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Monday, May 22, 2017

Florida sets teachers up to fail and then charges them to do so.

I have heard up to 500 teachers in Duval County have not passed all or part of the general knowledge test, something they must do by June 30th if they want to keep their jobs.

Before you think that maybe if they can’t pass the test they shouldn’t be teachers you should know there has been an 800 percent increase in failure over the last few years and yes, I meant to write 800.

It however gets even worse, from WPTV.com

Prior to 2009, the FTCE and FELE tests costs examinees $25 per section to take.  Both the FTCE and FELE have various sections depending on teacher specialties.

Prior to 2009, retakes didn't cost a penny more. Today, portions of Florida's teacher tests cost up to $200 per section to take and retakes are an additional $20 more.

The increase in costs since 2009 represent nearly an 800% increases in less than ten years.

We discovered Florida's teacher certification exam is one of the priciest teacher certification tests in the country.


Not only has the state dramatically increased what is considered passing, but they have used it as a revenue stream, siphoning money from those that are already grossly underpaid compared to their peers.

Florida has a teacher recruitment and retention problem and at this point I have to think it is by design as private schools, even those that take vouchers aren’t saddled with the same requirements.

The Florida Legislature isn't just setting teachers up to fail, it is charging them hundreds of dollars to do so.

The state legislature want’s it’s public schools to fail and this is even more evidence of that.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Superintendent deflects responsibility, insults, up to the very last minute

The Times Union did a piece talking about our one percent growth in third grade reading. It's true we aren't where we want to be and we have a long way to go but lets  acknowledge that and appreciate it.

However, I can't help but wonder what we could have done had we had a curriculum that valued books above handouts and used a curriculum teachers both helped to pick and supported. I would like to think we could have done much better than one percent, that maybe we would have matched or exceeded the state gains of 4 percent, but we are who we are and superintendent Vitti is who he is as well and that's a poor excuse of a leader and I will let his own words explain why that is.

He led off his comments to the Times Union with the following:

“This was a low-performing cohort as compared to the one before them,” Vitti said, adding they probably needed more phonics instruction in their younger grade levels.

http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/education/2017-05-19/duval-s-third-graders-slightly-improve-state-reading-test-hundreds

He doesn't mention that this cohort of third graders has been in the system for as long as he has been super here or that if he thought they needed more phonics he was the one person who could have made sure that happened. This cohort is the first one to have come up completely through his curriculum and leadership choices. Like no other cohort, he is responsible for how they performed and what does he do? He insults them.

Hey parents of third graders, did you know your children when compared to other recent cohorts, they just didn't measure up? Hey superintendent Vitti did you ever think that maybe that's because this group was immersed in your lousy curriculum choices?

The thing that Vitti did best was his ability to deflect responsibility and lay blame, whether it was on and these are things he has said, our short bench, our poor math teachers, the state or a low performing cohort.

Now if you read the piece he does mention the hard work of the third grade team but that is almost like an after thought to him.

Being the super has to be a tough job but you know what else is a tough job? Being a third grade teacher in Duval county and I hope the next super give them a better chance at being successful.

Mark Woods did an op-ed in the Times Union today where he talks about how Vitti will work right up to the last minute before he heads to Detroit, well he does something else and that's by continuously deflecting responsibility and insulting the good people of the district he shows what a poor leader he is and how the District will be better off without him.

http://jacksonville.com/metro/mark-woods/columnists/2017-05-18/mark-woods-while-he-was-here-vitti-was-non-stop

Good luck Detroit, you are going to need it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Vitti saddles the district with more of his decisions on the way out the door and the board lets him.

A few weeks back the board said Vitti couldn’t fire or promote people in the next ninety days. They did so in anticipation of him leaving. Now there could be lots of motives behind their actions but the chief one that comes to mind is they didn’t want the super to settle scores and promote sycophants.

Fast forward a few weeks, Vitti is cleaning off his desk in preparation for his move to Detroit and he makes 11 moves, promoting a middle school principal to assistant superintendent, firing five principals (six others were retiring) and appointing 11 new ones.

What did the board do? They shrugged their shoulders.

From the Times Union

Days before he’s slated to leave, Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti last week shifted principals at 11 schools, despite recent School Board assurances that those job changes would be frozen for 90 days.

Vitti’s last day is Friday; he starts as Detroit’s new superintendent next week.

You know what it looks like he did to me? He settled scores and promoted sycophants.

