Come Dream With Me: A Glimpse into What Online Learning Could Be

chrystal-542488_1280I had a glimpse into the future yesterday.  Such a contrast between what is and what could be!  Believe it or not, it was the Senate K12 Education Committee meeting on video.  It started off with a review of the districts’ technology plans.  This past year, the State of Florida administered 4 million tests online.  This year, they will do 5 million.  The infrastructure is there, more or less.

I did not realize that funding for technology was recently incorporated into the FEFP per student allocation.  Thus, the increase is ear marked.  Districts are spending on average, 53% of this technology money for infrastructure.  Thirty one percent goes for assessments, and six percent for professional development.  According to the DOE, this approach is working.

Now for what could be….

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Pure Serendipity: Thinking Outside the Box

outside the boxReading Freakonomics (by Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner) was supposed to be a lark for me.  You know, perusing fun ideas. There are certainly some of those.  Who would believe, however, that the book was full of information about educational reform!  Now the title of the book really makes me smile.

Some interesting data about Chicago schools may explain U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s thinking.  For some students, there really is a problem that no one can solve alone, and it is the culture of some schools that inhibits learning.  Is it better to help a few to leave a bad situation than to do nothing?  Or, do you take on the whole problem knowing you do not have the resources and capability to solve it?  People will be hurt; children will be lost either way.  What would you do?  Leavitt’s data makes you think out of the box.

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A Christmas Gift

education-390764_1280A Leaguer knows that consistently sharing information has an impact.  Nevertheless, it is reassuring to find evidence that people are listening, reading, and thinking about issues we believe are important.  Today the Editor of the Gainesville Sun described his Education on School Reforms.  He cites his sources and includes our work.  See how he puts together the issues.

The New Year is approaching.  Make a resolution to regularly get the message out.  Some one will be listening who can help.

Collaboration or Conflict?

 

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District-charter school collaborations are the new buzz words.  Like many slogans, it sounds reasonable on the surface.  Twenty-one projects were launched by the U.S. Department of Education as an exemplary collaboration competition in 2012.  An interim report by a Washington state based research institute reported, however, that only four of the 21 projects had even limited success.  Now, the State of Florida is initiating its own project to entice high achieving charter management companies to collaborate with district schools in Florida.

In this post, we review the Center for Reinventing Public Education’s Interim Report District-Charter Collaboration Compact. What is supposed to be mutually beneficial?  What do high quality charter management firms have to offer school districts?

‘High quality’ charter management companies are those that Florida hopes will open schools in major cities.  Their approaches to teaching and learning are distinctive.  Demographic and student retention data from these companies must be closely studied.  We have found some interesting data.Continue reading

Education for Sale

textbooksby Jean Schiffbauer

In tumultuous times, is it possible to define the ‘public interest’ as something more than a compilation of private and powerful commercial concerns?  When schools are public in name only, do we the public even know what is being taught or how?  We will run a series of posts on curriculum issues facing our schools.  Here is our first post by a long time curriculum specialist at a K-12 laboratory school.Continue reading

Step Back, Take Stock

The blog is one month old.  We can celebrate a little.  Thus far we have had 4500 hits on our site, and our subscriber list is growing.  Let people know.

critical-thinking (2)It is also a good time to take a minute and think.   Are we contributing useful information on school reform issues?   What is helpful?  What is missing?  Reflect on the following list and make suggestions.  I will summarize your suggestions and respond.Continue reading

See: FEATURE OF THE WEEK. It is BOLD.

We have posted a  summary of the new Alachua County, Florida’s Superintendent of Schools 100 Day Report on the FEATURE OF THE WEEK banner of the blog.

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Dr. Owen Roberts was appointed to the superintendent position 3 months ago and has spent the time in an intensive review of the district.  How his vision for the county will be implemented is likely to be another one of those fascinating stories.

 

He addresses testing, funding, school equity, curriculum, early education, brain development, as well as parent and community involvement.  Click on the banner at the top of the Home Page of our blog to track this very bold initiative.  It has  those pieces of colored chalk.   We will update the post as new information becomes available.  Who says public schools cannot be innovative?

Class Size Violations: Does It Matter?

FEA Cites Violations of Class Size Amendment in this short video. There are several ‘work arounds’ to avoid the restrictions imposed by a Florida constitutional amendment in 2002. PreK through grade 3 is limited to 18 students.  The limit for grades 4-8 is 22 and for grades 9-12 it is 25 in core subjects like reading, math and science.  The temptation to manipulate the limits is great in order to reduce cost.  Clearly, there is more to this story. Continue reading