teacher gun

In a rare break with the Trump agenda, Governor Rick Scott’s school safety plan did not include arming teachers. Other than not calling for an all out ban on assault rifles, most of Rick Scott’s proposals were common sense solutions: increase spending on school security, hire one police officer per 1,000 students, hire more mental health counselors, allow police to remove weapons from people who have been deemed a threat or Baker Acted, a “See Something Say Something” hotline (hopefully not managed by the same incompetent crew who run the FBI’s call center), making it a crime to threaten to shoot up a school, and raising the age to 21 to purchase a firearm.  Rick Scott must have missed the crowd’s reaction when Fox new’s Latin liberal punching bag, Geraldo Rivera, suggested someone should have to be 21 before purchasing an assault rifle. The CPAC crowd at the event put together by Sean Hannity in response to the “staged theater” of the CNN gun panel, quickly descended into a Romanesque mob which would have gladly fed Geraldo to the lions had there been any in the room. Maybe this is why Rick Scott’s picture mysteriously disappeared  from the speaker list at an NRA event in May.

Regardless of Rick Scott’s break with the Republican party line, there still may be hope for my would be assassin colleagues who were looking forward to packing heat in the classroom. The Florida House and Senate continue to advance bills that would allow school personnel to be armed and our Reality star president would like to give 20 percent of teachers “a little bit of a bonus” (insert Trump hand gesture showing a tiny amount) to carry guns at school.

trump hand gesture

So if we were to combine the absurdity and stinginess of the Florida legislature with Trump’s bonus proposal we may likely end up with a “Best Shot and Bravest” bonus for teachers who score in the top 20% at the gun range and are rated “most likely to go above and beyond by willingly taking on a school shooter armed with an AR-15” by an administrator.

Both the President and the Florida legislature would never provide enough funding to give bonuses to all the well-deserving teachers who are willing to carry in the classroom, so only the teachers who can prove top notch sniper skills would earn the so far undisclosed “little bit of a bonus” (probably $800 knowing how much our legislators value teachers). The President and Florida legislature don’t realize how hard up most teachers are for a “little bit” of extra cash and by financially rewarding teachers for their marksmanship, you may find more and more teachers spending their weekends at the shooting range instead of lesson planning or grading papers. Don’t believe me? Look what has happened as a result of the SAT based Best and Brightest bonus. Teachers are actually spending their weekends prepping for the SAT and sitting for the exam alongside their students. Personally, “a little bit of a bonus” would not be enough for this teacher to spend her weekends taking the SAT or shooting up targets at the gun range. If I’m going to carry a gun in the classroom, I want a great big reality game show “HUGE” Apprentice style bonus!


But teachers getting paid well for their sacrifices does not fit nicely into the teacher martyr narrative in this country that dictates that teachers should live in poverty because “they love children.” Not only are you expected to live an impoverished lifestyle in teacher nunnery housing projects , some members of the American public think teachers should be willing to go on a suicide mission attempting to take on school shooters armed with AR-15s. According to President Trump teachers will make more effective assassins than highly trained police officers because “they love their students.” And some teachers themselves have professed that they are willing to carry guns at school and take down the shooter because they love their students (somehow implying that those of us who aren’t willing to be slaughtered by an AR-15 in a failed attempt to kill the shooter don’t actually love our students). Look, if four Broward police officers hid behind cars during the shooting because they knew their pistols were no match for an AR-15 than don’t expect teachers to run out into the hallways on suicide missions either.

If you think your little pistol and weekend warrior training sessions will be a match for a lunatic armed with an AR-15, you’re living in a Rambo inspired fantasy world. If you think armed teachers can prevent another Columbine, Sandy Hook or Parkland style school slaughter, you may as well start arming the maids in hotels, preachers in churches, and the ushers at movie theaters. Perhaps if the musicians performing at the Harvest Music festival had been armed, they could have taken down the Vegas shooter between sets? The only people capable of taking down an insane shooter armed to the hilt, is a highly trained SWAT team who are equally well armed. Unless we pass legislation to ensure that the good guys will always be better armed than the bad guys, don’t expect civilian acts of heroism to keep us all safe. Is this the world you want to be living in America?

teach shooters



The name “Parkland” used to be synonymous with the American dream, last week it became the American nightmare. I wasn’t going to write about this week’s shooting in Parkland. I wanted to avoid the fray and there has been plenty of Facebook eloquence on this tragic event already. Besides, the topic at this point has unfortunately become redundant. After the shooting in Sandy Hook I wrote a blog post, A Race to Stop Mass Slaughter proposing the Education Department create a competitive grant program to end school shootings. It was in reference to President Obama’s Race to the Top program which was created to increase competition amongst teachers and schools to improve performance and attract the best and brightest to the teaching profession. The federal government spent $4.3 billion dollars and the net result was stripping the teaching profession of any redeeming qualities, imposing absurd evaluation systems, demoralizing what little morale teachers had left, and leading to the worst teacher shortage in decades. Given that the majority of my blog posts are about three main topics: the absurdity of the Florida legislature, the low pay and high cost of living in Miami, and this crazy algorithm called VAM that rates me as a teacher every year thanks to Race to the Top, I guess writing one more blog post about a school shooting isn’t going to make me any more redundant than I already am.

