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We could see this coming. Sometimes you just have to laugh.  

Awkward: Watch as Florida lawmaker mocks Rick Scott official for refusing to say ‘climate change’

A smiling Florida state senator mocked a state official after attempting to get him the say “climate change,” a term reportedly banned by Gov. Rick Scott.

Appearing before a Senate budget subcommittee, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management Bryan Koon spoke at length of the need for funds to warn residents in advance of floods, tornadoes and hurricanes in Florida, reports the Miami Herald.

Following some back and forth between Koon and State Senator Jeff Clemens (D), Clemens asked Koon if it is true that states need to have “climate change plans” to qualify for that federal money.

Koon agreed, saying it required “language to that effect.”

“I used ‘climate change,’” Clemens replied, “but I’m suggesting that maybe as a state, we use the term ‘atmospheric reemployment.’ That might be something that the governor could get behind.”

Discuss

The Miami Herald's Fred Grimm said it very well the last week.  

Fred Grimm: Florida flunked the tests and failed the kids

Imagine a 10th grade kid coming into class on test day, already stressing out, knowing his high school graduation hinges on test scores. He tries to log on. He can’t. Or he logs on, begins to take the test, but the computer crashes. Or the server fails. Some kids managed, amid the fits and starts, to finish the test on the allotted day. Others had to return and try again the next day. Some returned to a partially finished test. Others began anew.

Thousands of students in at least three dozen school districts suffered these intermittent computer failures. Yet their scores will be measured against results from schools and districts that weren’t up against these problems. Commissioner Pam Stewart, testifying last week before a state Senate education committee, said that the integrity of the results is dandy. At least I think that’s what she meant when she said, “We are certain that the content of the test is absolutely psychometrically valid and reliable.”

Perhaps Stewart could employ psychometrics to measure the frustration of school teachers, whose raises and perhaps their continued employment hinge on the outcome of this testing fiasco. Test scores belched out by computers that were outfitted with faulty software and breached by hackers — over and over again, according to the DOE — provide the basis for half the teacher performance evaluations. “If nothing is changed in the next 60 days by the Florida Legislature, this mess will provide the baseline for next year’s teacher salaries,” Fedrick Ingram, president of the United Teachers of Dade, told me Wednesday afternoon.

It’s not just the teachers’ unions begging legislators to take a time-out and fix the glitches before students, teachers and schools are subjected to the punitive consequences of unreliable testing. Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who called the testing regime “catastrophic,” asked the state for a two-year moratorium before forcing school districts to take these lousy numbers seriously.

He sums it up in one sentence in his last paragraph. He says "The rush job was ordered because it was politically expedient. It was about politics. Not about education."

FL testing a mess. Girl finished essay, there was no submit button. Essay lost.

Today I got to see the frustration and anger on a kids face. She had finished her essay and was ready to submit, but there wasn’t a submit button. The test was saved and then paused. Moved to another computer. Logged in and …. Nothing. All her work was gone. Case opened with FSA. The young lady was really angry. Who could blame her? She refused to “rewrite the essay” or even “submit the test” which was now blank. This is where testing has gone too far. How many students have had to deal with this statewide?

From Orlando Sentinel reporter Leslie Postal: Florida’s new online testing system lost the writing exams of more than 300 Central Florida students who took the test this month. Most of the essays have since been recovered, but about 50 remain missing.

.....“The test was not hacked as the attackers never gained access. Since student responses were not accessed, there is no reason not to use the test results,” Meghan Collins, the department’s communications director, wrote in an email.

Collins repeatedly responded to questions about the validity of the tests by saying only that the department was “proud” that 90 percent of students had successfully taken the writing portions of the new assessments as of Friday.

One spokesperson said it was hacked, this one says it was not.  I would not be trusting the scores if I had a child taking this test.

When did it become acceptable to boast that 90% of the students finished without problems?  

The other 10% matter.

