Paula Dockery Nails It!

legislation1In a Tampa Bay Times article, LWV Florida board member Paula Dockery lists her legislative priorities for 2016.  Extracted from the list are the following education priorities:


• Properly fund our traditional public schools for instructional costs and facility building, maintenance and repair before funding nonpublic assets.

• Drastically reduce the standardized testing in our schools and stop the practice of using test results for high-stakes purposes.

• Return the education commissioner to an elected position and member of the Cabinet by passing the joint resolution sponsored by state Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, and state Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah.

• Fully fund our colleges and universities to accommodate growth and facility needs.
If the legislature met these goals, perhaps the push to privatize our schools would diminish.


Congress Passes New Federal ESEA Bill

legislation1We posted several analyses of the updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  Current legislation, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is on its way to the President’s desk.   No Child Left Behind Act and Race to the Top are gone.  What remains are annual testing requirements and support for charter schools.  Responsibility for most education accountability reverts to the states.  Thus, each state can determine how test scores are used for teacher evaluation, school grades and the Common Core.

States are required to identify schools with under performing students and help fix them.  What this means is unclear.  For a good analysis, see Education Week.  Many provisions are subject to different interpretations.  One thing is clear, citizens need to turn to their state legislatures  to make reasonable, valid decisions about how test scores are used.  Continued policies that force districts and teachers to focus instruction on ‘passing the test’ can be changed, if the voters insist.


Best and Brightest Teachers Bonus Needs Study

teacher-590109_1280Efforts to reward highly effective teachers are understandable.  An expression comes to mind, however, about a road to….being  paved with good intentions.  We need to know where the road leads.  The Tampa Bay Times published an article this morning that delineates flaws with the teacher bonus selection process.  Of the state’s 172,000 teachers, Forty-two percent of Florida’s teachers earned ‘highly effective’ ratings in 2014; of these 5,200 qualified for bonuses of $8,500 each.  Some who appeared to be qualified were left out.  No one received the $10,000 initially promised.  The amount of money the legislature allocated did not cover the cost.  We should know where the money went.  There may be unintended consequences.  This program needs fixing.Continue reading

New Florida Charter School Bill: CIS 16-01

PClegislation1B-CIS 16-01 School Choice

This is a rework of prior bills to create the Florida Charter School Institute which is designed to reduce local district charter authorizing authority.  In addition, it creates a high impact charter district and changes charter board requirements.  This is a bill that revives state vs. district control concern over charter school authorization.

Continue reading

Congress Conference Committee Resolving Differences on Education Bill

dmbtestYou can watch the conference committee in action yesterday and today.  The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) looks  to be headed for passage.  The bill is now called: S. 1177  Every Child Achieves Act.  Basically, the bill will strip the punitive aspects of Race to the  Top such as teacher evaluations based on test scores and take overs of struggling schools.  Annual testing, however, remains.

While Common Core may not be mandated, most states already have developed tests to measure the standards or are using the two national tests.

The brief discussion of testing acknowledged concern about over the impact of testing and will encourage states to enact limits.  The committee members, however, stated that federal testing requirements were not the problem.  The problem was the use of test scores for accountability.  The authority for how test scores will be used is returned to the states.  This does not mean that currently mandated accountability systems for grading teachers, schools, and districts are gone.  They just are not federally mandated.

Remember that the Florida legislature stated that its tests were not the problem, the problem was over testing in the districts.  Districts state that the amount of testing is due to the requirements to use scores for teacher evaluations.  Florida’s 2016 legislative session could be interesting.  Annual testing will not disappear.  How scores are used could change.

I watched today.   Some amendments were approved by both the House and Senate committee members that are of particular interest were approved:

Rep. Thompson:  Study Title I funding formulas

Sen. Enzi: Study early childhood program overlap

Rep. Bonamici: Include arts and interdisciplinary course content in Title IV STEM programs

Sen. Bennett:  Place caps on the amount of testing time required

There were a few other amendments related to teacher training for the appropriate use of student data and extending dual enrollment for ELL students.




Florida Legislators Target School Districts



Boy, did I fail to read the fine print on SB 830.  This is an anti local school district bill that would authorize the State Board of Education to grant charters instead of local school boards.  In an earlier post, I commended Senator Stargel for not allowing charters to discriminate in admissions against students with poor academic records.   Further down in the bill, I see why she did so.  This is a major attack.

There is also a Principals Autonomy bill listed below that should be watched.
I am also listing current bills in the blog under the LEGISLATION section of the banner that runs across the top.  It is green!

Continue reading