There are other reasons why I may have wanted to avoid writing about the shooting in Parkland this week. This shooting strikes a little too close to home. We almost bought a home in Parkland two years ago, for the same reasons that everyone else in South Florida wants to buy a home in Parkland: safety and great schools! Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I couldn’t afford to buy a home in Parkland. So I stuck it out in Miami Dade County where the schools are meh and our young people die on the streets on the daily but they are usually shot outside of school and are generally black, brown and poor so other than their immediate communities national outrage and media coverage is limited.

Maybe I didn’t want to write about the shooting because I have a friend who’s son was at the school during the shooting and lost one of his best friends. Maybe it’s because I teach geography and just like the geography teacher who was killed, I have to go outside of my classroom into the hallway to lock my classroom door. The Florida legislature wants to allow me to arm myself in the classroom but all I really want is a classroom door that will lock from the inside! My only solution is to keep my door locked all day and try to discourage my students from ever using the bathroom in order to limit the inconvenience of having to constantly open the door.  The NRA wants to arm me with a semiautomatic weapon and I can’t even get a filing cabinet with a lock on it! It took two days for the students to steal all of my left over Halloween candy, how long would it take before one of them steals my glock! I guess I could go full out Charlie’s Angels and wear my gun on my hip as I strut around the classroom. It would sure help with classroom management but in the case of a deranged shooter armed with an AR-15, I’d be dead before I could get the gun out of my holster.

All of the well meaning ideas that have been floated around in the media on what could have been done to prevent such a horrific school shooting are useless unless we take the weapons of mass destruction away from the maniacs. The school had single point entry, the school had an assigned armed police officer, the shooter did receive mental health services (which most of the time just results in a prescription for meds which may just worsen the problem), the cops were called, the FBI was tipped of TWICE by people who did see something and say something. There is at least one Nikolas Cruz sitting in every high school in this nation. We are all sitting ducks in this country until someone in D.C. puts on their big boy pants and tells the boys, “No, you may not have that toy. It’s just too dangerous. Play with this instead.” But the pockets of the big boy pants are lined with NRA cash so it’s unlikely that anything will ever change unless…………..unless………..we fill the other pocket of the big boys pants with even more cash!

This is where the proposal of students to hold a national walkout of schools on 4/20 and not come back until something get’s done to stop school shootings could get really interesting and may actually work. I’ve always said the strongest agents in taking back our public schools are the students themselves. Teachers are powerless and have too much to risk financially to do anything radical to fight for schools. Students have the power. They have the will, the social media, the spirt of rebellion and innovation, the hope that things can change (and it helps that they don’t have to worry about getting fired). The system depends on the students. Schools don’t get paid unless students show up. Large testing corporations can’t make their billions unless students take their tests. This is why a student strike starting on 4/20 might actually work.

It won’t take much for the average high schooler to be peer pressured into skipping school on 4/20. For the totally clueless, 4/20 is the unofficial “National Smoke Weed Day.” But 4/20 also marks the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting as well as the beginning of a month long testing hell session in most public high schools. Between the state end of course exams, reading and writing exams, AP exams, and IB exams, most schools are on testing lockdown mode from 4/20 to 5/20. If students walked out of school on 4/20 and threatened not to come back until assault rifles were banned, something might actually get done because all of the adults in the system, including large testing corporations which line the pockets of our politicians in D.C. just as much as the NRA, would be having a national sh*t fit. I would be having a personal sh*t fit because I teach AP courses and have thousands of dollars at stake based on those test scores but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make to end this perpetual cycle of mass slaughter.

What would happen if we pitted the billion dollar gun industry against the billion dollar testing industry in D.C.? Who would win? If young people managed to get marijuana legalized in states across this country and the District of Columbia, a little student activism might lead to banning the sale of assault rifles as well.

Take the Pledge to End Gun Violence  on 4/20 to show your support for this movement.



In case you were too busy celebrating “Digital Detox Day” and missed the Florida House passing HB 7055, which may spell the end of the Miami Dade County Public School system as we know it, here is an update highlighting how the latest education train bill coming out of Tallahassee may wreck the teaching profession in Florida. Only this is a high speed Brightline train that has the potential to knock out the traditional public school teacher before they even know it’s coming.

