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:

TAKE ACTION: Oppose For-Profit Charter Schools

During the debate over reforms to clean up the federal Charter Schools Program, the National Alliance for Public Charters (NAPCS) loudly aired their grievances. The U.S. DOE tweaked the regulations in response to NAPCS demands.

NAPCS was politically savvy enough not to object to the new regulations that would make charters run by for-profits unable to get grants or force them to reveal their business dealings during the comment process.

Clearly, NAPCS thought they could make all the regulations go away. That did not happen.

Now NAPCS is quietly pulling out all the stops to kill the final regulations. Tim Scott in the Senate and John Moolenaar in the House are pushing a joint resolution to overturn the reforms to the CSP regulations.

We need to stop them. We need you to act today. Our action campaign will allow you to email, tweet and call your members of Congress.
TAKE ACTION NOW
Please share this important campaign with this link: https://p2a.co/8acwqds
Thank you for all you do,

Carol Burris

NPE Action
Executive Director

From the Heart: Certainty

Jill Lewis-Spector is on the Board of Directors of the Florida League of Women Voters. She shares her thoughts on the value of public education.

One of the advantages of public schools is CERTAINTY:

  • There is certainty that a public school open one year will still be open the next. Public schools don’t close as many charters and private schools do, displacing all the children who attended them and causing anxiety for parents. Public schools are graded. If one is failing students, it has to develop an improvement plan.
  • There is certainty that students attending public schools who need extra help with some skills, e.g. reading, there are programs in place to give them that help.
  • There is certainty that the curriculum is based on high standards, unlike private schools that aren’t required to adhere to standards.
  • There is certainty that teachers meet at least the minimum criteria for teaching children and are routinely evaluated, unlike many charters and private schools that often rely on uncertified teachers and not held to high quality teaching requirements.
  • There is certainty that the children in the school share a common bond as neighbors; they can play together after school if they wish; they will see each other in the park or at the supermarket, unlike many charters and private school students who may come from far distances.
  • There is certainty that those with oversight for the school live in the community, unlike many charters and private schools that are managed by individuals who may not even live in the state, let alone the community.
  • There is certainty that tax dollars going to the public schools are being used for the public schools; there is a budget and there is oversight of that budget, unlike many charters and private schools whose accounting procedures are questionable and lack transparency.
  • There is certainty that tax dollars going to public schools are used for public schools; there is a budget and oversight unlike at many charter and private schools.

Separation of Church and State

The Florida League of Women Voters Lunch and Learn panel invited key education law professionals from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Ed Law plus some League members…including me…to share their views on the status of the separation of church and state in education. The Florida Constitution is clear. There are to be no funds from the state treasury given to private, religious schools. Florida, however, has the largest voucher program in the country. How can this be?

The panel presentation lasts an hour. My thoughts are presented first. The legal opinions follow. The Q & A has some good information as well. Watch the panel here .

Who’s Calling the Shots?

Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel, and Burr died broke and alone. Both men lost. Their dispute was both personal and political and lasted over two hundred years. Now It is playing not only on stages across the country, it also has entered K12 and postsecondary classrooms. The argument is over power–whether the few or the many should control the government. Alexander Hamilton was the Federalist party leader. He believed in political control by an elite, centralized government, and implied powers drawn from the constitution. His Federalist party viewed religion (usually Protestant belief) as a tool to build its sense of community. Burr was Thomas Jefferson’s vice president. They were anti federalists who supported state and local control and the separation of church and state. The Federalists collapsed as a political party by 1808, and new political alliances were formed on both sides. Nevertheless, the issues remained as we see today.

The debate over civics education in Florida is the latest political power play rooted in this old dispute. The strategy is subtle. Political conservatives are using money and political connections to alter Florida’s civics education. Behind the scenes is Hillsdale College, a religious college in Michigan that is defining what it means to be a patriotic citizen. The concept is akin to the idea of promoting ‘civil religion’ that evolved from the Federalist party’s celebration of patriotic ideas and events to build its base of support.

We need to not only understand these changes in civics education, but also the story behind Hillsdale College. The College was founded in 1844. Facing scandal and near collapse in 1999, the college selected its current president who saw an opportunity to promote its conservative Federalist ideology as a form of super patriotism and rebuild the school. It now has an endowment of over $800 million. It defines Federalism in its version of classical education called the 1776 Curriculum which is used in its classical charter schools. Read a critique here.

Supporters of the College include national and Florida-based politicians. Betsy DeVos, former U.S. Secretary of Education and Ginnie Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas are examples. In Florida, they include Erika Donalds, wife of U.S. Representative Byron Donalds, who led the Florida Coalition of School Board Members, a conservative alternative school board association. She helped found the Florida Classical Academies (charter schools) sponsored by Hillsdale College. Florida politicians such as Governor DeSantis and Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran are identified with these charters. It is a close knit group with a history.

Erika Donalds sponsored Amendment 8 to the Florida Constitution in 2018. The amendment was thrown out by the courts, but its agenda to limit school boards’ authority, ban books, and require its version of civic literacy remain. Governor DeSantis has coopted it as he builds his candidacy for President. His legislative agenda prohibits teaching subjects that make students uncomfortable about past events (HB 7). HB 1467 bans controversial topics in textbooks. The new civics curriculum with its particular set of values will take effect in 2024.

It is difficult to believe that a small college in Michigan could impact Florida’s students at both the K12 and postsecondary levels, but they have. The Florida legislature has passed Governor DeSantis’ measures to revise the State Standards for Civics (HB 5), K12 Social Studies (SB 1108), and postsecondary requirements regarding diversity of opinions (HB 233). Teacher training workshops have been held to make the curriculum “more patriotic”. These changes were reviewed and modified by Michigan’s Hillsdale College. A new University of Florida Hamilton Institute was funded by Florida’s legislature and Hillsdale College to develop civics courses at the college level. Normally, the faculty at universities control the curriculum, and how these courses will be implemented is unclear. This week DeSantis has announced the creation of three community college civics career academies to train students to work in local government.

Florida politicians, like the president of Hillsdale College are opportunists. They thrive in times of turmoil. As in 1808, our political parties are again in disarray leaving room for new parties and power brokers to emerge. Will political parties reorganize to rebalance the power of money and influence? Hamilton took his shot at power and lost. The anti-federalist Jeffersonians held sway until their internal divisions split the party. New coalitions formed then and will again when voters insist. Our democracy depends upon it.

JavaScript

Categories

Previous Posts

December 2022
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Subscribe to Blog via Email

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

Join 1,064 other subscribers

Follow Us!

Follow me on Twitter