A Charter School Teacher’s Reality…

I thought this post was very interesting to read. It is from a teacher who taught in a charter school in Florida. She posted her comment on Facebook at  http://bit.ly/cc0y3X about 5 months ago.

Here’s what she wrote about Aventura City of Excellence School…

Jan – I have twins in a charter school. I taught in the same charter school for 3 years…just so I could get them in because I did not live in that area and heard it was a good school. Everything looked great on the outside, but once I taught there (after teaching for years in a public school), I realized that the A+ charter school was a big hoax. Teachers there were either fired or quit. There was constant turn over. The teachers began teaching there because either A. they couldn’t get a job in a public school…or B. they were 1st year teachers. This school had teachers teaching in elementary classrooms without elementary certificates. Reading coaches that weren’t even El. Ed. The gifted program ran through the science dept., me being the dept. head and not one of us were gifted certified. We all had to sign IEPs, formal docments, without being certified as a gifted teacher. They told us we had to sign. I was teacher of the year, and ran the science dept. A lot of the students got good grades on the FCAT because they could afford to have tutors after school, and their parents were educated. The eighth grade science teacher got fired and we hired another teacher, who didn’t have her certification as a science teacher and never managed a classroom. I had to work with her very closely to teach her the ropes (I have my clinical ed. certification as well). Not only did I have to teach her how to teach and manage a class, but also teach her the subject matter. My twin’s teacher in second grade kept giving the wrong homework and would test them on something else. I brought it to the principal’s attention several times. I did get merit pay, which was great because I worked really hard…I developed a garden curriculum…and won many awards wi6th Fairchild Botanical Gardens. I felt like I deserved extra pay. They gave all of the teachers of a non fcat subject a test that would determine whether or not we should get the pay. Somehow the students got word of this and knew that…if they passed the test…the teacher would get money, but if they failed…the teacher could get fired. The tests did not count as a grade. The teacher’s merit pay and job depended on whether or not the students liked them. Some of the teachers cheated…the pressure was too much I guess. I heard from several students, and the teachers themselves that they gave the students answers! There were teachers who really should have gotten the merit pay and did not, and teachers that really should not have gotten it and did. It was all based on whether the principal liked you or not…not whether or not you were a good teacher. The admin. corrected the tests themselves…and could very well change answers (yes that was a rumor also going around). It was a big mess! I quit my job in June because I found out that the teacher who we (yes, I was part of the hiring process because I was dept. head), hired for the 8th grade science position went to her end of the year meeting to see if she was going to be asked back…this was the teacher who had never taught before and did not have the degree she needed to teach 8th grade science and who I held her hand the rest of the year…came into my room and showed me her contract for next year. She was asked back and was making $1000 more than me!!! When it was my turn for my end of the year meeting…I had all superior remarks on my grade sheet and was asked to come back…I asked if my salary was negotiable, and they said no…sorry. I told them that I saw the other teacher’s offer letter, and they told me that it was because she had her masters and that I did not. They don’t want to keep experienced teachers because they would have to pay more. I told them that I quit because I would have to go back to school. They were upset, but then 6they hired my replacement…who is not certified to teach 6th grade science. She was a camp leader! I know at least 6 teachers who will be quitting there at the end of this school year…just in the middle school alone! Why are my kids there you ask? I am presently looking to send them elsewhere. This school is Aventura City of Excellence School. It is an A+ school…it is a horrible school. I’m trying to get back into public education for myself and my children. Stability with tenure says a lot. This turn over in the charter is horrible for the kids. Teachers were fired in the middle of the school year because they had never taught before and there was not a good program in place to mentor these teachers. One 3rd grade class went through 3 or 4 teachers in one year! That is horrible! Even the principal got fired in the middle of the year one year. The merit pay in this bill needs worked on. These problems that I saw were just horrible, even though I got the 5 star money! This school’s FCAT scores are great…but can you really compare this school to a low socio-economic school like Olsen Middle School? The kids at Olsen cannot afford tutors! We need to stop taking public school funding for charter schools, that are being disguised as “nonprofit” and people are making a BIG profit from them (like Jeb Bush and other big politicians…yes even President Obama and Duncan are somewhere in this mix), and use the money to fix and support our public schools! Today in Florida, they are announcing that 800 to 1000 teachers may be cut next year, plus all of the arts programs will be cut! Meanwhile new charter schools are going up everywhere! These schools are hurting America’s public education and big business is profiting…Just ask Hage…Jeb’s buddy and the head of Charter Schools USA how much money he has made off of these schools…yet teachers cannot afford to live in Florida without a roomate!

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