Most teachers may only be familiar with the teacher union busting portion of HB 7055 which stipulates that teachers unions with below 50% membership may be decertified. Teachers are most likely familiar with this portion of HB 7055 because UTD organizers have been at every staff meeting trying to drive up union membership, which in Miami Dade County, is currently below the 50% threshold. Some skeptics believe the unions may be using this as an opportunity to drive up membership and this portion of the bill will be dropped at the final moments as a compromise for keeping all of the other horrendous crap in HB 7055. This scenario played out in last year’s education train wreck bill HB 7069. Teachers, if you thought HB 7069 was bad, there is a much faster locomotive headed to demolish your profession in HB 7055.

The unions may be crying bloody murder over the 50% clause portion of HB 7055, but they don’t seem to be paying much attention to the portion which would allow school superintendents to turn over traditional public schools to independent governing boards which essentially grants them charter school status and renders teacher contracts with the district level school board null and void.

“(a) Recommendations may include the organization and operation of schools by an independent governing board to create the optimal learning environment to address the academic needs of students by giving instructional personnel freedom from  burdensome regulations. To avoid any conflict of interest regarding the review, approval, and oversight of the school,  members of the governing board may not be employees of the school district or any school operated by the governing board.  Any school in which all instructional personnel are employees of an independent governing board shall operate in accordance with:

1. The contract between the independent governing board  and the school board. 3. The provisions of s. 1011.6202(5)(b) and (c), relating to tort liability and employer status.” (see p.28 of HB 7055)

While the language “giving instructional personnel freedom from burdensome regulations,’ may sound appealing to many teachers, this language comes directly from the charter school movement. The Florida Charter School Alliance describes charter schools as schools where “teachers are given the freedom to be innovative in their classrooms.”

Judging from the online confession of a former KIPP charter school teacher such freedoms may include: working 11 hours a day, having no personal life, reciting cult like chants, having nervous breakdowns, rooming with students on week long excursions, and going door to door in dangerous neighborhoods to recruit new students.

KIPP will be making its first debut in Miami Dade County this year despite its poor performance in Jacksonville. But our school superintendent promises that KIPP Miami will be somehow be different, “My expectation for KIPP Miami is one that needs to be wildly different from what we have seen in Jacksonville,” Carvalho said. Time will tell, but given that KIPP is a national charter chain that operates in the same manner in every location, I’m not sure how “wildly different” KIPP’s Miami locations can be.

KIPP is coming in large part due to charter school loving Richard Corcoran who would like to see national charter chains populate the state, “Powerful Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran — who is expected to run for governor — has repeatedly lamented that KIPP and other national charter firms have such a small presence in the third-most populous state. Last year, he successfully pushed for a new law to try to change that. His signature proposal, dubbed “schools of hope,” was included in a larger bill that passed by only one vote in the moderate state Senate and drew virtually no support from Democrats. Since, more than a dozen school districts have challenged the law in court.”

Only guess what Miami Dade? Your school district was not one of the Florida counties that joined the lawsuit. Your superintendent and School Board seem to love charter schools. So much so that they hand over space in traditional public schools for the charters to operate and in exchange, KIPP will offer professional development to Miami Dade administrators and teachers, “KIPP Miami Sunrise Academy will “co-locate” with the existing Poinciana Park Elementary School, paying $1 per year in rent. In exchange, KIPP will open up its trainings to district teachers.”

Oh, happy happy, joy joy! If there is anything teachers love more than professional development, it will be a nationally recognized “no-excuses” charter chain (except when they are making excuses for their poor performance in Jacksonville) that relies on cheap easily indoctrinated TFA recruits and computers (AKA “blended learning”) to tell them how to teach!

The house passed HB 7055 last week and it looks like the Senate may try to stall it, or at least make it go through committee, but even if all parts of HB 7055 fail to become law, our superintendent is currently pushing a constitutional referendum with Jeb Bush surrogate Robert Martinez which would allow high performing districts to become “charter districts.” Exactly what a “charter district” would entail is anyone’s guess but if one spends a few moments googling what happened in New Orleans   when the district became an all charter district after Hurricane Katrina it’s a horror show which, among other things, involved firing 7,000 veteran teachers and replacing them with TFA recruits. Why a constitutional referendum or HB 7055 is needed when Miami Dade already has four district managed charter schools (who’s teachers do not fall under the jurisdiction of UTD’s collectively bargained contracts) isn’t exactly clear.

