In today’s N.Y. Times, Douglas Harris who is a charter advocate and researcher from Tulane University, states that Betsy DeVos has easily the worst record of all the possible choices for U.S. Secretary of Education. Why is that?
For those of you who are concerned about the role of billionaire philanthropists in education, you have a bigger worry. Betsy DeVos has been an avid advocate for private school vouchers. DeVos is from Michigan, a state with rampant charter school scandals. She was also chairwoman of Alliance for School Choice and the All Schools Matter PAC as well as a board member of a number of other education organizations. She points to Florida as her biggest success with the American Federation for Children which supported the corporate tax credit scholarship program. Her ties to Florida also include Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education where she is a board member.
Some people grow into a job, but DeVos’ past is likely to be her prologue. She had experience with a private school where parents were working hard to help their children succeed. From that beginning, she evidently generalized that private schools were better than public ones. Parents who chose to leave public schools, one assumes, will try harder to help their children succeed. The end result is increased segregation, less choice and little accountability.
I have avoided posting all of the speculation about possible changes in education leadership and policy in the new administration. It is just plain hard on my peace of mind, especially when most of it will not happen. I firmly believe that the real changes will be through the change in leadership in the Florida legislature. As you know, I am not sanguine on those. You can see previous posts.
This morning, however, I ran across an article that helps us think more realistically about what change at the federal level would take. This Ed Week article reviews legislation that would have to be amended to redirect funding. It also points toward a likely push for school choice funding in the Congress. It is worth a read.
Are we putting huge pressure on kids not only to ‘get to grade level’ but also to be ‘gifted’ or ‘highly gifted’? Do all children feel like they have a FSA proficiency level painted on their T-shirts? This is an age old issue of grouping and tracking vs. diverse ability classrooms where children have different strengths and weaknesses regardless of “I.Q.” as measured by a test?
The FSBA wants more evidence than a single test score to determine student achievement. Fair enough, but there is more to think about! In a newly adopted platform, the FSBA calls for three revisions to current practice in retaining third graders:
Richard Corcoran, Speaker of the Florida House, has named his Education Chair. It is Miami’s Representative, attorney Michael Bileca. According to the Tampa Bay Tribune, we can expect more of the same.
There are solutions to complex problems. Take for example the issue of not enough time. We all experience this concern but for children, it can impact their entire lives. Over and over again we hear that children need more time in school. Parents too have concerns about child care while they are working.
School time and work time do not match. Everyone knows something should be done, but time costs money. Here’s an example from the Christian Science Monitor that describes how a school was able to solve the time problem. They managed it differently. Read the story here. This is a fundamental change but a feasible one. IT COULD SOLVE MANY FRUSTRATIONS IN OUR DAILY LIVES and help children learn.
A five year study (2011-2016) of federal startup charters in Florida, conducted by the Collaborative Assessment and Program Evaluation Services (CAPES) at the University of Florida, makes one wonder why Florida was given so much more federal money this year to launch new charter schools.
It may be a bitter pill for the federal government to swallow, but this study reinforces the NAACP’s decision to call for a moratorium on the expansion of charters.
Could this be the end of the test-and-punish era? FairTest has come up with a ‘system of systems‘ designed to incorporate inquiry and project based learning as well as more traditional assessments. It may not be able to turn a sows’ ear into a silk purse, but this is the direction states need to go.
Today’s New York Times urges the NAACP to oppose a moratorium on charter schools. The NAACP does not want to settle for second best. The Times argues that while some charters are mismanaged, well run charters are a better option for struggling students. This is a weak argument and one wonders if it is really a political one. Who benefits?