$2.5 million of “Polk” grant money for teachers “outside Polk County”? Why?

I’ve just started reading through Heather Wright’s testing grant. The actual name of the grant is “CTE Hard to Measure Test Items.” It provides for just short of $4.3 million in its amended form. “Hard to Measure” is apparently an educratic term — like “Local Instructional Improvement System” (LIIS), which we’ll come to soon, but […]

The Polk punisher: Heather Wright’s personal incentives to ignore us — and you

Polk County has chosen — seemingly gratuitously — to punish its students for their performance on End of Year (EoY) and End of Course (EoC) tests. This punishment stands out among other districts that have chosen not to level this same level of punishment. It matters deeply for your child’s grade point average, which, in […]

Strike 2: Polk Schools’ “accountability” office gives Polk County the finger

On the heels of the Polk School Board’s cowardly — and borderline insulting — snap-hire of Jackie Byrd, those of us looking to improve the Polk classroom experience find ourselves confronted with a new act of bad faith. This one came from Byrd’s administration itself. It’s an obtuse, bureaucratic, nearly useless response to testing concerns […]

Dangerous women

Meet Theresa Burroughs, of Greenesboro, Alabama. This picture was taken, as the placard states, on July 28, 1965. That’s about three months after the infamous “Bloody Sunday” voting rights confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Mrs. Burroughs marched on the bridge. A police baton of the American state bloodied her head — and […]

Give Jackie Byrd a chance; give Tim Harris hell

It’s always difficult to make definitive judgements about cultural change in any large organization. It’s especially hard for education, where so many people have so many different interests. And we struggle to agree on facts. That said, in her short time as interim superintendent, Jackie Byrd seems to have increased principal autonomy and reduced administrative […]

American Caliban: Of Trump and “great” and “again”

The classic science fiction film Forbidden Planet took its inspiration from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. It imagined a creature, based on the Tempest’s ghoulishly Freudian Caliban, that it called “the Monster from the Id.” As you might guess, the monster is an alien-technology enabled projection of an accidental creator’s troubled subconsciousness. It almost eats everyone […]

Improving the traditional school experience: an update on our quiet progress

The energy of overthrowing tyrants always gives way to the hard slog of building something better. That’s where we are now in the process of reforming the Polk School District. So I wanted to provide a little update about what’s been happening to improve classroom quality of life in Polk County traditional schools before I go […]

Welcome to Polk County: Finland on I-4, Part 1

On Monday night, 6:30 to 8:30, at the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, Citizens for Better Educational Leadership (CBEL) will hold our first public meeting since the ouster of Superintendent Kathryn LeRoy. I believe we played a key role in forcing LeRoy’s departure. I expect us to play a key role in the hiring of […]

Correction: Debra Wright did not attend the LeRoy School Board Meeting

I want to note for the record that Debra Wright did not attend Friday’s School Board meeting concerning Kathryn LeRoy’s future. I mentioned a report that she would in my previous column. My intent was simply to welcome her and start a dialogue. Luckily, I was able to exchange email notes personally with Mrs. Wright […]

Scoreboard education encourages and rewards LeRoy’s behavior

This will be short. If you’re ready to start right now in the happy work of building a better Polk School District model, we need you. Come down to the School Board Office in Bartow for today’s 5 p.m. meeting on Kathryn LeRoy’s future. Today determines whether we move forward quickly and creatively toward a […]

Olive branches: Help us help you, School Board; help us help each other

Back in 2012, following the terrible murder of two Polk State College students, PSC President Eileen Holden said this during a campus vigil. I can tell you that these three young men were successful students, that they were popular, that they were highly engaged in student life here at Polk State… But I can also […]

LeRoy first, then better leaders everywhere. Some thoughts from Citizens for Better Educational Leadership

When I called for a hasty meet-up for Super Bowl Sunday, I’d hoped 10 or 15 people would come. We got at least 50. Together we formed Citizens for Better Educational Leadership. We’re a coalition of regular citizens and educators (we had plenty of both). We gave ourselves a simple, boring name because we have […]

There are none so deaf, Dick Mullenax, as those who refuse to hear

The Ledger on Friday quoted School Board Member as saying the single stupidest, most clueless thing anyone has said in response the LeRivers fiasco. Mullenax said he thinks LeRoy has not lost credibility with the public. “I’ve been in three schools in the last week and I can tell you not one person, principal, secretary, […]

Dear Polk Teachers Union: Get off your butt and do something for your members

I think it’s obvious that teacher quality of life is the most pressing on-the-ground issue in education today. It leads to our teacher shortages. And that, in turn, leaves too many kids in the company of burnt-out teachers or no teachers at all — just some patchwork of subs. In great part, the destruction of […]

How big a check will we have to write, Wes Bridges? You should cover it

Look, I’m descended from lawyers. I don’t practice. But here’s what I see as the endgame for the LeRoy-Rivers Polk Schools fiasco. The great $435/hour effect of hiring a law firm to “investigate” sexual harassment and whistleblower claims is to insulate both LeRoy and Rivers from easy dismissal. By easy dismissal, I mean not having […]

NO CONFIDENCE: Of Kathryn LeRoy, Greg Rivers, bad faith, and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It’s hard for mere mortals to wrap our heads around the multi-dimensional game theory of malignant absurdity both revealed in the Kathryn LeRoy “investigation” and orbiting it in reaction. I’ve spent most of two days trying to find a mental pathway into explaining this. But it’s like a moral and bureaucratic singularity. Once I crossed […]

The Leroy administration cannot end soon enough, Hunt. Be mad about that.

From everything I understand, we are likely in the final days of Polk Superintendent Kathy Leroy’s tenure — which will be remembered for its assertion of gratuitous administrator power for its own sake. And a mock execution at Jewett Middle Academy. And taking two young-teacher salaries ($76,000) out of the classroom to spend on a […]

Shootings are down 55 percent in Lakeland year-over-year

Ed. note: I made two errors in the first draft of this. I referred wrongly to Capt. Rick Taylor when I should have said Capt. Sam Taylor. And I misstated last year’s number of “gang-related” shootings. There were 13, not 15, as I first said. Both errors have been corrected below. From Jan. 1 through […]

Don Gifford walks among us

Don Gifford is a former Lakeland city and Polk county commissioner. He’s a well-known contractor and self-professed Christian. And he posted this on Facebook on Tuesday. “Islam is a cancer on humanity that, left unchecked, will kill it’s host.” [CQ spelling] He received approving likes from — among many others — a former Lakeland police […]

Poo flingers and whiny babies: of power, honesty, and discourse on campus and America

I’ve had two fairly recent personal experiences with “free speech”-related kerfuffles. 1) I attended the Leadership Lakeland Alumni forum at Grasslands a while back concerning the strong/executive mayor effort, of which I am a supporter and public advocate. Leadership Lakeland brought in a former Miami city manager to speak about his point-of-view, which was generally […]

The missing art of Generation Suicide’s World of (white) Hurt

You can lie to your mama. You can lie to your race. But you can’t lie to nobody with that cold steel in your face And the same God you were so afraid was gonna send you to Hell Is the same one you’re gonna answer to when the pin hits the shell… …Me and […]