A Dog Fight for the Soul of Education

teacher-403004_1280 (1)Last week the Alachua County school board faced some harsh realities.  The teacher shortage has hit home.  We now have long term substitutes for positions we cannot fill.  Board members attended the Rally in Tally to support our schools and teachers.  They announced that 4,000 people were there.

Perhaps the most hopeful moment at the board meeting came when a parent, Kanh-Lien Banko spoke.




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Equity: For each and every child

board-1065698_1280 (1)Equity means providing resources, not just equally, but adequately for all children to succeed.   There is no ‘one size fits all’ curriculum.  Yet, there is a tension between providing opportunity for all students, regardless of their backgrounds, and the efficient allocation of limited resources.  School choice was supposed to give better options, but too often, the choices are no different and ineffective.

The Citizens for Strong Schools lawsuit in Florida is about equity, but this is also a national issue.  I found a blue ribbon panel report that addresses equity and provides direction for educational policy.

In time, Florida may be required to focus on these six directions.  They give us a vision of what could be.

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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 click here.

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Schools Reflect Our Values

directory-281476_1280Poverty, race, and educational opportunity are intertwined. In a report by the National Educational Policy Center, housing is added to the mix.  The authors explain the interaction between where we live and the opportunities available to us.

Divided communities have greater inequities in access to quality education and employment.  Perceptions of the quality of schools based on the neighborhood income level become the reality.  The more divided our communities, the greater the problems become.  What can be done to reduce the inequities?

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Florida Voucher Issue Rejected by Circuit Court

justiceThe Florida Educational Association lawsuit was thrown out of court recently, as you know.

Another case, Citizens for Strong Schools, is working through the courts.  It hit a bump in the road.  In a December 7th article reported by the Associated Press, Judge Reynolds rejected a portion of the Citizen’s for Strong Schools lawsuit dealing with vouchers.  The issue was lack of legal standing.  What does this mean?  What happens next?

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Making Informed Decisions About Charters: Apples are not oranges

fruit-424182_1280Comparisons between traditional public and charter schools have little meaning.  In an article entitled: Making School Choice Easier in today’s New York Times, charter school operators made concrete proposals to improve charter school achievement data.

Representatives of New Visions for Public Schools offer four ways to help parents make more informed decisions about the effectiveness of charter schools.  New Visions are charter schools located in New York.  They are non-profit.

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Can States Opt Out of Federal Testing and Teacher Evaluation Programs?

hat-157980_1280Annual testing is federal law, but not all states follow it.  Using test scores as part of teacher evaluations is the law, but not all states use scores this way.  The basic question is: Who is in charge of education, the states or the federal government?  Where is the line when federal support becomes federal intervention?

Can states opt out of federal testing and teacher evaluation mandates?  This really is a tricky question.

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Blow Up the System or Think Ahead? Someone Is.

critical-thinking (2)Once in awhile good accidents happen.  A school reformer actually stops and thinks.  A panel discussion sponsored by the American Federation for Children was reported in Curmudgucation.  The discussion was predictable and too irritating to repeat–until the end.

Panelist Andy Smarick, a long time reform advocate with an impressive resume, was asked a question:  What lives and what dies in a system of choice schools?  More importantly, why should anything live” in the transition to a disperse governance driven by parental choice?. ”  

Smarick’s response is thoughtful, and gives a glimmer of hope that reason is not totally lost.  I include the summary from the Curmudgucation blog below.  My comments are in parentheses.  This post made me think!

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Buying Elections New Orleans Style. Is This the Future?

musicians-651293_1280 (1)Did you know that New Orleans was once the most integrated city in the U.S.?  Now it is one of the most racially and economically segregated cities and a school reform target.  After all, how can you not help struggling students whose  homes were ravaged by floods?  The Broad and Walton foundations are pouring in money.  They also are funding elections to make the reforms stick.  Is this the future of American education?

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Arne Duncan to Resign in December

John King Jr.

John King Jr.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will resign at the end of the year.  His replacement will be Deputy Secretary John King Jr.  Mr. King was Commissioner of Education in New York prior to going to D.C.  in January 2015.

A NY Times article about King’s departure from New York stated that King was the center of a contentious debate about testing, teacher evaluation and training and charter schools.  He oversaw the first administration of the Common Core tests in New York and was firm in his commitment to the test and evaluation system.  He was named in a lawsuit filed by a teacher’s union and parents over a property tax cap that they argued would further the funding gap between wealthy and poor districts.  The NY State United Teachers Union gave King a vote of no confidence last spring lobbied against his appointment.