Thursday, June 26, 2008

Never More True

I was so much older then (click here).

My Back Pages

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin, high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
"We'll meet on edges, soon," said I
Proud 'neath heated brow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
"rip down all hate," I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Girls' faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

A self-ordained professor's tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
"equality," I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My existence led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.
-Bob Dylan

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pulling the plug

It has been more than a year since I started this blog. I continue to want to be a voice in education, especially from "my corner of the world". It is very hard to keep up. I think the purpose of this blog has been lost. It is very difficult to "unite" when we all just try to adapt to what ever is thrown at us. I am guilty of that, too.

It is hard to deal with information overload. I could spend hours a day answering email and responding to my RSS feeds. Maybe we need to reformat our classrooms... schools. Listen to the students.

I will be here... in another time... another place... another face... (reference from Van Morrison)

I have been immersed in Web 2.0,... the future? ...yes. It is about user created content. It is OUR future. You need to know.

It is difficult to imagine how Web 2.0 can exist in a public school system. User created content is generally fire-walled. This is where the future is evolving. How will we get our students to compete and engage in OUR (THE) future? How can we teach them to communicate, collaborate, and compete globally? Do you know that ALL of MIT's courses are available... for free? Most learning is free, on-line, now, all that is needed is someone hungry to learn. I am learning PhotoShop, 3-D building, scripting, and ???. (Where do I want to go/learn today?)

From a year ago... delicious...mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... do you tag?

How have we evolved as a school system this past year? (Our superintendent sends us wordy messages and video casts at our busiest time of the year, but at least we have been communicated at...... bad English intended.) We have learned to take away from student/instructional time to do the other tasks required of us.

Here are things I am interested in now:
International Studies for Technology Education... I know I am a life-long learner, these platforms are more than interesting... engaging.

This site is all about learner take charge... grows daily.

Get watch your education bookmarks... be on the cusp with other thinkers.

Well... a few of places where I spend my time.

It has been a year since I posted this....... have you been paying attention?

Lots of ways to change our world, I want to be part of the conversation.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Impact of ESE Teachers Teaching 300 Minutes at High Schools

CTA representatives have asked that we forward them input for a committee that is analyzing the impact of the teaching an additional period and having only one planning period for high school. In addition to the many negative outcomes being reported by general education teachers consider the following which is particular to ESE students and teachers:

1. Teachers have no time to mentor, support, counsel, and tutor students outside class. With the demands of curriculum, there is very little time in the classroom when instruction can be stopped to take care of this important ESE service. We have seen huge increases in suspensions, withdrawals to charter and private schools, drops in student grades, feelings from students that there is “no help.” and the number of students with a lack of motivation.
2. ESE teachers are missing 2-3 classes per week, on the average, to conduct IEP meetings. Sometimes it’s an aid covering or a co-teacher is left by themselves.
3. ESE teachers are completing the draft IEPs after school or at home. Increasing the “homework” portion of the job several more hours per week on the average.
4. Very little “case management” is occurring. There is much less time to consult, collaborate, make phone calls to parents and agencies, etc.
5. ESE teachers who co-teach travel all over the building (floating) and must co-plan with on the average 3 different teachers.
6. ESE teachers of students in the self-contained classrooms (TMH and SPMH at my school) use parts of their planning and lunch time to assist students in the lunchroom, bathroom, and locker rooms. This adds up to a class period, but because there is no roster for the ESE teacher, the time does not count as instructional for the ESE teacher.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Shift Happens

We need to think about how we are educating our students for the future. As flawed as William Daggett's facts and credentials may have been (last year's teacher rally at the St Pete Times Forum), the future is changing exponentially. I read somewhere that the new MBA is a MFA. I do not believe everyone should go to college, we will always need people in the service sector. The skills in using technology and creativity will be what will moves our nation forward for all of us, even plumbers and cooks. The open-source ideas of sharing knowledge and ideas will keep the freedoms our country was founded upon alive, and perhaps keep us ahead of countries that restrict the freedoms of their people. We need to keep the internet free. Look at gold mining in China.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pay Attention

For those of you who do not get what I have been "into" for the past few months.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

ESE Teachers - this is a warning, pay attention!

