Broken DoE demands a sixth principal in 15 months at Lake Alfred Addair. Hunt Berryman nods in agreement.

By my count, Lake Alfred Addair Middle School has had five principals in 15 months. You can look for yourself here.

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But that leadership turnover rate isn’t fast enough for the broken and incompetent state Department of Education. It’s demanding a sixth.

This is from Madison Fantozzi’s account of the Stigmatized 5’s show trial in St. Augustine yesterday.

State board members were more harsh on Lake Alfred-Addair and Westwood because of the schools’ principals.

Lake Alfred-Addair has a new principal this year — Julie Grice, who was a regional assistant superintendent but accepted the lower position to help the school, Byrd said.

The school’s staff includes one unsatisfactory teacher, nine teachers who need improvement and four highly effective teachers, Stewart said.

“Part of the concern is that she is a new principal with a weak staff,” Johnson said.

Stewart said she would like to see a new plan and a new principal this month.

All of those teacher judgements are based on a VAM score, a discredited statistical approach to measuring teacher performance. VAM was a national fad a few years ago. States with competent education agencies are moving away from it. Florida, unfortunately, does not have a competent education agency. It has big government buffoons in comfortable chairs who enjoy harming kids.

A quick check of Julie Grice’s background

Julie Grice ran “A” schools for the McKeel charter system until she moved to the district a few years ago. Her background is detailed in the district’s plan, if Pam Stewart or any of her DoE henchpeople bothered to read it.

So DoE’s insistence on removing her after a month or so in charge is darkly hilarious. One of the threats DoE is using with these schools is turning them charter. Thus, the Polk district must replace Julie Grice, an “A”-school charter principal who volunteered for the job, with some mystical unicorn being in the next few weeks. Or DoE will turn the school over to a charter principal.

Think about that for a second.

It’s the same mentality that botched Common Core and punishes perfectly intelligent, high achieving Opt-Out children. It is the thinking of an awful organization full of ill-informed, unaccountable people. Let’s be clear. DoE is from the government. And they are not here to help.

Mr. Berryman believes in VAM and DoE, not Polk County

It’s important to note that my incumbent opponent supports DoE. He believes in the teacher punishment/transfer and constant principal turnover model for these schools. He has said so repeatedly on the campaign trail. He takes VAM at face value.

Multiple times, Mr. Berryman has told crowds that the principals at these schools know they have to raise the corrupt grade measure or they’ll be replaced, as if it’s an applause line. As if principal turnover hasn’t been his entire approach of the last four years. As if any research shows such turnover is good for kids in any way.

Mr. Berryman is on DoE’s side. Listen to him. I do. He makes it clear. Mr. Berryman supports constant personnel turnover and indifference to a child’s educational experience. It is his strategic plan.

If his approach worked, we’d have the best district in the state. But it does not work. When a teacher points this out, or highlights the leadership failures on his watch, Mr. Berryman insults and belittles them by calling them “disgruntled.”

I was actually quite encouraged to see Jackie Byrd say this today: “We all came to represent our district and fight for our schools.”

Not sure how she means “fight” in that context. But it’s the correct word. And if she means it in the way I hope she means it, it will put her at odds with Hunt Berryman. He does not want to fight anybody but his own teachers. And maybe me.

A message to DoE

Look, DoE, we agree 100 percent on one thing: Kathryn LeRoy and Hunt Berryman epicly mismanaged leadership at these schools — and the entire district — over the last four years. But they mismanaged this district because they were chasing your failed measurements and dictates.

The public movement that became my campaign already took care of Kathryn LeRoy, when Hunt Berryman wouldn’t.

Now, we’re focused on Mr. Berryman and the future. We held him to 32 percent of the vote and beat him by 10 points Tuesday night. We won 90 percent of precincts across this massive county.

That was despite the $60K he raised and spent to keep your failed DoE/establishment education policies in place in Polk County. Maybe he overcomes that in the huge electorate of the run-off. Maybe he doesn’t. We’ll see. I know you are powerful, DoE. I know the educrat establishment is powerful. I fully acknowledge that. I fully acknowledge I could lose in November. But I am not afraid to lose. Ever.

If we win, I promise you we’re coming after you next, DoE. And really, you’ve left us no choice and nothing to lose. You can’t harm our vulnerable children any worse than you already are with the absurdity and turnover you are inflicting. And you’re too cowardly to mess with non-vulnerable children. If we don’t win, somebody else will come for you. You are too awful in too many ways. The chickens will roost eventually in this state.

Whatever happens, DoE, you don’t get to pretend that the “leader” of our School Board hasn’t been a slavish adherent to your model. You don’t get to pretend that the elected leadership of the district and children you are torturing for sport hasn’t done everything you’ve ever wanted for years. It’s failed miserably because of it.

It is past time to fight you on behalf of our kids, about whom you could not care less.

Our elected School Board, which is a political body, should be marshaling all of our elected officials and public institutions — from legislators to city commissioners to law enforcement leaders to economic development organizations. It should be marshaling the public to fight you, politically. It should be suing you. And it should be calling out to the Polk County native who sits in a state high government position and has designs on becoming our next governor.

Where have you gone, Adam Putnam? A county turns its lonely eyes to you. Your home needs your help. Badly. And your state desperately needs to overhaul its broken and destructive Department of Education.

If you want to join a campaign that is on Polk County’s side, not Tallahassee’s, please contribute here. If you supported my opponent early in the primary, please consider switching sides. If you supported Ed Shoemaker, please consider that my message of change and placing teachers at the center of what we do is quite similar to Ed’s. I welcome everybody. This isn’t about me and Hunt. We’re both successful grown men. We’ll be fine. It’s about Polk County taking control of its own future and fighting the madness of state government gone amok.



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