Discuss

I think he describes well what is happening and why.

Two-Tier School System Working?

Charter, magnet and private schools are able to choose their students. Though any student is welcome to apply for enrollment in a magnet or charter school, as soon as that student falls short of the school's expectations, he or she is sent back to their home school. In this way, certain schools are able to retain only those students who meet the school's academic and behavioral standards.

By contrast, all other public schools have a zero percent rejection rate. They must educate all children, regardless of disability, motivation, parent involvement, or whether or not they speak English. Just as a comparison, let's look at two schools: Lincoln Avenue Academy and Oscar Pope Elementary.

In the 2013-2014 school year, Lincoln Academy had 570 students, 2.3 percent of whom were "disabled" and 20.8 percent of whom were "economically disadvantaged." Oscar Pope, on the other hand, had 482 students, 20.5 percent of whom were "disabled" and 62.2 percent of whom were "economically disadvantaged." That same year, 22 percent of Oscar Pope's entering students were considered "not ready" for kindergarten, compared to 6 percent of students at Lincoln Avenue. Regardless of the metric used, there is nothing remotely similar between these two schools.

Despite the fact that one school has distinct advantages in terms of the students enrolled, both schools (and all the teachers) are evaluated according to the same standards and with the same tests. Is it really surprising that Oscar Pope was graded as a D school, while Lincoln Academy earned an A?

He points out that blaming the teachers for the poor performance of students is not productive.

He recognizes this is probably the future of education and says we need to figure out how to level the opportunities.

As a nation, we seem to be accepting the idea of a two-tiered public school system where students lucky enough to have their lottery number picked or to receive a voucher receive an excellent education, while those relegated to "regular" public schools do not.
I know for sure that the new Florida trend of taking the state money from public schools and handing it over to the parents is going to cause more destruction of public schools.
Called Education Savings Accounts, the programs work like this: The state deposits the funds it would have spent educating a given child in public schools into a bank account controlled by his parents. The parents can use those funds — the amount ranges from $5,000 to more than $30,000 a year — to pay for personal tutors, homeschooling workbooks, online classes, sports team fees and many types of therapy, including horseback riding lessons for children with disabilities. They can also spend the money on private school tuition or save some of it for college.

ESAs so far exist only in Arizona and Florida, where one family recently sought to use their child’s funds on an “educational vacation” to Europe. (Program administrators, who must approve all expenditures, said no.) But the idea is catching fire. Bills to create the accounts cleared panels last week in the Virginia and Mississippi legislatures. They’re likely to be on the table as well this session in Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and possibly Rhode Island and Tennessee.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, published a report this week touting ESAs as a promising way to shake up public education. “We need our policymakers to be much more daring,” the report urged.

They claim they will start with a low percentage allowed, but I say this is just a foot in the door. Just a start.
Discuss

This is an important story from Katha Pollitt at The Nation in 2009.  She followed the story of those who were so influential in getting our country involved in the use of torture.  

Better Living Through Torture

She mentions their names and the lives they now live.  They appeared then and now to have suffered no negative effects.

John Yoo says it was worth it.

John Yoo

. In 2002, while working for the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), Yoo wrote a crucial memo saying that terror suspects weren't covered by US commitments to treaties and agreements banning torture. Now Yoo is a tenured professor of law at Berkeley. Eat your heart out, Ward Churchill! And he isn't hiding away in his office, either. This semester Yoo's a visiting prof at Chapman University School of Law, where he spoke at a public forum and defended torture as necessary to protect the country. "Was it worth it?" he asked, according to the Los Angeles Times. For John Yoo, definitely.

And then there was Rummy.
Donald Rumsfeld

. The former secretary of defense, who famously encouraged interrogators to force prisoners to stand for long periods of time ("I stand for eight or ten hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?"), got a one-year appointment in 2007 to the Hoover Institution at Stanford. In his announcement Hoover's director, John Raisian, said "Don" would "pursue new insights on the direction of thinking that the United States might consider going forward." Or maybe might not consider...

