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.