Sunday, November 14, 2010

Forget Early Release - Testing Schedule




Sept. 1- 30, 2010



Sept. 7-30, 2010 Tentative**

Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR)

3rd – 12th

Sep. 11, 2010

ACT (select sites)


Oct. 9, 2010

SAT I & II (select sites)


Oct. 13, 2010

PSAT (all sites)

9th -11th (ALL 9-10)

Oct. 18-22, 2010

HS FCAT Retake Test

Retained 10th, 11-Adult

Oct. 23, 2010

ACT (select sites)


Nov. 6, 2010

SAT I & II (select sites)


Nov. 16-18, 2010

District Benchmark Exam Writing

11th & 12th (Retakes)

Nov. 30-Dec. 3, 2010

District Benchmark Exam Writing

2nd & 5th

Nov. 30- Dec.3, 2010

Personal Fitness Exam

Select Students

Dec. 3- Jan. 14, 2011 Tentative**

Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR)


Dec. 4, 2010

SAT I & II (select sites)


Dec. 7-8, 2010

FCAT Writing Prompt Field Test

Selected Schools (4,8,10)

Dec. 11, 2010

ACT (select sites)


Jan. - Feb. 2011

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

Selected Schools (4,8,12)

Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA)

Jan.11-14, 2011

Semester Exams


Jan. 10- Feb. 25, 2011

Florida Alternate Assessment (ESE)


Jan. 22, 2011

SAT I & II (select sites)


Feb. 12, 2011

ACT (select sites)


Feb. 22-25, 2011

District Benchmark Exam Writing


March- TBA


K-12 (ELL)

Mar. 1-3, 2011

FCAT Writing Assessment


Mar. 7-11, 2011

District Benchmark Exam Writing

11th & 12th (Retakes)

Mar. 8-11, 2011

District Benchmark Exam Writing

5th (Retakes)

Mar. 12, 2011

SAT I & II (select sites)


Mar. 28- Apr. 7, 2011

National NRT Test

1st & 2nd

Mar. 30-Apr. 6, 2011

FCAT Retakes


Apr. 1-May 27, 2011 Tentative**

Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR)


Apr. 9, 2011

ACT (select sites)


Apr. 11-21, 2011

FCAT Reading, Math, Science Assessment


May 2-13, 2011

AP Exams


May 7, 2011

SAT I & II (select sites)


May 9-13, 2011

Personal Fitness Exam

Select Students

May 9-13, 2011

District Benchmark Exam Writing

12th only -- if needed

May 10-13, 2011

District Benchmark Exam Writing

2nd & 5th (Retakes)

May 16-20, 2011

EOC Algebra

All enrolled students & All 9th G

Week of May 23, 2011

National NRT Test

3rd (Portfolio)

May 24-27, 2011

District Benchmark Exam Writing

2nd & 5th (Retakes) Only—if needed

June 1, 2011

Semester Exams


June 4, 2011

SAT I & II (select sites)


June 11, 2011

ACT (select sites)


July 27-28, 2011

National NRT Test


Field Tests:

Geometry EOC Select Sites

May 23-27

Biology EOC Select Sites

May 23-27

**Pending final District Instructional Calendar

Anyone care to guesstimate the amount of time taken away from curriculum or out of class for testing?

Thursday, November 4, 2010


In case you missed this gem From Larry Cuban- "Hats Off To Larry" - check out the post.

“The Flight of a Butterfly” or “The Flight of a Bullet”: The Impossible Dream of Transforming Teaching into a Science"

The point of all this is to be clear that, yes, some parts of teaching can be improved through scientific studies. Empirical findings time and again have improved teaching from decoding skills in reading to classroom management. But what has been learned from science is not the lion’s share of what constitutes daily teaching. As Philip Jackson said in 1968:

“teaching is an opportunistic process [where] … neither the teacher or [her] students can predict with any certainty exactly what will happen next. Plans are forever going awry and unexpected opportunities …are constantly emerging. The seasoned teacher seizes upon these opportunities and uses them to … his student’s advantage.”

