Sunday, July 28, 2013

This is why people don’t trust Duval County Public Schools. (rough draft)

I worked with this lead teacher once and despite the fact the union would tell me over and over she was my colleague not my superior she lorded over me and the other teachers in the department. The main problem however was she was terrible at her job.

I used to talk with my colleagues and the consensus was if she was bad at her job but nice or great at her job but mean we could cope. The problem however was she was both mean and terrible at her job. She however had something that the rest of us didn’t have, a connected relative on the district level. So connected that her surplus lasted long enough for her to put a call in to her family member.

And that speaks to a huge problem in the district, whom you know not what you can do have often determined promotions and where one lands.

Before I continue let me say I think school grades are ridiculous, they don’t improve schools, they simply publish schools and I firmly believe there are great things going on even at the schools that don’t do well on standardized tests, the schools that tend to get the lower grades. I know there are dedicated teachers arriving with their sleeves rolled up teaching a lot of great kids who want to learn. Sadly however school grades are the beromiter that is used when determining if principals and teachers are being successful or not.

I have written about Iranetta Wright and how “the data” didn’t seem to warrant a promotion to area chief and fair enough people can disagree but what about the case of Kimberly Dennis.

She arrives to Sadie Tillis in 2010 and over the three years she was there the school grades went from a C to D to an F. In this era where many principals are often one or two and done, especially if the numbers decline, Mrs. Dennis was instead sent to Fishweir elementary, a school in a reasonably affluent neighborhood where success, school grade success anyway should be reasonably easy to achieve. 

And why did she get another year, well it couldn’t be because her husband is Larry Dennis could it? You know, new area superintendent and long time district staff person, Larry Dennis? Maybe there is something in the numbers I am missing but isn’t there a whiff of impropriety here? Doesn’t this just scream, who you know rather than what you can do?

Vitti may be the victim of the previous administration with his limited options but at the same time the whole distinct has been victimized too. I hope Mrs. Dennis is a great leader who motivates her kids and empowers her teachers but I can’t help think, because here in the county past has been prologue, this is more of the same.

School grades