This referendum makes the Parent Trigger bill of 2013 seem almost quaint. Remember the fuss that was raised when there was a proposal to allow parents at failing schools to vote to turn it over to a charter? That bill failed but now we have “Schools of Hope” which allow charter schools to sweep in and taking over failing public schools and a possible constitutional referendum which would allow high performing school districts to become charter districts with only a mere School Board vote. The charterization of the traditional Florida public school teacher has begun, welcome to the McMDCPS!


Let’s say you are a bright young second year teacher in Florida (then again, you couldn’t actually be that smart if you decided to start your teaching career in Florida) but let’s say you have SAT scores in the top 20th percentile, qualifying you for a Best and Brightest bonus IF you have highly effective evaluation. Your odds of earning an extra $7200 a year ($6,000 for a Best and Brightest bonus plus another $1200 for a highly effective bonus from the state) will be substantially higher in some Florida counties than others. Listed in this chart you can see which counties have more generous evaluation systems than others and where your odds would be higher in earning a Best and Brightest bonus. Okaloosa County came in top place with 97% of its teachers earning a highly effective evaluation while Putnam County must have the worst teachers in Florida with only 1% earning a highly effective evaluation. To be fair, Putnam County only has 663 teachers total and for some reason it was the counties with the lowest number of teachers that tended to have the lowest percent of highly effective teachers. This is probably why the Palm Beach County School District decided to leave out the names of the counties when they passed out this chart to administrators:


The Palm Beach County School District just happened to pick the seven counties with the lowest percentage of highly effective teachers and just happened to leave out the names of the counties (most of which were small districts) when they were trying to make a point to their administrators that they were being too generous with evaluations. If you look at the actual data state wide, 34 out of the 78 counties had a higher percentage of highly effective teachers than Palm Beach County.

But kudos to you Palm Beach County for having one of the highest percentage of highly effective teachers in South Florida and kudos to you for informing teachers prior to winter break regarding which state Best and Brightest bonus they qualify for. Teachers in Palm Beach received the following email.


Meanwhile, in Dade County where only 32% of teachers were rated highly effective in 2015-16 we continue to wait for our 2016-17 evaluations. Teachers in Miami Dade will not be informed of their VAM and final summative evaluations until after January 8th even though our principals will have access to them as of December 18th. http://briefings.dadeschools.net/files/36843_2016-17_SPE_EOY_Guide_and_Calendar.pdf  I guess no one working downtown bothered to consider that qualifying for an additional $7200 from the state might have altered some teachers plans for winter break had they been informed in advance.

For a long time many teachers didn’t particularly care about their VAM or whether they were highly effective or effective. Now that there is real money attached to these evaluations, some teachers might be lured to another district at the prospects of earning a highly effective evaluation and more money from both their districts and the state. Let’s take a look at two south Florida second year teachers, one works in Miami Dade County and one works in Palm Beach County. They both started at $41,000 a year and they both have SAT scores in the top 20th percentile. Teacher A in Miami received a low VAM score from the district’s covariate adjustment model which lowered their overall evaluation to effective. Teacher A will now receive a 2% raise instead of 2.67%, up to $800 instead of $1200, and no longer qualify for a $6,000 Best and Brightest bonus. Teacher A will earn $42,620 with their effective evaluation.

Meanwhile, Teacher B in Palm Beach County received a highly effective evaluation. They now qualify for a 3.5% raise, a $1200 state bonus, and another $6,000 Best and Brightest bonus. Teacher B in Palm Beach county will take home $49,635! Over $7,000 more than  Teacher A in Miami.

It’s time for young teachers to realize they do have choices and they do have mobility. Why teach in a county where you are significantly less likely to receive a highly effective evaluation and earn thousands of dollars less in state bonuses and raises every year? Why teach in Florida at all is an even better question, but if you do find yourself addicted to 80 degree weather and beaches, at least teach in a county where your odds are highest for taking advantage of Florida’s wonky bonus programs.

You can find an alphabetical listing of Florida teacher evaluations results for 2015-16 here.


cruise ship


A South Florida school district held a press conference today to announce a creative and elegant solution to the affordable housing crisis for teachers.  The superintendent known for innovation and promoting private/public partnerships with the school district has entered a ten year cruise ship leasing program with a major South Florida cruise company.

“This is a win, win solution for all parties involved. Teachers will have an affordable place to call home, cruise companies will find a utilitarian and environmentally friendly use for their outdated ships, the school district can continue to recruit and retain the best and the brightest teachers without increasing their salaries, and the average  homeowner will see a cut in their property taxes.”

Under the plan, the school district will pay $100,000 a year to lease 5 outdated cruise ships that will remain docked in the city port. The superintendent estimates he will be able to house almost half of his workforce on the five ships where teachers will pay an all inclusive monthly fee of $800.

