The Times Union's love affair

The Times Union’s editorial board’s love for Superintendent Pratt-Dannals is once again evident in the editorial, F-Cat Scores: Raising expectations. Like he did in his letter to the district on the DCSB web site, the column talks about the problem with this years f-cat and then later asks us to celebrate the successes at some schools.

Does anybody else see a problem with this? Is one part of the f-cat good, while another part is bad? If successes are set up by years of hard work as the editorial suggests, then aren’t failures set up by years of poor work as well? Which is it?

Furthermore, how can the superintendent criticize Pearson without mentioning that the county has brought them to town to do some of our statistical analysis? Which is it Times Union, should they be scrutinized or should they be used?

Continuing, it is interesting that over 500 teachers applied to work at our struggling schools but doesn’t that has more to do with the economy than them thinking the Duval County…

Reporter becomes teacher

I am not going to lie. It often wears on me being the bearer of bad news where education is concerned. Sifting through the shiny, happy cover talking about the warts.

Mary Maraghy is a former Times Union reporter who left to become a teacher and she wrote about it in a recent issue. The excitement she feels is literally dripping off the page. I wish her well and sincerely hope she can sustain it.

Here is where we come to the however. She wrote, “I thought we were crazy busy at the TU, then I became a teacher… teachers do the work of fifty people and never in forty hours.” That’s right because the typical teacher works far more than forty hours a week. Many leave their kids in extended day care and have to take breaks from writing lesson plans to tuck them into bed. Most teachers enter the field knowing they will have to do some lesson planning and grading on their own time and are okay with it. Unfortunately the paper work has become at best daunting to some and over whelming to othe…

The Empty Chair

The empty chair

Every year after summer break the first thing that happens when the teachers’ return is a welcome back breakfast and this year was no exception. As I looked for a seat I passed a colleague who was sitting next to an empty chair. I asked her if I could sit there and she politely said, no, I am saving this seat. I nodded and found another place to sit nearby.

As more people filtered in a few others asked her about the empty chair and she repeated the same thing, no, I am saving this seat. Eventually the entire staff showed up and the seat remained empty. Eventually we had breakfast and the seat remained empty. Eventually the principal introduced the new staff members and the seat remained empty. Eventually we were dismissed for lunch and all the time the seat remained empty.

I thought that was strange so I asked her, so who were you saving the seat for, did somebody miss the first day? She looked at me and said; I was saving it for Jessica.

Jessica was a teacher who was…



She lifted up the computer and slammed it down on the cart. It was quite an impressive feat for somebody so small in stature. “Whoa, what’s going on Sunshine?” I asked, seeing she was obviously upset. “Oh, I don’t know…” she started, (I think holding back a tear); “it’s either being lied to straight to my face or being treated like a child”. I sighed and put my hand on her shoulder. The teacher in front of me wasn’t just one of my best friends at my school but one of the best teachers the school had to offer, as well, and it hurt me to see her so upset. “Okay, okay - take a deep breath and tell me what happened”, I asked. As she started to tell the story I realized she was just the latest domino to fall from a line that started two years ago.

A week before the ‘08-‘09 school year began, I got a call telling me I would be moved from my Trainable Mentally Handicapped (TMH) classroom to a Varying Exceptionality (VE) classroom to teach Science. I wasn’t happy about the mo…

The Times Union, doesn't get it

The Times Union just doesn’t get it. One of the biggest problems we have here in Jacksonville is that our school system is run by politicians on their way up or way down and casual observers filled with hubris who have at best a tenuous relationship to education. I am not saying they are of bad character or lack compassion and passion. I am saying they are out of their depth and the school system, our children and the entire city suffers for it.

So what does the Times Union do? It endorses a politician on his way down, Eric Smith and a politician on his way up, Fred “Fel” Lee. Admittedly, they do so while giving a nod to two teachers who have been in the classrooms and roaming the halls of schools in the county for a combined 29 years, Becki Couch and John King, saying they wouldn’t be bad choices. However a nod is not good enough.

Just like I wouldn’t turn to a Lawyer to take care of my health needs or a plumber to fly me across country no matter how good they were at their respectiv…

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

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

You know it's a common practice for teachers to start the year strict with their students, that way they have room to lighten up as the year progresses but I have never heard of a principal doing it to his staff. Sadly however this is where we find ourselves in 2010. Principals are told to shake things up as teachers have become the scapegoats for the district. Teachers have gone from valued colleague to someone …

The Bare Minimum

I spoke to the Northeast Florida rotary club the other day. If you don’t know what the Rotary club is, it’s a business/civic group. They like me are concerned about the direction education in Jacksonville is heading. They like me believe that economy, crime and civility or lack thereof all has their roots in education and they like me are nervous.

Even though I was invited into talk about education issues, I started by talking about the city. I talked about how two interstate highways intersect here and how we are on the ocean and have a major river, a port, an international airport and one of the best park systems in the country. I talked about the Jags and how we are close to entertainment hubs. I talked about how we have lots of room for growth and how much of the infrastructure is already in place to do so and I finished by talking about how we are a pro business city, in a pro business state and we don’t have an income tax. I then asked them why we aren’t turning businesses away…