The way to CYA, is to put into writing and send the district or a member of the school board your views on the ESE cutbacks in services for next year. That action may be your only protection in a law suit.

"WASHINGTON, May 21 — A Supreme Court decision on Monday gave parents of children with disabilities the right to go to court without a lawyer to challenge their public school district’s individualized plan for their child’s education." (click title for full story)

Read the post below about a teacher being awarded 1M, her only back up was to have her concerns in writing. Read the post below from STAND. Not reporting students' violation of their rights is like not reporting abuse or neglect.

Late yesterday (5/21), the district announced that the IEP Paraprofessional positions are "frozen" and will be filled by all the VE teachers who are in the pool. So, a highly qualified teacher" may be in this position. STAND do not stand for this! This is not a solution to deliver quality services for students with disabilities.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Teacher is awarded $1,000,000 and other damages for retaliation by a school district; because she spoke out .

On April 5, 2004, the Ninth Circuit issued a detailed decision, which reversed the Magistrate Judge and reinstated the Jury Verdict and praised the conduct of counsel for Pamella Settlegoode. (Portland, Oregon)

The Court discussed the importance of Settlegoode's freedom of speech and criticized the Magistrate Judge, explaining that:

This is just an excerpt:

"Teachers are uniquely situated to know whether students are receiving the type of attention and education that they deserve and, in this case, are federally entitled to. We have long recognized “the importance of allowing teachers to speak out on school matters,” Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138, 162 (1983), because “ ‘[t]eachers are, as a class, the members of a community most likely to have informed and definite opinions’ “ on such matters, id. (quoting Pickering, 391 U.S. at 572). This is particularly so with respect to disabled children, who may not be able to communicate effectively that they lack appropriate facilities. Teachers may therefore be the only guardians of these children’s rights and interests during the school day. (Emphasis added by Wrightslaw) Whether or not Settlegoode’s assertions were accurate, or were communicated in the best manner possible, it is clear that the subject matter of her expression was of public importance." (or click title above)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hit The Road, Jack !

Hit the Road, Jack! (Lamb) Fred Burns is on the way!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thank You, "STAND" !!! I will take a stand with you. Letter from an ESE advocacy network :

Dear Hillsborough School Board Members and Superintendent Elia,

The STatewide Advocacy Network on Disabilities would like to encourage you to support ESE teachers in this district by retaining planning time for these teachers in order to provide a free appropriate public education for students with disabilities. Recent decisions by this board will have a negative impact on students and the recruitment/retention of ESE teachers. Please consider the following:

The substitution of an IEP Assistant in the classroom instead of a Highly Qualified Teacher as defined by No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for the amount of predicted time necessary to conduct multiple IEPs and collaborative planning times will lead to violations of those Acts. STAND is deeply concerned that ESE students will have less quality instructional time while under the watch of an IEP Assistant than the certified, talented teachers this county possesses.

There is the additional concern that a lesser-qualified individual will now be in charge of the procedural rights of parents – items such as parent notification, prior written notice, and gathering documentation specific to the IEP process. STAND strongly disagrees that the current recommended training is sufficient to educate IEP Assistants on IDEA requirements. This too will lead to further non-compliance, impaired parental rights, and potential loss of federal dollars to our students who need support the most.

For years, multiple committees and task forces, including the Superintendent’s ESE Advisory Council have maintained Teacher Recruitment/ Retention subcommittees with an ongoing concern for this issue. STAND foresees that this problem will escalate with the recent decision by HCSB to decrease planning time and substitute unqualified instructors in the classroom.

While we support accountability in spending, we also recognize integrity in the classroom cannot be lost due to the bottom line. STAND encourages you to work with the specialized needs of ESE teachers, listen to their concerns and recommendations, and take note of the potential compliance issues you are creating with your recent decisions to create an IEP Assistant, and reduce planning time.