Surprise and uncertainty greet teachers daily even for their best-planned lesson. Experienced teachers know this in their bones and in finessing the unpredictability of classroom life (or flopping) know that few researchers, especially among VAM-obsessed ones–care for such artistry because it cannot be connected to students’ test scores.

Those who still dream of engineering classrooms into rational places where empirically-derived prescriptions help teachers become effective have failed to grasp that daily teaching is a mix of artistry, science and uncertainty.

*Philip Jackson, Life in Classrooms, 1968, pp. 166-167."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


We need a total effort to stop agreeing to allow interns in our classroom.

There will be no consideration for them in the "final analysis" of your students' progress. In other words if you get an ineffective intern IT WILL COST YOU!

Do you really want to sacrifice your "salary enhancements" or school grade to benefit a university system that has NOT come to your defense?

Please think carefully before agreeing. Does Charlottin Daniels allow for interns?

Stop being a tool! Just politely say no.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Teachers, if you care about your job and your future may I suggest you get to the polls and VOTE:

FOR Alex Sink.

It's unlikely that enough of those legislators that tried SB6 will be thrown out. I believe if, actually I hear they
will try those shenanigans again. I am confident Ms. Sink will use her VETO power. Thank God Charlie stood up for us.

AGAINST Amendment 8.

The citizens of Florida approved the Class Size Amendment because of a basic distrust in those same legislators, mentioned above, to do what the public wanted. The schools have struggled to abide by the Class Size Amendment in the 8 years they were given. Remember the lost conference? Our politicians procrastinated and underfunded. NOW they are asking to change it - kind of like asking "Can we turn it in later?"
NO on Amendment 8! Talk to your friends and neighbors who have kids in school.


Without a doubt, teachers who have worked for Bartels actually WANT him on the board. Not because he was a push-over or anything but "respect" keeps coming up. I have to go with that.

Even though I can't get much on Terry Kemple I'm rooting for him. I'd love to find out how he feels about SB6 , the CSA, the Gates Grant, and our lost conference period.
Wonder how he would apply his business skills to specific district issues?

Friday, September 10, 2010


Got this email recently and decided to make it a posting. S.C.


Your endorsement of Richard Bartels is much appreciated. I worked for him, saw him in action and can vouch for his integrity, insight, and performance under pressure.

He is NO insider but knows the inner workings of the district. He was tapped to straighten out the bus mess at its peak and handled it in true Bartels fashion - effective and efficient. He will hit the ground running without the need for the "Board Member Manual" training.

As principal Bartel's ALWAYS respected our First Amendment rights. His door was always open and he wasn't afraid to listen no matter how thin his patience was with some of the issues (he is human).

Below is a collection of emails from teachers (all from personal email accounts) that may attest to what you already know: He is the best candidate - PERIOD.

We just need to put him in the District 4 seat.

Hi, there, C. Long time, no hear. What follows is part of an exchange of e-mails between K. M. and me. Richard brought yard signs to my house (I live close), I contributed to the campaign, and I saw him speak at the candidate forum at Bell Shoals Baptist. I am including their e-mail addresses in case you need them.

s h



Absolutely count me in.

When I heard White speak at the prayer meeting at Bell Shoals Baptist, several things occurred to me. (By the way, Richard wasted his two minutes with actual facts and plans and completely forgot to pander to the audience!)

White feels his qualification for running for school board is the fact that he has children of school age. I plan to ask him, when the opportunity presents itself, if I, as a consumer of blood pressure medicine, cholesterol medicine and vertigo medicine, would be similarly qualified to run for the pharmaceutical board.

Further, he wants to brand Richard as an "insider." That would be remarkably amusing if not for the fact that White can sell this tripe. I would venture to say that Richard is probably the MOST qualified person ever to run for school board and that he knows more about curriculum, budgets, and school management than most of the actual insiders. White's approach, apparently, is that a citizen's board of non-education people would be preferable to people who understand how the system works -- and doesn't work.