If he wanted to leave a memo saying, I think this is what needs to happen that would have been fine but for him to make changes while heading out the door saddles the next super and the district with more of his decisions, and let’s face it despite the flowery accolades from the board, if the majority thought he was doing a good job, then he wouldn’t be on his way to Detroit.

This board and I am happier and more optimistic than I have been in a while with the direction of the district should have said, no thanks, we’ll take it from here. 

In the next few months we need the board to be strong as I am sure there will be lots of pressure to hire a super that special interests and the city's elites can control. This bow to a man on his way out the door is more than troubling.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Florida's teachers are its biggest losers

From Kafkateach


biggest-loser-logo-999x1024
Tallahassee’s continuous underfunding of Florida public schools, despite a return to economic good times, has caused a drastic cinching in teachers’ pay checks across the state over the last 10 years. The biggest losers of them all seem to be mid-career veteran teachers working for Miami Dade County Public Schools. I challenge any other school district in the state, or even the entire country, to produce numbers like the ones compiled below through the efforts of teacher collaboration on Facebook.
Thanks to technology and the hoarder nature of the profession, an old salary schedule from 2004 appeared on a Facebook post. See image below.
18423714_10155159217204627_6361260210776323277_n
There is nothing particularly shocking with this salary schedule alone. But when one compares it to what teachers are actually making in Miami Dade County in 2017, 13 years later, the contrast is shocking. The numbers compiled below are taken from an anonymous online survey where Miami Dade County teachers posted their base pay for the 2017 school year.
Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 6.52.46 PM
If you would like a printable copy that you can tear into little shreds and mail to the Florida Legislature, click the link https://1drv.ms/w/s!AhDpVy8XhRUem3B0ovnf1nMbbQ0y
Seeing these numbers actually drove me to drink, and I am not a drinker. That’s why I’m publishing this blog on a Friday night when you might already be drunk and won’t blame this blog post for any actions taken after inebriation. If you look at the highlighted sections, you will see that teachers with 15 to 23 years experience teaching in Miami Dade County actually made more money 13 years ago in 2004 WITHOUT ADJUSTING FOR INFLATION! When you add on a 2% inflation rate, some teachers are making almost $22,000 less than they would have made in 2004! Teachers with 19 years experience working in Miami Dade County Public Schools seem to be the biggest losers with an inflation adjusted loss of $21,982.
I started working for Miami Dade Public Schools in 2003 so this is the contract I signed up for, not the current min/max schedule (of which I will now never reach the max, after 14 years I’m $4,000 from the bottom) published on Miami Dade County Public Schools website. http://salary.dadeschools.net/Schd_Teachers/. You will also notice that there used to be a $10,000 difference in pay between a first year teacher and a 14 year veteran. In 2017, you actually have teachers with as little as 5 years experience making more money than a teacher with 15 years experience if they received highly effective evaluations. Regardless, almost every teacher’s salary in Miami Dade County Public Schools is thousands of dollars less than it should be if one acknowledges that inflation exists. According to the federal government, inflation was 2.2% http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/current-inflation-rates/ but for some reason, Florida and the Magic City seem to be living in a Disney Dream where $1 in 2004 has the same value as $1 in 2017.  This, coupled with a 3% loss in income (thanks again Tallahassee!) and a soaring real estate market, is leading to economic despair for most mid-career teachers in Miami. The School Board’s answer seems to be to build a few hundred affordable condo units on top of a school for teacher housing. Perhaps the other 19,000 teachers can go live in sand castles they build for themselves on the beach? Hard to tell which will erode away faster, Miami Dade County mid-career teacher pay checks or the shores of south Florida.
There are over 7,000 teachers working in Miami Dade County Public Schools in 2017 who made less than they would have made, WITHOUT ADJUSTING FOR INFLATION, in 2004! The Miami Dade County Public School System is the largest employer in Miami Dade County. When employee pay suffers, the local economy suffers as well. I challenge anyone to find another government worker from firefighters to police officers, where experience does not earn you a higher paycheck. Even security guards working for the school system still have steps!
The Florida Legislature would never do this to other public servants like firefighters and police officers. Reasons for that include that firefighter and police unions frequently vote Republican, rich people who run the Florida Legislature want them to protect their million dollar properties and they most likely don’t send their own kids to public schools, so they stick it to the Florida public school teacher every chance they get. Teacher salaries are also a main target because there are just so many of them compared to law enforcement and other public servants. If they are concerned about paying pension benefits, the biggest bang for your political buck is to slash the salaries of teachers. The war on teachers is also part of the larger war on women and the war on the middle class. The teaching profession has been a ticket into the middle class for many minority women over the last fifty years. By suppressing teacher wages, we suppress a major route to upward mobility. This may be happening most notably in Miami and throughout Florida, but it is also part of a nationwide trend leading to the death of the American middle class. We should all be concerned about this alarming data coming from Miami Dade County Public Schools, teachers may just be the canaries in the coal mine.

