One is led to believe after reading many Miami Herald articles that Miami Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is an educational savant, a visionary who has singlehandedly saved Dade Schools and placed it near the top of the nation. Under his leadership test scores have increased and our students are prepared to face the challenges of higher learning. My school is among the exceptions (Edison, Central, Northwestern, Carol City, and several other low income high schools all face the same issues about to be discussed)
The End of Course EOC testing results of the 2012 school year are as follows:
9th Grade: Reading 26% passed Algebra 24% passed Biology 48% passed and Geometry: 40% passed.
10th Grade: Reading 31% Writing 79% passed.
My school, after a lengthy investigation by the Florida Department of Education to address testing improprieties related to the school’s administration of the 2012 FCAT was awarded a letter grade of B. If you were to survey the faculty you would probably find that a vast majority of the staff believe this grade to be a travesty and not an accurate reflection of the actual school’s low level of academic success.
With the emphasis placed on test results and school grades I am wondering why the Herald did not report this, and why it took the Florida Dept. of Education almost a full year to award my school a grade of B (suspect) after allegations were made, and what were the full aspects and the final results of the investigation.
I have been in this system for over 10 years and have taught at two other high schools before being placed in this school. After two and a half years at this school and 32 years in the work force I have found this school to be the most dysfunctional working environment I have ever been in. It is clear that the current administration is ill prepared to carry out its duties and responsibilities as leaders, administrators, and educators. And the lack of morals, values, and integrity is truly a concern.
This was made clear to me towards the end of my first year when two administrators made it possible for seniors to graduate without completing required recovery courses. Almost half of the seniors enrolled in an Education 2020 recovery course had completed less than 20 to 30 percent of the course and were less than 20 to 30 percent done, however, these administrators manipulated these courses making it possible for unqualified seniors to graduate. Using your investigative skills you should look into 2010 - 2011 school year and research the e2020 computer files. Also crosscheck the requirements of more than half of the seniors who were allowed to graduate that year.
The current Principal is ineffective and not respected. Day to day operations of the school is left in the hands of an incompetent, autocratic, insensitive, Vice Principal, whose mistreatment of faculty and staff and lack of management and organizational skills is legendary.
This administration is vindictive (I have personal experience) and has created an environment that is hostile and chaotic. Anybody who speaks out is almost certain to face reprisals, and it is well known that if you’re a certain ethnicity then you will be taken care of.
Overall MDCPS rules and regulations are completely disregarded and ignored because of the administrations inability or unwillingness to properly and consistently enforce them. Students are able to be disruptive, walk around with total impunity with the knowledge that they will face no consequences or be held accountable for their actions, thereby creating both an environment of insubordination towards administrators, teachers, and staff and a lowering of the students body’s academic achievement.
Disruptive students are allowed to flourish with the knowledge that the administration will take no action on documented referral. With fraudulent addresses and telephone numbers on parent contact cards it is next to impossible to get parents involved in the disciplinary process. In some cases teachers are powerless to create an environment of learning due to administrator reluctance to prosecute these disruptive kids.
Personal experiences I have encountered with administrators have been as follows:
· 2010 – 2011 Seniors enrolled in e2020 online recovery course required for graduation will not be required to complete the course. This has led to seniors who were in some cases only 20 to 30 percent into the course with a failing grade and no possibility of passing to receive credit in order to graduate.
· In the beginning of the 2011 - 2012 school year my name was used as the teacher of record for an Advanced Placement United States History class. I am not a certified AP U.S. History teacher, nor Social Studies teacher so this is illegal. I told the administration countless times that I was not qualified to teach this class. I was left there for 1 month wasting the student’s valuable instruction time.
· 2012 – 2013 With a classroom mixed with all grade levels there were more students then computers, however, I was told by the 12th Grade Assistant Principal that seniors were to be given priority over underclassman, thereby leaving many students with nothing to work on.
· 2010 to present: I have been in classrooms where neither the students nor I could communicate with each other due to their inability to speak English, however, they were expected to do the classwork, and this was not an ESOL class.
The Guidance Counselors are the most dysfunctional of the schools support personnel. Teachers, parents, and students (along with online school teachers) have lodged numerous complaints about ignored emails and phone messages. Student complaints about their inability to make appointments or to make class schedule adjustments are numerous. Through my personal experience with guidance I have encountered rude and unprofessional behavior, all encouraged by a lack of accountability and oversight by the department head and the administration.