I admit I am floored that there are principals and teachers who would not support Richard. Just goes to show you how naive I am.

So count me in.

I am ready.

S. H.


Hello Friends and Supporters,

I send out this email because we are getting down to the time when we need to take some serious action if Richard is going to be elected in November @ the General elections.

As you all know, Rich came in second to his now run-off opponent, Stacy White, a pharmacist in district 4, our same district. He has been gathering up speed among his kids' school, PTA members at (we think) Buckhorn Elementary, and his church. His supporters are many of his clients as well as many teachers we know, and don't know. He has two former principals backing him. His knowledge of the issues at hand for our schools seems to be limited to the fact that his wife is a PTA member and his children are in school.

Anyone who knows Richard knows and sees that he is by far the better candidate with solid solutions to some of our districts major concerns. He does his homework and with his 38 years of educational livelihood and leadership roles, he knows what of he speaks. He has in fact hired some of you (and me as well), to whom I write today. We also know and have known him as "The Teachers' Principal" as he, a former HS Principal himself, has always supported good teachers and effective principals everywhere. A no nonsense administrator who garners respect from the district's teachers, parents, students, and administrators alike.

We need all of your help, and all of your friends and neighbors help in order to give back to the community of which he has served.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in having a small gathering, a sort of Meet-n-Greet fundraiser, for a couple hours on a weekday after work, let us know. Also, we need a group willing to gather forces to set up on busy intersections with signs, from about 4-6:30 pm. as the General Election moves closer. Kids are welcome, the more the better.

Please let me know, and remember, a vote for Richard is a vote for you, your community, the teachers the students, and the parents who want to make things better.

We need your help,

Thanks so much,


Hello fellow teachers! I hope all is well with the beginning of the new school year :-) I'm emailing you to ask for your support for Richard Bartels for SDHC school board. As you are well aware, Faliero has been booted out of District 4. There will be a November run off for the District 4 seat between Stacy White (a pharmacist) and Richard Bartels (retired teacher, assistant principle, and principle!) Clearly, there is no comparison in regards to the experience between the two!

Please support Richard in his quest to once again serve the teachers and students of SDHC as he has done in the past. I can with out a doubt vouch for his dedication and support for the teachers of SDHC. Richard was my principle at Freedom High School until his retirement. During the turbulent 6/7 plan protests, Richard always supported his teachers who were speaking out against the 6/7 plan at the school board meetings. Unlike other principles in the district, Richard not only supported but encouraged his teachers to be active in expressing their concerns. When the school board called Bartels and requested that he "discourage" his teachers from going against the board in a public forum he once against demonstrated his support by essentially telling the school board to kiss off! This is the type of man we need on the school board! Richard is willing to tell it like it is, has and will support teachers and students, and puts learning and academics as a priority.
If you live in District 4, VOTE! If you don't live in District 4 you can still help out. Please visit his web page at or you can follow his campaign facebook page "The Richard Bartels School Board District 4 Campaign". Spread the word to colleagues and friends. You can also volunteer to work with his campaign or send a small donation. WE NEED RICHARD BARTELS ON THE BOARD!

S. P. :-)

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Dear Jack, Tedd, Allison et al.,

I weary of the ADHD, ADD, AH, etc. characteristics so prevalent in local talk shows. The latest calendar dust-up tipped the scales for me.

1) We have purposefully and willingly given up control over our schools.
* We send our tax money to DC or Tallahassee and never get it back dollar for dollar.
* We allow "Big Gov", "Big Ed", "Big Pub", "Big Test" and now "Big Bill" to dictate our every move and enforce the dictates by threatening to withhold monies. Most often our own money!
* Remember "the lottery will SUPPLEMENT education" lie?

