I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

...Of Course the Union and their Left-Leaning Media Counterparts Will HATE this Movie....

The new movie "Won't Back Down" hits theaters this weekend.  Predictably, the film is getting very negative reviews.  I love great movies and I intend to see this one, but I'll admit I'm not expecting much from this film and I'm not a big fan of Maggie Gyllenhaal (although she was interesting in "Crazy Heart" and "Sherry Baby".)

But it's not about whether this film is any good or not--it's about whether or not the film has the legs to get America talking about the NUMEROUS dysfunctional problems in our public schools today.  I hope it does. I remember hoping that the Florida parent trigger bill would pass, only to watch the Republican Senate fall apart and let it die via a 20-20 tie--giving the status-quo, unions, and liberal education obstructionists a victory-essentially punting on the issue. (to the detriment of thousands of students in Florida stuck in failing schools.)

Already the unions nationally are sponsoring the picketing of theaters that are showing this movie, which isn't surprising and ought to be telling.  They did not   think much of 2010's "Waiting for Superman" either-although that film spotlighted some very troubling issues in American public education that continue to persist.

From an article in Reuters yesterday evening:

"Parent groups that support teachers' unions have organized protests outside some screenings. And they've been gleefully posting negative reviews of "Won't Back Down" on Facebook and Twitter....Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has called it "egregiously misleading.."

  Unions can spin it any way they want:  Bottom line---- they fear a watering down of their influence as charters and choice spread throughout our nation.  Charter schools are not beholden to unions and their restrictive labor contracts that put adults before kids.  Therefore, unions unite to fight against school choice and conscript well-meaning but oftentimes naive parent groups to assist them-- even though the unions themselves know that their roadblocking efforts mean many students will be trapped in failing schools.  They don't care, though; just keep the taxpayer money flowing and the more the better, is their mantra.  Their priority is themselves, this has been proven and even stated by these unions and their representatives.  I put KIDS and TAXPAYERS first, not special interest, left leaning political activist labor unions!   That's why I love my job, I want to be on the front lines of reform, because things must change! ....and movies like "Won't Back Down" might just be the lightning rods to achieve these changes!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Escambia School Board Wins HUGE Victory in Federal Court

The plaintiff alleged that her employer, the School Board of Escambia County,  had committed retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1946, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17.

This case caused tremendous consternation to the entire district, and has cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, and has dragged on for more than  two years.

On Tuesday, the Judge granted the School Board's second motion for summary judgement.  from the order

"Broughton's position throughout this case has been that her son was harassed by teachers and other students and that he did not deserve being blamed for things that happened.  All of her conclusions about whether and how B.B. was harassed come from what B.B. told her, which is inadmissible hearsay."

and finally

"....Broughton has not come forward with admissible evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact whether the removal was causally connected to the protected activity.  Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED:

1.  The defendant School Board's objections to portions of the affidavits of Craig Broughton, Thelma Roby, Karen Broughton, and Jerome Watson (doc. 98) are SUSTAINED.
2.  The defendant School Board's second motion for summary judgment (doc. 84) is GRANTED.
3.  The Clerk shall enter final judgment in favor of defendant School Board and against plaintiff, Karen Broughton.

DONE AND ORDERED this 25th day of September, 2012"

Read Judge M. Casey Rodgers Order here

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lowering the Bar for "Some" Students, Keeping it High for "Others"??

I certainly hope the recent bar-lowering in Washington, DC, does not become the new normal.  It actually turns my stomach, and how can we expect less from some and proclaim this will produce higher achievement?  The geniuses that developed this "plan" should be immediately quarantined so their idocy spreads no further, then they should be fired from their positions.  Talk about a GIANT step backwards.....

 from the Washington Post:

"Setting different aspirations for different groups of children represents a sea change in national education policy, which for years has prescribed blanket goals for all students. Some education experts see the new approach as a way to speed achievement for black, Latino and low-income students, but some parents can’t help but feel that less is being expected of their children.
“It’s disgraceful,” said Alicia Rucker, a Ward 7 resident and single mother of six, one of whom graduated from Georgetown University and five of whom are still living at home and enrolled in D.C. public schools. “It’s ridiculous to even believe that if you expect less from someone, you’re going to get more.”

If you can hold your food down while reading this garbage, the article is here

I've spoken out forcefully before about bar lowering, which serves no good purpose other than to make failed policymakers feel better about themselves so they can declare "success".

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Drug Policy Results From 2011-2012 Released

In all the hoopla over differential pay and bonuses discussed during this past week's series of meetings and in the press and on social media, an important issue, almost overlooked, was brought back before the board on Thursday.

The 2011-2012 school year in Escambia County marked the first full year of implementing a comprehensive plan to reduce drugs at school that the school board formulated and requested be implemented back in May, 2010.  (Although calls for such a plan had been made for years prior to this May, 2010 meeting to combat rising drug expulsions)

In addition to an awareness  component that is essentially a student-driven "say no to drugs" ad campaign,  drug testing of selected students, a tip line, drug dog searches, and counseling services comprise the main components of the plan.
In the last school year, 400 revolving searches by canines were completed at schools that were randomly selected, but that included multiple visits to all middle and high schools.  Of these searches, canines alerted in 50 instances, which lead to the seizure of....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Differentiated Pay Scale--Just One of Many Possible Ideas...

