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Raines high school

Once again while trying to build Raines High School up Tanyaa Weathersbee does it a disservice. First some of the positives she points to are the same as me celebrating a five-pound loss after I recently gained ten pounds. Nearly every school saw their writing and science scores improve because the tests were made easier and nearly every school saw their suspension rates drop because the Duval County School district decided to move away from discipline.

The real problems with Raines are indicative of the systemic problems in the education system and will never improve now matter how many rallies or dinners we have unless we work to change them. How do kids make it to high school and not be able to read or do math? Well it’s because Duval County pushes them along without the skills they need and when they get to high school there is nowhere else for them to be pushed to.

Why aren’t kids doing better in school? It’s because they are all in a one size fits all curriculum instead of being…

More porridge please: A Glimpse at the inner workings of the DCPS district

I was called into a training yesterday, it’s my summer so they can’t make me go but the subject was one I think is important. Though it would be disingenuous of me to say the fact they promised to pay me my hourly wage wasn’t a big, very big inducement.

As I pulled into the faculty parking lot I noticed they had paved the students parking lot. Hmm, I thought, that’s interesting, a thought that came to mind again when I noticed they had retiled several of the floors.

I entered Houston Hall, where many of the meetings are and took my seat surrounded by 25 or so peers, and six members of the seemingly always-expanding district staff. One got up and thanked us for coming and told us, and don’t worry you will be getting a stipend for your time.

A palpable gasp went up from the crowd, stipend, um we were told we were getting our hourly wage, we mumbled to each other. The difference for my peers and me is about one hundred dollars. I mentioned it to the senior district person on a break a…

Schools can't be run like a bussiness

Run it like a business seems to be the cry people outside of education both yell and try to sell. I wonder what business schools should it be run like? Should they be run like a bank or a mortgage company, probably not they have had their fair share of problems recently. What about like a car company or an international oil conglomerate, probably not either right as they have had their problems too. I recently read a statistic that said 20,000-business fail a month, which of those should we run education like? The truth is we can’t run a public school system like a business and even though it sounds good to some, saying it is impractical does a disservice to things that are truly impractical.

No shoes, no shirt, no service right? Well what about no school supplies no service? If I kicked out every kid who didn’t bring a pen or pencil to my class, some days I would have had an extra planning period. If I gave away one pencil or pen I gave away a thousand. And don’t get me talking abou…

God created the school board

The Duval County school board voted on the behest of the superintendent, 4-3, at a special meeting to break the contract with teachers in order to reduce or eliminate teacher’s raises. They claimed financial urgency, a move, which caught the union and at least three board members off guard.

Speaking of financial urgency, last week they approved a 28 million dollar renovation project at Lee high school that many people think is more of a luxury than a necessity. A pretty penny, which strangely enough is more than a third of what it cost to build all of Atlantic Coast high, that price tag was 78 million dollars. Earlier this year the administration also spent a million dollars on new cars and annually spends millions on the Schultz center which duplicates many functions that could be performed just as well at schools. This is quite a bit of money for a county facing “financial urgency” to be throwing around.

To me this isn’t about stopping teachers from getting raises, which would be abo…

Paradise Lost

Milton’s, Paradise Lost, is an epic poem about the fall of mankind. Part of the poem has to deal with the temptation of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden and believe it or not a modern day comparison can be found on the West side of Jacksonville.

My friend Milton Parker, a veteran of both the army and seven years of teaching at Forrest high school was recently cast out of paradise, though his paradise wasn’t the Garden of Eden. No, his was a crumbling and dilapidated school on Firestone road, known more for who it was named after, Civil war general Nathan Bedford Forrest who founded the Klu Klux Klan and the fights it’s students routinely post on you tube, than anything else.

I spoke to Milton who is married and has two children and asked him what happened. At first he started talking in stops and spurts. It took him a while to put sentences together as if he was still stunned by what had transpired just a few days earlier. When he could talk, he started with, …

Blame the Messeneger

The district web site at one point details the problems both real and perceived with this year’s f-cat and then touts the successes that several schools had. This begs the question does the district believe the f-cat was inaccurate when assessing some schools but accurate when assessing others? If this seems incongruent to you don’t worry, it’s not, it’s just par for the course in the Duval County Public School district.

When there is a success they have no problems beating their chest saying look a us, but when there is a failure, like the f-cat results or the fact seventy percent of graduates have to take remedial classes in college they equally have no problem pointing the finger and casting blame elsewhere. Welcome to the way things are run in Duval County.

The truth is the f-cat despite whatever noble purpose it may have represented when first conceived has become an albatross around the neck of public education. It’s flaws, drawbacks and problems were well documented before this …

Uninformed Opinion

The Times Union Opinion Nugget, Teaching Matters, pulled a play from the Superintendents and the legislatures playbook and that’s blame the teachers when things don’t work out like hoped for.

It has to be the teacher’s fault if children aren’t doing well. It can’t be the lack of parental involvement and it can’t be the districts policy to pass kids along whether they have the skills or not. It’ can’t be the counties one size fits all curriculum that ignore so many kids abilities and desires and it can’t be the gutting of discipline county wide. It can’t be the neighborhoods that many of these kids come from that don’t value education and it can’t be an out of touch administration which is more concerned about appearing to do well and finally it can’t be a far off legislature, very few of whom have ever taught in a classroom but that doesn't stop them from meddling and probably leads to them not properly funding education. It can’t be any of those things.

No it has to be the teacher’…