2) Our parents got so fed up with the districts loading up the classroom with kids that a Constitutional Amendment was passed (by majority) limiting class size.
* Have our representatives responded in a mature fashion? Nope. They have whined like high school freshman who just heard about the tardy policy enforcement and are asking the public "Please take it away, take it away."
* All districts had the same amount of time to comply: build, hire, and anticipate. This too costs money. Did YOUR representatives respond or participate in a "whine and jeez fest"? Did you bother to ask any of them?

3) This blog was born when Superintendent Elia's approach to the CSA was to strip the teachers of their second conference period.
* Review the past posts on this blog and those under "Link Floyd-Linka Wray". Check your past email for my email asking for your support to block this action and review the numerous shortcuts the classroom teachers would have to take in order to survive.
* The "early release" days are an attempt to provide teachers with the time they lost. Sorry if this conflicts with the parents work schedule but this is a consequence of the CSA, the lost conference period, parental complaints about parent-teacher communications, slow test grading turnaround and EdLine updates. I heard NO parental solutions to this issues. It's really all about day care and vacations. If it weren't we would hear workable solutions.
* If the public votes to change the CSA then they have rewarded the passive-aggressive political behavior with NO viable positive replacement for their children. (see lottery lie)
* For the umpteenth time: We are NOT represented by a UNION - it is an ASSOCIATION! There is a fundamental difference that you refuse to recognize and as such do a disservice to the public who are equally in the dark. Once again - review previous posts on this and other blogs. A real union would have "walked". We got "throated".

4) Do you realize how much time is spend "evaluating adequate student progress" as dictated by "Big Gov"?
* This means "testing". The students are pulled out of class THREE times this year for FAIR testing - a computer based reading assessment (test) requiring at least a full period to complete. Last year some students where out FIVE times.
* FCAT or the looming End of Year Testing. That's 3 to 5 days out of class - more if you are a "special needs" student (by the way the definition is getting ridiculously broad) since their time can be unlimited.
* "Big Gov" tells us when we must administer the FCAT and FAIR test and what percentage of students must be tested - or else. Ostensibly so we can have the results in time (cue: sarcastic laughing after this year's debacle)
* We are also required to test those speakers of languages other than English out of class settings.
* No matter what you call it - No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, The Gates Grant - until you can "flunk" a student and require that student to repeat a grade or subject until mastery is displayed, until you can remove the thugs and felons preying on campus - it don't mean diddly!

5) Is it any reason our Calendar Committee and school board botched this year's calendar?
* Those citizens had to try and shoot a moving target. "Big Gov" made a mistake and had to move the FCAT dates.
* There was the "tolerance and diversity" dance.
* Parents had issues with proposed everything.
* Board members were trying to win political races, deal with personal problems and are really out of touch with the classroom - preferring elementary school photo-ops to down and dirty middle/high school visits.
* Just because you attended a school does not qualify you to run one. Got a thoughtful idea? Experience the fire and join the committee.
* These are "early release" days. TWO HOURS shorter. Some creative principals are using these days as "club days" - something required for accreditation. It encourages students to form and join clubs and then attend meetings on days where ALL classes are equally shortened. Its really win/win. Oh, and clubs are sponsored by teachers who assume the responsibility without additional pay. Its also a good time for tutoring and make-up work for other students. It does happen: I do it and so do others. Are there teachers who may be "slackers"? Sure, but no administrator I ever worked for put up with it. They fixed it - often with multiple classroom clubday observations.

6) Scatter thoughts:
* Teachers must prepare and perform in greater time spans than the 15 minute radio rating segments. If we don't hit our demo we are immediately toast.
* Even though we can recycle our lesson plans from period to period we must sometimes prepare for 3 different audiences in a day. Somebody needs to preread her segues, intros, and spots. We do share peers who speak in monotone and the results are the same. "click"
* We do not have the ability to pretape and replay anything.
* We are only as good as our last encounter with our "audience".
* We have an association (NOT a UNION!) that must negotiate with the School Board and it is not always the association who drives the issues but they must respond to them.
* Teachers do not teach to get rich but we also do not like having the collective target on our back. BTW: Anyone try to take out the Clear Channel DJ's like that LETO kid? You guys got security and swipe cards right? We got - lucky.
* Barring a major political uprising we will never get back our local control over schools. (I'd hope to see a school board member get taken out in cuffs for standing up on this issue.)

