Blended Learning: A Paradigm Shift?

by Krista Sobel

Krista argues that Florida was the first to launch into online learning in any significant way with the Florida Virtual School (FLVS).  This is true.  It is also true that Florida had significant growing pains. In 2013, enrollment in the virtual school dropped 32 percent and funding reductions caused serious layoffs.  It seems that FLVS was allowing students enrolled full time in public schools to take multiple online courses at the same time.  They made a lot of money using that policy.  The legislature stepped in.  There must have been a quality gap somewhere.

Quality gaps of other online companies reached national attention as well. 

FLVS filed a 2014 lawsuit and won against K12 Inc., the mega online course management company, over copyright infringement.  The State of Florida filed a suit against K12 Inc. for falsifying teachers who were assigned to courses.  Many local districts countered the practice by negotiating their own online academies taught by local teachers.  The districts also kept the records of student progress.  They might purchase rights to online course content, or they may develop their own courses, but they control the process.

Problems with for-profit online companies are everywhere.  Politico published a series on the academic failure and profiteering of the online charter schools.   They may advertise blended learning experiences, but the reality is too often a computer or two in a corner.  What is clear is that citizens have a duty to be wary but an obligation to recognize the opportunities new technologies can bring.   Read Krista’s vision for change.

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Lakeland’s McKeel Charter Fraud and Abuse…Again

An employee at the McKeel Academy has been arrested for stealing $100,000 from the charter school.  The former Assistant Director for Academy faces seven felony charges relating to her creation of fake companies to hide purchases, travel expenses and other illegal activities.

McKeel Academy’s three charter schools have had other serious management problems.  When will the legislature address the charter management oversight issue?  These McKeel charter schools have seen problems before.  But, then, its board members are in the legislature.

 

 

 

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School Turnaround: Caught Between the Crosshairs

In a news report on President Obama’s legacy, one commentator stated that is focus on eliminating failing schools would survive.  These are the ‘turn around’ schools where most students do not meet state proficiency levels.  Some say that the goal to have all students be proficient is like assuming all students must be ‘above average’.  Proficiency standards, however, are set at levels most but not all students are expected to reach.  The expectations are an ever increasing target.  As achievement goes up, standards go up.

It is a trap, however, to excuse low performance because students have not been expected or even required to do better.  Is there an escape hatch?

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Is the State ‘Money Laundering’?

justiceThe Florida Education Association and the Florida League of Women Voters et al asked the Supreme Court to hear an appeal on the Florida tax credit vouchers to private schools.  The Supreme Court already ruled that vouchers are unconstitutional, so the legislature credit tax credit rebates instead.  This way corporations can forego paying their taxes if they donate the money to private school scholarships.  The Florida News Service summarizes the arguments.  The FEA does a press release.  Read them here.

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Washington’s Charter Shell Game and Another Lawsuit

justiceThe League is in a new lawsuit in the state of Washington.  Charters were approved by the voters in 2012, but the League of Women Voters called the move unconstitutional.  The Charter School Case filed by the League et al in 2013 was appealed all the way to the state’s Supreme Court.  In 2015, the Court ruled that charter schools violated the Washington constitution.  Charters were not public schools.  In order for the legislature to fund charters, they must be governed by elected school boards, and of course, they were not.

The  legislature was not deterred.

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Judge Supports Third Grade Opt Out Parents

justiceJudge Gievers ruled in favor of parents who claimed that their districts unfairly retained third graders solely because they did not complete the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA).  The ruling revealed gaping holes in district procedures and in law.  The arguments brought into question the reliance on the FSA to determine student competence.

 

 

 

 

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Florida Court: Remedy is at the polls

justiceA Florida Appeals court refused to hear the lawsuit against the Florida tax credit voucher program.  Judge Lori Rowe argued that current law supporting tax credits was different from the previous law against direct payments from the legislature to private schools.  Now, the legislature allows corporations to give money owed to the state to private schools.  Somehow this is legal according to the 1st District Court of Appeals.

In the opinion, the judges’ opinion stated that it was not clear that the public schools were hurt by the loss of tax credit funding.  There was no guarantee that the legislature would have allocated the money to public schools if it had decided to collect it.

The judge added:  …”the remedy is at the polls”.  We will have to wait to see if the Florida Education Association will appeal to the Florida Supreme Court once again.  In the meantime, an election is coming.

 

Closing Florida’s Public Schools is NOT an Option

ballot-32201_1280The Washington State Superintendent of Schools argues that it may be necessary to close public schools to force the state to comply with the court ruling on funding education.  Could this happen in Florida?  It may be up to the voters even if the Southern Legal Counsel (SLC) wins the Citizens for Strong Schools lawsuit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today the Value of Diversity Was Affirmed

justiceAll the money pouring into school choice helps hire professionals to give a positive spin to a poor idea.  What can be wrong with giving parents choice and take state dollars with them to charter and private schools, spin masters say.

Some parents cannot resist the allure of a selective quasi ‘private education’ even if it is not high quality.  Today the Supreme Court provided a compelling ruling that can change the conversation.

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