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Palm Beach School Chaos

Superintendent Robert ” I love my teachers” Avossa faced blistering attacks at a public meeting this evening. The usually compliant Board rejected Avossa’s scheme to eliminate required daily physical education time around testing season – in order to provide more test preparation time. You can’t make this stuff up.

But there is more…

Avossa refuses to tell principals to cease and desist in their illegal attempts to force teachers to attend PLC meetings and complete assignments. Union president Justin Katz told the public that some principals and assistant principals were threatening teachers with low evaluation scores (which affect pay) if they refuse to attend meetings.

These administrators should all be fired or reassigned to the bus compound to assist drivers.

What to do?

The Union should publish the names of all school administrators engaged in this illegal activity and file an unfair labor practice suit as soon as possible.

 

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin!
How neatly spread his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!
Lewis Carroll- The Crocodile

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Robert Avossa’s Dirty Game

Palm Beach Superintendent Robert Avossa recently tweeted out that he loved his teachers.  His actions tell a different tale.

As teachers sit down with their district for negotiations, Avossa has made a few demands. First, the district wants to require all secondary teachers to teach an extra class. He wants them to have less time to call parents, lesson plan and grade papers. Those in the classroom realize that time for contractual duties is already tight as teachers are often pulled into ESE meetings or PLC meetings during their “planning period.” Oh, did I mention that teachers are often called to proctor local and state tests between 10-15 times a year?

Schools have long tried to get teachers to teach an extra period because it means they might not have to actually hire another teacher. Of course the pay for the extra class is insultingly low.

Secondly, Avossa wants to put PLC meetings into the contract. As I have written about before – these illegal meetings are already being required by many schools and Avossa has done nothing to stop them. The Board knows this and the local union knows this, but sans legal action – they will not act.

Is there an offer for raises? Nope. At the last bargaining meeting the CFO for the district was absent so that topic was conveniently tabled.

As teachers suffer through loss of planning time, illegal duties and massive local testing – those in the district live in a fantasy world of café lunches and bloated salaries. Teachers live in a script written by Dickens. The Super and his minions live in a script written by Robert Owen.

 

“There is always Joker to see through the delusion. Generation succeeds generation, but there is a fool walking the earth who is never ravaged by time.”
Jostein Gaarder, The Solitaire Mystery

Crime in Progress- Palm Beach Schools 10/11/17

Back in the old days, students who wanted to take the PSAT did so and instruction carried on in a normal school day. This is how it should be. The PSAT – or for that matter the SAT and ACT – was never designed to be forced on students.

Since Robert Avossa took over, things have changed. Avossa has paid (partly out of school budgets) extra money to The College Board to forces students to take the PSAT in grades 8 and 9 in addition to the 10th graders who normally take it.

Students are actually signed up sans consent.

They take the PSAT in grades 8,9 and 10- then the SAT in grade 11. All of this is during school. This bastardization of these tests is troubling- and expensive.

High schools are forced to shut down instruction from 7:30 until at least 12:00. Students are kept in one class for hours. Absentee rates go way up as thousands stay home.  Teachers are not even paid by The College Board for giving the test.

Tomorrow is also a testing day for the FSA- a graduation requirement. I spoke to administrators at two schools who said they lack the staff to give this test, so a day is lost.

Maybe we can break up the coffee klatsches at the central office to get proctors to help.

 

“When I was a child I caught a fever.
My hands felt like two balloons.
Now I’ve got that feeling once again,
I can’t explain; you would not understand.
This is now who I am.
I, I, I’ve become comfortably numb.”

                                                                      Pink Floyd

 

 

Robert Avossa’s Bonfire of the Vanities

The Palm Beach Post reported that Palm Beach Superintendent Robert Avossa deleted tweets he posted as he attacked The Post as “fake news.”

Is this a violation of public records laws?

Is this a violation of the retention rules pertaining to social media- issued by the School Board several months ago?

I hope The Post purses this.

 

 

Angry Avossa Calls Local Paper “Fake News”

Responding to a Palm Beach Post Article showing an explosion in salaries for district staff making over $140,000 a year, as well as the creation of new positions, Palm Beach Superintendent Robert Avossa launched a foaming at the mouth attack on the paper and reporter.

