Tuesday, April 3, 2007

THE CLASS SIZE AMMENDMENT

FULL TEXT


Article IX, Section 1, Florida Constitution, is amended to read:
Section 1. Public Education. –
The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require. To assure that children attending public schools obtain a high quality education, the legislature shall make adequate provision to ensure that, by the beginning of the 2010 school year, there are a sufficient number of classrooms so that:
1. The maximum number of students who are assigned to each teacher who is teaching in public school classrooms for prekindergarten through grade 3 does not exceed 18 students;
2. The maximum number of students who are assigned to each teacher who is teaching in public school classrooms for grades 4 through 8 does not exceed 22 students; and
3. The maximum number of students who are assigned to each teacher who is teaching in public school classrooms for grades 9 through 12 does not exceed 25 students.
4. The class size requirements of this subsection do not apply to extracurricular classes. Payment of the costs associated with reducing class size to meet these requirements is the responsibility of the state and not of local school districts. Beginning with the 2003-2004 fiscal year, the legislature shall provide sufficient funds to reduce the average number of students in each classroom by at least two students per year until the maximum number of students per classroom does not exceed the requirements of this subsection.

http://www.firn.edu/doe/arm/class-size.htm


The emphasis is mine. Ya'll read it and comment.

Maybe I'm missing something.
Am I in the twilight zone? Or has the bullet hit the bone?


Suzie


Some tedious reading:

http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/index.cfm?Mode=Bills&SubMenu=1&Tab=session&BI_Mode
=ViewBillInfo&BillNum=0030&Chamber=Senate&Year=2003A&Title=%2D%3EBill%2520
Info%3AS%25200030%2D%3ESession%25202003A



29 comments:

Goader said...

I see from your bolding of the print that, apparently, you and I have similar thoughts along this line. I have been saying that the district is not supposed to be paying for the classroom-size reduction amendment. Florida’s education governor who could not receive an honorary degree from the University of Florida, and his pals did a spectacular job of spinning the amendment to suit their purposes. The leadership in Tallahassee did not like the amendment, and they took it upon themselves to thwart it. For example, I have heard the amendment referred to as “class” size reduction. Notice, however, that the amendment addresses”classroom” size. By conveniently dropping “room” when discussing the amendment, they have been able to shift the emphasis away from building new classrooms (and schools) and, instead, are now shuffling the deck by scheming to use co-teaching as solution.

Technically, this charade is illegal as it violates not only the letter of the amendment, but certainly, it makes a mockery of the spirit of the constitutional law. I have brought this to the attention of both the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times; however, they have chosen to ignore this bit of political three-card Monte, i.e. see if you can find the real wording of the amendment.

I wrote another post that addressed the issue of dollars and “sense” when the county decided to subsidize a big pharmaceutical company—it titled Some Giveth, Another Taketh Away

Anonymous said...

Mary, a "little bird" told an Armwood teacher that "a School Board member" suggested that if we could have 200 people at the next board meeting 6/7 will be dropped.

Apparently, Mrs. Elia has convinced the Board that we are only a "small, whiny minority" and do not represent secondary teachers' feelings across the county.

We need to call out the big guns!!! How can we get 5 representatives from every high school (27) in the District? to that meeting??

We need parents; I am contacting our PTSA abd forwarding some of the "informational" type of correspondence from the "involved" schools.

We need someone to step forward and coordinate an all-out effort on the part of ALL the high schools (and middle schools -- I'm kind of hazy as to whether 6/7 affects middle schools in the same way as it does high schools).

Please forward this plea for concerted action to some people who might be able to organize an ALL-school attendance drive for the next board meeting.

Who can we count on to join in a concerted effort towards the goal of an Anti-6/7 Attendance of 200 at the next board meeting!!!

Goader said...

Why don't we divide the 27 high schools by the number of volunteers to call each school. Ask to speak to the CTA representative at each school. When we hook up with CTA rep. we can ask them to find five people from their school to go to the next board meeting. When is the next meeting. I can call Gaither, King, Chamberlain, Leto, and Hillsborough High Schools. Can someone else call another handful?

Anonymous said...

I think that the next meeting is Tuesday, April 10th. Good idea about the phone tree -- let's get calling.

Anonymous said...

I have contacted my CTA rep at my school and forwarded this message. I asked them to contact the other high school reps to help with some of this leg work. Hopefully we will see results. I have been contacted by the St. Pete times and they are currently working on an article to discuss the 6/7 plan and teacher unit cuts. Keep an eye out for it next week sometime. I mostly discussed our frustration with the lack of communication...SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME WHY WE ARE LOOSING TEACHER UNIT BUT HAVE TO TEACH AN EXTRA PERIOD!!

Goader said...

I have access to a secure Web site for my students to use. It has full email, message board, and chat room capabilities. We can use one of the educator chat rooms and spend a few minutes getting to know each other. In order to assure legitimate participation I suggest we do the following:

1. Send an email to my secure Web site: skemp@gaggle.net

2. Answer the follow clue to confirm you are legit: In your email, tell me what we use as our username on SDHC email. Do not give me your personal username, just tell me how we derive our usernames and I will figure you to really be one of our teachers.

