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Study: Duval County Public Schools losing effective teachers

District not ready to teach students under new state course standards

Posted: June 14, 2014 - 11:43pm  |  Updated: June 15, 2014 - 9:47am
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DCPS Instructional Quality & Human Capital Diagnostic: View the study here.

THE NEW TEACHER PROJECT RECOMMENDATIONS

The New Teacher Project recommends Duval County Public Schools consider policy and strategy changes, including the following, to improve its recruitment, selection, training and staffing of high-performing teachers.

■ Address policy and contractual barriers to hiring early.

■ Implement short- and long-term strategies ending the practice of placing teachers in schools where they haven’t interviewed with the school leader.

■ Develop a more effective districtwide recruitment strategy.

■ Provide targeted support, such as a dedicated staffing unit, targeted recruitment and a prescreened applicant pool for hard-to-staff schools.

 

TO RETAIN MORE TOP-PERFORMING TEACHERS

■ Set specific goals annually for retention rates of the district’s most effective teachers and their concentration in the highest-need schools.

■ Work with school leaders, especially those at high-need schools, to implement low-cost retention strategies with their most effective teachers.

■ Identify high-need schools with strong instructional leaders and high retention rates of effective teachers to identify the best practices, then use them to train other principals.

■ Use Florida’s teacher merit pay law to create a compensation system that attracts high-quality candidates and encourages retention of effective teachers.

■ Take steps to improve or get rid of low-performing teachers.

 

TO IMPROVE INSTRUCTIONAL QUALITY

■ Allocate coaches throughout schools according to teachers’ development needs.

■ Improve coach selection, skill development and evaluation.

■ Set annual districtwide and school-level goals around instructional quality or key indicators.

■ Central office administrators should have a vision for excellent instruction, dedicate time to communicate and build understanding of that vision in schools.

■ Set goals to measure the effectiveness of school-level supports.

 

TO IMPROVE INSTRUCTIONAL CULTURE

■ Set annual districtwide and school-level goals around key indicators or instructional culture.

■ Invest in honing the skills of evaluators to identify strengths, growth areas and providing constructive feedback.

 

TO ENSURE ACCURATE AND MEANINGFUL TEACHER EVALUATIONS

■ Set annual districtwide and school-level goals for evaluation accuracy and usefulness.

■ Communicate effectively the connection between the teacher evaluation and district’s vision for effective instruction.

■ Use raw teacher evaluation data rather than summative evaluation ratings to make internal decisions relating to human capital strategy and resource evaluation.


Source: The New Teacher Project study: Duval County Public Schools Instructional Quality and Human Capital Diagnostic


Duval County Public Schools doesn’t have as many highly effective teachers as it wants — especially at schools serving students with the greatest needs — and it faces a hard time to keep the ones it does have.

In addition, a gap exists in the district’s readiness to teach students under Florida’s new core curriculum standards that take effect next year.

Those findings and more are contained in a study conducted by The New Teacher Project, a nationwide nonprofit based in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti requested the study, paid for with part of a $600,000 grant from the Quality Education for All Fund, an initiative by the nonprofit Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.

The fund launched last year with the goal of helping Duval County Public Schools improve its pipeline of effective teachers and leaders, especially in high-need schools.

The study is the first work The New Teacher Project made for the district. The group also will help the district align upcoming teachers’ evaluations with the new Florida standards.

“We’re behind, and the study demonstrates that we’re behind,” said Vitti, who wanted a thorough analysis of areas he knew the district needs to work on. He also wanted an outside perspective. “You are never going to improve if you are not honest about where the gaps are. And you will never improve anything if you are not problem-solving.”

Among the study’s other findings:

■ Schools serving the most high-need students are disproportionately hampered by ineffective recruitment, selection and staffing.

■ A high percentage of low-performing teachers remain in district classrooms.

■ High-need schools lose top teachers at higher rates and hire lower-performing teachers to replace those who leave.

■ 47 percent of top-performing teachers who plan to leave the district in the next two years intend to teach locally.

■ 63 percent of Duval principals said they lost teachers they wanted to keep because of position or budget cuts in the past three years.

■ Duval loses out on the best teacher candidates because the district hires teachers too late in the year compared to top schools nationwide.


