Visiting Day Care Centers

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by Janet Allen

The LWVAlachua education committee made visits to numerous child care centers in Alachua County that ranged from family centers to large commercial centers like O2B Kids and Baby Gator. We had the opportunity to talk to teachers and administrators as well as children.  When we asked about current needs they were remarkably the same.

Our Florida legislature has a major bill (SPB 7006) to improve childcare standards, and the Governor’s budget includes funds to expand the Voluntary PreK program for four year olds.  There are, however, many different types of childcare programs, and we are learning how their programs differ and what their challenges are to provide quality childcare.

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Repurposing Struggling Schools: A Different Approach for Public Schools

education-548105_1280Alachua County, Florida Superintendent Owen Roberts announced a plan to restructure three elementary schools.  Two are struggling schools that have received funding to extend school days, add teachers, and add tutors.  The schools still struggle, and they are under enrolled.  Part of the problem is due to students who leave for charters and private schools in hopes of improving access to better schools.  Unfortunately, those options make little difference for those students either.  So, what do you do when conventional wisdom does not help? Continue reading

Common Core: Are We In or Out?

common coreCOMMON CORE: Are We IN or OUT?

There is much angst about Common Core Standards (CCS). People disagree about what children should know and be able to do. The new standards focus on learning how to evaluate how well students understand what they read and how well they grasp math concepts.  All students are expected to be college and career ready.  The arguments have a familiar ring. Students differ.  The Florida League of Women Voters asks: Is it fair to have the same high expectations for all students?   Is it fair not to?  Is this even the correct question?

Some say that the standards are not the problem, the amount of testing required to measure the standards.  They argue that testing to evaluate teachers and schools is misguided. How is the Florida legislature responding? Is it possible to find some common ground?

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Congress to Vote on H.R. 5 NEXT FRIDAY: Send your opinion

US House SealAn important vote on H.R. 5 is scheduled Friday.  While the League of Women Voters supports national curriculum guidelines and assessment of skills that compares the student achievement across similar districts, it also supports local implementation of the curricula and skills.   The operative definition of the League’s position is that all children should have access to an equitable, quality education.  To what extent does this bill have the desired result?

The bill severely cuts the role of the U.S. Department of Education.  It also freezes funding until 2021.  Finally, it increases support for charter schools and allows Title I funding for low income schools to be moved to other schools.  The bill has generated controversy.  Specific requirements follow.

If you wish to contact your legislators, a contact list is below.

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Come Dream With Me: A Glimpse into What Online Learning Could Be

chrystal-542488_1280I had a glimpse into the future yesterday.  Such a contrast between what is and what could be!  Believe it or not, it was the Senate K12 Education Committee meeting on video.  It started off with a review of the districts’ technology plans.  This past year, the State of Florida administered 4 million tests online.  This year, they will do 5 million.  The infrastructure is there, more or less.

I did not realize that funding for technology was recently incorporated into the FEFP per student allocation.  Thus, the increase is ear marked.  Districts are spending on average, 53% of this technology money for infrastructure.  Thirty one percent goes for assessments, and six percent for professional development.  According to the DOE, this approach is working.

Now for what could be….

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Which are the Elephants in the Room?

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I read ‘The Man Behind Common Core Math‘ twice.  It is personal, candid, and gives a different perspective  of Common Core (CC).  Part of CCs development  was a happy accident.  Other parts had  unhappy consequences that must be addressed.  Motives and methods of for-profit testing companies are questioned.

Which are the elephants in the room, the Standards;  the Tests;  the power brokers’ funding, or the passing rates?  Let’s consider which of these babies we should throw out with the bath water.  You will find some useful sources and some interesting ideas.

 

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Are KIPP Charters the Answer? Depends upon the question…

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KIPP is reputed to be one of the most successful charter chains.  It serves low income minority students. U.S. DOE Secretary Duncan has praised KIPP charters.  Gary Chartrand, the Chair of the Florida Board of Education promotes them.  It has a ‘no excuses’ policy for behavior as well as high academic expectations for all students. Is KIPP success hype or real?  There are some things we need to know; let’s not make hasty judgments.  Read about their results.

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A Christmas Gift

education-390764_1280A Leaguer knows that consistently sharing information has an impact.  Nevertheless, it is reassuring to find evidence that people are listening, reading, and thinking about issues we believe are important.  Today the Editor of the Gainesville Sun described his Education on School Reforms.  He cites his sources and includes our work.  See how he puts together the issues.

The New Year is approaching.  Make a resolution to regularly get the message out.  Some one will be listening who can help.