Duval Schools Under Civil Rights Investigation

duvalSchool choice is supposed to close the achievement gap, but it does not.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, it does result in increased segregation.  Racial and economic segregation in urban schools is nothing new.  The investigation in Duval County is compiling data on teacher salaries, qualifications, principal assignments and principal evaluations.  The complaint will review differences in resources and staff associated with low income schools in Duval’s north and west side areas.


The basic question is whether students who live in locales with concentrated poverty have equal access to a high quality education.  At least there are serious questions being asked about improving equity.  These are concerns in most districts.




Paramount Duty: Who Pays?

justiceThe state has a paramount duty to provide all students with a uniform, safe, efficient, and high quality education, according to the Florida constitution. The State Board of Education’s new budget adds $476 million increase to education funding.

It would seem to be a step in the right direction in meeting the constitutional mandate.  Based on a Washington state Supreme Court decision, it may be that Florida is actually skirting its obligation to students.

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Tennessee: When is Enough, Enough?

by Anne-Marie Farmer

dollar-726881_1280Receiving this post from Anne-Marie is pure serendipity.  I spent several hours looking for examples of how states determine how much funding is needed to provide a high quality education for all students.  High quality education is mandated in Florida’s constitution. What does it mean?  How is it funded?  When is enough, enough?  The State is in a lawsuit about this.

Then, this post arrived from Tennessee.

Tennessee appears to have approached funding for education differently than Florida.  Our state seems to decide how much it is going to spend and then divides the money among districts using a per student funding formula.  Tennessee uses a  complicated system of 45 components to determine what education should cost.   Afterwards, they do a budget.  Sometimes what should be and what is do not match.

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Congress Conference Committee Resolving Differences on Education Bill

dmbtestYou can watch the conference committee in action yesterday and today.  The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) looks  to be headed for passage.  The bill is now called: S. 1177  Every Child Achieves Act.  Basically, the bill will strip the punitive aspects of Race to the  Top such as teacher evaluations based on test scores and take overs of struggling schools.  Annual testing, however, remains.

While Common Core may not be mandated, most states already have developed tests to measure the standards or are using the two national tests.

The brief discussion of testing acknowledged concern about over the impact of testing and will encourage states to enact limits.  The committee members, however, stated that federal testing requirements were not the problem.  The problem was the use of test scores for accountability.  The authority for how test scores will be used is returned to the states.  This does not mean that currently mandated accountability systems for grading teachers, schools, and districts are gone.  They just are not federally mandated.

Remember that the Florida legislature stated that its tests were not the problem, the problem was over testing in the districts.  Districts state that the amount of testing is due to the requirements to use scores for teacher evaluations.  Florida’s 2016 legislative session could be interesting.  Annual testing will not disappear.  How scores are used could change.

I watched today.   Some amendments were approved by both the House and Senate committee members that are of particular interest were approved:

Rep. Thompson:  Study Title I funding formulas

Sen. Enzi: Study early childhood program overlap

Rep. Bonamici: Include arts and interdisciplinary course content in Title IV STEM programs

Sen. Bennett:  Place caps on the amount of testing time required

There were a few other amendments related to teacher training for the appropriate use of student data and extending dual enrollment for ELL students.




Class Size Policies: Charters Avoid Mandate But Public Schools Can’t?

john leggIt is curious that Senator Legg believes that charter schools should escape class size mandates, but public schools are exploiting loop holes if they have the same flexibility.

There are times when, under the guise of flexibility, school choice is simply a way to avoid laws designed to protect the interests of children.  Class size was mandated by voters in 2002 in the Florida constitution.  Charters were able to use a school average class size but not district schools.

Laws implementing the amendment should be applied to all schools in the same way.  They are not.  Schools of Choice play by different rules.  Districts want the same flexibility as charter schools.  They found a way, but  now Senator Legg wants to close that option for school districts.


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Out of Control Enrollment? What Next?

human-592739_640Senator Benacquisto has filed SB 0886 to establish a teacher transfer process for parents and extend school choice options to CAPE certificates.

The phrase ‘controlled open enrollment’ is deleted.  This phrase is defined by the Florida Department of Education as follows:

Each school board may offer controlled open enrollment within the public schools in addition to existing choice programs such as magnet schools, alternative schools, special programs, advanced placement and dual enrollment.  Controlled open enrollment emphasizes the value of the opportunity for families to choose among existing  public schools instead of being assigned to a public school by a school district based on attendance zones.

Does the elimination of ‘controlled open enrollment’ mean that enrollment would now be chaotic?  Sometimes one wonders what people are thinking or if they are.


Massachusetts: Charter Lawsuit Will Not Fix the Achievement Gap

Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library

Some Massachusetts students compete with the best other countries can offer  In order to understand why I turned to a Watchdog.org article in which a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Education described its system.  Then, I dug some more.

Massachusetts adopted high standards in 1993.  They resisted much of Florida’s accountability system, but students do test annually.  It is how Massachusetts does and does not use test scores that is interesting.  The demographics of the state’s population are also telling.  The lawsuit is pointless.  Get to know more about Massachusetts….

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