View the study here: DCPS Instructional Quality & Human Capital Diagnostic


The study recommends that Duval overhaul its teacher compensation system to reward performance as the primary factor, as opposed to just years of experience. That would be a way to help retain highly effective teachers.

A recently implemented $40 million program to attract top teachers and principals to low-performing schools should help, but officials admit it won’t solve the problem.

Vitti gives the study high marks, but the teachers union wasn’t impressed.

“I think the study could have been a lot more thorough with examining the state mandates and the requirements that we are asked to implement and negotiate,” said Terrie Brady, president of Duval Teachers United.

Brady, who wasn’t interviewed for the study, said she’s also concerned it doesn’t address some priorities and policies the union and district are working on. The study looked at what is in place now, not what is coming down the road, she said.

Beginning in January, The New Teacher Project analyzed the school district’s policies and practices for recruiting, retaining, training and assigning effective teachers.

Researchers also looked at how prepared Duval teachers are for Florida’s new core curriculum standards and related assessments for kindergarten through 12th grade students. In addition, the study includes teacher salary data, and information about the instructional culture at schools.

Teachers also were surveyed. The study represents the opinions of 90 percent of the teachers and school leaders districtwide, said Liz Cutrona, who works for TNTP’s new teacher effectiveness section.

Researchers looked at a dozen schools, including elementary, middle and high schools. They ranged from high to low in student achievement. They observed teachers in the classroom, reviewed instructional planning materials and interviewed teachers, instructional coaches, principals and human resources staff, Cutrona said.

FINANCIAL GAP

In Duval County, there is no difference between the pay of the most and least effective teachers. The largest raises go to teachers with 20 years or more experience.

Most annual step increases are less than 3 percent until teachers are higher on the salary schedule, the study showed.

That means a highly effective teacher relatively new to the district will make less, sometimes a lot less, than a lower-performing veteran teacher.

Over a teacher’s 24-year career, $173,926 to $292,357 of total compensation will be based on seniority and advanced degrees. That money could be reallocated to provide capital for performance-based compensation, according to the study.

Florida law requires that school districts revamp teacher salary schedules by 2014-15, and implement it in the 2015-16 school year, Vitti said.

Brady said the law requires an annual contract employee schedule and a schedule for teachers grandfathered in. Then there is a separate performance compensation schedule for those who are highly effective and effective, with no stipulation of years of experience, she said.

The union and district will determine what the performance compensation schedule looks like through collective bargaining, she said.

Meanwhile, the district recently implemented an incentive plan, bankrolled by nearly $40 million in private donations, to convince successful teachers and principals to work at the district’s most challenged schools.

That plan should help, but it won’t solve the problem of recruiting and retaining the best teachers, Vitti said.

School Board Chairwoman Becki Couch said keeping good teachers isn’t solely a matter of money.

“I think sometimes, it’s just acknowledging the good teachers in a school, and training principals on how to do that,” said Couch, adding that stability in a district also helps.

Vitti said the research is very clear that the No. 1 factor that determines whether a teacher stays at a school or goes, is the principal.

“Our principals must create an instructional culture where the teacher’s voice is heard. Where teachers are empowered in the classroom. And where teachers are respected, valued and acknowledged for the work that they do,” Vitti said.

DUVAL NOT READY YET

Known as the Florida Standards, new curriculum benchmarks already are in place for kindergarten through second grade.

Beginning next year, the standards will be implemented in third through 12th grade statewide.

Duval isn’t ready yet, the study revealed.

Classroom observations of 152 Duval teachers revealed “limited evidence of key instructional shifts needed for students to meet the new standards.” Nearly three-quarters of the assignments reviewed showed weak or no alignment to the new standards, the study said.

The gaps that surfaced, Vitti said, weren’t necessarily surprising.

“I think all districts in Florida, and I think all districts throughout the country, have gaps when it comes to moving to the new standards. What students are expected to do from a performance standpoint is much more rigorous than they have been asked to do before,” Vitti said.

Bringing everyone up to speed on the new standards takes time. But the process is going forward, he said.

“It is a process to get teachers to teach not only at grade level to the old standards, but to now teach at grade level with the new standards is almost herculean when it looks at the next steps regarding the expectations,” Vitti said.