One final note, we would like to remind district administrators that teachers are federally protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding their ability to advocate for students with disabilities. I am certain you would agree that discouraging their advocacy (presage of job transfer or demotion) in any way would be inappropriate.
Nikole Whitehead
Cc: Valdez, Otero, Grego, Hamilton, Tye, Gilbert, Clements, High school principals

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Read "The Wall" - Principals Bullying Teachers at AHS, PCHS, and DHS

This makes my blood boil. The teachers who have spoken out about the effects of teaching 6/7, do so because they are concerned about the scaling back of services to students. This will result in a myriad of negative consequences for our students which is yet to be calculated. It is an outrage that we are witnessing colleagues who have been denied their 1st amendment rights.

As professionals, it is not only our right, but our duty, to speak out about the impending catastrophe. I do not want to be with the group that has to defend the effects of this plan or explain why I did not speak up.

Just added 5/13 - District level administration bullies school board members. See April Griffin's Blog.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Taken from April Griffin's Blog, posted by anonymous:

April, I'll understand if you don't post this.
I was looking for a way to compel the union to give me a list of items that they submitted for Impact Bargaining, and I came across this Florida Statute:
407.605(2) The collective bargaining negotiations between a chief executive officer, or his or her representative, and a bargaining agent shall be in compliance with the provisions of s. 286.011

286.011 is the public meetings law, which includes the requirement that the meeting (in this case, negotiation session) be announced before it occurs and be open to the public, the same as board meetings are announced and open to the public.

I haven't found anything in the Contract that contradicts the open meeting requirement, but even if there was it would be void because Florida Statutes cannot be superceded by a contract.
The Teacher Contract is up for renegotiation. It might be a good idea for the Board to announce the dates and times of negotiations on the Board website.
Given the current climate I am amazed that no one has challenged the validity of the New Contract Language because it appears to have been negotiated in private, instead of in public.

May 9, 2007 11:33 PM

That includes teachers, support staff, and administration?
posted by April Griffin at 8:22 AM on May 5, 2007

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

April Griffin - a TRUE friend of teachers and those who are passionate about providing a QUALITY education for our students.

We had our meeting at school today with April Griffin. She stayed until well past 6 to listen to us. She is a true friend of the teachers. She genuinely apologized for this happening to us. She understands that much of the important work we do, is not in those "minutes".

My take on some of the dialogue:

We must NOT stop speaking out. The district administration is counting on our apathy to grow over the summer. Their divide and conquer tactic may work when the contract comes out and we are out voted by elementary. We must do everything we can to show that it is not about 300 minutes, it is about 6/7. April had a great metaphor; it's like comparing men and women. There are some common needs, and there are differing needs, but there's an acceptance of "equality".

We should also document what we are doing to make it work next year, and what we must give up doing.

April understands ESE. She shadowed an ESE teacher last week at Young.

We also brought up that many schools have been telling their teachers not to go to board meetings. I was part of emails of 2 high schools that were sending representatives to speak out about ESE issues at yesterday’s board meeting. Both of these individuals were told late in the day to NOT do it by their administration.

More to come when I have time this weekend.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Why ESE Teachers Need a Planning Period AND an ESE Clinical Period

Why Secondary ESE Teachers Need a “Clinical” Period and a Planning Period
(revised on 3/3/07)

With both district and administrative support at my school, we were able to implement a “clinical” period for most ESE teachers for nearly 10 years. Many other high schools throughout the county followed suit. In planning for this school year, 2006-07, we realized that it would be impossible to provide services for our students without ESE teachers teaching 5 out of 7 periods. Our duty period became “ESE Duty”, and these teachers were not assigned homerooms. This plan has not been successful as what we are asked to do for ESE students outside of the classroom while maintaining mandatory compliance and documentation is overwhelming for the little time afforded to these tasks. These tasks are clearly 20% of time.

Below is the typical/average ESE paperwork load and case management activities for VE teachers co-teaching and perhaps having 1-2 resource/special diploma classes. This is why a “Clinical Period” is needed.