3. I will reply to your email with a username and password for the secure chat room.

4. We can set a time over this weekend to meet in the chat room and discuss strategies.

P.S. If the Anonymous St. Pete Times commenter is who I think it is, what about asking the Times to meet us at the board meeting.

Anonymous said...

CTA says that the Board has been advised by their Chief Negotiator that if they go against the superintendent on this issue, they will undermine her ability to run the schools. Therefore, since it is a contract matter which was previously negotiated and accepted, CTA says the board will not officially do anything regardless of where their sympathies may lie. It would seem that the important thing to do is not be blinded by a pay increase and be certain we cannot be blindsided again as the new contract is negotiated. Just FYI.

Anonymous said...

CTA also still suggests we go to the meetings to show solidarity -- the more the better.

Leto Larry said...

If the CTA can't undo this during the next negotiation, every single secondary school member should leave. We can then form a union that represents us and leave the CTA to the elementary school teachers.

Goader said...

I am inclined to agree with Leto Larry.

Anonymous—

You said, “The board has been advised by their Chief Negatiator… they will undermine her ability to run the schools.” Whose Chief Negotiator were they talking about, the district’s or the CTA’s?

I want to know how the talks went concerning the “major change” by Mrs. Elia. I received an email stating that CTA was in talks with the district because anytime the Super makes a major change the contract gives us the right to renegotiate. What ever happened in those discussions?


We are a democracy, if enough people show discontent, the board will do handstands for us and sing “What a Wonderful World.”

settergirl said...

The negotiation is called impact bargaining and all I've heard so far is that they are working toward getting us paid for coverage. Let your CTA reps know what you want. CTA really is only as good as its members and the membership of secondary teachers is pitiful. Over half of the members are elementary teachers. And they aren't particularly concerned about this 6/7 thing. Maybe we need another association, but then the one we have isn't very being supported. Isn't that how we change things -- become part of it and then make it work for us? Just a thought -- no flames please.

Goader said...

GI believe you are right. Participation is vital to getting things done the way we want them. Perhaps, if we come up with someway of participating, which is an alternative to attending meetings at night, more people would want to be a part of the process. Everyone is busy working at his or her respective schools.

By contrast, we don’t expect the CTA staff to visit our school; we expect them to find ways to represent us. They are the ones working fulltime to do our bidding that is what we pay them to do. It should be up to them to find ways to be more available to members and potential members.

First, they should have already created a blog and/or message board for all teachers with access to district internal sites to be able to communicate directly with CTA staff and members. This connection should be password protected and unavailable to whomever we negotiate with from the district. CTA needs to assure that these communications are private between CTA and teachers, and that members of administration will not have access to view what the exchanges. Someone needs to monitor these sites throughout the day and reply promptly.

Second, those in power in CTA need to let its members know in no uncertain terms that CTA’s relationship with the district maintains a healthy degree of tension.

cable guy said...

"CTA says that the Board has been advised by their Chief Negotiator that if they go against the superintendent on this issue, they will undermine her ability to run the schools. Therefore, since it is a contract matter which was previously negotiated and accepted, CTA says the board will not officially do anything regardless of where their sympathies may lie."

MaryEllen RIGHT OR WRONG? Then it appears our Board is a spineless rubber stamp. There is too much spin and smoke going on. This chaos is very revealing. NO DIRECTION. NO REAL LEADERSHIP.

I'm not inclined to give CTA money for the very same reason. But I WOULD be a teamster.

Anonymous said...

This is a response from CTA director Lyons:

You asked how things could be changed in bargaining. I almost hesitate to respond because reality sounds so pessimistic. Bargaining is a two-way communication process. The teacher contract belongs to both the School Board and CTA. There must be agreement between the two parties before any settlement is reached, so while we have every intention of putting the 300-minute issue on the table, there is no way to assure the outcome. Sometimes it takes several years to get agreement, sometimes decades, and sometimes minutes. If there are common goals, then the process takes less time. I have no way of predicting what direction the Board's team will be given prior to, or during, negotiations. Let me give you an example of how persistence finally pays off. I was actually a teacher on the bargaining team in the 1970's. During that time we would try to negotiate a supplement for elementary grade level chairmen. After I began working for CTA, we continued to bring the item to the table every year. Just two short years ago, we finally had agreement to fund that supplement. Thirty years! Not many things take that long, but it is an example of persistence that paid off. We at CTA will continue to work for a solution to all of the issues facing teachers today, whether it pertains to schedules, paperwork or economic benefits. I wish more teachers would join CTA and get involved. The old "war horses" are retiring, and the young turks have not stepped up in big enough numbers, yet. But there is great potential out in our schools. We just have to find the right formula for getting them involved. Sorry, that was a very long answer to your question. I'll get off my soap box now.

Goader said...

Director Lyons—

1. Is there a reason CTA is not hosting a message board and a current events Web log?

2. The classroom size amendment is about providing enough classROOMS to satisfy its limits on the number of students in the classroom.

