Key differences between latest House and Senate education bills

Senate Education Committee did a ‘strike all’ amendment on HB 7055, the House mega bill. Basically, the Senate took out the House language and put in its own. There are some key differences. This article is worth a read. Those personal reading scholarships are gone. Reduction in sales tax funding have been made to the ‘bully’ bill. Senator Simmons’ provision to strengthen accountability for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship programs are included. Teachers in those FTC schools would at least have to have a college degree!

The Senate Education Committee is meeting now. This is all about strategy. On Thursday, a new bill will arise. What should the Education Committee do with the strike all amendment? What will the Governor sign.

Call for Counselors

There is something we all can do right now. Contact the Florida Senate Education Committee. Let them know that their proposals in SB2508 to support struggling students and to fund a significant mental health program are worth fighting for. The House gives parents $400 and tells them to go shopping for help that may not be there.

There is no escape from the troubled neighbor’s child or the mentally ill family member, but there can be more help. We can build programs where it is safe for children to seek help and to alert others when a child needs help.

Contact Senator Dorothy Hukill and ask her to fight for our children. Don’t bargain away the educational services children need.

Teenage Males and School Shootings: Some Perspectives

by Tom Erney

Tom is a retired family therapist who spent his 45+ years sitting with teenage males as they shared with me their personal worldviews/ their unique “instruction books on life”. He said “Perhaps my vision of what fuels the desire of school shooters may shed some light on such a horrific, tragic topic. I’ll also mention some concrete steps our community could take to decrease the probability of school shootings.”

The inner conflict and confusion that most adolescent males experience is unsettling, and can prove to be profoundly toxic. Along with the fundamental human wonderings related to personal identity…”who am I , and what is worth my time and energy?”…is added the immediacy of figuring out how to become a man. Hence, the ultimate validation among the guys is: ” You are the MAN!!!” So, boys wishing to become men look to three primary socializing institutions for guidance: their family, their peers, and society in general.
Breakdowns and contradictions in any of these three influencing forces complicate, and can even derail, the teens’ personal-social development.

Our most basic calling as humans is to find some pathway(s) to become heroic…to feel secure in the knowledge that we are both visible and valued. We long to see ourselves as participating in something of lasting worth. Oscar Wilde said it in this manner: ” To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist…that is all”. Yet, our consciousness as humans will not allow us to settle- to not matter. To not be visible and valued! We must sort out some pathway(s) to seeing ourselves as heroic( “the Man”).

This search for a personal identity that allows us to perceive ourselves as visible and valued is difficult and painful under the best of circumstances. When any/ all of the three socializing institutions in males’ lives break down( family/ peers/ society in general) around a teen male, he aches for some solid ground midst all the conflict and confusion. Many teen males learn to channel almost all of their unpleasant emotions into anger…for anger is not seen as weak in male culture. Anxiety and depression often accompany the outward expressions of anger. The inner dialogue seeking to convince you that you are helpless, hopeless, and powerless must be altered…by any means necessary: sports, drugs and alcohol, sex, comedy, music, attempting to be perfect, computer games, driving fast, etc. All these attempts are hollow, for they rarely ever provide a pathway to being truly heroic( ” I truly matter.”)

Given an American culture that has been in a stunning transformation over the past 50-60 years, there exists no clear pathway to seeing yourself as important…that your existence matters. Where is there anything that is stable, consistent, predictable? I experienced firsthand in my office the loss of almost any certainty in the lives of the teens I counseled. The impact: young men no longer need to be mentally ill to commit horrific acts. Since Columbine, shooting up your school has become a pathway to becoming visible and valued…for the demonic rage that is being expressed is a rage against their impotence and unworthiness. ” NOW you will have to pay attention to me. I will not be ignored! My existence matters!”

Their actions reflect back to us as adults that we have failed to support them in their search for personal meaning. They are the symptom…we are the problem.