1. The average IEP from arranging a date to photocopying and filing = 7 hours x 22 case load =154 hours per year (about 1/5th require an additional review) =184 hours per year.

2. Three year re-evaluations, testing for FCAT Waivers, and alternate assessments = 8 students x 3 hours each = 24 hours per year.

3. Conducting FBAs/PBIPs, IEP reviews for every student at the 10th day of suspension = (lucky if you have the average of) 2 students x 12 hours = 24 hours per year.

4. Students on McKay meetings for a re-evaluations/other = 1student x 4 hours = 4 hours per year.

5. Meeting with students on consultative status = 5 students x 9 months (not meeting in May) x 15 min. average. = 11.25 hours per year.
6. Phone calls to parents for case management = 22 case load x 10 months x average 10 min. a month (some none, more, or less) = 36.67 hours per year.

7. Consulting with teachers for students on caseload/monthly progress reports = 22 students x 9 months (not May) x 5 minutes each = 16.5 hours per year.

8. Report Card inserts = 22 caseload x 4 times per year X 5 min. each = 7.3 hours.

9. “Gretrude Graduate” (informing parents that services end upon graduation) and Summary of Performance forms (must meet with student) = 5 students x 25 minutes = 2 hours.

10. Recommendations for the following year programming 17 caseload (less the grads) x 10 minutes = 3 hours.

11. Reviewing the IEPs at the beginning of the year, and communicating accommodations and information to gen. ed. teachers at the beginning of the year and again when the IEP is reviewed = 10 hours.

This is 322.72 hours per year of ESE additional requirements to a teacher’s work day!

There's time spent “counseling” a student or providing additional help for an academic problem, not included.

Another issue is the enormous number of updates to procedures and policies. We live in a rapidly changing world and it takes a great deal of time to read the continually changing "new rule" or "procedure". With the many legal issues involved with ESE students, this is another time consuming part of the job. An annual file folder of updates has been 2 inches thick for years.

The self-contained programs spend their time of lower caseloads doing far more data collection, on-going alternate assessment, parent contact, agency contact, etc. They also must review/revise the IEP to address Extended School Year. They also have a classroom aide or attendant.

A “Planning Period” is needed for planning. In an ideal world, a VE teacher would have 3 preps and co-teaching with no more than 2 people. That's far more than a solid hour per day for planning and grading. Teachers must also plan for differentiated instruction. They must plan and provide accommodations. This must also include modified content, materials, and assessment for special diploma students who are served in a regular education classes.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Reposting - "Reality Check" - AS PREDICTED - but am I wrong?, Is it devious thinking on the district's part?

Reality Check: The 300 Minutes of Teaching per Day Proposal
by GLC
February 2007

The district found a loop hole in the teachers’ contract and wants to use it to cut costs in order to make good on a promise to raise teachers’ salaries. The proposal will result in reductions in the number of general education and special education (ESE) teachers at the secondary level. The trickle-down effect will mean less effective instruction and attention to the needs of ALL students and far fewer inclusion opportunities for ESE students, which is why I have stepped in to comment. If all of this goes through, the district will, once again, spend money before they get their “check,” and we’ll be in the same position next year.

When all of the effects of teaching 6/7 or 6/8 periods become known to the community, parents will demand that teachers be given the time to plan effectively, help maintain the safety of the school, provide all of the extra curricular activities, and attend to students’ individual needs. And, they’ll demand it through the media, legislators, and the legal system. We must have the time and resources to be able to provide an effective, inclusive, growth-focused curriculum and learning environment.

The proponents of teaching 300 minutes for all teachers have not realistically calculated what the teaching demands are today and what high schools are really like now. Their decision making is based on their own experiences in the classroom 10-20 years ago. I do not want to believe it is devious thinking by our district level administrators.

I cannot realistically add to these points the demands of teaching honors, AP, and dual enrollment courses, but please give the following issues your consideration.

see comments for the rest of "Reality Check"