Tennessee: When is Enough, Enough?

by Anne-Marie Farmer

dollar-726881_1280Receiving this post from Anne-Marie is pure serendipity.  I spent several hours looking for examples of how states determine how much funding is needed to provide a high quality education for all students.  High quality education is mandated in Florida’s constitution. What does it mean?  How is it funded?  When is enough, enough?  The State is in a lawsuit about this.

Then, this post arrived from Tennessee.

Tennessee appears to have approached funding for education differently than Florida.  Our state seems to decide how much it is going to spend and then divides the money among districts using a per student funding formula.  Tennessee uses a  complicated system of 45 components to determine what education should cost.   Afterwards, they do a budget.  Sometimes what should be and what is do not match.

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Class Size Policies: Charters Avoid Mandate But Public Schools Can’t?

john leggIt is curious that Senator Legg believes that charter schools should escape class size mandates, but public schools are exploiting loop holes if they have the same flexibility.

There are times when, under the guise of flexibility, school choice is simply a way to avoid laws designed to protect the interests of children.  Class size was mandated by voters in 2002 in the Florida constitution.  Charters were able to use a school average class size but not district schools.

Laws implementing the amendment should be applied to all schools in the same way.  They are not.  Schools of Choice play by different rules.  Districts want the same flexibility as charter schools.  They found a way, but  now Senator Legg wants to close that option for school districts.


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Citizens for Strong Schools Coming to Trial

dollar-726881_1280It is the middle of the night here, and I am thinking about the day I just spent in Orlando.  I went with a representative from Southern Legal Counsel to help raise support and awareness about the lawsuit they are pursuing for Florida’s public schools.  The firm has three attorneys who now are working pro bono and non stop to prepare for the March 15th, 2016 trial in Tallahassee.

The firm has only 3 1/2 attorneys.  This means that they cannot take on new fee based cases on which the firm depends.  They are raising donations to help pay expenses for the trial.  They need your help!  If you or someone you know can donate, please send a check or go online to their website and donate.

These three people are working for us.  They have been at it since 2009.  This case has gone on that long because they had to go to the State Supreme Court just to get the right to go to trial.

The website is:  http://www.southernlegal.org/index.php/quality-education/  There is a donate button at the bottom of the page.

I am not a fund raiser at heart, and the League as an organization does not raise money for lawsuits.  I am, however, as an individual sending another check tomorrow.  I hope some of you can as well.  It does not have to be  a large amount, there just have to be a lot of you who send help.

Southern Legal Counsel

1229 NW 12th Avenue

Gainesville, Florida 32601

Behind Test Scores: Finland Down, U.S. Stagnant For A Decade. Why?

continents-975929_1920The debate rages on about U.S. education.  Some say the U.S. population is different than in countries with higher achievement scores.  It all depends upon how you look at it, according to the latest N.Y. Times article:  America’s Schools are Lagging: Maybe It’s Not the Schools. 

The controversy is interesting.  Do people with low incomes in the U.S. live better than people in other developed countries?  How different are these countries based on socio-economic characteristics?  How different are their educational systems?

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Two New Charter School Bills for 2016: Florida



Some of the bills that were shelved in the 2015 legislative session are reappearing in an amended form.  The first bill, SB 140 was filed by Senator Ring.  It has some good provisions to improve charter school management.

The second bill, HB 287 is a reworking of the pilot principal autonomy bill filed last year.  This is one to watch carefully, it is a stealth version of a charter district bill.

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A.I.E. Latest Report on Charters: Advocacy or Research?

sherlock-holmes-462978_1280Sorting out hype vs. evidence can be a challenge.  The latest American Enterprise Institute report: Measuring Diversity in Charter School Offerings claims that charters should be expanded.  In fact, deregulation of charters increases diversity in charter offerings.  See what you think after you read the review from N.E.P.C.

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Rawlings is Dancing…and Singing…and Acting…and Creating Art!

rawlings1Can you imagine a school like this?  It is real.  Rawlings School has been transformed.  It was one of our lowest achieving public schools last year.  Three months later there is an excitement and energy.  Rawlings is now a magnet school for the arts.

Inside the building, the space is beautiful and well lit.  It is designed for music, art, dance, and theater.  As you enter the school, music will greet you.  I plan to follow the school to see their new staff in action.  Follow it with me.

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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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Is the Jeb Bush Florida Education Miracle Hogwash?

pig washFollow the trail of AlterNet’s story of Jeb Bush’s charter school hoax in Florida.  In the middle of Jeff Bryant’s piece you will find his interview with me about charter management issues.  The story begins with Jeb Bush’s conversations back in the 90’s that started the charter school movement.   If you do not know this story, you will find it illuminating.

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