The $800 a month charge will be deducted directly from teachers’ paychecks and will include breakfast and dinner buffets, free wi-fi (district monitored of course), and free access to the gym and pool areas.

“It’s like taking an all inclusive cruise for only $800 a month! Alcohol excluded of course,” joked the charismatic superintendent.

As one school board member explained, “With the soaring price of real estate and the lack of land available to build affordable teacher housing, we turned towards the next frontier in affordable housing, aquatic barges! As an added bonus the district will not have to worry about the astronomical cost of flood insurance.”

The forward thinking superintendent known for cost efficient strategies sees an added bonus to the cruise ships, “As the teacher shortage worsens in Florida, the district may have to look abroad for its future workforce and the cruise ships can double during the summer months as an affordable mode of mass transportation for overseas recruits.”

While the teachers’ union has expressed some concern over potential issues with teachers getting sea sick, norovirus outbreaks, and the occasional teacher falling overboard, the union president endorsed the superintendent’s solution as “honoring the work of educators by providing them with a cruising experience they might otherwise not be able to afford.”


The following is a list of frequently asked questions that I am providing answers for since UTD prefers to keep their teachers in the dark so they can be easily duped into voting for a contract only to later regret their decision.

Frequently Asked Questions for the 2017-2020 Contract

Question: If I vote “Yes” will I get my bonus in time for holiday shopping?

Answer: No. The bonus has nothing to do with UTD, the district, or the contract being ratified. You can vote “No” and still receive the bonus. The bonus will be paid in the spring and the amount you receive is contingent upon your 2016-17 evaluation. Nobody knows how much they will receive because we don’t have our finalized summative evaluations for 2016-17. If you are only effective, you may receive much less than $800 if too many people qualify.  It will not be a permanent salary increase, it won’t count for retirement, and it may disappear next year if there is not enough state funding. #Be grateful the state didn’t make the same mistake they made with the $2500 Rick Scott teacher raise and give the money directly to UTD and the district to collectively bargain away.

Question: I have been working for MDCPS for 18 years. How much will my mid-career supplement be?

Answer: You are not a mid-career teacher according to MDCPS and UTD. You had to be earning over $48,000 in 2015 to be entitled to a $750 supplement. Sorry, maybe 5 years from now when you should have reached the top of the pay scale and you are only making $53,000, UTD will negotiate a $750 supplement for you too. #Be grateful you are getting 2.6% instead of 2%.

Question: This is my second year teaching and I do not have an evaluation for 2015-16. What will my raise be?

Answer: Good question. I don’t know. I don’t think even UTD knows. When somebody asked this question on UTD’s Facebook page they were told to call the office. I’m going to assume that means you don’t even get the 2%. You will get the state bonus depending on your evaluation. #Be grateful you still have a job.

Question: I’m a performance pay teacher and only effective. How am I supposed to reach the top of the pay scale with 2% raises? It doesn’t even keep up with inflation!

Answer: Attend some of the excellent PD offered by the United Teachers of Dade and one day you too can become a highly effective teacher and get a 2.67% raise instead. #Be grateful. Something is better than nothing.

Question: I was hoping to take two years off to obtain my Masters degree because it’s the only way I can increase my income. Can I take professional leave and have my job when I return?

Answer: No. Extended professional leave and the word consecutive have been crossed out on the contract and you are not allowed to earn college credit while on professional leave.  #Be grateful. Have a baby or maybe someone in your family will die.


Question: I am an annual contract teacher. Does the superintendent’s recommendation ensure that I will have a job the following year?

Answer: No. A recommendation from the superintendent is about as worthless as the contract that grandfathered teachers signed that promised they would be at the top of the pay scale after 22 years. #Be grateful you have health insurance.

Question: I’m a new hire. When do I get my health insurance?

Answer: After 90 days. #Be grateful and drive safely!

Question: I qualify for the mid-career retention supplement. Does that mean my salary goes up by an additional $750? What if the supplement isn’t offered again next year? Do I have any legal recourse?

Answer: The supplement does not increase your base salary but may count for retirement if it is in your last five years. The district is not under any obligation to pay you another $750 supplement next year. No, you cannot sue the district for lost financial compensation if you never see another retention supplement for the rest of your career. Read the fine print. #Be grateful. There are another 7,000 grandfathered teachers like you not getting a supplement.

Question: What kind of union collectively bargains away my right to sue?

Answer: UTD. Be grateful. It would be much worse with no union at all.

Question: How much do you all make for negotiating these horrible contracts?

Answer: Way too much. #We’re grateful we escaped the classroom and are now making six figures.

