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.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Federalization of Local Entities: Is it Already Happening in Escambia County Schools without So Much as a Vote by the Board?

The Federal Government is meddling in the affairs of local  schools and local law enforcement agencies nationwide.

There are some startling parallels between these two types of agencies and how they are being manipulated by the Federal Government.

This is disturbing to me, as these functions should be subject to local, state, and/or municipal control--not the Federal Government.

Police departments and LEO's that do their jobs in tough areas (Ferguson, MO, Baltimore, MD) suddenly are the villains for attempting to fight crime.  Suddenly the cops are the bad guys and they need sensitivity training and must subject their entire departments to expensive federally dictated "improvement protocols"  Being a police officer has got to be one of the most difficult jobs in the country, especially now with all of the second-guessing that goes on among politicians.

But wait, that sounds a lot like what teachers are being put through.

Schools and teachers that are fingered for treating minorities unfairly are put on notice, and then subsequently such districts are made to live under onerous "consent-decrees" that stipulate how monies are to be spent, how resources are to be allocated, and specifically how minorities are to be treated with respect to discipline.  Otherwise, the Feds threaten to pull funding.

here is an example of a recent school district implemented agreement from Mobile.

One district in Minnesota got snagged by this sort of a situation, and is now spending an additional $500K yearly to pay a compliance officer, an independent monitor, and several other staff positions in order to be deemed "compliant."  Meanwhile, they report better discipline numbers, but this masks the phenomenon that is growing nationwide: minimize the consequences for the infractions.

That's right, in many instances, what was once an infraction that would have warranted a referral to the office, is now forcibly foisted on teachers to "handle" in their classrooms, so there is not a written referral, or a paper trail.  Say "F#$K this S@#T! in class loudly, and instead of being sent to the office, this student is now given a behavior incident form, which teachers keep track of and which teachers must have four of before they send a student to the office with a referral.  Presto  "See, our numbers are BETTER!" Our referrals are DOWN!"

And with respect to minority students, they will continue to receive more warnings and less impactful consequences for misbehavior that is committed.  This will continue, and suddenly we will all see  "LOWER NUMBERS for MINORITY STUDENTS!!"

The problem is, this will not be a solution.  This is a stop-gap measure that forces teachers and other students to absorb the bad behavior and often abusive, violent conduct of some students for political

 correctness' sake.  This is unacceptable to me, I will not support such a plan here.  I continue to stand for firm, fair consequences for misbehavior meted out in color-blind fashion so that all are treated equally.  Apparently this is not good enough and quotas must be met with respect to punishment outcomes.  Social engineering 101.

I worry that this elected school board may not even get a say in this matter, which is sad.... many aspects of this sort of a federal compliance plan are already  being willingly implemented locally, apparently,  and have been phased in over the last several years (watered down discipline consequences, drastically diminished expulsions, no more long suspensions without central office approval, re-working the SRO contracts, re-training of staff with expen$ive Flip Flippen "It's your fault when students misbehave" seminars, and the ramping up of PBS and in-school suspensions.)  The only piece of the puzzle that is apparently missing here locally to completely, totally pacify the FEDS is if we hire a "Compliance Officer" position or three--- and continue to water down discipline.

Bottom line questions:  1.  Can the district's administration unilaterally agree to a consent decree by-proxy via their actions without so much as a vote by the board, or would this be contractual and require a recommendation by the superintendent, a vote by the board,  and a signature by the chairman?  Implementing the consent decree incrementally over time certainly would make things less cumbersome and it would generate a heck of a lot less press....

Ironically, I have been vocal in my belief that we have been going badly wrong on discipline over the last several years in our schools with our continuous weakening of discipline and associated consequences. Is there an implementation of federalized control of discipline in Escambia County to pacify social justice groups?  Is this happening already behind the scenes, out of the headlines?   I know what is going on here, I can see the way the breeze is blowing and it does not bode well for some schools that will become more and more challenging going forward as we minimize the discipline consequences as we appear poised to do.

Put it to a vote of this board instead of doing it in secret or by phasing it in piece by piece is what I'm calling for.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Jeff, you have hit the nail on the head here. Students are acting worse than ever due to no disciplinary consequences. I was told by an administrator for a period of one year of to handle incidences of disgusting behavior by myself and in the classroom.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Anonymous--sure seems that way from what I have seen as well. This will only exacerbate our already acute teacher and substitute teacher shortage at some of our schools.