A vast majority of my time is spent with students who are; indolent, undisciplined, and unable to adapt socially. You would assume that most of these students would be prepared to tackle rigors of a high school curriculum, however, that is not the case as most of them are low income students from broken families who have no support at home and who are the product of a broken national public education system and larger political-economic system. Most of these students are unable to comprehend the basic fundamentals of education.
My typical encounters are as follow:
· Students who are 15 to 20 minutes late who will enter class without any explanation or pass. When challenged the typical response is either there is no lockout or an administrator told them to come to class.
· The administration is inconsistent in reference to lockout.
· Constant interruption by students who will enter the class looking for their friends during instructional time. With the lack of ID card enforcement students are able to roam the hallways with impunity.
· Constant interruptions by teachers via phone or walking into class looking for students during instructional time.
· Student referrals are typically ignored and discipline problems are sent back to class with no action taken (even though contractually, an action must be taken, and if not, you have the right to refuse entry to such students).
· Administrators will move your class during your instructional time to another location without any pervious warning either via email or phone.
· Placing unqualified students in Honors, Advanced Placement and IB class.
· Cellphone calls and texting is a constant during classroom time.
· Headphones and MP3 players during class is not unusual.
· Security is ineffective, especially when most of the security personnel are friends with the students. Some even instigate fights and/or encourage them
The computation of FCAT test scores, among other things should be the focus of your investigation (if you’re allowed to investigate because of the Miami Herald and MDCPS close association.) If you’re allowed to use industry certification scores, graduation rates, (easily manipulated), enrollment (instead of success) in Advanced Placement classes as the criteria for the points that determine a school’s letter grade then you can see that the system is flawed.
I was led to believe that the FCAT is a standardized test based on a particular subject and not an amalgam of other parameters. If that’s the case then there is no way in hell this school deserves a B grade, especially, as an example only 24 percent of the 2012 Freshman class passed Algebra EOC test.
If all this nefarious activity is happening at my school under the aegis of the self appointed educational visionary (Carvalho) and his equally inept MDCPS system then you can rest assured it’s happening at other (inner city ETO or Zone) schools, whose grades were F and D’s that miraculously were B’s this school year. I have spoken to hundreds of teachers from other schools who complain of the same problem so this is a District-wide issue.
Doesn’t this warrant further investigation? Isn’t the Miami Herald the least bit curious as to how schools whose scores were below the national average and were traditionally D and F’s were able to overcome obstacles in the span of a year poor reading, writing, math, and critical thinking skills, no enforcement of discipline, incompetent administrators, and yes, ineffective teachers, and in a little under a year attain a B grade.
Teaching is my second profession after retiring from a job I held for 22 years. My goal was to give something back, be a mentor and create an educational foundation using my past experiences. My ethos passed on by my parents and teachers is as follows: [is] to act with honor and hope and generosity…. I was able to do that at the beginning of my teaching career until I arrived at this school. Now the only thing I look forward to is tendering my resignation.
I have worked with some good highly motivated teachers and in rare cases effective administrators. These people are burdened by a dysfunctional system (MDCPS) and ineffective leadership (Carvalho and local administrators) whose only goal is to attain career achievement using tainted test results. The end result is the students of this corrupted and broken system are not prepared to progress or succeed, and much less to function as responsible and intelligent adults in our society.
Maybe the Miami Herald should look into the claims of Alberto ‘The Educational Visionary” Carvalho. Look between the numbers and see if they add up. Interview the students (the good ones) and gain their perspective. Observe the operations of the school and look into the graduation numbers and see if they match up with the requirements.
You should also inquire as to why 90 percent of the ETO schools are African American and what steps are taken to alleviate that. Is it because these happen to be in the lowest income communities of Miami, which again, is part of the larger problem with our political-economic capitalist system….we don’t care about poor people, especially poor black people?. It’s clear to me that what is taught in a real B school is a lot different than what is taught in suspect B school. Remember separate but equal? It’s thriving under Carvalho watch.
As an educational/investigational reporter you should be able to see for yourself if these claims of achievement are merited and the test scores valid. I believe a failure to look into this and bring it to the public attention is a crime and tantamount to incompetent on the part of the Miami Herald and MDCPS, however, from my perspective it seems as if the Miami Herald and MDCPS are part of the same hypocrisy.
Copies: Miami Herald
New York Times
Florida Dept. of Education
United States Dept. Education
Congresswomen: Frederica Wilson