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steve jobs quote

The UTD contract ratification vote is almost here (it takes place on Tuesday November 7th in case you have been hiding under a social media rock). It is important that each one of us who feels passionately about our profession and the lack of adequate compensation take the two minutes next Tuesday to cast our ballots. Many teachers will lament, “it’s a done deal”, “the vote is rigged” or “I always vote No and it still passes.” Despite the possible veracity of these statements, it’s important that we still go out and vote. Isn’t that what UTD is always telling us to do? If we just got more involved in the electoral process we would all be rolling in cash? So here is your chance to get involved in an issue that directly impacts you.


If you are feeling particularly politically active this election season, here are a few guerrilla warfare strategies you can use to get your coworkers educated about the contract:

  1. Direct them towards the Kafkateach blog, the “MDCPS Employees You are Worth More” Facebook group or the Miami Educator Facebook page.
  2. If you are feeling more subversive, you may wish to print out  https://kafkateach.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/what-a-yes-and-no-vote-means-for-the-2017-2020-contract-ratification/ and distribute it in mailboxes, post it near the sign-in sheet, or if you are feeling especially brazen, post it on your school’s UTD bulletin board like this teacher did.

UTD bulletin board

(As an aside, look at the add on the bottom right. Who knew you could purchase UTD official merchandise? Now I know what to ask Santa for this Christmas!)

We also need some troops to go to the voting locations at their schools and observe the vote count and report your school’s Yes and No vote tallies to an anonymous survey. It would be nice if UTD would just release the school by school vote counts and help put an end to rumors of rigged elections, but until they do, we will have to collaboratively plan and use data driven strategies to provide some transparency to the electoral process. If you cannot observe the vote count, get your steward’s contact information and they should be able to give you the tally for your school.

UTD vote counts are public and you do not have to be a UTD member to observe the count. If you do observe the count, take pictures of the final count with your phone and report the vote count as soon as possible here: https://onedrive.live.com/survey?resid=1E1585172F57E910!5339&authkey=!ADsOezbQpSgHKDQ

This survey is anonymous and is from a personal onedrive (not a dadeschools onedrive) so if you are prone to paranoia relax. You can either share this blog post, share the link to the survey, or direct people to the Miami Educator Facebook page or the “MDCPS Employees You are Worth More” Facebook group where the link to the contract vote survey will be posted on election day as well.

be the change


What a Yes and No Vote Means for the 2017-2020 Contract Ratification

What a Yes Vote Means:

  • You think a raise that barely keeps up with inflation is adequate (the consumer price index for South Florida for 2017 was 2.3%)
  • You think even though per pupil spending went up by over $100 giving the district an extra $35 million and property tax collection continues to go up, you should get a smaller raise than when per pupil spending was lower
  • You are OK that the district thinks you are a chump for accepting between 2%- 2.67% and you will gladly vote Yes again next year when they offer a 1% raise. Why should they offer you more if you keep voting Yes to lower pay increases?
  • You don’t mind that any future pay increases or supplements will be contingent upon funding from Tallahassee and may disappear at any time and you will have no right to take any legal action over lost compensation
  • You think $750 for select grandfathered teachers is fair compensation for people who are losing upwards of $100,000.
  • You think that over 7,000 of your colleagues never reaching the top of the pay scale even if the teach for 30 years is just their bad luck and nothing should be done to help them.
  • You are a performance pay teacher and think it’s OK that there is good chance you will never reach the top of the pay scale either
  • You think that teachers with almost 20 years experience making less than $50,000 is just fine
  • You believe that veteran highly effective teachers with 15 years experience should make less money than a highly effective performance pay teacher with just a few years experience
  • You never want to be able to take a year off to pursue an advanced degree or travel without losing your job
  • You don’t mind future new hires not having health insurance for the first 90 days of their employment.
  • You don’t mind the fact that future employees will pay more for dependent coverage
  • You will get a couple of hundred dollars in retroactive pay before Christmas, but you will not get the state bonus of $1200 or up to $800 before the spring so don’t count on that money for your Christmas shopping.

What a No Vote Means

  • You are an MDCPS employee that believes you are worth more!

vote no


The horror show that was UTD’s contract negotiations 2017-18 came to a gory conclusion on Halloween Eve.  The Nightmare on NE 2nd Avenue ended in the “inevitable result” of a 2% cost of living adjustment and a photo op for both the selfie obsessed UTD President Karla Mats and media magnet Superintendent Carvalho.  It’s no wonder these two have such ridiculously large grins. You would be smiling too if you knew you escaped a future of making 40 geez for life as a classroom teacher working for the Miami Dade County Public School System!


