average of $101.50 per student. Although legislators will suggest that this is a significant increase, the Legislature mandates the specific programs on which almost all of that increase must be spent -- primarily on safe schools and mental health programs -- removing any flexibility districts have in deciding how to best appropriate the funds.

While we appreciate the increase in school safety funding, Duval’s share will not be enough to provide a school resource officer at each school. We need those funds for sworn officers protecting our schools. To that end, I encourage full funding of SB 7026.

Our first priority is the safety and education of our students. A 47-cent per student increase actually represents a loss of funding to Duval schools. Utility, health, property insurance, and other business costs continue to rise for our school district, just as they do for our citizens and businesses across Duval County.  An increase of just 47 cents per student jeopardizes the funding needed for important student programs, as well as the increases needed for operating expenses.

Duval County Public Schools, like the State of Florida, has achieved record high graduation rates and continuously improving student outcomes. Our students, our families, our schools, and our staff have earned and deserve greater support from our state. I am asking Gov. Scott to veto this shocking funding level, as he did last year, and ask the Legislature to go back and provide the appropriate increases in the base student allocation and school safety funding.

Dr. Willis Signature  
Dr. Patricia S. Willis

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Scott Shine represents the NRA and special interests, not his constituents.

J.C. Chris you write about Scott Shine a lot. I know, I know and I wish I didn't have to and I seriously look forward to the day when I won't have to anymore.

Seriously though google his name and set the filter to a week. He's quoted in more articles than all the other school bard members combined. He is without a doubt a media insert your word here, and you will see he gives me plenty of fodder. 

So I have long covered how Shine has never met a charter school he didn't like, putting them ahead of his constituents, well now we can add the NRA to that list of special interests he serves.  

Despite saying he was against arming teachers he voted against a resolution that was against arming teachers.

From the Times Union:

Scott Shine was the only board member to vote against the district’s resolution. He said that although he is against arming teachers or other school staff, the proposed law change would leave it up to school districts to decide.
“I don’t want to take a position of saying no to what the legislature is doing when other districts want to do this,” Shine said, referring to Putnam County, which announced last week that certain district employees would be trained and armed with concealed weapons.
Oy vey, what he didn't want to do was take a position against the NRA who I have recently learned he is an instructor for.
Later he called into First Coast Connect to defend his position. He however would not take any questions and the media panel was pretty unforgiving.
Check out the recording at about the 20 minute mark. 
A long time reader wrote: 
Can somebody explain to me why Shine voted against this resolution? Is he just being a contrarian does he really believe the stuff that comes out of his mouth? He's against arming teachers but he doesn't want to put it on record in a vote. At least this self proclaimed firearms instructor remains in good standing with the NRA who are always looking to expand their market share. 

Scott Shine was the only board member to vote against the district’s resolution. He said that although he is against arming teachers or other school staff, the proposed law change would leave it up to school districts to decide.

“I don’t want to take a position of saying no to what the legislature is doing when other districts want to do this,” Shine said, referring to Putnam County, which announced last week that certain district employees would be trained and armed with concealed weapons

Mr. Shine is a terrible representative of the people because he only represents his and his donors interests not the peoples.

District 2, you can and must do better.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Councilman Bill Guilford tries to protect his friend Scott Shine

Do you know why people hate politicians? It's because they don't do things because its right, they do it to get something.

Okay here is the reader's digest version. Last summer UNF professor Tim Groulx filed to run for the school board. Unfortunately for Groulx he lives in a backward county and if he were to win since he is a state employee he would have to quit his job. This by the way is not a state provision, its a Duval one. If he lived in a different county and was running for a different board he would be able to keep his job.

Since it would be a relatively easy fix and it shouldn't be a rule anyway, Groulx went to his city council representative Bill Guilford who for all intensive purposes agreed to help, until this past week anyways.  


