Recent Posts

Click to View and Comment

Education Issues Blog

To Educate and Inform on Issues Relating to Public Education

Introduction

Our blog is a tool box. Make it work for you. Here you will find data, studies, and perspectives that inform the discussion about school choice. Send stories of events in your state. Tell us about studies that clarify issues. Do your own studies. Use the information you find here to advocate for League positions.

CONTACT us by email to send posts.

COMMENT by pressing the ‘Continue Reading’ button and scroll to the space provided.

CLICK THE PICTURES on the banner to see the FEATURE STORY. LEGISLATION, and LAWSUITS.

VISIT THE COMMITTEES. You will see the latest on national school reform issues. Learn about school and teacher ACCOUNTABILITY, CURRICULUM, LAWS, MANAGEMENT, FACILITY issues, and VOUCHER concerns. We will post questions of the week about the hot topics. Participate through our contact icon.

STUDY THE RESOURCES. Here you will find sources of information. They will grow with your help. Use the Search bar to locate categories of resources. Write articles and make fact sheets for your own groups. Send what you create to share with others.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE BLOG TO RECEIVE EMAIL NOTICES OF NEW POSTS.

New:

Florida 2020 Education Legislation Priorities

The 2019 legislative session focused on moving money and managing guns. The laws that emerged funded Schools of Hope vouchers for private schools and shifted funds from public schools to charter school privately owned facilities.   A lawsuit against the Schools of Hope vouchers is expected.  Funding increases for teachers and students were minimal, but teachers were allowed to carry guns.

The Florida Educational Association (FEA) reached an agreement to end a lawsuit against the ‘Best and Brightest’ bonus system that discriminated against minority and older teachers.  A signature from a federal judge will provide compensation to some teachers.

Teacher Recruitment. The focus of the 2020 legislative session may shift to teacher recruitment  and what is taught. FEA reported 4,000 teacher vacancies in the fall of 2019, and months later 2,000 positions remain unfilled.  In response to significant teacher shortages, Governor DeSantis is calling for a higher starting salary for beginning teachers. The impact may be mixed. Teacher recruitment may improve, but teacher retention may decline. New teachers may earn more than many experienced teachers.  At least half of these teachers did not graduate from college level education programs and will need mentoring and professional development that typically is not a legislative priority.

Curriculum Standards.  The Governor also called for a revision to the Florida curriculum standards that determine what is taught at each grade level. Draft standards have been released, and a summary of the results of public comment has been released. There was relatively little support indicated for eliminating the Common Core elements that have been in effect for the past ten years. More concerns were reported about the age appropriate level of standards particularly for children in K-3 but also in grade nine mathematics. As content taught in higher grades is pushed down to lower grades, the expectations for reading and math readiness for six to nine year old students become inappropriate for many children.

Where these concerns will lead the legislature is uncertain. Politically, the Governor has promised to end the Common Core skills that confuse parents. Practically, yet another change in standards not only changes what skills teachers must focus on, it also mandates that the state tests, school grades, and teacher evaluations  adapt. Teachers’ frustration are due to more than inadequate salary levels.  What are the expectations they must meet?

Adding fuel to the fire is the release of the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results and the SAT and ACT test results for college admission. Scores are down yet again. Achievement gaps between white and minority students are higher. Choice based on competition and test scores is not working within public schools or among public, charter, or private school voucher-type programs.

Parents from all walks of life are questioning the system that pressures students to enroll in advanced courses e.g. AP English, math and science in order to improve school grades or admission to college. For a few students, these courses are a good option. For most, it results in an unrelenting pressure to chase test scores. Once they enroll in college many retake the same course in part because the passing standard of ‘3’ is too low for success in subsequent courses. Some colleges, like the University of Florida, require a ‘4’ on AP exams to earn credit.

It is a conundrum. Students need challenging courses that stimulate their interests, and Florida ranks third in the nation in the number of students who take and pass an AP exam. Yet, less than half of Florida students who take AP pass the exam with a score of ‘3’ or higher. This score represents a ‘C’ grade at the college level. The University of Florida requires at least a ‘4’ in many subjects in order to earn college credit.  Many students would prefer advanced courses geared toward alternative career options rather than the basic college track.

How will the Florida Legislature respond to the stalemate in student achievement? More of the same test-driven competition for scores does not work. Dividing funding among public, charter, and private schools is neither less expensive nor more effective.  Teacher recruitment and retention and quality facilities are an even bigger problem for charters and most private schools.

2020 legislative priorities for professional education associations are listed below.

Florida School Board Association.

Florida Association of School Administrators.

Florida Education Association.

What We Know and are Afraid to Hear

“Fixing” education solutions run the gamut…except for the basic issue which is segregation. Most students are segregated by race, economic status and test scores in cities even though all students must have access to high quality programs in schools with diverse enrollments in order to succeed.

New York City has tackled the issue based a new study released by the School Diversity Advisory Group. The angst in the city is palpable, but the determination to reduce segregation is real. Gifted and talented programs will no longer be targeted to the top 4% of elementary students. These children were identified by test scores when they were four years old. Admissions to kindergarten, middle and high schools based on scores also will be reexamined.

The October 2019 issue of the Atlantic includes an article titled: The Culture Wars Devours the Children written by George Packer. Packer is a parent and well known author who shares progressive values but questions the zeal with which they are being implemented in NYC. He recognizes the value of project based education, but he is concerned about political ideologies from the right or left that are imposed upon all students.  Carol Burris, CEO of the Network for Public Education and Leonie Haimson from Class Size Matters discuss the NYC integration plan in NPE’s new weekly radio broadcast called Talk Out of School.

Alachua County Schools in Florida have recognized this equity problem. They have taken some steps to broaden participation in magnet schools and offer advanced learning programs for a broader range of students. It is a step in the right direction to remove labels from students and improve school culture. There is always concern that too much integration will compel more parents to resort to charter and private schools which are prone to increase segregation.

Parents recognize that the stakes are too high when a child’s future is dependent upon test scores in preschool. Parents worry that education opportunity has become so competitive that minor differences in talent and achievement loom large. The problem is real for all families. It is time to listen to the whispers and make our voices heard.

Closing the Achievement Gap

If we want children to learn to read, teach them stuff! Natalie Wexler writes in the Atlantic about the progress children make when they have knowledge about topics and they want to learn more about them. In other words, teach social studies and science, not skill sets to identify the main idea or to make inferences based on sterile paragraphs written for tests.

Children have to know something in order to think about what they know and what it means. It is the classic educational debate i.e. learning to read vs. reading to learn.

Children from low-income families tend to have less exposure to the world around them.  Their vocabulary and knowledge base is lower than for other children.  Wexler cites studies that demonstrate how the achievement gap narrows when both groups are given unfamiliar content to decipher.  She cites the dramatic progress poor readers make when they are excited about what they are reading.

The test-driven curriculum has made a bad problem worse.  The solution is to give children time and incentives to actually read, not just to take tests.

Are Teachers’ Salaries Going Up?

There is a blog called Teachers Voice that originates in Hillsborough County. It has a nice analysis of teacher salaries over the last ten years. The rate is adjusted for inflation. Salaries are down, not up.  Florida’s salary ranking is near the bottom.  See the evidence here. 

Media reports show more money this year than last year for the per pupil school allocation. What is not obvious is that last year’s bonus funds from the lottery were rolled into the per pupil FEFP account this year. It looked like an increase, but it was money moved around.  Moreover, how the bonus funds were allocated to teachers was changed, so some teachers earned less money, not more.

JavaScript

Categories

Previous Posts

January 2021
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,015 other subscribers

Follow Us!

Follow me on Twitter