Avossa called the paper “fake news” and pushing a “false narrative” to create division. The paper –  however –  had the facts.  The attack comes from Avossa, who makes over $350,000 a year plus perks.

The Post pointed out that the Deputy Superintendent (who was run out of a previous job in FL by an angry Board and parents)  earns about $190,000 a year. This constitutes a $16,000 raise in just two years. Avossa and the Deputy Super worked together before.

Who gets a $16,000 raise in two years? Anyone?

Avossa said he “loved his teachers.”  Last year he called many of his loved ones “divisive” and “isolationist.”  Who loves ya baby?

The love Avossa imagines he has for teachers is quite odd. He refuses to prioritize raises, wants them to work more hours and refuses to compensate them for proctoring tests. Teachers are not feeling the love. It is as if Avossa is mumbling in a fever dream.

Later in the day, Avossa apologized for his attacks but defended his budgetary decisions. Never pick a fight with folks who buy ink by the barrel – goes the saying.  Still, Avossa is happy with what he pays district apparatchiks.

 

The rich and get rich and the poor proctor tests

Boy ain’t we got fun!

CTA and FEA should sue Palm Beach over PLC meetings

PLC meetings (Professional Learning Communities) are supposed to be teacher led and actually cover areas teachers feel are important. In Palm Beach, the Super created a new position (that could be better used IN the classroom teaching) to run the meetings. The Union says they constitute an unfair labor practice.

Many teachers are required to meet once a week in addition to proctoring tests, covering duty posts, contractual duties (like grading, calling parents) and just using the restroom.

Let’s be clear. Teacher collaboration goes on informally all the time. If teachers could decide when and how often to meet- few would complain. If all teachers were required to go – and not some-  it would not be seen as an attempt to divide and conquer. When these meetings are mandated it destroys enthusiasm and freedom to discuss issues- since the facilitators run back to the school administration with anything said.

Homework is often given to teachers and many feel obligated to do the extra work and give up planning time to be lectured to for an hour or more. Teachers are pressured into giving mind-numbing district created diagnostic tests (40-50 a year in several subjects).

The Super called those opposing these weekly lectures “isolationist” and “divisive.”

The Super then claimed they were optional yet he refuses to tell principals to stop requiring them.

What should CTA do?

  1. Publish a list of all Principals requiring meetings
  2. File an unfair labor suit against those schools and the District

 

Jeffrey Hernandez bullyism is back in the district. If CTA really thinks PLC meetings violate the contract, they must act.

 

 

Robert Avossa: Palm Beach Superintendent- all mustard and no hotdog

Robert Avossa puts out slick videos but there is a darker and more dangerous side that is hurting students, teachers and education in general.  The Palm Beach Post recently discovered that the number of employees making $140,000 or more has gone way up under Avossa’s reign. Avossa claims these people are needed to help kids and improve outcomes.

This is bullshot.

There is nobody in the district outside of the classroom that does a darn bit of good in improving outcomes. This arrogant chirping by Avossa shows how out of touch this Jeb Bush disciple is. Of course the feckless Board allows this. They did award him with an unethical and obscene $350,000 a year contract flush with extra benefits.

Intimidation and dishonesty are two words often associated with Avossa.

He…

  1. directs his staff to interrogate students, staff and the public before they speak at public meetings.
  2. refuses to tell principals to stop requiring PLC meetings which the Union says are illegal.
  3. recently told teachers not to complain about hurricane makeup days since they got paid for the days off. I should note the makeup days were already teacher duty days so they are not extra days for them.
  4. repeatedly lied to staff and the public about not taking away winter vacation time for makeup days.
  5. ignored the established makeup days on the approved calendar.
  6. refuses to tell principals to stop requiring students to do 50-60 local diagnostic tests each year.
  7. redirects money in school budgets to force students to take the PSAT in grades 8,9,10 and then the SAT in grade 11.
  8. rolled out a flawed SIS system without testing it ahead of time.
  9. Awarded a new contract for copy machines that tracks usage by individual staff members and also tracks how much they are spending to copy things.

I could go on but the point is made. A feckless Board combined with feckless Super is a dangerous combination.