This summer, principals will review the teacher survey data and will assess the instructional culture at their schools. The principals will be required to build strategies to keep the best teachers at their school and raise instruction to a higher level. They will be held accountable, Vitti said.

 

Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075

Comments (25)

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RetiredDCPS
456
Points
RetiredDCPS 06/15/14 - 12:54 am
0
0
Premium Member

Where is the study? You would

Where is the study? You would think a study costing $600,000 would be readily available to the public for complete inspection.

finder
3812
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finder 06/15/14 - 05:29 am
0
0
Premium Member

I expect that few public

I expect that few public school students read the news but it would be nice if "journalists" had a better grasp of the English language.

Duval County Public Schools [doesn’t] DON'T have as many highly effective teachers as it wants — especially at schools serving students with the greatest needs — and it faces a hard time [to keep] KEEPING the ones it does have.

And Retired - I agree that a link to the report would be nice but the story do not say the report cost $600K, only that it was paid for with part of a $600K grant.

Davethecaveman
14383
Points
Davethecaveman 06/15/14 - 07:26 am
0
0

What ever we need to do to

What ever we need to do to fix the 2nd bullet is critical . That has been the biggest problem all along for many years.
That was the main reason we pulled our kids from the public schools and out them in private.

Snakepilot
1592
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Snakepilot 06/15/14 - 08:41 am
0
0
Premium Member

One hopes that within 4 years

One hopes that within 4 years Duval County will be losing it effective Superintendent.

Othello
2047
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Othello 06/15/14 - 09:33 am
0
0
Premium Member

You can thank the public

You can thank the public unions for destroying education in America. And you can thank the mayor's office for having the money to their away on a couple of boats and not in the school system.

hoots55
802
Points
hoots55 06/15/14 - 09:36 am
0
0
Premium Member

As many of us know it does

As many of us know it does not matter what is offered to the students, as long as the parents/caretakers of the students remain disengaged, there will always be problems in the class rooms. Good teachers can only do some much when the students are ill prepared for class. And the mediocre teachers continue to be employed that cause ineffective instruction. There were several times when our daughter would come home from school to say~it is hard being smarter than my teachers. Happened more during elementary school as she attended a magnet program for middle and high school. But she still had teachers that were not up to par in teaching kids like her. Have friends with kids like her. We would keep them engaged by taking them to museums in Jax as well as planning educational elements into our vacations.
Throwing money at high school is a bit late in ones education. If they student is behind when entering HS then there is a problem at the elementary and middle school levels.
By the time a student enters middle school it should be obvious where their strengths are. Some are academic others are vocational. This is where the student would best be served placed in a program best suited to them. We will always need electricians, plumbers, construction workers, "ditch diggers" the blue collar types.
There is a lack of respect for the authority of the teachers. Much is due to the lack of respect some have for their parents/caregivers.
Will be interesting to see how the next few school years progress with the many changes coming.

cactus58
131
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cactus58 06/15/14 - 09:42 am
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0
Premium Member

"Our principals must create

"Our principals must create an instructional culture where the teacher’s voice is heard. Where teachers are empowered in the classroom. And where teachers are respected, valued and acknowledged for the work that they do,” Vitti said.
This should have been the main idea of the article and not just one small paragraph; and if Vitti really believes this then it is people close to him running the show and some unethical principals with big egos keeping teacher morale so low.

johnctaughtme
13017
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johnctaughtme 06/15/14 - 10:02 am
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0

"The unions" are to blame for

"The unions" are to blame for uninvolved, disengaged parents? Or for students who by middle school, and certainly by high school, should recognize the need for an education on their own? What are the explanations/excuses in the several southern states in which teacher's unions, if they exist, have no rights, influence, or power?

What will be the explanations/excuses when the recommendations of this, or the next study and changes of the moment do not measurably change outcomes? What will be the explanations/excuses of the charter schools, or voucher-supported private schools, when they finally get a critical mass of students who fail to see the value of an education, with parents who are uninvolved and disengaged, and outcomes in those schools go down?

Those of us of a certain age, who find ourselves in meetings or seminars dealing with administration, management, or related subjects, often find ourselves being accused of thinking in "silos". It is thinking in a "silo" for sure, to perceive that problems with education today can be blamed on teachers, unions, principals, or even administrators. At least in part, the causes are deeply socio-cultural (read "hoots55" above), and even related to civic and political policy, such as the deindustrialization of America, taking away many jobs as described by "hoots55", which often provided an entry into the workforce for those who were not going to college, or who went later in life.