During a committee meeting Monday, city lawyer Peggy Sidman said Gulliford's amendment was meant to give other would-be candidates more time to prepare.
“There was some concern… that if it were to take place now,” she said, “there were individuals that may have run that didn’t run for the upcoming election, so they wanted to delay it to not take effect until 2019.”
Guilford said an additional reason to hold off on the rule change until next year is Groulx had said he planned to run in 2022.
“He said that he was not going to run this term so I felt like — no surprises — if we pass this thing, let’s just start off fresh, next round, since we’re already into campaigning,” Gulliford said. “This will give people an opportunity to prepare for it.”
Groulx, however, maintains he always planned to run in 2018 against District 2 board member Scott Shine if the bill passes. He filed to run last summer.
“I haven’t removed myself from the candidacy in any way,” he said. “I’ve been maintaining my Facebook account regarding wanting to run.”
Groulx said he’s skeptical about Gulliford’s motivation behind the amendment because, as he points out, Gulliford wrote to him in an August email, “It seems that Scott Shine has been a pretty good school board member. That said and knowing the difficulty in finding good candidates, if this legislation passes I sure would hope you would make yourself available to run in the 2022 race.”
Groulx told WJCT News, “I thought we were working towards changing the laws for democracy and not doing something to necessarily support people we like.”
But Gulliford denied his amendment has anything to do with who Groulx’s opponent is.
Ugh, just so you know potential candidates have till June to qualify and the election isn't until August, furthermore as I said, Groulx went to Guilford last freaking July. There is absolutely no good reason why the bill allowing state workers to run shouldn't proceed but there are a couple bad ones.
Chief among them is Guilford is trying to protect his friend Shine who is part of the political class. He likes Shine and apparently cares less about allowing democracy to work, though it gets worse.
I spent about 20 minutes at the supervisor of elections site and I found these common donors between Guilford and Shine:
Wayne Weaver 1000 both Guilford and Shine
Preston Haskell/Haskell company 300/250
W.C. Gentry 1000/1000
The Frisch Family 1000/1000
Karen Lee 250/250
Gate companies 1000/1000

Twenty minutes, who wants to bet there are more?

District 2 deserves better than Scott Shine and it's to bad that their city council person isn't interested in doing what is right and allowing them to have another qualified candidate.

In Jacksonville we are not being led, we are being ruled.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Our lords at the Civic Council want special treatment

Sometimes when I talk about the city's elite and how they want to run and profit off of public education and how they don't have our schools and teachers best interests in mind, I feel a little bit like I am off in the woods by myself. 

Then the Civic Council, Chartrand, Rummel, Petway, Haskell, Weaver and others rear their ugly heads and I don't feel so alone after all.

Let me just let their words do the talking for them.

From the Times Union:

  A powerful business organization, the Jacksonville Civic Council, complained to Duval’s School Board on Wednesday that they have not been given enough time to weigh in on the type of superintendent the district should choose.
The district held a meeting for business people to provide input at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Springfield but only two people attended.
The meeting was one of 10 community and stakeholder meetings that are supposed to help the Duval County School Board create a profile for the superintendent search. However, most of the meetings have been sparsely attended so far.
Board Chairwoman Paula Wright said many community members have already voiced their opinions about what they want in a new superintendent in four community forums held months ago to discuss district strategic plans, so she was not surprised at the small attendance of fewer than a dozen people at most of the recent community and stakeholder meetings.
Another community meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at The Legends Center, 5130 Soutel Drive.
A letter to Wright and the rest of the board sent later in the day indicated Civic Council members felt they didn’t have enough time to clear their schedules to attend. Civic Council president Jeanne M. Miller wrote that council members needed more than 10 days notice, at least two weeks, “due to the exceptional demands on their individual travel and work schedules.”
Miller noted in her letter that Wright apparently scheduled a meeting with the JAX Chamber’s board of directors for March 16. She asked Wright to make a similar accommodation to meet with Civic Council members.
“On behalf of the Jacksonville Civic Council, I wish to express our disappointment that you have declined our request for a timely noticed meeting,” she said.
“The Jacksonville Civic Council stands ready to provide you and the entire school board with insight from this region’s top employers on the workforce needs of the future .... As the leader of one of the state’s largest and most complex school districts, you cannot afford to leave the foremost employers of your eventual graduates out of this conversation.”
... The Civic Council has said this is a rushed process, urging that the decision be delayed so that future board members running for open seats could be included in the selection process.
So let me get this straight, the couldn't be bothered to attend any of the community meetings that us regular folks were able to attend, ten days notice wasn't good enough for them and they want, no demand their own private meeting to discuss who the next superintendent should be. 
Oy vey, if I was the school board, I wouldn't let them anywhere near the process because they don't want to get their two cents in, they want their hand picked superintendent in place and they figure if they wait to next fall when hopefully they have collected a few more school board members they can make sure it happens. 
They are not like us, they are used to having their way and that is part of the reason where we find ourselves. It's time the board said, no, to the Civic Council, because we know who ever they want would represent them and not the people of Jacksonville. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Florida votes to end collective bargaining for many teacher unions