Sincerely and without malice,

Suzie Creamcheese

Apologies to my regulars - there is so much more but I'm afraid I'd lose a lot of first timers if I got to long-winded.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


For as angry as Candy made us I find it hard to believe she got 68% of the vote. Maybe it was SoHo pity that got her through the election. Guess you South Tampa teachers forgot about her comments during the 6 out of 7 throating we took.

Candy Olson - $25,007 vs. Frank Hernandez - $4,625

Life and the public finally caught up with Jennifer. Now the race is between:

Stacey White - $12,498.06 vs. Richard Bartels - $3,259.06

White spent 4 times the money for only 37 percent of the vote. 7% more than Bartels. I really like Bartels since Faliero threw her support on White all the while ole Stacey was accusing Bartels of being an insider? Huh? Her support of White leads me to endorse BARTELS. Bartels did nothing to prevent his teachers from speaking out against the 6 out of 7 throating. I respect that.

April Griffin - $44,447.65 vs. Sally Harris - $13,773.35 vs. Terry Kemple - $34,624.97 is a tough one. April met with teachers and listened to them during the 6 of 7 throating. She seems to have lost her fire and fallen under Elia's spell. Sally spent more than she took in and that exposes a flaw in my opinion. This leads me to root for Terry Kemble.

For the intrepid among you click down through the links and read who contributed to who - especially if you want to see who the insiders may be. Keep in mind what a starting teacher makes when you see these totals.

So come on folks - get out there in November!
Encourage your neighbors.

If you need motivation just read the past posts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Suzie's on break - from everything but...

-meantime please check out the blogs on the right.

Friday, April 2, 2010


1) People are moving out of Florida looking for work or just fed up.

2) The tax base has eroded (see #1) - homes are vacant, selling for less, values are down, no one is buying like they used to - sales tax revenue is down. All tax revenue is down.

3) Cities, like Tampa, acknowledge the trend and are cutting services and positions - to raise the tax rate is self-defeating.

4) Teachers, cops, firemen, judges and others who participate in the Florida Retirement System - which has remained strong during these times - are being targeted for benefit cutbacks, broken promises mean nothing. Looks like the Social Security template - break open the lock box.

5) Teachers are being subjected to heavy handed political bills designed to fundamentally change their pay structure. I won't bore you by repeating how severe and unfair they are. If you are here - you know.

What's coming:

The most experienced talented teachers will go where the money is: out of state, at worst or at best another career.

More homes go up for sale.

** If they sell, they sell for less and all values go down. With the reduction in value, the tax base (and revenues) decline.
** They are replaced with inexperienced and recently graduated teachers who see the futility of not enrolling in graduate degrees (because there is no financial incentive to do so then the post grad university closes or is downsized). They take the job with the intention of gaining experience before moving to a state that pays more.
** The newly hired have no money or intention to buy any of the houses up for sale because they are not committed to staying.
They rent or lease. Student loans are due.

** The other pool of potential talent will be drawn from states that pay even less than Florida - states that have fallen below Florida in education.
** Businesses (already aware of the shallow labor pool) will be reluctant (even with tax breaks) to locate to Florida. Employee push-back will occur due to concern over the education system. Think Bill Gates has ever considered moving MS to Florida?
** Retirees hear the horror stories and begin to look elsewhere.
** Not even Disney can shore up the state.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Dear Reader/Followers,

The bullshit tachometer has hit the red zone and my gaskets are blown - which may be good. Perhaps this idea may be described as "out-of-the-block".

