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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.

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Politics in Science and Civics Curriculum

SB 966 Baxley. Adopts minimum curriculum standards. This ‘Controversial Theories’ bill allows districts to adopt more rigorous standards. If they do, they must include teaching controversial science theories and concepts in a factual, objective, and balanced manner. While creationism is not specifically mentioned in the bill, it would certainly qualify as a controversial theory.

This bill also specifies that civics education must strictly adhere to the founding values and principles of the United States as in s. 1003.42. See section 2a. It also requires that financial literacy include at least Keynesian and Hayekian economics. These theories differ in part over the role of the central government response to economic hardship i.e. increased spending vs. free market adjustments. This might be quite an intellectual load for seventh graders taking civics.

Senator Baxley, from Marion County, receives an A+ from the Koch Brothers advocacy group “Americans for Prosperity“.

Fight over funding looming

A critical tax issue faces the 2018 legislature. Will Richard Corcoran allow schools to receive more income as property values increase? The millage rate that schools can levy will stay the same, but as property values go up, the revenue for school operating costs goes up. Or, it should. Last year, the legislature rolled back school funding so they would receive no more money than the previous year.

According to the St. Augustine Record, Richard Corcoran is running for Governor, quietly for now. He has raised $4 million for his campaign. His motto…No New Taxes. There is no planned millage increase, but Corcoran’s motto should be…No More Money for Schools.

Governor Scott has again promised more funding for education, but he is depending upon the increase in property values to pay for most of it. Once again, he and Corcoran will have a stand off. Last year, Scott yielded in exchange for his corporate incentive funding. What will be the bargaining tool this year?

Schools are in a double bind. The legislature has not only limited operating costs, it now requires districts to show local millage for facilities with privately owned charter schools. In Gainesville, we have some schools that regularly flood. We have older schools that need repair. We have crowded schools with hundreds of portable classrooms. Other districts have the same challenges. The Court of Appeals in Florida has ruled that this is a political problem. The citizens of Florida have to fix it. Will we get out the vote in November 2018?

Meet Bart Who Has a Passion to Teach

Bart Nourse was here in Gainesville to talk about his film: Passion to Teach. In this short ‘Ted Talk’ clip, Bart speaks about teachers who made an impact on him. He challenges all of us to become our own teachers with a passion for learning. Take a minute to watch. It’s a nice way to start the year.

We hope many of you will organize a showing of the film. It is written into our grant proposal. Making the case for what meaningful education must be is ultimately more important than decrying the watered down, test driven instruction current policies dictate. It is possible to change direction when we clearly articulate what is lacking and what is needed. You can see the Passion to Teach film trailer here.

Step Up Funding

by Robin Jones

Have you seen Step Up’s annual report? Of course it is a PR piece for them but there are some nuggets in it. One is that by far the biggest and fastest growing tax contributed its the Alcoholic Beverage Excise Tax. (p. 14). Isn’t that ironic!

Another is that they have merged department to form a new one (PAPA…I wonder if they will create a MAMA dept.):

“Step Up’s Policy and Public Affairs Department (PAPA) had a significant year of growth when the former Family and Community Affairs Team was absorbed into PAPA,combining within one department the people who research and develop education policy with those who advocate for it, communicate about it, and build grassroots support for it. Together, the team works to keep the record straight in the public eye about the scholarship programs and to help garner support from parents, students,faith-based leaders, lawmakers and more to keep the program strong.” (p. 8)

So their efforts to “research and develop education policy” is combined with their PR and lobbying efforts. Not a surprise but an interesting move. I do not know if it is related but I do remember an earlier point being made that their budget showed more spending on legislative relations than on outreach to parents.

Just thought I would pass this on.

Robin

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