As someone who is not comfortable living life on my knees with duct tape over my mouth (you may have figured this out by now if you have been reading this blog for any length of time), I am not comfortable working on an annual contract. Teachers must be able to voice their concerns about administrative decisions that harm students without fear of losing their jobs. Eliminate continuing contracts and a culture of complacency, sycophants and fear will rule the schools. Senate Bills passed in state after Race to the Top state have included VAMs as a major portion of teacher evaluations all in the name of “Student Success” and “Educational Excellence” when in reality they have been immaculately designed to end the teaching profession as we know it and free state and districts from career teachers with pension aspirations. Some may brush me off as your typical history teacher conspiracy nut, but my daddy didn’t raise no sucker. VAM is a scam.
Category Archives: Florida
One week fror today, we’ll most likely be hearing the opening arguments in the first degree murder case against Thomas J Lafoe for the murder of Jeffery Norton. The whole thing seems surreal at times. Can this actually be happening? I feel a plethera of emotions all jumbled together. I’m angry, sad and in shock. This can’t be happening. But it is. I can’t let myself get too angry or I won’t be able to write. I wonder if I’ll actually be able to make sense of this thing just to write about it. It seems impossible that I need to write this at all.I am thankful for the people who will there as witnesses for the prosecution and in the courtroom as witnesses of the trial. We’ll figure this thing out as we go, I guess. The prosecution sits on the right side of the courtroom and the defense on the left. Once you enter the doors to the courtroom, we are subject to the rules of the court.
Sun Zhu said to know your enemy.
The day will come when you will have to go to the big dance. Get yourself a haircut and some dress clothes and look presentable. Needless to say, one person who is going to have a marked effect on your prospects at this point will be the judge. Your lawyer and the district attorney will both try to monkey with the process to get as favorable a judge as possible onto the case. You will have a choice between a bench trial and a jury trial. In a jury trial, the jury determines innocence or guilt, and the judge imposes the sentence, if any. In a bench trial, the judge determines innocence or guilt, as well as the sentence. You cannot be forced to have a bench trial. You can have a jury trial if you want one. There are situations where either one is preferable. I am no legal expert, but I think it’s fair to say that judges are more predictable than juries, which could be good or bad. If the judge has an extremely nasty reputation you definitely don’t want a bench trial. If the judge has a good reputation, and the state’s case is not very strong, you might do better at the bench. If the accusations against you are such that a random jury pool is likely to be sympathetic, with you might do better with a jury. If you are accused of something toward which a random jury pool is likely to be antagonistic, you might do better with the judge. One disadvantage of a bench trial is that it eliminates the possibility of a hung jury. Listen to the advice of your lawyer, listen to your gut instinct, and pray that you make the right choice.
I don’t think it ever hurts to pack the courtroom; just make sure that everyone is accountable to you, and does or doesn’t do whatever it is that you want them to. Generally the order of events will be as follows: jury selection, followed by defense and then prosecution opening statements; prosecution evidence and witnesses, and defense cross-examination; defense evidence and witnesses, and prosecution cross-examination; defense and then prosecution closing statements; deliberation; and the rendering of the verdict. How long all this will take depends wholly on how complicated your case is. There are far too many variables to really get into here, but suffice it to say this is zero hour and it’s time to throw down. If you are going to testify then eat some food beforehand so you don’t get lightheaded. Speak clearly and don’t let the DA get you flustered.
And then it will be over. You will either take the short walk around the banister into the arms of someone who loves you, or the long walk with the bailiff, through the back door, down the hall, and back into the system. If you take the short walk, then nothing will ever have been so sublime, and you will swear that you will never take anything for granted ever again, and that you will never forget Rico and everyone else that you left inside, and that you will do everything you can every day for the rest of your life to leave the world a little better. If you take the long walk, you will keep your head up, and you will stay strong, and you will do your time like a warrior, because that is what you are and what you will have to do. You will continue to navigate the Byzantine process of appeals, and of Appellate and Superior and Supreme Courts, and you will exhaust every possible avenue to overturn or reduce your sentence. Maybe it will work and maybe it will not. Someday your time will be up and they will let you out, and then FOR REAL nothing will ever have been so sublime. Unless, of course, you are REALLY in hot water and you are not ever going to get out, in which case you will still remain unbroken. You will continue the struggle, even when everything has been taken from you, and your spirit will still be free.
Either way, the frogs will still croak and the buds will still blossom, and people will still love each other, and you. And this cancerous prison that mankind has erected for itself will continue to teeter toward its increasingly imminent collapse, and the sooner the better, I say. We will continue to wage war on that system, and to learn and relearn how to live in harmony with each other and with the earth, because if we do not then we will all surely die. If we do all die then we will return to the earth, and the ashes of our species will decompose in its bosom, and eventually something will grow up out of the compost. One time, in total despair, I looked down and saw two hornets fucking in the dust, and I saw that it was good. In the long run everything really will be all right, and I mean that. Hell, there are folks out there doing bids longer than I really expect to see civilization as we know it last. That’s something to think about when you’re getting down in the mouth!
Remember: your body will always be a part of the magnificent web of life, of plants and animals inhaling oxygen and carbon dioxide, of birth and death and decomposition. You are in the embrace of an unbroken body of ghosts that reaches back through every place since the dawn of time. We have done everything that we could to combat all that is abusive and cruel. We have endured every manner of suffering and tribulation, and we have never given up the ghost. No matter what, you must know that we love you, that we give thanks to you for what you have done, and that your efforts—whatever they have been—have not been in vain.
March 6, 2012TALLAHASSEE – Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford ruled today in favor of the Florida Education Association in its lawsuit on public employees’ mandatory pension “contribution” and reminded Gov. Rick Scott and the extremists in charge of the Legislature that a promise is a promise. Last year, the Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the 3 percent tax on teachers, school employees and other workers imposed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Scott.FEA President Andy Ford hailed the decision as a significant victory for public employees, but as importantly, for the rule of law in our society. “The judge’s ruling confirms that the Florida Constitution requires the state to live up to its promises, including those made to the public workers by the state itself,” Ford said.
A teacher for over 8 years and in various schools around the country, my journey was filled with happiness, laughter, fear, nervousness and countless other emotions, often at the same time. Students have a unique way of touching your heart, driving you completely insane, and making you proud all at once. The first day of the school year can often set the tone for the entire year. It can be a stressful day naturally, but when you add a first day curse things can get out of hand. I’ve experienced the craziest first days during my career; including no heat over night in -50 degrees, going to the hospital with a concussion, and not making it to work because of a freak storm disaster. They are powerful enough to make you question entering the teaching profession altogether. Follow me on my first days of disaster and teaching.
Once again it’s Extravaganza time at Renningers. Wares range from outsider art to the truly antique. Charley Coleman of Presidio Arts of Floyd, Va has a collection of ”Outsider” and American folk art made by physically, mentally, socially or otherwise isolated artists. He can be reached at 540-250-0239.