More:
Dick Cheney

. As the only Republican able to project a sense of personal dignity, the King of the Dark Side is having the time of his life, writing his memoirs by day and bashing Obama on Fox by night. Lunches with visiting pooh-bahs, speeches and fishing trips are also on the calendar.

And of course Paul Wolfowitz.
Paul Wolfowitz

. The former deputy defense secretary was keen on harsher methods of interrogation to extract more "intelligence" from detainees in the run-up to the Iraq War. Today Wolfowitz runs the US-Taiwan Business Council, which sounds rather lucrative, and is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, along with John Yoo, Lynne Cheney, Charles Murray, Newt Gingrich and similar. Can't somebody give Ayaan Hirsi Ali a job and get her out of there?

Andrew Sullivan blamed Rumsfeld for the involvement of medical personnel in the torture programs.

How Doctors Got Into the Torture Business

Soldiers are trained to kill and doctors to heal. At least that's how we usually understand those two professions. But wars can often distort reality, and the war on terrorism has turned into a test case. An inspiring example is that of Colonel Kelly Faucette, M.D. He recently wrote about caring for a new patient at the intensive-care unit of the 47th Combat Support Hospital in Mosul, Iraq. The patient was a terrorist insurgent, a man who planted hidden roadside bombs to murder civilians and Faucette's fellow soldiers. Faucette wrote in his local paper: "Something inside me wants to walk up to this guy ... and just clobber him." But Faucette didn't. Instead he healed him before sending him to a jail, and by that act of healing he helped heal Iraq.

That's the America I know and love. But it is not, alas, the only face of America in this war. One of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's first instructions for military interrogations outside the Geneva Conventions was that military doctors should be involved in monitoring torture. It was a fateful decision — and we learn much more about its consequences in a new book based on 35,000 pages of government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The book is called Oath Betrayed (to be published June 27) by medical ethicist Dr. Stephen Miles, and it is a harrowing documentation of how the military medical profession has been corrupted by the Bush-Rumsfeld interrogation rules.

The documents may be public now, but there is no denying we already knew.  
Discuss

He has a great history of caring. His work continued after the death of his wife. Here is some of the history of his group he calls Love Thy Neighbor

In 1991, Arnold P. Abbott created Love Thy Neighbor Fund, Inc. (LTN) as a loving, living tribute to his beloved late wife Maureen, to continue, on a larger scale, the work they had done together. Its purpose has always been to recycle and preserve the integrity of our most precious natural resource: human beings — Broward County’s more than 10,000 homeless men, women, and children — helping them to help themselves.

We have had a number of “firsts” during our long history. We were the first to have regular feedings at Holiday Park and on Fort Lauderdale Beach where the Mayor wanted to have Arnold Abbott arrested for organizing the feeding there. After three trials in the Circuit Court, followed by two trials in the Palm Beach Appeals Court, LTN won them all, and the laws were declared unconstitutional. We were also the first to feed, for the five years of the existance of Tent City, and all feedings thereafter had to go through our organization.

Abbott is a fascinating guy, a real true liberal fighter.  Here are some more facts about him from his Amazon page for his book of poetry.

On a Poetic Life

In his political career, he started as a Committeeman in a Pennsylvania District, climbing the ladder through local and county offices, to a post on the Democratic State Committee. He was twice elected a delegate to Democratic National Conventions, in 1964 and 1968. He is tongue-in-cheek proud that his write-up in "Who's Who in American Politics" 1969-1970 edition, contains 26 lines to Harry S. Truman's 14 lines. "But," he smilingly concludes, "my hero, 'give 'em hell Harry,' was much more modest that am I." Although extremely sensitive to the feelings of people of different religions and strongly-held social persuasions, Arnold Abbott is proud of his Jewish heritage, and is honored to be labeled a Liberal, with a capital "L." When pressed for an explanation, he sys: "Judaism teaches that we are our brother's keeper; we care deeply about the worker, the poor, and the underprivileged."