The real “creative and elegant” solution was having UTD President Karla Mats stand on a box in her Manolos in order to be able to reach across the table for the annual power handshake with the Superintendent. By this point, we should have all realized that our Superintendent is a man obsessed with saying words because they sound eloquent but are totally meaningless.  Here is another example from the Miami Herald spin piece on our new contract,

“Considering the revenue stream from Tallahassee and the current economic conditions our district is in,” Carvalho said. “We’ve been able to turn what seemed to be an impossible position into an agreement that honors and dignifies our teachers.”

What in the hell is this man talking about? “Revenue stream from Tallahassee”? You mean the one that went up by over $100 per pupil? “Economic conditions our district is in”? You mean our AAA rating from Moody’s because our debt reserves are so high just isn’t good enough? Record high property tax collections and this man is still trying to act like we’re in the middle of the Great Recession?

I ask you classroom teachers and other MDCPS employees, do you feel honored with a 2% cost of living increase in the middle of a booming economy? Do you feel dignified making $3,000 more than a first year teacher after 15 years? Is that $750 supplement for select grandfathered teachers going to make you whole again?

If you take issue with the Miami Herald functioning as a branch of the district’s bloated PR machine, leave a comment at the end of article. Maybe next time some amateur journalist decides to report on our contract, they can take the time to interview a few teachers instead of just regurgitating district talking points.

Speaking of talking points, MDCPS employees will no doubt receive a Halloween greeting from UTD President Karla Mats in their district email promising a goodie bag filled with treats, but it’s all trick. First of all, 2% is a cost of living adjustment, not a raise.


Here are the exact terms of our salary agreement.


Please keep in mind that anything less than a 3% annual increase is a rip off. When you average together all of the salary adjustments on the previous step schedule and divided by 22, the average increase was 3%. The reason it is less than 3% is because they raised the top, the bottom and threw in a pathetic $750 supplement for select grandfathered teachers. Ask yourselves why we were able to get above 3% in the last contract despite per pupil spending being over $100 less? Does this seem like a good deal to you?

UTD is telling grandfathered teachers who were not given a supplement it was because they would have larger salary increases under the percentage system. That may be true for one year but not over time. I’m currently at $44,900, my 2.6% cost of living adjustment will be a little over $1,000 which is better than my former step, HOWEVER, over time without the former large steps I am much worse off. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that with $1,000 increases for the next 15 years my salary after 30 years is going to max out in the low sixties. Under the previous step schedule, I was supposed to hit the top of $72,720 after 22 years. And for all of you effective performance pay teachers, you are going to have a hard time reaching the top as well. According to this chart it will take you 27 years to reach a top of $72,000 with 2% annual increases.

Yet the district spins this as over a 4% raise for teachers by including the state allotted bonus funds.

“Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he was proud that the compensation agreement would mean no increases in healthcare costs for school employees, and that the state-funded bonuses of $1,200 for highly effective teachers and up to $800 for effective teachers pushed the average salary increase to 4.34 percent.”

No health care increases for CURRENT employees is true but the devil is in the details. Poor new hires won’t receive any health insurance for the first 90 days of employment and future dependent costs for health care will increase.

Here are some more Halloween demons in the contract to watch out for. Pay attention to #3. Your supplement may easily disappear and you cannot even take legal action for losses to income.

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Also, you can no longer take leave for professional improvement. I personally know many teachers who have taken advantage of the professional leave provision to go back to school or perhaps travel for a year. That will no longer be possible without losing your position and your pay. The maximum pay for new hires, even with 20 years experience, is $46,000.

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Also, per state law, annual contract teachers with effective and highly effective evaluations cannot be automatically renewed. The Superintendent can recommend you for employment but that is about as meaningless as most of his other gestures.

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You can look for additional tricks in the contract here .

The only treat is that I no longer see any requirement for collaborative planning. Maybe the district realized that a little collaborative planning can be a dangerous thing? Teachers and other MDCPS employees, circulate this blog, join the Facebook group MDCPS Employees You Are Worth More and let’s collaboratively plan how we can bury this monster of a contract. Happy Halloween!


This inflation adjusted salary chart shows how MDCPS and UTD have made mid-career teacher pay virtually disappear. Click here for a printable copy.

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Despite these obvious savings in teacher salaries over the past decade, we start contract negotiations for 2017-18 in Miami Dade County with the usual dire warnings of economic catastrophe from the superintendent. Even with Tallahassee raising per pupil spending by over $100 and record high property tax collections, the district needs to set the stage of economic calamity so teachers’ expectations remain low.