Steps To Take: 1) Double the number of school counselors. Offer them on-going training and supervision as they provide a sanctuary for today’s youth. don’t burden them with responsibilities for testing, etc. Presently, most school counselors are not allowed to truly work with students and their families. 2) Personalize, not mechanize, the educational process. Presently, students feel like objects that are expected to produce desired outcomes for their parents and teachers/ the school system. 3) Establish peer programs at every school. train and supervise these youth throughout the school year. NO SCHOOL SHOOTING TAKES PLACE WITHOUT OTHER TEENS KNOWING THAT THEIR SCHOOL BEING ATTACKED IS A REAL POSSIBILITY. TEEN BOYS TALK TO OTHER TEENS. There will never be enough adults to prevent this from happening. Only the kids can do this. They have access to the social media, etc. They know the rumors.

As I have written before, we do know what to do! We choose not to do what we know. Until adults and adult social institutions begin being responsible and consistent, young people will continue to cry out for help…by any means necessary. This is on us…not on them. They will struggle mightily, and more will die needlessly, until we grow up.

Sales Taxes for Private Schools Proposed

Another $154 million, funded by sales taxes, would go to private school with this bill. The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program already sends $873 million in corporate tax credits to schools that simply churn students in and out of public schools.

A few facts to memorize:

  1. 37% of FTC students are gone in one year and 61% in two years.
  2. Students who leave FTC schools are those who struggle the most.
  3. FTC schools are becoming more racially and economically segregated.

The House representative sponsoring the bill is Paul Renner from Palm Coast.

This week’s news

I am trying to find a way to keep the blog current without too much eye strain. Here’s my latest idea. I will collect links and put them in categories. If you are interested, just click on the link. If you come across a story somewhere else. Please send the link.

Today the topic is school facilities funding cuts creating chaos.

Chicago’s south side schools falling apart

Massive charter closure in Ohio

What a Day!

A group of us from Alachua County went to Sarasota today to see student engaged learning in action. Picture middle schoolers in groups of four sitting around small tables. Each table had a computer. There was a quiet hum as the kids looked at the science or math concept of the day. They had a question to answer, related vocabulary to learn, an experiment or simulation to do, and a process to follow to arrive at an answer. They worked through the process together or individually depending on the task. Then they talked about how they solved the problem presented.

In one room they took their resting temperature and then did twenty jumping jacks, remeasured their temperatures and calculated changes to answer questions about heat and energy. In another room, they learned about probability by doing repeated ‘rock, paper, scissors’ in pairs and logged results to find patterns. A third room was studying physical and chemical changes in mass by shaking small containers with rocks and a chemical and observing, smelling and drawing changes. They weighed the changes in the rocks.

My favorite question of the day was when, in one group, a student said, “I got the answer, but I do not understand why.” The other group members explained their reasoning. The teacher summarized the different approaches the children had used to solve the problem and explained how she had approached the same problem.

The kids are not only solving some real world problems tied to the state standards, they are both physically and mentally engaged. They have been taught how to ask each other questions. They are totally engaged. The teacher goes around to each group to give a hint if needed. No one was wise cracking etc., they were too busy and interested.

All the worked is logged and tracked using hand held smart calculators synced with a computer, but only somethings are graded. The groups include different ability levels and are strategically formed to be sure they have compatible personalities. At the end of the class, every child and the teacher knew how well he/she had achieved the specific task of the day and where they needed help.

It made you want to go back to school. Public school.

Typo in Doomsday Post

Clearly I still have last year’s bad bill HB 7069 in my head. In the post “Doomsday or Glimmer of Hope”, the bill the Senate sent back to the House was this year’s House bill 7055 which just got yet another number HB5001. The Senate bill number is now SB2500.

This madness is making me ‘dizzy’, but at least we were correct to question the process. Now, let’s hope the individual issues will be presented one at a time as they are supposed to be. Now, I really will take my dr.’s advice.


Hi Folks,

This past week I was told I need eye surgery. I am waiting for it to be scheduled. As a result, I have had to resign as the Florida League Education Chair. This blog will no longer represent the League. I am maintaining the blog for your convenience because of all the information in it. When I am able, I will add posts.

For now, you need to do nothing differently. I just wanted to let you know why not much will appear for awhile, especially once the surgery is performed.