For a state with a teacher recruitment and retention problem, Tallahassee seems to be doing everything it can to dismantle its public schools and destroy teaching as a profession.

Their latest effort is house bill 7055 which sends billions more to private schools that have little in the way of requirements and over site and requires teacher unions with less than 50 percent membership to decertify.

Notice I said teacher unions because the bill exempts police, fire and prison guard unions, you know unions made up of mostly men and who vote republican. 

From the Gainesville Sun:

he 198-page bill, HB 7055, calls to decertify teacher unions across the state, opening teachers up to possible pay cuts and termination.
About 40 people rallied outside State Sen. Keith Perry’s district office Monday morning calling on him to reject a bill that could do away with unions representing school teachers.
Perry, R-Gainesville, later voted in support of the bill anyway, helping it pass the Senate floor Monday with a 20-17 vote. The amended bill will now go back to the House.
The 198-page bill, HB 7055, calls to decertify teacher unions across the state if the makeup of a union is less than 50 percent of the teachers for that district.
“It’s a war on public schools,” said Eileen Roy, Alachua County School Board member.
This bill is even worse than last years HB 7069 if you can believe it.
I just wonder if my republican friends intentionally voted for the systematic destruction of public education and ending teaching as a profession, because that's what their representatives in Tallahassee are intent on doing.   
Some of you might be thinking pubic education is broken and needs to be redone but I would like to point out that its the republicans in Tallahassee looking to profit off of it and appease their donors who have been completely in charge of the state government for over 20 years. Yes there are problems but you are rewarding the people who have created them.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Teachers, looking for a second job? DCPS SB member Scott Shine has some suggestions

Just when you think there may be a sliver of hope for the guy, DCPS school board member  Scott Shine, he calls in to First Coast Connect and suggests teachers become auxiliary police officers.

I want to be fair to the guy, also I don't want to be written up, and called a liar or worse so check it out, he calls in at about the nineteen minute point.

Like teachers, even those in rural counties don't have enough on thier plates already.

Shine has come out against arming teachers but he seems to have added the caveat, except those that become auxiliary officers and its something that teachers should think about becoming.


Arming teachers, is a terrible idea.

Having teachers become auxiliary officers seems terrible as well.

Having teachers who are auxiliary officers carry guns ins schools is just as bad too.

Sadly the right seems to be bending over backwards to come up with solutions to gun violence except the most obvious one.

The District and JPEF have celebration of teachers that they don't invite teachers to.

They say it’s the little things that matter, let’s find out.

The District partnered with the Jacksonville Public Education Fund to kick off an event at City Hall to honor teachers.