After MDCPS Science Teacher of the Year’s eloquent speech to the School Board regarding veteran teacher pay,  the superintendent promised a “creative and elegant” solution that will make grandfathered teachers whole again. You can watch her speech and the superintendent’s response here

The following week, the superintendent’s creative and elegant solution is revealed in UTD’s proposal #13. Grandfathered teachers who were on steps 13 through 20 in 2015 were to receive a five year retention supplement for “mid to late career teachers” ranging from $1,000-$5,500 in order to mitigate financial losses incurred in the transition to performance pay upon completion of 25 years of service. Only a few days later, UTD’s proposal #13 cuts unlucky step 13 out of the group of grandfathered teachers entitled to receive a retention supplement by changing the wording to salary amount in 2015 instead of step (you had to be earning $48,000 and step 13 was only earning $45,000).




This celebration would be short lived. A week after the grand reveal of the creative and elegant solution UTD had bargained the retention supplement of $5,500 down to $750.



So what happened over the course of a week to cause such a drastic decline in the retention supplement? The highly effective performance pay raise went from 1.8% to 2.5%, beginning teacher pay was raised by $200, the top of the pay scale was raised by $600, and the United TEACHERS of Dade added a $2,000 retention supplement for educational support personnel on steps 13 and 14 (they still have steps).


Meanwhile, grandfathered teachers steps 6-13 get to pay for top teacher pay, raising beginning teacher pay, performance pay, a retention supplement for certain grandfathered teachers, and now an ESP supplement on steps 13 and 14.


In response, UTD tried to offer some encouragement to grandfathered teachers under 20 years experience by telling them that some day, they too might benefit from a retention supplement.




After 14 years, I am perhaps 1/10 of the way up the pay scale and with a 2% raise every year for the next 16 years I will max out at $62,000 after 30 years of teaching.


This is a familiar line from UTD. That was their sales pitch whenever younger teachers complained about receiving $181 raises while older teachers received a $12,000 step. Only, oops, SB736 made us bargain away your steps and now you’re screwed. As beginning teacher pay has risen and the top of the pay scale has risen, the steps in the middle actually lost value over the course of the past decade with most mid career teachers earning more money in 2004 than in 2017.




21 year teacher

A UTD steward tried to claim that these memes were misleading and inaccurate. Please review the salary schedules from 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2014 and compare for yourselves. I’m sure UTD would like to perform some magic trick to make these old salary schedules disappear, but sorry teachers are hoarders.

steps 2004-2013

2007 was the last year that steps equalled experience in Miami Dade County. Notice that the fine print on the bottom states that teachers with outstanding performance will receive a 5% supplement in addition to their step. Also worth noting, is that per pupil spending is now higher than 2007 levels (although it did decline during the Great Recession and was not fully restored until recently). An outstanding teacher in 2017 is only worth 2.5% total.

2007-8 salary schedule

Collective bargaining in Dade has always worked in such a way that in order for one group to benefit, another group has to get royally screwed. Unfortunately, I happen to be in that unfortunate cohort of teachers that always loses out in every contract. When I asked UTD why their step schedule was so inequitable, their response was “because it encourages longevity.” Apparently the National Center for Teacher Quality came to the opposite conclusion, that protracted salary schedules discourage teachers from remaining in the profession. Let’s look at a couple of images from the NCTQ comparing Miami’s pay structure to Chicago’s. They thought 21 years was a long time to reach the top, imagine what the NCTQ is going to say about how long in takes Miami teachers to reach the top in future reports! Our pay structure is a national embarrassment!

miami vs chicago

Miami Dade time to reach top pay 2012

The illegal removal of grandfathered teachers from the step schedule will save the district hundreds of millions of dollars, while costing mid to late career teachers (teachers with 10-26 years experience) hundreds of thousands of dollars. These are the same teachers who have dedicated their lives to Miami’s children and are the ones responsible for all of the accolades that our Superintendent and School Board like to brag about. Other than the token gesture of a $750 retention supplement, nobody really seems to care about our economic predicament. If you care, and want the opportunity to receive real compensation for financial losses incurred, click here to donate to the grandfathered lawsuit. You can find out more about it here

beightol grandfathered scale

Meanwhile, in another example of UTD’s collective bargaining abilities, the district’s original proposal to mandate collaborative planning for 90 minutes a month (some of which could be in lieu of faculty meetings) actually ended up being much worse after negotiations than before. The amount of minutes increased to 120 and the “in lieu of faculty meetings” language disappeared. Click here to read the district’s latest proposal.


Although nobody knows exactly what the United Teachers of Dade and Miami Dade County Public Schools will come to an agreement on for MDCPS employees for the 2017-18 school year, it will certainly be much less than what we are worth.


If you would like to be involved in organizing efforts around the contract and contributing your school’s contract vote tally to an anonymous survey, join the MDCPS Employees You are Worth More Facebook group, visit the Miami Educator Facebook page, or follow this blog to get automatic updates.


***Special thank you to all of you that contributed images that were posted on this blog. If you want to make your own memes, this site makes it super fast and easy. ****