Politically, in 1964 he defied his own National Democratic Convention by overseeing the seating of the Mississippi Freedom Delegation, a Negro delegation that had been dutifully elected. The regular Mississippi Delegation had walked out rather than make a compromise to sear two of the Negro delegation. The convention had ruled against seating the Freedom group, but Arnold, a delegate from Pennsylvania, prevailed, and saw to their seating, fighting, also, to save the Mississippi stanchion, that others were trying to tear from his hands.

Arnold moved to Florida in 1970. Never retired, he founded the Maureen A. Abbott Love Thy Neighbor Fund in 1991, the year that his Angel wife, Maureen died, to commemorate her life with a living memorial, that would benefit the homeless whom they had cared for together during her lifetime, and to have her name before him every day thereafter. In 1991, he was 2 years past retirement age, and now, 21 years later, he works 6 days a week feeding the homeless, and conducts his LTN Culinary Skills Training Program, 5 days a week, to gain certification and a career for homeless persons who enroll in his 9-week Culinary course. He writes before, after, and in-between those "meaningful" times, and has managed to publish 3 books during that time: "When In Doubt...Blame A Jew," (A Personal and People's Memoir of Anti-Semitism.) "From Aches To Ecstasy," (A Sex Primer For Those Over Fifty, Plus Valuable Information for Lonely People of Any Age,) and " On A Poetic Life," "Biographic Essays In Rhyme."

The plight of the underdog has always been the catalyst that stimulates Arnold Abbott and propels him into the midst of unpopular causes. An old-school gentleman, bred to the standards of New England politeness, he becomes a pit bull when it comes to fighting for the rights of the little guy. He is incensed when he hears those who espouse reverting to a reversal of the fundamental reason for founding our country, an escape from religious persecution, and to now turn us into a "Christian Country." He foams at the mouth when he hears those same fundamentalists use the word Christian, as the only acceptable synonym for being a good human being. Narrow-minded people and APA just don't mesh. He is not surprised when Right-Wing Conservatives complain about the possibility of the United States becoming a place where socialism is a potential threat. His answer is that those people must live under a rock, ignorant of the fact that our form of government has been A Socialized Democracy since 1932.

The authorities in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, know it is unconstitutional for them to arrest him.  But they just keep on doing it.  Somehow I don't think it bothers Arnold that much, he's getting worldwide attention.  The #arnoldabbott hashtag at Twitter is impressive.
Discuss

From the Tampa Bay Times.

A Luddite laments a bookless library for Florida Poly

f you have ever spent time at the library, in the cool quiet with the dusty-clean smell of books all around you, these may be bleak words:

Our state's newest public university, the just-opened Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland, features an 11,000-square-foot library.

Without books.

A bookless library.

And is that the ghost of John D. MacDonald off in the stacks, quietly weeping? Oh, wait, there are no stacks.

The new U's inaugural class of 550 students does have access, however, to some 135,000 e-books, with computers, laptops, monitors and tablets. And given the school's mission to teach science, technology, engineering and math, higher-tech makes sense.

....So why does it still sound so sad?

I have a Kindle. They are handy when going out, and easier than carrying a book.  But they are not a book.  I still order my books in hardback.  I love the smell of the city library.  Luddite, dinosaur..whatever. A book is a book.

The university above is the brainchild of former Florida state senator J. D. Alexander. He steamrolled it through despite all opposition.  More in the article below.

Florida Polytechnic’s plan

The foundation also will develop a more comprehensive, multiyear fundraising plan to assist the university in the future. Raising the $8 million to $9 million for the kickoff scholarships in such a short time may seem daunting, but it likely will help that the Poly foundation features some of the biggest names of the social and financial circles of central Florida.