From the Times Union:

School district and city officials gathered in City Hall’s atrium Thursday to launch a year-long campaign to collectively thank teachers.
The program, sponsored by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, is an effort to encourage the public and many of the region’s top leaders to think about how teachers touched their lives and their community, said Trey Csar, president of the public education fund, which researches and supports public education.
There is a traveling art exhibit, which includes an interactive kiosk resembling a massive coffee table book. In it, readers can touch the pages and watch videos of Jacksonville’s leaders describing a special teacher’s impact on them.
The installation will remain at City Hall through Monday and then travel throughout the county, Csar said.
A major goal is to encourage at least 100,000 people to tweet about their teachers over the next 12 months, using the hashtag #JaxThanksATeacher and tagging @JaxPEF. Or, people can express themselves and hear about teachers on the website
Teacher appreciation is important, Csar said, because Duval County loses about half the new teachers it hires within five to seven years. Nationally, a growing teacher shortage is expected to worsen because the numbers of college students majoring in education is plunging.

Sounds great right? I mean I could argue that JPEF is not a pro teacher organization but there they are partnering with the district and the city to celebrate teachers, it’s great, sigh, except.

Except they had it at noon and didn’t invite any teachers. That’s right they had a celebration of teachers without any teachers when teachers could not attend even if they were invited. 

Wouldn’t it have been nice to at least have teachers attend?

It’s the little things right, like having a celebration of teachers when they could attend and maybe inviting them as well.

Csar is right, teacher appreciation is important, in lieu of a raise anyways, and perhaps in the future we should include teachers in any celebrations of them.

You know how you could really celebrate teachers? How about by voting for representatives who want to support teachers and public education rather than dismantle it like many of Duvals' do now. Fant, Bean, Fischer, and Byrd are some of the worst of the worst. If you really want to appreciate teachers vote them out.

Jacksonville right...  

Thursday, March 1, 2018

DCPS makes the right call on not arming teachers

The bottom line is teachers have to many responsibilities now to add carrying and maintaining a firearm while at school and potentially taking a life, to them. 

Teachers already wear so many hats and are under appreciated and over worked as it is ludicrous that some people think arming teachers is a good idea and I for one applaud our board and super for acknowledging that and by saying DCPS will not be arming its teachers.

From the Times Union:

Most of Duval’s School Board members said Wednesday they won’t authorize teachers or other staff to be armed in schools, even if the state Legislature passes a bill making that possible.
Five of the seven board members said they will instead sign a resolution early next month that supports Gov. Rick Scott’s school safety proposals, instead of the proposals currently being discussed in Florida’s House and Senate. Two board members were absent.
The board members all said they like that Scott’s call for spending $500 million to put an armed law enforcement officer at every public school and extra officers for every 1,000 students enrolled in each school.
Scott’s proposal does not call for arming teachers or other school staff, while the state House and Senate bills do. President Donald Trump also is championing arming school employees.
Proponents of arming teachers will say if somebody intending to do harm knew there were armed teachers they would be detoured from doing so. Well Nicholas Cruz had to know Parkland had an armed officer and that did not stop him.
There are just to many chances where something could go wrong and I point to a good samaritan in Texas shot by the police after disarming a suspect and a teacher just this past week in Georgia discharging his weapon in a classroom as examples.  
The solution to guns is not more guns.
The truth is as long as we live in a gun society where some people feel their right to own guns is worth the occasional slaughter of children at school, people at the movies or a concert, or a Sunday congregation there is nothing we can do to make us absolutely safe, including arming teachers and turning schools into prisons, but we can do better if we as a society decide we want to.
DCPS has made the right call. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The embarrassing and shameful bills the Florida legislature is voting on

It's a list of reckless, vindictive, dangerous and heartless bills.

Today a senate subcommittee  voted to decertify unions that have less than 50 percent membership, except for police, fire and prison guard unions, you know the ones that are mostly men and vote republican. This is a direct attack on teacher unions.

