Parents Get Involved: You can too! Support Public Education

dollar-163473_1280A Gainesville parent with four children teamed up with a granddad who is a retired teacher.  They are spreading the word by organizing PTA and School Advisory Council meetings across the city.  Their campaign is to support the Citizen for Strong Schools lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes to trial in Tallahassee in March 2016.  The suit contends that Florida is shortchanging our children.  We are the third largest state with next to the bottom level of support for our schools.

They are passionate about public schools.  Read Rik’s article in the Gainesville Sun this week.  It is called:  Ensure Florida Adequately Funds Education.

There is now a website called Five for Change .  It has lots of information.  http://www.5forchange.org/  .  They are asking for a five dollar donation to support the lawsuit.  Think what could happen if a thousand people sent in a donation.  What a boost in morale it could be.  You can be counted.  Your organizations can be recognized on the webpage.

Florida League President, Pam Goodman endorses the campaign.  You can too where ever you live.  The suit helps all schools in Florida!

They are holding meetings all over the county.  Everyone interested in supporting public education is welcome.  The first one was at Eastside high school.  The next ones are in the media rooms at 6:30 pm on:

January 21st: Santa Fe High School

January 26th:  Gainesville High

February 2nd: Hawthorne High

February 9th: Buchholz High

February 11th: Newberry High

Equity: For each and every child

board-1065698_1280 (1)Equity means providing resources, not just equally, but adequately for all children to succeed.   There is no ‘one size fits all’ curriculum.  Yet, there is a tension between providing opportunity for all students, regardless of their backgrounds, and the efficient allocation of limited resources.  School choice was supposed to give better options, but too often, the choices are no different and ineffective.

The Citizens for Strong Schools lawsuit in Florida is about equity, but this is also a national issue.  I found a blue ribbon panel report that addresses equity and provides direction for educational policy.

In time, Florida may be required to focus on these six directions.  They give us a vision of what could be.

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FEA Challenges Teacher Bonus Plan

teacher-403004_1280 (1)The Florida Education Association (FEA) filed a complaint against the Best and Brightest bonus plan.  The complaint was filed with the US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations.  This is the $10,000 bonus for teachers with high SAT and/or ACT scores who received highly effective ratings.  Well, not exactly.  First year teachers were exempt from the teacher evaluation rating.  Not enough money was allocated to cover the $10,000 cost per qualified teacher.

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Making a Difference: We Are and You Can Too

by Richard McNeill

boy-717151_1920When you think the education scene is depressing, do something!  This is what we are doing in Alachua County to spread the word as the Citizens for Strong Schools lawsuit nears.  A mom and a grandfather started this.  I just help with background information.  They are working through the parent organizations to spread hope that it is possible to make a difference.    This is Richard’s announcement to the Alachua County School Board this week.  Read how they are going about their project.  You can help.

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Florida Citizens for Strong Schools Lawsuit Moves Forward

justiceWhile Circuit Court Judge Reynolds denied a request for a summary judgment to halt the voucher and tax credit scholarship programs, the Citizens for Strong Schools case continues.  The judge ruled that the attorneys for the case did not show harm to the defendants due to vouchers and tax credit scholarships for private schools, but argument could be made when the case comes to trial in March, 2016.

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Florida Voucher Issue Rejected by Circuit Court

justiceThe Florida Educational Association lawsuit was thrown out of court recently, as you know.

Another case, Citizens for Strong Schools, is working through the courts.  It hit a bump in the road.  In a December 7th article reported by the Associated Press, Judge Reynolds rejected a portion of the Citizen’s for Strong Schools lawsuit dealing with vouchers.  The issue was lack of legal standing.  What does this mean?  What happens next?

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Making Your Voices Heard

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There are many ways to be heard.  Responding to the DOE webinar and survey is one.  Writing your legislators both at the state and national levels is another.  Showing up  at school board meetings can help.  In the end, we will also need the courts.

There is a lawsuit:  Citizens for Strong Schools that comes to trial in March.  The suit supports public schools based on Florida’s constitutional requirement for a unified, strong, efficient, high quality system.  Note the word ‘unified’.  The school reform movement advocates privatizing our schools by creating charters and tax credit scholarships to private schools.

Testing is the accountability strategy for school reform.

Southern Legal Counsel is the firm that has filed the Citizen’s for Strong Schools lawsuit.  They are operating pro bono.  If you can help them raise money to cover expenses, then go to their website.  You can donate there.  Just click the DONATE button.  Any amount can help.

 

Charters Unconstitutional in Washington State

justiceLate yesterday, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that charter schools were unconstitutional.  The lawsuit was brought by the League of Women Voters, the Washington Education Association, and the State District Superintendents.  Charters are new to Washington, only a few opened last year.  More are scheduled to open this year.  There is a twenty day period for response to the ruling.

The basis for the ruling is explained below.

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Southern Legal Counsel’s Education Protection Fund

justiceMost of you know that the Citizens for Strong Schools and the Southern Legal Counsel have a lawsuit coming to trial in March 2016.  The State of Florida fought all the way to the Florida Supreme Court to keep it from coming to trial.  They lost.  Now, Southern Legal Counsel is preparing its case.  This is costly, and the firm is a non-profit.  Their attorneys are working pro bono for our schools.  They are in the throes of fund raising.  You can see a short video on their case here.