IF the state REALLY wants this thing fixed:

1) They will pay EVERY teacher $50,000 to start. The individual districts will add whatever they need to in order to attract who they need to. Contract length will be negotiated teacher by teacher - upfront. This will allow for advanced degrees and achievements. The additional funding will be based, of course, on their tax base. There are NO school district boundaries except for busing. No school bus service? HART-line or parent carpool.

2) Tests are
established by the state and based on state standards/outcomes. Every student who passes the end-of-year test the first time will add an additional $100 (state paid) bonus to the teacher. Second attempt $25 bonus. After that nothing.

3) Students have NO attendance requirements after 6th grade. If they don't WANT to attend or get sick - no harm, no foul. All classes are performance based: once the student passes the end-of-year test they move to the next curriculum level or class. The state will establish curriculum - like they do now. Schools may add to it and promote any specialties which must also comply with the same state requirements. The state establishes curriculum "tracks" (college-bound, basic citizen, vocational). Students may move among them at will. Art and Music? (see sports below)

4) If the student feels confident they can schedule a time to take the test at any time - on a Saturday. The state will notify the student within one week if the test has been passed and the student can then choose the next course offered. Until the class actually starts? Vacation has been earned. If the student does not pass the end of the year test early - the student returns to class and must wait until the actual end of the year for another opportunity. After a third attempt - over the summer - if the student does not pass: that's it - really it - maybe the talent or skill just wasn't there. Choose another class and give it a shot. The curriculum includes an array of vocational offerings.

5) Once state graduation requirements are met the student is invited to the schools graduation ceremony - unless they have already matriculated to college or advanced trade/art school.

6) Administrators and counselors, freed of the associated behavior crap, get paid $50,000 a year. State bonus of $10 per student paid for FIRST time passing only. They proctor - with a teacher(s) the Saturday testing session.

7) Sports? Hell, they are farm teams anyway. Coaches are hired by the schools and paid by a fee the student pays. Limited "sport-ships" are provided for students too challenged to afford the fee. Students must display a state established level of "academic performance" as reflected by their end of year testing success. Coaches will have a vested interest in supporting their athletes academic development and the athlete will graduate with the abilities to succeed in college or life.

8) Every student will look to getting the necessary education in 1st through 6th (which will also have state established end-of-year-tests without the high school option) since they will be "empowered" with the control over their future education. Have a graduation ceremony here too - make it an accomplished step and invite them into their own future enthusiastically.

9) Special needs students and teacher will have a similar template which (if the state allows some degree of reasonable teacher input) will provide a more mainstream approach to student needs and less focused on the "entertain and house" mentality that it so ofter deteriorates to. This should allow for more sincere parent-teacher support and evaluation of the special needs community and less "letter-of-the-law" - "check-this-box" compliance.
(Admittedly my special-needs experience has been limited but personal.)

I'm sure to get this thing ripped apart and fully expect the "flaming" to begin but my gaskets are blown anyway and like I said I've had it with the bullshit - let the rubber hit the road.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


New candidates file for School Board.

Go to the bottom of the page!
We need to encourage, support, and fund these challengers.

The last figures I saw indicate HCTA alone represents 14,815 teachers and about 4,000 educational support personnel, such as clerical workers and aides.

We have the muscle to swing an election - do we have the fortitude to do it?

Friday, March 12, 2010


The state wants to cut school board pay.

Board member Jennifer Faliero predicted an "exodus" of school board members throughout the state if Wise's proposal survives the legislative budget process this spring.

But Candy Olson suggested legislators could also look at cutting their own staffs to help balance the budget.
Dear Board members,

You now feel our pain. It took about 2 and a half years but you now know how we felt when you took away our 2nd conference period but not our duties or responsibilities. You held us responsible for keeping up the momentum. You ignored our concerns. More money? Ha!