Speaking of teachers, they voted to arm them as a line of defense against school shooters despite the fact that overwhelmingly teachers have come out against the idea.

Then two days after the slaughter of fourteen children they voted to declare porn a danger while refusing to take up a debate about assault weapons, something they have refused to discuss in both houses now.

They also voted to have "In God We Trust" prominently displayed in all public schools. I guess this plus arming Mrs. McGuilicutty is supposed to keep children safe. 

Throw in their annual voucher bills designed to siphon more money out of public education and children into unregulated and generally substandard private schools and this is what the republicans in Tallahassee call a successful session.

Friends we can and should be doing better. We can no longer continue to vote for people who want to dismantle our public schools, show zero interest in protecting our children and who only represent the special interests who donate to their campaigns and super pacs.


Scott Shine gets one right about guns

I think Mr. shine has been a dreadful, I mean legendarily bad school board member for a variety of reasons that I won't go into here, though if you want to put his name in the search bar you can easily find them. That being said, I agree with his position on arming teachers.

From First Coast News,

In response, Duval County School Board Member Scott Shine says Florida Carry needs to pump the breaks.

"I think what we have to consider is that the training to have a concealed weapons permit doesn’t really bring you to the level of law enforcement dealing with an active shooter situation," said Shine.

Later in the piece it mentions he is instructor in shooting sports and a teacher of a local concealed weapons class.

Um gulp.

Here is the thing, If shine who has had in my opinion had tons of bad ideas knows arming teachers is  a bad one, then that just proves how bad the idea is.

The Florida Senate makes the gun problem worse

It's hard to imagine after the tragedy in Parkland that the gun problem could get worse but that is what the Florida senate has made it. They were asked by the survivors to do two things and they failed to do them both.

Almost immediately after the tragedy, the survivors went to Tallahassee and begged the house to ban assault weapons and instead the House thumbed their nose at them and instead declared porn an emergency and mandated that "In God We Trust", be displayed in all our schools.  

The Senates supposedly the adults in the room had a chance to keep the debate alive but they didn't, voting on a near party line to stop debate on the issue. They then doubled down on the smack to the face of the survivors and did the second thing they didn't want, guns in the classroom and started a program to arm teachers.

From the Orlando Sentinel,

The amendment (to ban assault weapons) failed in a 7-6 vote, with Miami Republican Anitere Flores crossing party lines to join Democrats, who voted as a bloc in favor of the proposed ban on assault-style weapons. 

After the ban failed, the crowd again erupted, threatening lawmakers with being voted out of office in November. 

The overall package approved by the Rules Committee would allow specially trained teachers to bring guns to schools, prohibit people younger than 21 from buying rifles or other long guns, and give law enforcement officers the ability to get court orders to take guns away from mentally ill people they deem dangerous.

Only in Florida can we take a terrible tragedy and not only do nothing substantial about it but then turn around and make things worse.

Friends we can't keep voting the same public education hating special interest owned politicians and expect things to improve, we just can't.

How the senate committee members voted:

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Trump wants to protect our children on the cheap.

These are his words,

Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again - a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.

You know why spend the money to properly protect our children when you can do it on the cheap. Why invest in smaller classes so teachers can better get to know their students. Why invest in psychologists and social workers because so much of what happens at schools has nothing to do with schools.

Then he wants to give teachers who are already under paid a bonus if they will carry a gun? That's disgusting.

You know there have been bank robberies forever and nobody says, we should arm tellers, there have been shootings in movie theaters and nobody says arm the ushers either and after church shootings nobody says, arm the preachers, but for some reason people think arming teachers is acceptable? In fact in just about every aspect of life there has been gun violence but the answer hasn't been to arm the people who work there, but now the president wants teachers to carry weapons and if they ever have to use them to shoot most likely children.

I don't know what upsets me more, the presidents tone deaf and incompetent idea or the fact he wants to save money while implementing it.

What do you think it would be worth to save a child's life?
More guns is not the answer.