3. The amendment precludes the local district from financing the amendment’s provisions.

4. The district is thwarting the text and spirit of the amendment. The amendment is explicit in requiring additional rooms. Instead of providing more rooms, they are putting two teachers in one room, doubling the students and dividing the students between the two teachers.

5. The district is forcing teachers to finance the amendment by exercising the 300-minute maximum and adding a teaching period but not paying for it. Therefore, the teachers are actually paying for it. That is in direct violation of the amendment.

6. Has CTA asked an attorney specializing in constitutional law to look at the issues listed above?

Anonymous said...

Everybody should wear a YELLOW SHIRT at the board meeting. That way when the Board looks into audience, they will see a giant, angry, pulsating mass of YELLOW. If we all wear the same color, we will be united as a common front.

Anonymous said...

We'd probably be there, but our principal has already made it clear he's no fan of this effort. Many are afraid of their jobs or classroom assignments if they show up.

Even if we're not there, please tell the board that they should visit their schools. They'll quickly realize that it's a major problem.

Anonymous said...

Please don't forget to send your email to the board over the next two days. This is critical! We must unite in order to stand a fighting chance... make this next school board meeting a top priority. If you are afraid of reprisal from your school for attending you can still show your support in other ways... send out these emails.... try to motivate your tenured teachers at the school, respond to the tampa trib article in a letter to the editor.

Carla Crabapple

Anonymous said...

Please don't forget to send your email to the board over the next two days. This is critical! We must unite in order to stand a fighting chance... make this next school board meeting a top priority. If you are afraid of reprisal from your school for attending you can still show your support in other ways... send out these emails.... try to motivate your tenured teachers at the school, respond to the tampa trib article in a letter to the editor.

Carla Crabapple

Teacher.Tampa said...

Do Not be afraid to attend school board meetings....It is your right protected by the Constitution of the United States of America to attend and if you choose speak at these meetings. I am not tenured and I have attended, I have spoken and yes, my principal tried to shut me up...It did not work because I know my rights. I am a CTA member and informed them and they took action about it. Remember: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I don't care if they make me teach the least desirable subjects and float all over the building...I will continue to exercise my rights. I will be there Tuesday and I hope my principal sees me.

Anonymous said...

You have your anonymity here. Please name the school whose administration is making real or implied threats. I would love to know where not to transfer!

Anonymous said...

I have heard several different accounts of this type of action from different schools. Perhaps those teachers who are being threatened could contact goader per his message above...this way "spying" eyes will not be able to view which schools are being called out on the carpet. DO NOT BE AFRAID!THAT IS WHAT THE SCHOOL DISTRICT WHATS! Think of it this way... if the school board and Ms. Elia honestly thought that this 6/7 plan was a good idea... why would they have to threaten teachers into shutting up?

Anonymous said...

Goader's idea is working! My school has joined in! I'm here now and I'll be there on Tuesday. My email will be sent Saturday. I'm IN.

Dixi said...

To find some schools that are trying to scare teachers into being quiet go to goaders site at gaggle.net....Then you will know where not to transfer.

Goader said...

What happened to Director Lyons? I listed some relevant questions. Can anyone else answer any of these questions? Is anyone versed in constitutional law?

settergirl said...

Director Lyons did not respond here. I had sent her an email and I copied over her response to me. I also copied goader's questions and emailed them to her late Friday. No response as of yet but it is a holiday weekend. Just wanted to make things clear.

Goader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Goader said...

*Resubmission with corrected HTML tags.

Florida’s classroom-size reduction amendment states:

“Payment of the costs associated with reducing class size to meet these requirements is the responsibility of the state and not of local school districts.”

Hillsborough County Public Schools is in violation of this provision when passing the cost of reducing classroom sizes to teachers by forcing them to teach an extra period without additional compensation. Notwithstanding the 300-minutes provision in the teacher contract, the purpose of the additional teaching period is to address the classroom-size reduction amendment. The text of the amendment precludes districts from doing this.


Florida’s classroom-size reduction amendment states:

“[m]aximum number of students per classroom does not exceed the requirements of this subsection (emphasis added).”

The text of the amendment states “classroom” not ratio of students to teacher. Co-teaching by placing two teachers in a room and adding as many as fifty students to that classroom is in violation of the amendment.

Suzie Creamcheese said...

I copied this comment written by anonymous to the Tea Party post.

Whoever wrote it has a point that we should consider.

Suzie


"What if this ISN"T about the Ammendment? What if this is about a $28 MILLION management error? What if this is about a 10% budget screw up? What if the administration is trying to keep a lid on expenses so as not to have to go public with this?

CTA doesn't get involved in district accounting practices. It would explain their timidity. Sweethearts do that for each other.

It's not as if Mrs. Elia hasn't made a mistake before.
(Overbuilding classrooms in under-populated areas and that little real-estate deal with land brokers).

After the Doug Erwin mess (remember they did LOSE the case and it cost them money) they successfully sent the message to mid-management that they risk the same treatment. "So shut up".

Methinks the laundry doth begin to smell."

Interesting.