The foundation’s chairwoman, Cindy Alexander, is the wife of JD Alexander of Lake Wales, a former state Senate appropriations chairman and chief executive of agribusiness giant Alico Inc. Also on the board is Vic Story of the Story Cos. citrus operation; R. Mark Bostick, head of Comcar Industries and part of the original ownership group of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, serves on the board of trustees.

“Funding student scholarships and university advancement is a priority for the foundation board,” Cindy Alexander said in a statement. “Though the goal for the comprehensive campaign has not yet been determined, the foundation leadership is committed to its success.”

Florida Polytechnic became the state’s 12th public university in 2012, when JD Alexander muscled a bill through the Florida Legislature without a single committee hearing. Poly had been on a gradual path to split off from the University of South Florida, but Alexander’s bill made the move immediate.

Discuss

It amazing to me how easily the anti-union forces in education get such easy media access.   Since the NEA and AFT in effect called for Arne Duncan's resignation, there has been a rash of articles pro reform in nature.  

This one from the Washington Post especially stands out because of its authors.  The lead-in tells you only their present position, but nothing about their backgrounds.

Here is yesterday's op ed by Hanna Skandera and Kevin Huffman.

Teachers unions sacrifice high standards to evade accountability

You can always count on the national teachers unions to behave badly at their annual conventions, and they certainly didn’t let us down this month. In doing so, however, they let down many of their members, along with students who are working hard to meet higher expectations.

....Under pressure from the militant wing of her union, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten took the cynical step this month of backing away from support for the Common Core State Standards, announcing a new fund for teachers to critique and rewrite the standards. This is the latest and most visible step in a year-long campaign by the union to discredit the implementation of higher academic standards and — most important — the measurement of student progress against these higher standards.

Meanwhile, the big news coming out of the National Education Association convention one week earlier was a resolution calling for the resignation of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The union’s bosses have been cross with Duncan before, but most recently, he issued mildly supportive comments on a legal decision that threw out California’s teacher tenure and seniority laws because of their appalling impact on poor and minority students.

They have no clue just how angry the union members, not just bosses, are at Arne Duncan and his policies.  No clue at all.

A little bit about Jeb's Chiefs for Change for some background on these two.

Like Spokes to a Hub: Chiefs for Change in Bush’s Service

Jeb Bush has a vision to impose his will nationwide, and he enjoys nothing more than doing so in the arena of educational reform. To this end, Bush used his Foundation for Educational Excellence (FEE) to create the offshoot, reform-exclusive club of Bush-serving state superintendents known as Chiefs for Change.  The “chiefs” are merely spokes revolving around Bush the hub.

Indeed, if the name “Chiefs for Change” could be reduced to a single word, that word would be Bush.  Bush’s FEE created Chiefs for Change, “to rally behind a common agenda,” highlighted in short form on the Chiefs for Change member page:

Chiefs for Change is a program operated by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, focused on education reform, state-by-state.

These days, if an organization advertises itself as both nonpartisan and nonprofit, beware: You have stepped into the world of corporate reform, and their agenda is difficult to scrape off of your shoes.  Bush is closely connected to a number of ALEC corporations, including both K12 and Connections Academy (now a Pearson company), which promote virtual education; Charter Schools USA, and APEX Learning.

Kevin Huffman is former VP of Teach for America, Commissioner of Education in Tennessee. Interestingly he is also the former husband of fading ed reform star, Michelle Rhee.