With less than a week to go Vitti starts firing people

I received this from a reader.

The principal at Mandarin Middle school was unceremoniously canned with 14 days left of school. Vitti went to visit this morning for emergency faculty meeting. He told us the staff he had made some mistakes in placing people at MMS and wanted to own up to them and fix it before he left. Most staff thought this meant a new principal for next year. Nope...it meant, Principal Marx gone is gone and Williams an AP from Stillwell was promoted to Mandarin principal now, effective immediately. What a way to %$#^ someone over on your way out the door! She wasn't the best principal but she didn't' do anything to deserve that.

I am told discipline was terrible at Mandarin Middle, though that's a problem many schools have experienced under Vitti.

A bigger problem however is this new principal will be the fourth in four years after only having 3 in their first 21 years. Unless your name is Iranetta Wright it seems you don't get many chances in the district.

Two things, who is next and Sunday, Vitti's last day can't get here fast enough.


Jason Fischer really hates public schools.

I wonder if they pulled his pig tails and put them in ink.

Jason Fischer once again proves his loyalty is not to Florida’s families or children when he wrote his op- ed supporting the Schools of Hope bill, but it is to the charter school operators who filled his campaign coffers with tens of thousands of dollars.

Fischer is also more than disingenuous in his defense of the bill as most teachers who he says will get bonuses, most parents who fought for recess and most school board members and superintendents those with an understanding of what the bill will do are against it.  They are because where they acknowledge there may be a few good things in the bill overall it is a pox on public education.

He then talks over and over about failing schools without mentioning there is already a mechanism, opportunity scholarships, in place for children to leave schools with multiple F and D grades where the district must also provide transportation. Most of these schools are in neighborhoods wracked with poverty and I am not sure if the extra 16 dollars per pupil, a number Fischer felt was so important he mentioned, is going to make a difference.

Here are some numbers that Fischer left out, 352, as in the number of charter schools that have taken money and failed over the years, costing hundreds of millions in tax payer dollars, leaving communities and children in a lurch, four in the last year in a half in Jacksonville alone and one million, the amount of tax payer money he secured for the KIPP school whose founder, Gary Chartrand, has been a substantial donor to Fischer over the years, and KIPP is part of one of the networks that would benefit from the bad bill.

Fischer though I am sure he didn’t mean to also told us that the charter schools we have here in Florida are as a group bad, if not why would we be setting hundreds of millions aside to attract out of state charter operators?

When Jason Fischer was on the school board he never met a charter school, he didn’t like and this has followed him to Tallahassee. Shouldn’t we elect officials who want to work with and improve our public schools, rather than ones who want to enrich their campaign contributors at the expense of our schools and children? I think we should.

Finally, if you care about our public schools or even if you just don't believe in crony capitalism which is what this bill is, please ignore Fischer and urge Governor Scott to veto it.

If you want to read his op-ed, try not to wretch, here is a link.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Did Gary Chartrand pay politicians to steer more money to his pet charter school?

Gary Chartrand is not a mercenary like the owners of Charter Schools USA, who are looking to make a buck. No, he’s a zealot, he hates public schools and the unionized teachers that work in them. He is a smart zealot too, he knows if he gives tens of thousands to select politicians they will reward his KIPP school with millions.

The Jacksonville Children’s Commission broke with long standing precedent to send the KIPP school three quarters of a million dollars.

From the Times Union:

 In the recommendations announced Wednesday morning, Tiger Academy and KIPP Public Charter Schools were able to secure funding through their associated nonprofits. For Tiger Academy, which is recommended to receive $581,577 for both summer and afterschool, that is the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. For KIPP, which would get $752,796 for afterschool at three of its schools, the nonprofit was its own foundation, the Jacksonville Alliance for KIPP Schools.


The director of the JCC John Heymann was so outraged by this he threatened to resign. Also from the Times Union.

