Teacher Bonuses Challenge Under Review

justiceFlorida’s Best and Brightest teacher bonus program is under review by a federal agency.  The Florida Education Association filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last December.  In the complaint, the FEA argued that the program discriminated against teachers whose ACT or SAT tests, on which the bonuses are based, are unfairly excluded.  Teachers who sat the SAT or ACT before 1973 have no qualified scores.  These teachers are referred to DOE guidelines which seem to be strangely absent on the FDOE website.  According to the Naples News article today, a decision by the EEOC has not been reached, but the complaint is still under review.  If the EEOC finds reason to proceed with the complaint, the FEA will file a lawsuit.

 

Federal Accountability Rules for School Grades

hat-157980_1280Criteria for new school grades are drafted by the U.S. Department of Education.  Under this new plan, states can choose their own indicators of school quality or student success that move beyond the traditional accountability measures based on test scores or graduation rates.  School Report Cards must also be made in consultation with parents.  The draft document is now under review and open for comment  It includes:

 

 

 

 

 

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Lawsuit Testimony Can Break Your Heart

justiceFlorida’s educational system is on trial in Tallahassee.  The charge?  One million Florida students cannot read at grade level.  Testimony about the plight of these children can break your heart.  Thousands are homeless.  Most are from poor families.  In some rural counties children are too hungry to learn, and schools provide three meals a day.  These children, the plaintiffs argue need much more than school districts can provide with current funding.  

The Florida League of Women Voters recognizes that the solutions to these problems are complex, but applauds the attention the suit brings to the weaknesses in our educational system.  What are the arguments and what is the defense?  What do the witnesses say? 

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Learning Your Way: A glimpse into the world to come

woman-1172721_1280In my last post, I commented that the conversation about education reform was beginning to shift from the evils of constant testing back to include new approaches to teaching and learning.  Who would believe I would find an example moments later.

We can call this topic the ‘learning my way’ approach.  A teacher at PK Yonge laboratory school in Gainesville has won an award for incorporating student directed learning strategies in his classroom.    How he does it is bound to engage students.  The idea came from a Harvard workshop years ago.  He now leads them.

 

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New Mexico: The Charter Debate Escalates

by Meredith Machen, New Mexico
New MexicoThe New Mexico charter debate is particularly interesting because the state has tried to responsibly regulate charter management.  In yesterday’s post, I mentioned the 59 state managed charters, but there are also 43 district chartered schools.  Clearly the state’s Public Education Department is overwhelmed even though they only manage a few more than half of the charters.
New Mexico’s dual charter management system: state and local, should be a caution to Florida’s charter advocates.  Central state management as proposed by some in Florida, has overwhelmed the New Mexico Public Education Department.
Meredith, President of the NM League sends more background information on the charter management problems.

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New Vision for Common Core Assessments?

business-15822_1280A manifesto appeared in support of a “new” approach to testing signed by a seemingly random list of educators and instructional materials developers.  It is frankly a little bizarre.  So, I looked up the federal grants they mention which support assessment.  Now, I understand why this collection of people is trying to build support. It is the federal department of education’s response to the Common Core testing fiasco.

I am not really opposed to at least some testing, especially if it is used to help students and teachers improve instruction.  When I used to be involved in testing, I was intrigued by the possibility of using technology for innovative learning–especially simulations and critical thinking.   These end of year marathons for which our district began to prepare 4o days in advance are, however, something else.

This new vision puts an emphasis on individualized learning.  Every student moves at his/her own pace.  Computerized testing periodically provides feedback.  This means cumulative data records must be kept on each child.

It troubles me. Children learn from each other.  Teachers facilitate that learning.  Computers are machines, not teachers.  Yet, I want computers in the classrooms.  I want children to have easy access to information, simulations, complex problems and alternative solutions.

We can’t be afraid of the unknown.  We have to experiment–yes, even with our children.  We cannot move blindly forward either.  Technology is creating change all around us that we all recognize.  Our phones are attached to us and too often control us.  Their convenience is addictive but not necessarily productive.  I am sitting here at 7:30 in the morning with my computer on my lap.  I should be outside!  Who is in control, me or the machine?

So here is the manifesto.  We will be OK as long as we are watching, thinking and in control.

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Charter Fraud: Ohio Style

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Florida has charter fraud problems and so does Ohio–among other states.  Privatization of schools opens up opportunities for profiteering without oversight.  The federal government has finally gotten involved in the Ohio charter scandals.  It took awhile. They are holding up a $71 million grant to they had awarded to expand charters.   This is one of those scandals from which the Governor cannot hide.

 

 

 

 

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OPPOSE Constitutional Change for Charter System

Legislation

Legislation

HJR 759 would change the constitution to allow the Department of Education to establish a statewide system for approving charter schools.  Currently, school districts authorize charter schools and the State Board of Education can over rule school board decisions.

The constitution requires a unified system of public schools.  This amendment would lead to separate systems which then are subject to different funding streams and laws.  It takes away control from local school boards.

WE MUST OPPOSE THIS BILL VIGOROUSLY.  IT IS FILED BY MANNY DIAZ FROM MIAMI.