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Showing posts from August, 2010

Hello, my name is Al Brennan, I am the principal of Forrest high school and I hate teachers (revised)

Principal Brennan didn't actually say that, and I doubt he feels that way, too. Sadly, that's what numerous teachers heard when he told them at the welcome back staff meeting that if they didn't park in their designated spots he would have their cars towed; if they didn't turn in a classroom key, he would say they stole it (and words to the effect that he would prosecute them) and that if they were one minute late they would be disciplined. “ I wouldn't dream of talking to my students that way, and if I did I would rightfully get in trouble”, a teacher friend of mine said.

Principal Brennan has also taken to monitoring (or having monitored) his teacher’s social networking sites, telling teachers that they can’t have students on their pages and taking umbrage to some of his staff’s status updates. I have better things to do than look at my student’s pages, and I would hope people entrusted to run schools would, as well.

It's common practice for teachers to sta…

The Times Union doesn't get it

The Florida Times- Union

My mother worked for the Florida Times- Union for thirty years. I learned to read by reading the paper. When I was little, I would sit at the kitchen table reading the paper with my mother. I still sit at the kitchen table to read the paper. The Florida Times- Union has been a big and important part of my life, and believe me - it gives me no pleasure in saying the Florida Times -Union “just doesn’t get it”. This is hurting both Jacksonville and its children.

Jacksonville intersects two major highways. It’s on both a major river and the ocean. It has a seaport and an international airport. Our city has lots of room to grow and much of the infrastructure in place to do so. We have a professional football team, are close to entertainment hubs and have one of the best park systems in the entire country. We are a pro-business city in a pro-business state that doesn’t have an income tax, and I haven’t even mentioned how great our weather is, yet. On paper, Jacksonv…

Shame on the Times Union for not supporting the city's children

It's disappointing to see the Times Union pick career politicians over teachers for two of the school board races. In effect they are saying the way we have been doing things (putting career politicians using the board as a stepping stone, undoubtedly up for Mr. Lee, and down for Mr. Smith) is working and nothing could be further from the truth.

The board desperately needs people who are working with the cities children next to its teachers in its schools. They better than people filled with hubris how have a tenuous relationship to education are what we need. Becki Couch and John King where not as experienced politically are better qualified.

Doing the same thing over and over yet expecting a different out come is a common definition of insanity. To follow the times unions picks where perhaps not insanity is certainly folly. I am not questioning the character of their picks, I am questioning their qualifications and unless they have been in the schools day after day then they are u…

Reverse Psychology: Collaboration

Reverse psychology is one of the oldest and lamest tricks in the book. It’s where you tell somebody they are scared of something with the expectation that they will try and prove you wrong by doing it. Several times this week, when talking about collaboration, it’s been implied that teachers are scared of it. ‘It’s new, so teachers don’t like it’, and ‘teachers think it’s safer to rely on themselves’ have both been thrown out there.

I think collaboration is great. Teachers can often learn strategies and techniques from each other. Then, in the upper grades, students usually have multiple teachers and there we can learn from each other what is and what isn’t working with a particular student. These are strategies (and I am not sure the powers-that-be know it) that teachers have been employing for as long as there has been education; I am sure Plato ran some ideas past Socrates in his time.

For some reason, however, collaboration has recently become all the rage; it’s as if the powers-th…

A Lack of honesty

There is something comforting about honesty, even if you don’t like what you are hearing. Immediately, you know what’s going on and/or you know where you stand. Sadly, our educational leaders here in Jacksonville traditionally haven’t been that honest. Remember these? “Kids can get the same education at neighborhood schools as they can at magnet schools”… “Tying Principal’s evaluations to suspensions does not affect discipline”… and, finally, among other whoppers: “The district respects its teachers and thinks they are our most valuable resource”. However, where the district has a long way to go on the honesty road, at least in the last few days they did make some strides.

For years, teachers have dedicated a disproportionate amount of time teaching just to the F-CAT test. All other facets of education sadly became secondary. Well, this year at several schools throughout the district, they have gone ahead and created an F-CAT prep class that every student will take every day. Now, sinc…

Steve Berrey

I received the following letter from district six candidate, Steve Berrey.

Mr. Guerrieri,

My name is Steve Berrey and yes, I am the husband of a teacher, the father of five children - four of which have graduated or are attending DCPS. No professional development is NOT what I stood for. I don't know if you got that from somewhere else but it didn't come from me

I want to massively downsize the bureaucracy that is 1701 prudential drive... I want to restore teacher control of the classroom and end social promotion - for the students and the administrators that have often failed as principals so we move them up. I want to give teachers more accessibility to successful training - not the one-size-fits-all Shultz Center.

My business background is secondary to my concerns for our economy. We cannot continue to lose residents to Clay, St. Johns and Nassau counties due to our poor schools.

But when a teacher is told to "stop writing referrals" that makes no sense to me. When …

Duval County School District, not running near student cpacity

The school districts closest to Jacksonville are all running near student capacity. St. Johns is at 92%, Clay County, 97%, Nassau, 94% and Baker County is even running over capacity (5,600 students from a population of 4700 children), which makes me wonder if a few families on the far Westside of town aren’t tweaking the rules just a bit.

The Duval County Public School System on the other hand is running at 85 percent. This means that nearly one in seven children who could get a free public education are not. Their families have decided to home school them, send them to private school or the children have decided that school just isn’t for them. Can you imagine one in seven of your friends turning down free electricity or phone service, what about free food? Because that’s about the equivalent of what families are doing when they turn away from Jacksonville’s public schools.

The worse part I believe is the Duval County Public School system seems okay with this. Despite the fact the…