“As long as I’m the CEO of this place — and you guys can take that vote as soon as you want — this should not stop the original dictate of this agency to bring the expertise and the resources of outside agencies to benefit the school system, and should not philosophically become another funding arm for the public school system,” Heymann said. “By not doing this, you are opening up a Pandora’s box that will greatly change the face of JCC.”
Fast forward just a few weeks and John Heymann quit his position.


What does this have to do with KIPP? Gary Chartrand donated tens of thousands of dollars to Lenny Curry and the pacs that helped elect him. This break from routine also had to be approved by the city’s general counsel who serves at the pleasure of the mayor. I can imagine the conversation now.

GC: “Lenny what do you want me to do?”
LC: Checks bank account, “approve it.”

Then Chartrand did the same thing with Jason Fischer, he funneled tens of thousands of dollars into his campaigns and pacs, and he introduced a bill to give KIPP another million in tax payer dollars.


Millions of public dollars, broken precedents, tens of thousands in campaign contributions to select politicians, this is an episode of House of Cards.

The bottom line is politicians Chartrand supports end up funneling millions of tax payer dollars into his pet causes and that is not how things are supposed to work.

Want to see how much? Go to the supervisor of elections pages and type in Chartrand



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Times Union is the worst and I can prove it

The day after the Florid Legislature dropped a nuclear bomb on public education by passing HB 7069 which is an unprecedented expansion of privatization the Times Union did an editorial about keeping Teach for America. 

The tone deafness of the editors is overwhelming..

They decided to support Teach for America despite the fact its core setup is ridiculous.   

They take non education majors putting them through a six week teacher boot camp and then into our neediest schools where they are supposed to serve just two years (one sixth of them historically don’t even finished their first year) assuring an ever revolving door of novice teachers in front of our most vulnerable children.

How the concept wasn't laughed out the door is a testament to the anti-labor and corporate reform movement. 

But it gets worse because nothing exacerbates teacher turnover like Teach for America does and that’s not me saying it that is Duval County’s very own study doing so.



 That should be enough right there. Reasonable people should say oh, that’s terrible we can do better but since the Times Union is not let’s factor in how ridiculously expensive it is.

It's not just the additional nearly five million that the district has given them, since they came to town it is the additional 6.25 million that the QEA has given them over the last three years as well. Remember this is for less than 200 teachers and that money was supposed to be used to improve our schools. Not a penny of that money saw a classroom.

In addition to salaries, benefits, and training the district and the QEA has given Teach for America nearly 11 million dollars. Let that sink in. 11 million dollars.

That's a lot of money and for what? Here is a note I got from JPEF when I asked about the money so you know once again this isn’t just me saying it.

From Deidra O'Connor of JPEF

Hi Chris,

I am indeed reading on a Sunday. Some updated info for you: TFA has been granted 6.25 million, of which $5 million has been paid and $1.25 million has been approved and will be paid out by June 1. Does this help?

I'm cc'ing Charmaine Campo, who can assist you if you have any further questions.

Best wishes,
Deirdre

Deirdre Conner
Director of Advocacy & Communications

Mobile: (904) 345-0597

If my wife, mother, best friend and cat were in TFA I still couldn't support it, but the Times Union has no problem doing so. The main reason? Some rich guy likes it,
For Shame.

The Times Union says, we should have TFA because Gary Chartrand likes them.

If today's editorial is indicative of the Times Union then it is not fit to wrap fish or line bird cages. If you have a subscription I urge you to end it. If you have friends which are still holding on, I urge you to encourage them to end their subscriptions too.

Today the Times Union wrote an editorial that said, we should keep Teach for America because wealthy grocer and charter school zealot Gary Chartrand says we should, I $#%^ you not.

From the Times Union:

Teach for America has another big advantage for the district. It has the support of some of the city’s major philanthropists like Gary Chartrand.

Through their foundation, Chartrand and his family have spent large amounts of time and funds to help public schools.
That some criticize these efforts proves the adage that “no good deed shall go unpunished.”
Everyone in Jacksonville should be thrilled that Chartrand and other private funders are supporting Teach for America and the KIPP charter schools.
The long waiting list at the KIPP schools is a testament to support in the community. 
Why should we care what a rich grocer charter school zealot from St. Johns county, who has never taught a day in his life thinks about education? Does the system exist to educate children or to placate Gary Chartrand.
About KIPP, not only do they have longer school days and year and can put requirements on their parents and spend more per pupil but how great are they?
Do you know the grades of the KIPP schools? Last year the middle school went from a D to a C. An improvement yes, but that’s how the KIPP middle school works, it’s up one year and then down the next, probably because so many TFA teachers come and go. It has had more Ds and Fs than anything and the elementary school had a grade of D, but hey they have a waiting list so they must be great right?