Lie Detector
2861
Points
Lie Detector 06/15/14 - 10:06 am
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0

The public unions, as some

The public unions, as some claim, are not destroying education. It is the disappearance of the traditional family that is destroying education. Ignorance and ignorant rhetoric will not solve this problem.

PSTeacher
1989
Points
PSTeacher 06/15/14 - 10:14 am
0
0

This study really can't

This study really can't really be taken seriously. The TNTP which was created by Michelle Rhee, overriding premise is if you can fire enough teachers you can improve districts and just by coincidence I guess, they have a teacher providing service.

I could have told you their conclusions before they did the study and I believe Vitti could have too.

We do have serious problems, and we need serious people to take care of them but anybody who would commission the TNTP does not fall into that category.

johnctaughtme
13017
Points
johnctaughtme 06/15/14 - 11:27 am
0
0

Teachers, principals,

Teachers, principals, administrators, and even consultants do themselves, students, and citizens a disservice by persistently appearing to not acknowledge, or perhaps fully recognize the role of parents in educational outcomes.

Parents play the pivotal role in their children's education, including forming character, behavior, and other intrinsic qualities, long before middle school, or certainly high school. As one comment above noted, high school is a bit late to try to correct or address the problems.

It would be nice to see administrators, superintendents, and even principals stand up to uninvolved, disengaged parents, and tell them that the problem with their children's education begins with them. I have seen only one public official dare to do that. About a decade ago, former Mayor Jake Godbold forcefully addressed a group of parents with that message at a troubled school, with some effective results.

Mr McFeeley
1421
Points
Mr McFeeley 06/15/14 - 11:43 am
0
0
Premium Member

Another opportunity to

Another opportunity to discover that underpaid teachers in one overstressed district are leaving either for other professions or for neighboring districts where they will remain undrepaid but will deal with a more engaged and motivated clientele. Meanwhile less effective teachers remain behind in the most troubled schools because they are the only ones who will. Vitti has spent money, wherever it came from, to find out what everyone knows. Here is my concern. Underperforming schools make up maybe a third of the district's schools. We have plenty of schools that have attracted, over time, good teachers who are offered little incentive to stay in Duval County and are given little support and yet many stay because they don't want to commute long distances to other districts or they want to make a difference here in Duval County just not in urban schools where the stress is too much no matter how much outside money there is. By the way, these suburban school areas are fertile fields for corporate charter schools that offer no significant improvement, but can take advantage of the disdain the public schools are held in by politicians and the wealthy who want a bigger piece of the potential spoils education has to offer. The compensation ladder does not compel junior level teachers to remain and that has to change. I have been teaching in Duval County for nine years and I earn $40,000 a year. So does every other teacher with this experience level no matter their overall effectiveness. Fifty percent of the teachers who came into the system with me, according to previous reports, left the profession or Duval County in the first five years. This was a study all teachers were strongly encouraged to participate in even to the point where time was given to do so. Why? It is likely that Vitti will use it to justify future actions to force teachers into schools they would rather not teach in. When that day comes, there will be many more well-qualified and effective teachers leaving. The families of Duval County had better start paying attention. The future of this city is dependent on a well functioning and effective school system.

Youresobitter
24
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Youresobitter 06/15/14 - 11:54 am
0
0

Finder, maybe you should

Finder, maybe you should brush up on AP style. Duval County Public Schools is referring to a single entity, NOT the individual schools, therefore the way it is worded is correct. Everything must remain singular and it does.

gatorfan32256
154
Points
gatorfan32256 06/15/14 - 11:57 am
0
0
Premium Member

I think what makes Dr. Vitti

I think what makes Dr. Vitti difference is that he is willing to admit that there are problems in the system. the good ole boy network of the past and board politics never allowed that to happen. the question now becomes can Vitti improve over the years, will he be given the chance or will he leave

saltmarsh cracker
3812
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saltmarsh cracker 06/15/14 - 12:03 pm
0
0

We know how to improve good

We know how to improve good schools…Let's stick with what we know…

We do not know how to improve poor schools….Allowing kids to leave them is the best we can do.

