Florida Gets an ‘F’ Again

FAILED1Which states get it right?  Not Florida.  It was one of eight states that received an overall grade of ‘F’ when its grades were averaged across the categories studied.   The Network for Public Education rated states based on six criteria.

For each category, I combined the percentages of A, B and C grades received across states.  I was surprised at the results.  Relatively few states (11) use test scores to punish students and teachers, but Florida is one of those that do.  You can see the combined percentages (think of them as passing scores) at the end of each of the criteria.

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How to Fix Failing Schools and How Not To

directory-466935_1280The League asked the Florida State Board of Education:  “What Next?”    What should be happening to fix problems, not just point fingers?

The New York Times published some solutions that are working in Union City, New Jersey.  Note that it is not Newark, New Jersey where big money and celebrities tried to impose charter school solutions. Less hoopla and more methodical, careful community planning make a difference in Union City.  See how.

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Newark’s Lessons Learned on Charter School Reform

team-808761_640The State of New Jersey took over Newark’s public schools in 1995.  Fifteen years later, Newark schools were still struggling.  Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, donated $100 million to the district in 2010.  The Education Commissioner, Chris Cerf, had formerly served as deputy chancellor of New York’s schools.  Prior to that he was president of Edison Schools Inc., a private for-profit  management company that failed.  He hired Cami Anderson, former head of Teach for America and New York’s District 79 at risk schools.  What happened next is alarming.  It could lead to something constructive.

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Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness

by Pat Drago and Sue Legg

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This is not an easy walk into the woods, but you need to know where the funding for charter schools comes from and where it goes. It is your money.

There is a lot money to be made and lost with charter schools, and it is public tax dollars. As usual, independent schools tend to lose it, and large charter management chains come out on top.  This is not always to the children’s benefit.  How does this happen? We looked at the audits and found huge disparities in facility and fee expenditures. This meant that instructional parts of the budgets were reduced accordingly.

We wanted to know how these facilities were financed. If State funds were creating opportunities to make real estate venture capitalists wealthy, we wanted to know how this worked. Unfortunately, public dollars that go to private companies are hard to see. The lack of transparency for their financial records provides only vague outlines. We did find some clues by looking at how facilities are financed.

We wondered what other states were doing to ensure that state money was allocated for instruction and not for profit making ventures. We found some answers. As always, different approaches have their share of unintended consequences. As we groped in the darkness, there was a glimmer of light. The brave among you are invited to go down this path with us.

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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