They said because there is a wait list that must be an indicator of community support. Sadly it is not, it’s an indicator of a marketing campaign that has for years belittled and blamed public schools and a media that doesn’t do its job.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Paula Wright calls out TFA for cheating

From the I can't me this up file, Mrs. Wright said it had come to her attention that somebody had filled out comment cards for TFA members who weren't there.

She asked the audience that if they weren't there to fill out a comment card that they please not speak and most of the 33 remaining cards went unanswered..

Look there are great TFA teachers too and once you step in the classroom you deserve credit, its the program that is dreadful but I think this fast and lose playing with the comment cards really goes to show the character of the organization. Those teachers weren't advocating for their children, they were advocating for their little club and the perks they recieve.

Teach for America shows up in force at the school board meeting, Their tone deafness was on display.

 It was like Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

Oy vey, I can't make this up.

While Tallahassee is about to launch a nuclear bomb at Florida's public schools several tone deaf Teach for America members showed up to shill for this very expensive program.

In case you didn't know, the district after salaries benefits and training has given TFA 5 million extra dollars over the last 8 years. Then inexplicably rather than investing in our schools like it said it was going to the QEA initiative has given them an additional 6.25 million over the last three years.

Monique talked about synergy, and said if there is no money there is no money but...

Asante said it doesn't matter what is happening in Tallahassee, that is beyond our control but keeping TFA isn't.

Lauren said if there is no TFA many of the TFA teachers won't teach. Um?

Britney, said she was a teacher before she joined TFA, um, what? It wasn't until she was in her third year when she joined TFA that she got it. Spoiler alert Britney it's about teachers third year when they start to get it, and since most of TFA leave after two, that is one of the biggest problems with TFA.

Katelyn said kids deserve teachers who aren't going to quit on them. yes they do Katelyn, yes they do.

Kristen, even though she is a teacher took last Thursday off to attend a school board meeting and she wonders why she had never meant them before.

Allie talked about how her assistant principal is a TFA alumni, oy vey, 27 year old vice principals is another scourge that TFA brings with it.

Heather mentioned that at First Coast there are 14 TFA teachers, um friends if you have a kid that goes to TFA, please make sure they are qualified. Apparently one of them is the theater teacher. Two things FC is not a title one school, why does it have any TFA members and THEATER, oh hell no.

Marquise a philosophy major, that's it, I can't write about him anymore.

Abraham, is a senior math teacher, no wait, he teaches seniors, doesn't want his students disenfranchised though he doesn't care about the ever revolving door that TFA creates.

Kelsey from South Dakota left after two years but came back, and where she's not a teacher now she feels she can coach teachers. Get the $%#@ out of here.

Lindsey's students thanked them for allowing them to be them and helping them do their work.

Allie was a member of City Year, a great program we should expand. I wonder if Allie knows how much extra money being a TFA member drains from our schools.

Eric, replaced a TFA teacher and apparently doesn't see the irony of it. He wants to be on the school board by the way.

With 33 cards to go, I guess every TFA member out there came, I couldn't take any more.

The hubris that comes from the lips of the corp members is nearly overwhelming as they talk about the mentoring they do, the clubs they run, the programs they facilitate, how they care about kids, or you know just like every other teacher does. Teachers who have chosen education as their profession and who aren't killing time as they wait for grad school.

How do teachers not part of TFA soldier on?

Finally several students spoke up for Teach for America too and I just have to say I find it reprehensible that TFA roped them in. I doubt they know the ends and out of the program. Shame on you TFA for manipulating the students you say you are trying to help. Shame on you.