Noillusions
3130
Points
Noillusions 06/15/14 - 05:48 pm
0
0

Who needs education when you

Who needs education when you have kiddie pools & a scoreboard, a silly skyride, a financial farce for a courthouse, unused parking towers, an uncompleted sidewalk (riverwalk), a billion $ dead downtown, a half baked better jax plan, 2 brand new (apparently illegally purchased) river taxis, an extremely high Bond Rating (intere$t), a heavy debt load and a billion + $ pension Program looming over the town.
Obviously, education can't compete with those HIGH PRIORITY necessities.

All those facts are the VERY REASON jax is losing good educators (assuming they exist) and why Industry / Corporate migration to Duval is seldom seen!
Name the last MAJOR Corporate Headquartering here or even a MAJOR Facility opening here...to be fair, let's say in the last DECADE...TEN (10) YEARS?

Not to mention jax's Real Estate Value bloodstream is barely flowing. Jax is still the 14th - 17th (depends on source) highest residential foreclosure city in America!

No doubt the Cluele$$ Town Clown$ should have spent more than the 64-100 MILLION $'s for additional kiddie pools. NOT TO MENTION THE BILLION$ $PENT ON OTHER $ILLINE$$. Those $illy billion$ alone would have gone a long way in improving education & economic conditions in Duval. RATHER THAN HELPING THE GOOD OLE BOY NETWORK...PLAIN & SIMPLE!

Where do thee Idiots come from & WHO continues to elect them?
Someone please call Corrine!!!

edugal
87
Points
edugal 06/15/14 - 05:06 pm
0
0
Premium Member

My family and I have resided

My family and I have resided in the greater Jacksonville area since the late 1980's. For years it has appeared that many Jacksonville-area residents lack the ambition and education to succeed. Just reading through the Comments section in the Florida Times Union demonstrates our locals' poor grasp of the English language or their lack of effort in producing a coherent response. And it's not just the Comments section that sports poor writing. I cringed as I waded through an error-filled passage written by a local reporter earlier this week. It's embarrassing. What is the problem with us? Lack of focus? Laziness? Low IQ? Too much football and beer? I don't know, but when we settle for (barely) good-enough, we don't really succeed.

If we as a community truly want to change who we are, I think it can be done, and it does begin in our community schools. We start in our elementary schools and convince the parents to "buy-in" to the school community. If parents don't feel welcome or think only of their children's schools as babysitting facilities with free meals, nothing changes. But, if we get the parents involved, starting with functions they will enjoy, then we can build that bridge to parents as volunteers and involved partners in their children's education.

As a teacher in St. Johns County, I have the luxury of having almost all the parents of my students very involved in their children's learning. They feel part of the school community. They enjoy the school functions that are promoted throughout the year. Our business partners help produce these events along with our PTO, teachers, and administrators. The same types of events could be staged and promoted within the local Duval school communities, too. If our wealthy, local benefactors want to begin making a real impact from the bottom up, get your representatives to the local PTO meetings and get the parties started.

You begin by engaging the local community and earning their trust. Everything else, including studying how effective teachers are in these low-hope buildings is secondary.

J'ville Native
3892
Points
J'ville Native 06/15/14 - 11:27 pm
0
0
Premium Member

Its not rocket science! 1 -

Its not rocket science!
1 - Get the disruptive, disrespectful, and disinterested students out of the classrooms. Initiate a three-strike-you're-out policy. First strike, a one day suspension and student writes an essay on the importance of education and respect for teachers and classmates. Second strike, two weeks at an alternative school with an emphasis on structure, discipline, respect, etc. Its the parent's responsibility to provide transportation to the alt school. This inconvenience to the parent(s) should straighten out little Johnny or little Susie. Student and parent(s) also signs a behavior contract before returning to main school. Third strike, complete the year with virtual school. If no computer/internet access at home, parents are responsible for getting student to relative or library. It wouldn't take but maybe half a year to send the message to the entire student body that misbehavior will not be tolerated.
2 - End social promotion. Get overage students out of the regular classroom. 15 year old students in a 6th grade classroom, really?
3 - Teachers should be able to vent their frustrations/concerns regarding the school culture, administrative/district mandates, etc. (as long as its not disrespectful or divisive) without fear of retribution. Our school lost a great teacher to a neighboring district because of this. Our loss, their gain!
4 - Pay core subject teachers more than elective teachers. Elective classes enhance a student's education, but is not crucial to educational success. Does an elementary P.E. or Art teacher really deserve to be paid the same as a High School A.P. Calculus or A.P. Chemistry teacher?
5 - Pay teachers based on merit, not years of service.
Contrary to popular belief, teacher salaries is not the main reason for teachers leaving the district or the teaching field, its the lack of meaningful consequences for student misbehavior and disruption.