Ironic how you predict an exodus of school board members but think that your actions don't shrink the teacher labor pool. You whine that the legislature should cut their staff while cutting our support staff, you combine supervisor responsibilities instead of filling the open positions, and continue to expect more of your employees than you yourself are willing to expend.

Suck it up folks - Its time for you to be the role model - or step aside. Look at the past posts that document your behavior and response to your employee concerns.

With a 13% unemployment rate, a mayor who wants to increase the sales tax for a train of dubious need, a governor who wants another job, and a small business environment that is paralyzed with doubt about ObamaCare - the economy won't get much better any time soon.

We need leaders - not whiny politicos.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


There are so just many reasons to stop this Gates Grant in its tracks.

I have heard more negative that positive at this point. The negative are so logical that I wonder what else is behind the scenes we don't know about.

The "town hall" I attended was contentious and bitter. The district response did nothing to quell my reservations. Was that an anomaly?

Sunday, January 31, 2010



The public voted for this because our politicians refused to listen to their wants. Now the politicians want to weasel out of what the voters CONSTITUTIONALLY required.

They MUST follow the voters wishes UNLESS they succeed in changing the amendment.

Don't get fooled!

No matter how you felt about the amendment most voters believed it was the only route left after decades of broken promises, lackluster funding
and superficial support of education.

Teachers who admitted they voted for it also admitted that they had no faith in their politicians or school board - minor distinction - to fund education properly.

Our Board and Superintendent retaliated by ramming teaching 6 out of 7 down our throats. Read previous posts if you just came aboard.

Do you really think they will rescind the extra period we are required to teach?

Do you think CTA has a strategy prepared?

Do you really think the board will "average class loads" without including guidance counselors, media specialists, tech specialists, curriculum specialists, psychologists and anyone else they can stretch the definition of "student contact" to cover? All to make it look good on paper.

"Averaging" will make it possible for you to have classes with 35 students in each class and still only have one conference period - while your next door neighbor can have 18.

That was the standard operating procedure and the public finally caught on.

Some totally incompetent administrators take the easy way out when scheduling - a deadly and gruesome combination for unhappy teachers and lower morale.

This attempt, if successful, will only make the coming storm over the Gates-inspired teacher evaluation instrument WORSE.

Don't fall for it. Don't let anyone else fall for it. Stay alert on this one. Get vocal.


Saturday, January 30, 2010


More questions about the Gates grant funding continue to nag teachers and district officials.

Here's what the Web Site did NOT provide but the paper did. My text emphasis and inserts.

"The Hillsborough school district's $100 million dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation requires a local contribution of about $102 million over seven years. (Not exactly matching.) Here's where some of the local money may come from.

* $8 million dollars a year now spent on staff development
* $16 million a year now used for computer labs
* $10 million a year from the state-mandated Merit Award Program which pays teachers based on student performance
* $30 million a year in new grants through the districts grant development
* $5 million to $6 million a year from the non-profit Hillsborough Education Foundation
* $24 million dollars through the Race To The Top program, from federal stimulus funds

Source: Hillsborough County school district officials"

This program is based on "vapor-bucks". Money that can not be counted because it does not yet exist.

* If Staff Development can withstand an $8 million dollar hit, how bloated are they and has the district flushed all the FPMS investment down the toilet? At least the Florida Performance Measurement System was data and research supported. Hell, everyone was adapting to it.
* If Mary Ellen's "I Can Learn" computer lab initiative and technology plan can withstand a $16 million dollar hit, how big is it? Will it be decimated? Will computer-based testing programs (FAIR, FCAT, etc.) and software curriculum programs (Grade Recovery: Plato, Compass), I Can Learn, FCATexplorer, iStation, RenaissanceLearning, Read180, Reading Counts!, etc) be abandoned because the software demands outpace the hardware?
We are in dire need of more bandwidth as we try integrating more technology into our curriculum and all THAT takes is money.
"which pays teachers based on student performance" - Are we really surprised that we are paying for our own pay cuts! Where the heck is HCTA on this !@#$!
oh and of note:
"state-mandated" must now mean "optional" to our officials - raincoats and handcuffs may be in the future forecast if the state has anything to say about it - if not: let the floodGATES be opened!
* $30 million - 30% from new grants that haven't been written or awarded yet. This rivals "The Psychic Hotline" !
* I am no longer doing anything that contributes to the
Hillsborough Education Foundation since they are supporting this convoluted scheme to limit your salaries. I find this unconscionable.
* $24 million from RTT - once again: one time "Obama bucks", I don't even know where to begin on this one.