By the numbers, how Tallahassee is seeking to harm our public schools

From Fund Education Now

What exactly has been stuffed into the Conforming bill known as HB 7069?  Remember, most of these ALEC policies are driven by Jeb’s Foundations and assigned to legislators who did their best to avoid public debate. That’s because no one but Jeb, the Koch Bros, and the charter/voucher lobby wants this legislation. Ever seen a parent begging for ways to fund corporate charter welfare, give public land away or erode the authority of duly elected officials?  That would be a resounding “no.”
Here’s the lowdown:
Title 1 Funds
  • Redirects and dilutes Title I funds currently used by districts to provide a variety of district-wide programs that benefit some of the most vulnerable students.
  • Eliminates district-wide programs currently funded with a portion of Title I money such as, AVID, mentorship programs, and some services offered by school transformation offices.
Charters get to grade District public schools
  • Permits charter schools to “grade” school districts on their performance
  • Does not allow for school districts to do the same to charters
Schools of Hope/High Impact Corporate Charter welfare (line 184)
  • Creates the “Schools of Hope” program, funded with $140 million by the legislature for out of state charters to take over the education of the most vulnerable students in Florida with zero proof that there is any record of success in turning around schools.
  • Redirects further funding from traditional public schools and provides a corporate welfare program for charters.
  • Does not require the charters to service the students in the schools that they are taking over.
  • Increases the number of schools subject to charter take over because it requires school districts to prepare emergency plans if any school in the district earns a “D” or “F”.
  • Language from HB 7101, including the mandate that school districts use a standard contract and any amendments to the contract are deemed to violate charter schools flexibility per statute.
  • Allows charters to use district facilities at a deeply discounted rate that my not reflect the fair market value of properties.
  • Allows just 25 schools from districts to compete for Schools of Hope funding. If the state invested in funding struggling schools, Schools of Hope would be redundant.
Charter School Land Use
  • Allows charter schools to bypass any land use or zoning requirements of local jurisdictions.
  • Preempts the authority of local jurisdictions and doesn’t permit local community participation on land use or zoning decisions that potentially affect their property uses and values.
  • Doesn’t allow for local governments or local citizens to evaluate the impacts on their communities caused by charter schools on issues such as traffic capacity and consistency with approved uses already in place.
  • School districts are not given the same flexibility as corporate charter chains.
Charter access to public facilities
  • Allows charters to use district facilities at a deeply discounted rate that my not reflect the fair market value of properties.
  • Requires districts to report to DOE if any facility or portion of a facility is vacant, underused, or surplus.
  • Expands the current requirement of reporting surplus properties.
  • Could result in a charter school operating simultaneously as an operating public school, affecting the ability of a district to properly plan for future growth.
  • Grants charter schools sovereign immunity equal to what public entities currently have under state law.
Charters can hire non-certified teachers
  • Allows “Schools of Hope” to hire non-certified teachers and administrators.
  • These teachers and administrators are servicing some of the most vulnerable students in Florida.
  • Why would the standards for these teachers and administrators be lowered?
Exempts corporate charter chains from paying for District services
  • Caps the administration fees a school district may charge a charter for educational services.
  • Exempts Charters from paying for additional services outside the agreed administrative fee, causing Districts to subsidize the cost of these extra services
  • Impedes a district’s ability to provide adequate educational services for students enrolled in its district.
Charters Usurp Superintendent Authority/Schools of Excellence
  • Mandates that a school of excellence be a part of the principal autonomy program which attempts to usurp superintendent powers under the constitution.
  • Caps the administration fees a school district may charge a charter for educational services.
  • If a district provides additional services to a charter outside what is contemplated with the administrative fee, it would result in school districts having to subsidize charter school programs and potentially affect a district’s ability to provide adequate educational services for students enrolled in its district.
Charters Usurp locally elected school boards
  • Grants charter school systems governing board a designation as an local educational agency
  • Allows charters to bypass local control and allowing them to remain largely unaccountable to the public despite receiving a significant amount of taxpayer funding.
School Districts must give Charters a portion of locally levied capital outlay funding
  • Without proof of need, requires a local school district to share its locally derived capital outlay funds with charters,
  • Districts must prove need.
School Grade Manipulation 
  • Requires the educational data from a student that transfers to a private school or comes from a private school to be factored into a school’s grade, despite the fact that the school is not providing educational services to the student.
Teachers
  • Removes teacher bonus caps for IB, AP, and CAPE without funding.
  • Best & Brightest Teacher Bonus Includes an expansion that adds principals, the qualifications which have no proven correlation with teacher or principal performance. It also provides for teacher bonuses, NOT an increase in pay. Funded at $234 million
  • Teacher Contracts: Contains a provision limiting the employment contracts that school districts may award to teachers.
  • Makes VAM teacher evaluation system optional for districts
Recess
  • Mandates 100  minutes of recess for all K-5 students in District public schools
  • Exempts charter schools from this mandate – granting a carve-out from any expenses incurred by the recess mandate

Vitti ate his Wheaties today, calls out Tallahassee's coruption

Perhaps emboldened by the fact he has one foot, both knees and his shoulders out the door, Vitti went off on Tallahassee today.