mad
192
Points
mad 06/16/14 - 12:41 am
0
0
Premium Member

to Jville Native I agree. I

to Jville Native I agree. I am highly qualified, experienced, great attendance and my students do well on their tests. I was put on a Success Plan this year and tormented and harrassed. I think they were trying to make me quit. Why? See #3 above. Duval doesnt want great effective teachers. They want them drugged and compliantand powerless, which we are thanks to our worthless union.Maybe trying to open the door wider for charters. Vitti reminds me of Fidel Castro who got elected, then said guess what? I'm a communist. Guess what? Vitti is a charter school advocate, elected to put the final nails in the public school coffin.My only issue with your comment is #2. If we had social promotion you wouldnt have 15 year olds in your class.

Noillusions
3130
Points
Noillusions 06/16/14 - 06:24 am
0
0

Sounds like the powers to be

Sounds like the powers to be haven't selected a good School Supt.

Noillusions
3130
Points
Noillusions 06/16/14 - 06:25 am
0
0

Sounds like the powers to be

Sounds like the powers to be haven't selected a good School Supt.

J'ville Native
3892
Points
J'ville Native 06/16/14 - 07:16 am
0
0
Premium Member

@mad - issue #2 could be

@mad - issue #2 could be solved by placing overage students in separate classes with other students behind at the same level. My teacher friend was also put on a Success Plan. 10+ years, dynamic lessons, students loved her class, and very good test scores. Was used as an example to our department.

Mr McFeeley
1421
Points
Mr McFeeley 06/16/14 - 07:27 am
0
0
Premium Member

The lack of fair compensation

The lack of fair compensation is a major reason teachers leave the profession. It is not the only reason, but when you pay teachers poorly early in their careers and make it virtually impossible to be paid a decent wage until they have been in the profession twenty years, competent and effective teachers leave. If you don't believe that you are either blind or one of the older teachers who have crossed the Rubicon and now make a more competitive salary. All the other reasons listed such as poor management and stress are the reasons to make it worth someone's time to remain a teacher. Nobody said all teachers should be rich. However, the profession needs to attract and retain the best people possible. Compensation is a major part of what will attract the best people. As this recession fades away, younger competent teachers are going to find opportunities that did not exist five years ago. Teacher unions negotiate for all teachers but don't seem to represent the majority of teaxhers any longer. Membership is down. Their greatest contribution seems to be twofold. One; they have maintained some level of control of healthcare costs and two; they do occasionally protect all teachers against poor management actions such as the recent IPD*****ues here in Duval County. Otherwise they favor senior teachers over the rest of us and are increasingly out of touch with newer teachers' teachers' concerns.

You can just look at the make-up of our state government to clearly see the unions have little political clout left in Florida. An anti-public schools government will soon make teachers private employees teaching curriculums that will not promote good thinking but instead, murky agendas. While Americans are focused on Big Brother, the real danger to freedom has already marched to the front door of every school in America. Pay good teachers a decent wage and give them the tools to continue to teach our children how to think, not what to think.

mad
192
Points
mad 06/16/14 - 09:10 am
0
0
Premium Member

J'ville Native - Success

J'ville Native - Success plans are used to punish and make teachers quit, not succeed. If you know cactus58, please contact her and may be she can put you in contact with me.

cactus58
131
Points
cactus58 06/17/14 - 10:02 am
0
0
Premium Member

Success Plans are punitive.

Success Plans are punitive. They are not designed to help or support a teacher. They are used as a way to harass teachers that speak up about bad policies or unethical practices by administration. Even when a teacher cooperates with The Plan the principals will then lie to achieve their objective which is to see that the teacher either quits or fails. This county is in the gutter and should be sued.

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