Class Size Violations: Does It Matter?

FEA Cites Violations of Class Size Amendment in this short video. There are several ‘work arounds’ to avoid the restrictions imposed by a Florida constitutional amendment in 2002. PreK through grade 3 is limited to 18 students.  The limit for grades 4-8 is 22 and for grades 9-12 it is 25 in core subjects like reading, math and science.  The temptation to manipulate the limits is great in order to reduce cost.  Clearly, there is more to this story. Continue reading

Florida Legislators Hear Testing Uproar

The Florida Legislature is listening.

 

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The Tampa Bay Times reported today that some testing reform is likely in the next legislative session. The article School testing poised to get scaled back by Florida lawmakers’ cites several tentative proposals for reforming assessment practices in Florida.  Senator John Legg acknowledges that testing has grown for many well intentioned reasons, but ” …one question got waylaid: How is it affecting the students?”

Proposals are surfacing, Continue reading

2013-14 Florida Charter School Enrollments vs. Projections

Of the 46 new charters started in 2013-14 in Florida,  five met or exceeded their enrollment projections.  Click on the link above to find out how the charters in your area fared.

Charters, however are growing.     classroom2

According to the National Alliance for Charter Schools, there are 6400 charter schools enrolling 2.5 million students.  Two hundred charter schools closed nationwide. The National Center for Education Statistics is a good data source for finding facts about many choice programs also including magnet and Title I programs by type of school and level of school.

 

What is the Unkindest Cut of All?

Charters and traditional public schools are claiming that their funding allocations are inadequate and unfair.budget

 

Given the massive cuts in education funding, their claims are not trivial.  Their arguments, however, are different. Judges are ruling differently as well.  Based on information reported by Education Justice, a  program of the New Jersey based Education Law Center, and Access, a research institute at Columbia University, charters want facilities and traditional public schools seek fairness.Continue reading

How Many Tests are Too Many?

The Florida School Boards took a stand today against over testing.

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Sorting out which tests students are required to take is no small task. The Florida Statewide Testing Program Schedule is extensive–take a look.

Take a test yourself.  This is a training test to see what the FSA is like.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said the testing was “under review“. It is about time!  The Florida Standard Assessments (FSA), our version of Common Core testing in English Language Skills and Mathematics begin this year.  We also have district level tests, end of course exams, national and international tests, and college placement and admissions tests.   All of this testing has generated a backlash. Continue reading

Slide Show on Privatization of Schools

 A PRESENTATION BY LWV MIAMI-DADE 

Miami-Dade did a series of presentations on Florida’s school choice study. Their approach was to consider the unmet needs of children from low income areas.  The ability of charter and private, mostly religious schools to meet those needs are considered.md (2)They discussed problems with the conflicting priorities for-profit charter management companies must face when serving ‘low-cost’ children rather than children whose needs are expensive to meet:  e.g. ESE, ELL and students who struggle academically. The accountability system rewards schools whose students score well on state assessment tests.  This makes charter admissions and dismissal policies subject to scrutiny.

The interrelationship between political and financial support has made conflict of interest concerns a public issue.  The need to justify the inability of the private sector to overcome the achievement gap between students from low-income and higher income families has made the public more aware of the need for more efficient and equitable use of tax payer money.

This league’s approach to a discussion of school choice issues may be helpful for others who are planning similar presentations.

Privatization Bills in Florida

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by Lucia Baez

The Miami-Dade League of Women Voters charter school study provides an in-depth examination of the population of students in below median income neighborhoods.

Are charters representing their own communities?

Do charters show significant academic improvement?

Are charters equitably admitting their students and increasing participation of needy students?

THE ANSWER TO EACH OF THESE QUESTIONS IS:   NO!

Continue reading

Where Did The Money Lead?

payoffby Pat Hall

While Pat and her team were following the money at CSUSA, she would call me with the latest episode.  The process began to feel like a detective story. I asked her to write down the process so that others who were trying to search out facts could learn.  Finding the data was step one, but getting  the information publicized was an equal challenge.  The impact was substantial.  The school district added a new staff position to help monitor the charter schools.  The local school board and its staff and attorney were involved.  The Commander of the MacDill Air Force Base was involved.  The Tampa Bay Times and the local CBS television station ran stories.  Here’s the process..Continue reading

Charter School Explosion: Follow the Money

This is an unbelievable story.  It is such an interesting one that we will tell it in two parts.  Part I is an article that Pat Hall, LWV Education Chair for Hillsborough County wrote for La Gaceta, a Florida newspaper.   The editor was intrigued when he met Pat, and he suggested she write a series for the paper.  The other articles are posted in the Resources section of this blog.  Part II will explain how she did it, and what happened next.Continue reading

Florida Court to Review Tax Credit Voucher Lawsuit Motion to Dismiss

Yesterday’s Sun-Sentinel editorial reviewed the history of the Florida voucher program and identified wealthy backers who contributed one-half million dollars to political campaigns supporting school choice.  The article cites legal arguments against vouchers: public dollars contributed indirectly to religious schools and the constitutional requirement that the State have a uniform system of public education.Continue reading