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Showing posts from August, 2010

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’…

Transfers: Not a quick fix

Superintendent Pratt-Dannals said he had heard from nearly 500 teachers who wanted to transfer to turn around schools. Well why wouldn’t they, teachers that are transferring from higher performing schools to turn around schools can expect raises of 12-18 thousand dollars. Who couldn’t use the money?

The thing is, the district has for years given teachers extra pay for transferring to struggling schools and even had at one time a program in place that offered teachers at Ribault and Raines a free masters degree if they stayed at those schools. Yet nothing has changed.

Maybe just maybe the problem isn’t the teachers, maybe instead it’s the way we do things. Ignoring discipline, putting all children in a one size fits all curriculum and both micromanaging and over whelming teachers with minutia doesn’t seem to be working. Look at Ribault, Raines and Jackson as proof of this.

If we were to switch out the staffs at Ribault, Jackson, Forrest or Raines with Stanton and kept doing things the…

Tommy Hazzouri

“It’s on the backs of our students, our parents and our teachers,” Hazouri said when talking about f-cat results. Well what about his back and the backs of the other school board members? Do they not deserve any responsibility. The truth is he probably doesn’t know. He is a career politician using the school board as a stepping stone down into retirement.

The reasons we aren’t thriving as a school district are many but one of the biggest is a lack of effective leadership. The school board has become a rubber stamp of the administration taking whatever comes from 1701 Prudential Drive as the gospel. The truth is we are real trouble and if the school board would take their blinders off for a second they might see it.

Mr. Hazouri before you blame the students, the parents and the teachers again take a minute to look in the mirror and think about what you have done to improve things. My bet is you will be as disappointed in your performance as the rest of us.

Chris Guerrieri
School Teache…

Ask a Teacher

The school board has voted to push the superintendents performance review back a few weeks. This was brought about by the delayed release of school grades because of the F-Cat grading fiasco (by the way the district recently hired the same company to do some of our data analysis). This review push back is actually a good thing for the citizens of Jacksonville. It gives the public an opportunity to contact our school board members and let them know what they think about the job he is doing.

If you do so and I hope you do, I think you should consider his own words when describing his performance. In his own words he blamed the college entrance test that Florida State College at Jacksonville gives for not asking the right questions as why seventy percent of Duval County grads having to take remedial classes and you should probably also consider when he said “we are a good community away from having a good school system.” Though If that’s not enough I would suggest looking up the art…