Maybe you do -

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'VE GOT A FEELING (A Feeling Deep Inside, oh yeah)

It's been a tedious year to date.

Listening, reading, ruminating - trying to get a bead on things.

Here's all I have - so far. Just my opinion, mind you.

Our district's ability to finance their part of the Gates grant really is on shaky ground:
We finance our district on real estate based taxes.
The current assumption being that those home owners continue to be employed, make the mortgage payments including taxes - thus staving off foreclosure.

Believe it or not we are living among neighbors who are behind on their payments and in foreclosure or near it. Financial institutions are dragging their feet on the process hoping the job market improves. At some point in time they will have no choice but to pull the proverbial trigger since no one in the financial industry sees employment picking up within 3 years and some feel longer.

In reality while the generally accepted point of view is that our existing home sales are increasing no one is saying anything about this (for want of a better word) "shadow inventory" - those houses that should be on the market in foreclosure. Doing this jeopardizes the sales price of those homes currently for sale - we are still artificially propping up home values!

Without employed buyers having the 20% down payment, confident enough to make the 15-30 year mortgage commitment, these
homes will have to be sold at fire sale prices - driving down prices.

Lower sale price = lower taxes (tax base) = less money in the district coffer.

Less money from the state since residents are already cutting back on purchases thus affecting sales tax revenue distributed to school districts.


The easiest and quickest way to reduce overhead is to reduce labor costs.

Our district has frozen hiring as much as possible, dictated and enforced the teach-300-minutes-a-day clause in our contract, combined job responsibilities at supervisor and clerical levels. It seems we have reached critical mass. Look around, listen carefully at the degree of complaining about ROSSAC mix-ups your administration tries to correct.

They forced the "6 of 7" on the high school teachers and have the middle school teachers in the cross hairs. Elementary has lost aides. We all struggle to perform at the level we remember from 3 years ago. It takes it's toll. I feel it every single day (and night).

The district's attempt to create a second tier pay scale will take some real salesmanship and creative exploitation. No thinking experienced teacher with 5 years under their belt will agree to get off the current scale to enter the "chutes and ladders" formula that new hires will be fooled into accepting. There are far too many variables and negatives (at this point) to include here.

This will alienate any remaining CTA member but the district will continue the charade currently called "salary negotiation".

It will be 25 years before attrition clears those on the current pay scale. 25 years is an eternity to maintain something as flawed as the developing pay formula currently under construction.

Old timers (I think from the Raymond O. Sheldon era) told me about R.A.I.S.E. (Raise Achievement In Secondary Education) Bill, Compensatory Education, and H.C.A.T. Ever have a Sunshine State Standards discussion?

The difference is WE HAVE COMMITTED FUTURE DOLLARS to this grant much like the Feds have been doing for ages with deficit funding. Another difference is TEACHERS and SUPPORT STAFF will be bearing the burden for this one.


Can anyone point me to some supporting research/data that the evaluation instrument the district will purchase from some company, actually improves student performance consistently across all ages, cultures, and backgrounds?

Your salary could very well
depend on it.


Can the School Board please immediately add a clause to the standard superintendent contract that prohibits any superintendent and assistant superintendent under HCPS employment from being employed in any capacity by any corporation, subsidiary, company, or vendor doing business with the district for 5 years?

It is time.