Money or Ideology?: Why Does the State Board of Education Overrule Districts?

money-40603_1280Sometimes 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.

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LWVF Blasts House for Charter System Amendment

florida-historic-capitolThere is something about standing on the old capital steps on a beautiful day in Tallahassee.  The Florida League delegates to the Legislative Summit assembled to hear Senator Nelson not only praise the LWVF’s successful redistricting lawsuit, but also the possibility that a more thoughtful mix of legislators may result. The sunny day, the sense of possibility permeated the air.

Following Senator Nelson, Florida League President Pamela Goodman made a strong statement supporting Florida’s public school system.

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Fla DOE Drops K-2 Test

baby-84626_1280Remember Susan Bowles’ decision not to test her kindergartners?  They just plain had trouble navigating the test with the mouse.  If they made a mistake with the mouse, they made a mistake on the test.  Susan Bowles said enough was enough.  She went to her superintendent who agreed.

Now the State Department of Education agrees.  Commissioner Pam Stewart has sent a letter to Owen Roberts, Alachua County Superintendent.  It states that K-2 required testing using FAIR is now suspended through out the State.  Three cheers–maybe more for Susan Bowles.  You can read the letter here.


Charter School Explosion: Follow the Money

money-40603_1280Do you wonder why I am so pleased about Sen. Gaetz’s bill?  I will tell you a story.  It’s an unbelievable story.  Pat Hall, LWVF Education Chair for Hillsborough’s League wrote it after her investigation of CSUSA real estate practices.  It’s a peek into another world.

Read it here.

Pat and I have wondered if we were whistling into the wind.  Maybe, just maybe, people are beginning to hear.

Fla. Senator Favors Charters with a ‘Social Conscience’

curriculum plate-413157_1280Senator Gaetz is thinking about what is right.  He and Rep. Fresen (HB 873) are squaring off over charter school funding for facilities.  Both bills would reduce the amount of capital outlay dollars public schools can assess through local property taxes.  According to the Miami Herald, Senator Gaetz’s bill would also crack down on ‘private enrichment’ schemes that charter management firms use to build and lease facilities for which they charge exorbitant rates.



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Parents Fight New Charter School

list-428312_1280This proposed charter  for 1100 students is not needed, Avalon parents say.  Our schools are ‘A’ rated.  Why bring in competing charters?  Kathleen Oropeza posted a petition that parents have created to stop the for-profit Charter USA school from being built.  Over 1100 parents have already signed it.

If the parents are successful in blocking the new charter in their district, they may have to face the approval process by the State Board of Education.  As currently construed, SBE members tend to approve charters even if they are not needed.  The message needs to go beyond local school boards.

When parents get this organized, the legislature might even listen.



Why The Arts Matter in Schools

rawlings kidsThe arts change how students learn.  Remember when I posted the description of Rawlings Is Singing, and Dancing and Acting and Creating Art?  This school has been one of the lowest achieving in the district.  It was transformed, but the children are still there. Reread the post. Then, watch this video of the school’s first performance.

Rawlings is a traditional public school making a difference in children’s lives and their perceptions of themselves.  The arts focus on the joy in learning. The arts teachers and core curriculum faculty are working together to build students’ academic and behavioral skills in ways that might seem invisible to children, but you can definitely see how it is done.  The teachers describe the process.  It is fun to see.

I do not care what school grade Rawlings has had in the past.  Those grades have little to do with the excellence demonstrated by the teachers and students.  The State must give credit where credit is due.