LWVF Press Release: School Accountability System Broken

LWV_OpenLogoThe Florida League of Women Voters released a statement today detailing the constant revisions to the school accountability system from 2011-2015.  Over and over, the legislature and the Department of Education have tried and failed to get it right.  It is more than a problem with a test.  School grades, teacher evaluations, scoring of exams, and student passing rates all are constantly changed.  It reminds me of the expression: ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  It is time to change direction if we want to improve our educational system.

Read the statementIt is Time to Focus on Teaching, Not Testing.  Send it everywhere.

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Two New Charter School Bills for 2016: Florida



Some of the bills that were shelved in the 2015 legislative session are reappearing in an amended form.  The first bill, SB 140 was filed by Senator Ring.  It has some good provisions to improve charter school management.

The second bill, HB 287 is a reworking of the pilot principal autonomy bill filed last year.  This is one to watch carefully, it is a stealth version of a charter district bill.

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Florida LWV Legislative Priorities Due

legislation1The Florida LWV legislative priorities are coming due.  Please make your voices heard within your local leagues.  In order to be able to advocate for our Education Team issues, we have to make it into the top priorities statewide.

Make education tops for your local league.  Here is a list of topics we expect to come up in the legislative session.  Remember that committee meetings start in September.

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Charters Appeal to State Board of Education for Facilities Money

school-295210_1280On the radio this morning, I heard a story about the latest pitch for facilities funding from the charter school advocates.  This one was to the State Board of Education.

It signals the latest attempt by the charter industry to tap into facilities funding for traditional public schools.  Public schools need to renovate old buildings and upgrade technology infrastructure.  Charters do not have to meet traditional public school state facility standards.  Charters are supposed to be cheaper.  Their real estate companies are making millions of dollars.  Why give them more?

I have compiled a list of posts on this issue.  Take a look and build arguments to make charter school policies more rational.  Charters should make our educational system better, not destroy it.  You can write letters, make presentations and make a difference.

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ALEC Admits Vouchers are for Suburbia

housesVouchers for private school tuition were supposed to be for at risk children in poor neighborhoods.  In Florida, that assumption was dropped when the legislature expanded eligibility for tax credit scholarships to include family incomes up to $62,000.  Now, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is more concerned about the high cost of tuition for middle class families.  They want to help.

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A Better Future or A Scary Time, Both?

children-402166_1280There is something compelling about the need for our educational system to embrace the future.  Joanne Weiss, Secretary Arne Duncan’s Chief of Staff used to run Race to the Top.  She explains why big money and national educational standards matter.  Her explanation is cogent unless you consider the unintended consequences.  Or, were they intended?  It all depends upon your point of view.

As Congress is closing in on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it is more than a little curious how the political forces are aligned.  There is speculation that President Obama may veto the final legislation.  If he does, more of the same may stir even greater resistance, especially to the testing and accountability systems that are in place now.  If, however, the new legislation makes it into law, have we lost a great opportunity to reach for the moon once again?  As in any serious debate by serious people, there is likely truth on both sides of the issue.


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U.S. Senate to Debate K12 education Bill Today

What could actually change in federal education policy this year?  States will much more authority.   The last legislation was passed in 2007.  It is time for a change, but are these the right ones for children or for politicians?  We can only hope that Congress will strengthen, not weaken our public schools.

Here’s a quick checklist of the Senate bill.

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Florida Can Learn from Ohio: Charter reforms that can make a difference

ohioOhio has had as many or more charter school scandals than Florida.  Maybe that is what it take to the Legislature’s attention.  Ohio’s House and Senate have passed charter reform bills that are stronger than Florida’s.  The charter industry is pushing back.  The legislature needs to reconcile the two bills.  Will they?

The reforms are strong and meaningful.  Florida can learn from Ohio.  Here are some specifics Florida needs to consider.

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A Local Charter Implodes: Part I, The Tip of the Iceberg

iceberg-415212_1280In the League of Women Voters, we study data, laws, rules and regulations.  We base our positions on facts.  Sometimes, the facts just do not make events seem real.

We decided to tell a story–it even has a sequel.  The facts are there, but the story is about high expectations and false hopes.  It is about how dreams go wrong.  It is a true story.




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