VPK Study Raises Serious Questions

Why would children attending Voluntary Pre School do slightly better than similar students in kindergarten who did not attend VPK but less well in third grade? A serious longitudinal study in Tennessee found just that. VPK students lost ground in math and science and performed the same in reading. There were no significant differences in attendance, grade retention or discipline infractions.

This is counter intuitive, of course, and the authors provided possible explanations. At the same time, they reference similar findings in a study of Head Start students. It is thought provoking. Are these children enrolled in preschools treated differently e.g. immersed in language arts to the expense of science and math? Why would this be true for children from VPK programs but not for children with similar backgrounds?

The quality of VPK programs differ, but this in itself may not explain the study’s results.

Amendment 8 Funding Revealed

Want to know where the money comes from for the sponsors of Amendment 8? Charter school related companies provide most of it. Red Apple is the real estate company associated with CSUSA charter management company. They gave $10,000. GreenAccess gave $15,000. Florida Overseas Investment company from Sarasota donated another $15,000. This group arranges EB-5 visas which have been associated with the Gulen Schools that bring in Turks to teach in their charters.

The money goes to the 8isGreat political action committee associated with Erika Donalds. Donalds is the Constitutional Revision Commission member from Collier County who organized the proposals to limit school board terms, require civics which is already taught, and remove charters from local school board oversight.

Remember: Amendment 8: Don’t Take the Bait!

League Files Court Action to Block Amendment 8

The League of Women Voters and two League members have filed a lawsuit claiming that the constitutional provision to remove local school board responsibility for reviewing and authorizing charter schools is designed to mislead voters. Amendment 8 proposes to limit local school board authority to operate, control and supervise only for schools it establishes. The State of Florida would be able to establish separate public schools controlled at the state level.

The lawsuit spells out the process used by the Constitutional Revision Commission to
draft the amendment. It is worth the read.

Amendment 8 takes the public out of public schools.

More Noise About Civics

Erika Donalds, the Constitutional Revision Commission member behind Amendment 8 has fired another salvo to support her political agenda. Donalds is the founder of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members. This is the group that pulled out of the Florida School Board Association to form its own pro choice group. Her group has charged that some districts are gaming the Civics test requirement to improve school grades. Pam Stewart, Commissioner of Education, states that the districts are doing nothing wrong by giving students the option to sit the Civics test in either seventh or eighth grade.

The political motive behind this complaint is underscored by statements from a group of conservative Florida legislators: Baxley, Fischer, Bileca, Rommel and Sullivan.

Amendment 8 is about the promotion of the views of a particular group of people, not the best interests of students. Amendment 8: Don’t Take the Bait. This is a stealth attack by members of a clearly defined group.

What’s Going On With Civics Education?

Amendment 8 to the Florida Constitution includes a requirement for K12 civics education which the Florida Department of Education already requires for seventh grade. There’s also a muddy mess about a post secondary civics literacy requirement based on HB 7069. The law requires an existing exam to measure civics literacy for a course that does not exist. A faculty committee was formed to develop the competencies, but nothing has come of it up to now.

An analysis of the requirement was prepared by the House staff.

OPPAGA studied the civics literacy option and found no general agreement on what civics literacy is. The topics are broad: U.S. and State History, economics, U.S. Government, Economics, and of course the U.S. Constitution.

Florida Politics published an article by Bob Halladay who questions the legality of the effort to build the college level test that is currently under contract with the University of Central Florida. The law requires the course to administer an ‘existing’ test, but there isn’t one. Given the number and courses involved, some argue that the U.S. Immigration Test should be the model for a course.

It is difficult to fathom what the sudden interest in civics literacy is all about. One wonders if it is related to an earlier proposal to require instruction in economic theories behind anti government ideologies. One think we know for sure….we do not need another test. The current seventh grade civics test has lots of facts no doubt soon forgotten.