As I posted earlier this month, I think a creative way to keep experienced veteran teachers in the inner-city classrooms (keeping more from migrating to the less challenging suburban schools) would be to establish a differentiated pay scale.  Such a plan would compensate teachers in tough environments with significant, recurring, and cumulative bonus payments yearly that would correspond with their years teaching in high-poverty schools.  The ones illustrated above, which I developed recently, utilize the existing negotiated pay scale for 2011-2012 as a basis.  (I will present this model to the school board and superintendent at this week's open discussion meeting, to see if such an idea would have any support here in Escambia County.)  

These potential scales consist of two tracks, one for Suburban Schools and One for High Poverty Schools.  High poverty schools, for purposes of this one model of a differentiated pay scale shown above, would consist of the 20% of district schools with the highest percentages of populations eligible for free lunch.  Suburban schools would consist of all the rest of the schools in the district.  This first scale is revenue neutral, meaning the pay is assigned utilizing only the monies currently available;  (The subsequent scale is non-revenue neutral) Each year a teacher stays in a tough to staff, high poverty school, that teacher would receive a corresponding bonus equal to the current bonus plus the amounts for the previous steps at which such a teacher worked at high poverty schools.  Conceivably, a teacher who spent their entire career in high poverty schools and reached step 26 on such a scale would be earning $10,000.00 more yearly than their counterparts at suburban 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Packed Agenda for School Board Discussion Workshop 9-13-2012 2:00 PM

The School Board will be having the regularly scheduled, once-monthly school board discussion workshop this coming Thursday, September 13th at 2:00.  (The 2:00PM start is an hour earlier than normal, due to a large agenda of items to work through.

Items to be discussed include the following:


- September & October Calendar - Slayton (5 minutes)

- Status of Garden Street Property, "For Sale Sign" - Slayton (5 minutes)

- Procedures for Changing High School Schedules - Hightower (5 to 10 minutes)

- Notification of Issues after Storm/Emergencies - Hightower (10 minutes)

- District Information Phone Messages during Emergencies - Hightower (5 minutes)

- Update/Request for Information on Establishment of Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline, Tip-line, Web Reporting Portal (follow up from February 16, 2012 request) - Bergosh (10 minutes)

- Status of Streaming of Video and Viewer-ship - Bergosh (5 minutes)

- Differentiated Teacher Pay Scale Model (high poverty track/suburban school track) - Bergosh (10 minutes)

- Discussion of Hurricane Shelters - Bergosh (5 minutes)

- Update on Property Purchase for Escambia High School - Boone - (5 to 10 minutes)

- ECARE Program - Moultrie (10 minutes)

- Focus Curriculum Goal Update – Superintendent (15-20 minutes)

- Update on the Comprehensive Drug Plan – Superintendent (10 minutes)

- Update on the START Mentoring Program – Superintendent (10-15 minutes)

- Wellness Policy Operational Procedures Update – Superintendent (10-15 minutes)

- Energy Incentive Program Final Update – Superintendent (15 minutes)

As is always the case when our school board meets, the public is encouraged to attend and all will be given the option of addressing the board if they so choose.  The meeting will be held at the Hall Center, 30 E Texar Drive, in room 160 beginning at 2:00 PM.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Can We Better Reward Teachers Who Remain in High Poverty Schools for Their Entire Career?

Teachers who work at schools in the suburbs with robust PTAs and tons of parental support and involvement  are fortunate;  They have students that in many cases are more supported at home, and therefore the discipline issues are not as significant and the overall work environment is better for these teachers. 
Room moms are available, volunteers show up, and overall the environment is better.  It is for this reason that most teachers start out in the inner-city, work 5-6 years, then move to a less diverse and less poverty stricken location, and then at the 10-13 year mark, when enough seniority is under these teachers’ belts, the move is made to the low poverty low diversity schools with great support from the community—and this is where many teachers will finish out their careers.
I find no fault with this, other than the fact that we are sometimes beat up about our teacher churn rate at the inner city schools and the lower percentage of veteran teachers at the average high poverty school.
So what could be done to entice more teachers to stay at the poverty stricken, ethnically diverse inner city schools?
I recently brought up the idea of developing a revised pay-scale for new hires that rewards teachers who stay in the inner city schools, with bumps in pay at the 5 year mark, 10 year mark, and 15 years and thereafter.  I’d like to see the pay tied to schools with high rates of “free lunch” (perhaps 90% or higher).  The scales would be revenue neutral, meaning that at the ten year mark, a teacher at the suburban school would be making less than a teacher who spent ten years in the high poverty schools.  And the delta between the High poverty track teacher pay and the Suburban teacher track pay would end up, at year 25, being about $7,000-$10,000. 
I think this sort of a scenario would encourage veterans to stay in the inner city schools longer in their careers—which may help us drive higher achievement at these schools if we can stabilize the extreme churn rates and keep some stability.

I intend to discuss this concept at our upcoming board workshop to see if there is any support for such a concept.