“Hope not ever to see Heaven. I have come to lead you to the other shore; into eternal darkness; into fire and into ice.”  – Dante

Florida Testing: High Stakes Obsession

The Florida Department of Education(sic) has proposed allowing students to use PSAT scores as a substitute for the FSA Reading Test graduation requirement. Here is some background. As of now, students can use the SAT or ACT as substitutes for the FSA Reading Test. They can also use the PERT test as a substitute for the Algebra I graduation testing requirement.

Suddenly there is panic in Tallahassee. Jeb Bush Pam Stewart want to change things again.

Stewart and her cabal claim the PERT is not rigorous enough.  They also want to raise the score required to substitute the SAT for graduation.

They do this every few years. Graduation is a moving target in Florida public schools – and that’s they way the cabal likes it.

Florida wants to make another test – high stakes. They want to turn another test that was never designed to be used for high stakes graduation requirements – into an essential part of the Florida testing regimen.

Here are some effects of turning the SAT, PERT, ACT and now PSAT into high stakes tests:

  1. More time testing, as schools require these tests during the school day. The SAT and PSAT basically take an entire day of instruction away.
  2. Less time learning- unless you count learning how to bubble in all of that personal information on the PSAT and SAT.
  3. More money diverted to pay for these tests. Palm Beach County- for example- spends over ONE MILLION dollars a year on the SAT and SAT prep alone.
  4. Attendance issues. On the days the SAT and PSAT are given- many students (not tested) stay home.
  5. Double testing issues. The PSAT test usually falls in the FSA retake testing window. Last year- many schools did not have enough free staff to offer both tests so students lost a chance to take the FSA.

It is malpractice to use tests for purposes they were never designed for. Can the results ever be valid? And what about the random cut scores assigned? This is education policy by whimsy.

Governor Rick Scott is probably running for the Senate so he will not make his base mad. He needs the Jeb Bush sycophants. He needs those who make a living by scapegoating public schools for the ills of society. And he needs those who manipulate and bastardize data to cook up the concoction needed to push an agenda that uses meaningless testing as a hammer.

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day 1974

In an address carried live on national radio – President Nixon spoke to the nation from South Florida.  The president often spoke of our military as the greatest peace force in the world. The words that still ring most sacred to me from the address are, “…we can all be thankful that for the first time in 12 years, there are no Americans fighting anywhere in the world.”

We honor our men and women at sunrise and sunset. We honor them for eternity. 

More Watergate Malpractice

Despite the fact that we know a lot more now than ever about Watergate, the court historians and media elite continue to be handmaidens of deceit, disinformation and dishonor.

Despite information that the Woodward-Bernstein narrative fed to the public for decades is just not true, feted tales and legends are repeated as fact.

Today we focus on the hyperbolic reactions in the press to the situation with President Trump. My main purpose here is to defend history and the honor of President Nixon and not the current President.

Legal analyst Jeff Toobin was breathless today when he angrily barked out the words, “Obstruction of Justice!” He was referring to President Trump but then said that is what Watergate was about! A President trying to get the FBI to stop an investigation was happening again!

Well. That is not quite accurate. That “smoking gun” tape you heard about turns out to be quite harmless. Nobody recognized it at the time – including the fairly incompetent lawyers helping President Nixon.

To be fair to the lawyers we now know the Watergate Prosecutors and Judge were colluding through ex-parte meetings, hiding exculpatory evidence and much more. Many in Congress were involved in this collusion too. This even includes an unethical and probably illegal (think conspiracy) quid pro quo between Congress and the AG, Mr. Richardson.

The fix was in and the deck was stacked.

But I digress.

President Nixon did not ask the FBI to back off its investigation. Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman presented a plan to do so but Nixon never did it.  And what were they talking about on the tape? Lawyer Geoff Shepard thinks it was to protect a big Democratic donor -that’s it.

The CIA said they would have asked the FBI to move their investigation away from certain areas IF they got a direct order from the President. It never happened. If the request was for national security reasons then it would be appropriate in most cases. But President Nixon never made the request.

I suggest the book, “The Real Watergate Scandal” by Geoff Shepard.

Just think about the new narrative when various networks wheel out  John Dean, Carl Bernstein or Bob Woodward in their oxygen tanks of insulated fantasy. They will prattle on with tales of old.  But who will have the honesty to finally call out this  calumnious claque and correct history?

Someone must…

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