Rep. David Simmons, the chair of the Florida Senate Appropriations sub committee on Education wants a serious look at way to reduce over testing. What is over testing? Is it all the prep testing that goes on prior to the state tests? On the other hand, is it too many redundant state or national tests e.g. requiring students to sit the FSA and the SAT if they are going to college? Or, is it requiring students to take a state test like the FSA every year? There is another way to look at over testing. Perhaps it is a way to avoid looking for solutions.
We can continue to feed information to the public about the destructive impact of ill thought out school choice policies. There is a danger, however, that we are simply preaching to the choir. Those who should be aware may not be tuned in.
Our strategies to increase awareness must be more diverse. What would prompt your neighbor, colleague, fellow parent to tune in?
It is logical that busy people preoccupied with families and jobs will respond to calls for action if they recognize the urgency and the possibility for a positive impact.
I am working on a set of ‘headlines’ and slogans that communicate the immediacy of the need to preserve our public schools. What do we value about our public schools? What are the threats to public education? Which solutions do we propose?
Can we come up with short, single sentences that encapsulate a need or something you value. Then we can refer people to more in depth analyses and ways to respond.
- Vouchers segregate, not integrate schools.
- Vouches for the poor pay for poor quality schools.
- Vouchers help the rich get richer.
- Private schools get public money with no strings attached.
- Public schools innovate, charters stagnate.
- Public schools invite students in; charters counsel them out.
- Charters profit from students; public schools invest in them.
- When housing patterns limit access to quality education, fix it!
- School choice means all schools are under funded.
- Teaching, not testing helps students learn.
- We need more time, not more testing.
- School choice is a distraction not an option to improve learning.
You get the idea. Send me your captions and communication strategies. We will hone them and use them to target issues. We will discuss these at the League’s Orlando leadership conference in January.
It is worth reading to see how an insidious resegregation of schools has evolved. Of course, charter schools are part of the problem. Things came to a head when a proposal for a new charter was presented to the school board. Board member Andy Griffith erupted and asked: How do we know this is not just another white flight school?
Charters are not the only way to resegregate schools. Read about the:
- School bus route trick
- Charter school trick
- Student tracking trick
- No black teachers trick
The journalists ask if there is not a better way. What is happening to schools in this community is not good.
If the Trump administration follows through on its pledge to gut public education, and the appointment of DeVos indicates it might, then it is time to circle the wagons. Read the Education Law Center proposals on how to fight back. In a state like Florida, we must take the case to the people; too many legislators may not listen.
What’s at stake?
- Civil rights enforcement; accelerated segregation
Less funding for already underfunded public schools.
3. Ignoring needed charter management reform to control self dealing.
4. Shift of $20 billion in federal Title I funding from low income public schools to private sector charter and religious schools.
Florida Tax Credit Vouchers are a drain on our educational system and do nothing to solve academic problems. More and more they are beginning to look like pandering to political groups. See the League’s response to calls for ending the lawsuit opposing the vouchers. Protecting public schools and pushing for needed support is the way to solve inequities in education.
There is a better way than the test and punish approach to achieving equity in our educational system. School grades, student retention, student achievement gain scores for teacher evaluations have narrowed the curriculum and resulted in test driven instruction. They do not improve student achievement.
What are the alternatives? Many analysts report that solutions must be community based. Educational, economic, and social factors are intertwined. Improving schools takes the support of the entire community. How this can be accomplished is beginning to emerge.
Sometimes the sun shines, and sometimes it rains. I guess it is climate change?? It rained on St Lucie and Indian River’s school boards. They had voted to reject three Somerset charter schools. There were the usual complaints that the charters offered little new and also disrupted district desegregation efforts. These new charters were proposed under the High Achieving Charter law that allows charters to locate in other counties if they have a charter school with at least two A’s and a B somewhere else.
School grades being school grades, high performing means little. We all have schools that change from an ‘A’ to a ‘C’ depending upon how zone lines change. Charters can maintain grades by strategic choice of location, students, and dismissal policies.
Which 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.