From the Times Union:

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, along with several School Board members and Duval Teachers United President Terrie Brady, called a series of last-minute additions made to an education “train” bill late last Friday night a sign of corruption in Tallahassee. The measures, they said, will largely benefit charter schools while harming many poor students and the public schools which serve them.
“This bill is about power and corruption,” Vitti said. “It’s about anti-public accountability and anti-public schools. It will radically and negatively transform funding streams, infrastructure and systems of support for public schools.”
Vitti said House Bill 7069 would force the closure of three Duval County middle schools at first, then 20 more schools later. It also would cut or reduce the district’s ability to pay for various programs to help poor or academically struggling students, such as graduation coaches, mentoring and tutoring, and field trips.
It also would prevent the district from building two new schools in the Oceanway and St. Johns Town Center areas, while the bill would drastically cut money for maintaining school buildings, said Board member Rebecca Couch.
Finally, it would funnel more students and money to charter schools, which will be even less regulated and monitored, thanks to the bill.
For instance, Vitti said, charter schools won’t have to hire licensed teachers.
Legislators, some of whom have family ties to charter schools, have said they want to expand school choice options for parents and make the playing field more fair for charter schools. They point out that the measure targets schools with one F, two D’s, or anything less than a C for three years straight for closure.
Vitti is absolutely right and kudos for him mentioning how bad Tallahassee has become. The problem is their corruption didn't start last Friday night, it has been going on for years now and I just wonder if instead of kneeling down to the charter industry like he has for years he would have pushed back sooner. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

HB 7069 sticks a knife in the heart of Pubic Education

From Fund Education Now

Florida’s 2.8 million public school children need your help now. Both the Budget and HB 7069, the Conforming bill, which contains an inappropriate number of policies and barely vetted concepts, will face an up/down vote in both the House and the Senate Monday afternoon. Take action now!
Speaker Corcoran promised transparency, but delivered the opposite when he made the choice, along with Senate President Negron to negotiate the entire budget shrouded in in secrecy.
HB 7069 is a massive 278 page train bill loaded with sweet legislator “projects” and positives such as recess to entice the passage of perhaps the worst list of education policies in recent memory.
Take action now. Tell the Senate to VOTE NO! Both HB 7069 and the Budget are morally indefensible.
The stakes are higher than ever:
  • The proposed 0.34% increase puts Public Education funding at its lowest point since the Great Recession.
  • To put this in perspective, look at the Base Student Allocation – the number needed to keep the lights on and teachers in classrooms. In 2007 each student got $4,163.47 and the 2017 proposal offers $4,133.64. That’s $29.83 less.
  • $200 million dollars in corporate welfare for “Schools of Hope/High Impact Charters” takes duly elected school boards out of the mix and forces the immediate hand over of 115 struggling schools to out of state for-profit charter corporations. Zero evidence exists that this program will help students, but it will increase charter school profit.
  • Schools of Hope allow Charters to hire uncertified teachers and administrators who will be servicing the state’s most vulnerable students.
  • Only 25 District schools are eligible to compete for Schools of Hope funding (less than 1 per district).
  • $214 million (up from $50 million last year) for the Best & Brightest Teacher Bonus based on SAT/ACT high school scores
  • $50 million in Public Education Capital Outlay for facilities for 632 Charter Schools
  • $50 million in Public Education Capital Outlay for facilities for 4,269 District Public Schools
  • Promising “testing bill” has been reduced to eliminating the Algebra II EOC and requiring a study of ACT & SAT
  • Robs districts of Title I funds that provide a numerous district-wide programs that benefit the most vulnerable students. Would eliminate district-wide programs currently funded with a portion of Title I money such as, AVID, mentorship programs, and some services offered by school transformation offices.
  • Grants recess to K-5 public school students while carving out an exemption for all Charter Schools
It doesn’t have to be this way.  Florida has the money. Legislators are choosing to give it away as corporate Charter welfare in exchange for special consideration such as campaign donations.
Send your letters now!  Call and Tweet your legislators. Tell them you strongly object to cutting public education while granting corporate welfare cash to charter chains.
This 2017 session will go down in history as a coordinated effort to fund school privatization while turning a cold shoulder to Florida’s three million public school children.
Asking for Governor Scott’s veto is our next step.