Florida District Superintendents Lose Confidence in Accountability System

Senator Montford, CEO of FADSS

Senator Montford, CEO of FADSS

In a statement issued today, the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) issued a strong statement opposing the testing and accountability system.  Citing the recently released validity study acknowledgment that the Florida Standards Assessment “did not meet the normal rigor and standardization expected of a high stakes program like the FSA”, FADSS issued the following recommendations:

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What does the future hold for Nashville and the Achievement School District?

by Anne Marie Farmer, Nashville League of Women Voters

nashvilleIf you follow public education in Nashville, you’ve probably heard mention of the Achievement School District, or ASD.  But, many people are unsure what the ASD is and how it impacts Nashville. This article is a quick primer on the ASD, its performance, and its footprint in our town.

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The Prize: Who is in Charge of America’s Schools?

bowl-817780_1280I just finished reading Dale Russakoff’s book The Prize on the collapse of the Newark school reform effort.  Newark was supposed to be the  poster child for school reform.  Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook donated $100 million dollars.  Cory Booker, Newark’s mayor became a television celebrity.  Governor Christie was a staunch supporter until he wasn’t.  Cami Anderson was hired to lead the charge.  She left.

The book reads like an adventure story beginning with Booker and Christie trolling the streets of  Newark in the dead of night.

I thought The Prize would be about charter schools.  It really was not.   It is about…

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Balance Wheel: achievement gap or the opportunity gap

small-46188_1280In this brief published by the National Educational Policy Center, Jennifer Rice expands on Horace Mann’s view of what it would take to provide equal opportunity in our schools.  She asks:  What is equal opportunity with respect to education and how to we measure it?

Her argument is expansive. It requires policy makers and the public to formalize policies that account for the social and economic role of schools in determining students’ life chances.  She argues that if we commit schools to providing equal opportunity, it will broaden the evaluation of schools from a narrow academic achievement focus.

Providing equity requires a whole community to participate.  Rice explains how.  I give an example of a school in Orlando that shows this concept at work.  It is startling!  If it works so well in one school, how can a community plan differently to help all schools?

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Charter Corruption and Chaos

money-40603_1280AlterNet published another story on the origins of school choice in Florida.  The story begins with Jeb Bush’s term as governor.  What  may have been intended to dramatically improve schools only turned out to be dramatic in the number of reports of corruption and chaos.  The article ties together the power brokers and the growth of for-profit charter schools.

It is a money and politics tale.   You can read it here: How Jeb Bush’s Florida Plan School ‘Choice’ Created Industry Corruption and Chaos.  You will find reports about the League of Women Vote’s study including data from Sue Legg and Pat Hall (LWV Hillsborough).



Facts to Counter Bias Against Teaching Profession

skills-835747_1280Some groups are making teachers into scapegoats to justify opposition to unions, taxes, or facing problems in low income neighborhood schools.   In a 20014 speech, U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan claimed that academically, our teachers were in the bottom third of their college class.  He argues that new teachers are underprepared, and low-income students get short changed.  Somehow better qualified teachers would improve our ranking on international tests.

A New York Times article by Daniel Willingham Teachers Aren’t Dumb takes a different view and gives facts to back it up.

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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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New Mexico Struggles Against Inequity


el-morro-national-monument-140118_1280‘New Mexico’s education department is in court.  So are those in 12 other states, including Florida.  This lawsuit is about money, but not just the amount of money.  In New Mexico, the population is different from many states, and the needs are greater.

Meredith Machen sent information about their state that helps to better understand the challenges they face.   Take heart, some public education advocates are winning in court.

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Failure Factories: Your Worst Nightmare

child-513468_1280We have all heard about violence in some schools.  This second piece in the Tampa Bay Times on the Pinellas County failing schools should have a disturbing warning.  It is not disturbing, it is frightening.  Ignoring problems makes them worse, much worse.

I hesitated to post this story, but we need to know what happens when those who can, flee and refuse to deal with who is left.  This is the picture that some paint about the impact of socio-economic resegregation of our schools.  We can avoid this scenario if we have the will and the common sense not to divide our communities.  Behaviors can be managed if the children receive the help they need.

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