Halloween is past, but scary things are still happening. Sen. Jeff Brandes, St. Petersburg, and Matt Caldwell, Ft. Myers, filed resolutions to change the Florida constitution to remake school districts.
The Florida League of Women Voters released a statement today detailing the constant revisions to the school accountability system from 2011-2015. Over and over, the legislature and the Department of Education have tried and failed to get it right. It is more than a problem with a test. School grades, teacher evaluations, scoring of exams, and student passing rates all are constantly changed. It reminds me of the expression: ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. It is time to change direction if we want to improve our educational system.
Read the statement. It is Time to Focus on Teaching, Not Testing. Send it everywhere.
Paula Dockery makes the case that it is time to learn from out mistakes. Dockery is a syndicated columnist who served sixteen years as a Republican legislator from Lakeland. She joined the Board of Directors of the Florida League of Women Voters in 2014.
In her step by step recital of how Florida got into the crisis over testing and accountability, it is clear that the Florida legislature and the Department of Education need to stop and reconsider. Read Paula Dockery’s piece here. Make your voices heard in the legislature even if Senate and House Education Chairs wish you would not.
The Florida LWV legislative priorities are coming due. Please make your voices heard within your local leagues. In order to be able to advocate for our Education Team issues, we have to make it into the top priorities statewide.
Make education tops for your local league. Here is a list of topics we expect to come up in the legislative session. Remember that committee meetings start in September.
Some people like rules. They keep life simple. Others think rules just get in the way of getting things done. Floridians have a reputation for avoiding as many rules as possible except for their traditional public schools. They are rule bound, and some parents rebel. There is an escape clause called ‘school choice’. For charters and private schools the rules are bent or removed.
Charters are supposed to save money, and theyprovide a way for private businesses to make money, lots of it. The money comes from the state or from corporate tax rebates. It is big money, about half of the State’s general fund.
One wonders if controls on ethics and conflict of interest are sufficiently strong to protect the public interest in education? The buzz about Florida is that there is more self-interest than public interest than in any other state. Are such allegations warranted?
The proclamation for the special session has been issued. The session will last twenty days. No education bills will be considered. What will be covered is…..Continue reading
Charter board members are supposed to be watch dogs for the public interest. It does not always happen. Children can be hurt, so can adults.
“Charter Schools Unsupervised” by the Sun Sentinel is a great interactive site. It has maps, charts and videos that explain how laws need to change. Fifty-six charters have closed in the past five years alone. Florida can do better. The Senate education bill does require that charter advisory boards be independent of their management companies. It also requires background checks for operators. It is about time. These are steps in the right direction, but much more needs to be done.
by Sue Legg, Pat Drago, and Ruth Melton
Charter schools are public schools, right? Well yes, but they are owned and managed by private companies. Most of their facilities are privately owned. If they close, the private company retains the buildings.
Charter schools should receive the same amount of money as district schools, right? Seems fair until you think about it.
Let’s think about it. We need to, there is a bill in the legislature.
If you want to take the pulse of charter school legislative priorities, watch this video. It is yesterday’s Florida Senate Education Committee workshop on charters. They have a long list of proposed bills to consider, and they are looking for ways to combine bills in order to move forward.
The two most comprehensive bills were from Senator Montford and Senator Legg. Continue reading