Meet the Chief Kevin Huffman

Huffman joined the senior management of Teach For America in 2000, serving as the general counsel, the senior vice president of growth strategy and development, and the executive vice president of public affairs during more than a decade with the organization. As head of growth strategy and development, he grew Teach For America’s annual revenue from $11 million to over $110 million and managed the opening of 14 new regional sites. As the head of public affairs, he managed all federal policy and legislative work, including passing authorizing legislation through Congress, managing organizational engagement in the reauthorization of education and national service legislation, and overseeing federal grants including receipt of a $50 million Innovation Fund grant. Huffman also managed research and evaluation, communications, state and district policy, and relations with nonprofit and faith community leaders. Huffman served on the organization’s leadership team throughout his tenure, as Teach For America grew into the largest provider of new teachers in the country.
What they don't point out is that during his reign at TFA the group got a failing grade for its accounting skills.
The Department of Education Inspector General examined a small slice of the group's federal funding. What they found was shocking. In all, Teach for America failed to account for half the money audited. Time and time again the audit said there were no basic records or receipts: None for a $123,878 training expense; none for a $342,428 bill.

Teach for America vice president Kevin Huffman chalks it up to poor record keeping.

"We're confident, we're confident that we spent the money on the training of new teachers," Huffman said.

Attkisson said: "There was no agenda; no description of meals; no list of attendees. That sounds like a little more than sloppy bookkeeping."

"I think it's a question of what records should have been kept," Huffman said.

Skandera also has her page at Jeb's Chiefs for Change website.

Deutsch29 has more to say about her background.

The next “Chief” I’d like to examine is New Mexico’s Hanna Skandera. Skandera is not an educator:

It seems obvious, given [Skandera's] complete lack of educational credentials and her political background, that Hanna Skandera is a foot soldier in an ideological war taking place right now against working people – teachers and other unionized workers. This is the national agenda of the organizations she is and has been affiliated with. … Her political credentials and affiliations aside, Ms. Skandera can offer absolutely no professional qualifications to be New Mexico’s or any other state’s secretary of education.

She has no background in curriculum and instruction, yet she feels competent enough to suggest a policy of assigning letter grades to classroom teachers as a solution. Skandera has never had the day-to-day experience of being in charge of a classroom with elementary school children herself, yet she feels competent to evaluate trained, experienced teachers.

So, then, why is she being vetted as the New Mexico secretary of education? Most likely the answer is because she was recommended to our new governor by people outside the state who are fronting a national political agenda that is antithetical and indifferent to the needs of the people and children of New Mexico.

What “political agenda” is Skandera “fronting”?  Why, Jeb Bush’s

Discuss

She takes her kids out of public schools because of the experience of her 3rd grader with the new infusion of Common Core into the curriculum. She has been involved in the education of all of her 5 children, appreciates teachers, recognizes the true problems are coming from higher up sources.

First she wrote a letter to Governor Scott, Mr. Griffin, Mrs. Stewart, David Simmons, Karen Castor Dentel, Mr. Agosto and Mrs. Brouillard and Seminole County School Board Members. She posted it at her personal blog. By a few weeks ago it had over 150,000 views, and most were totally supportive.

The 2nd link is from the Tampa Bay Times with a video and an interview.

From her blog:

Why I am pulling my kids from public elementary school: a letter to the powers that be.

Why I am pulling my kids from public elementary school: a letter to the powers that be.

    You see, I’ve been okay with FCAT…show what you know, I get it….some sort of accountability. That was until this year. My third grade son, Jackson, the fourth of my four boys has had mostly As, a scattering of Bs through his Bear Lake career, much like his brothers. However, he has had the Discovery Education tests added to his school year. I saw his score on DE in first grade and it was scary low, in the 20s. But he had 1s and his teacher said that she knows him and he was doing fine with nothing to worry about. Same thing in 2nd grade, though, knowing that FCAT was looming, I began to panic a bit. We read out loud together each night through the summer, talked about the books as we read and I believed that that would pay off on the first DE test of 3rd grade because he was doing really well. I was wrong. His first DE test was similar to others but now his teachers start panicking because their pay depends on it. He is sent to remedial LEAP and ultimately a math pullout group. All the while, he has mostly As and a few Bs.

    ....Shouldn’t I, as a 40 year old mom with an education degree, whose current job is to write instructional lessons for adults, be able to take a test for 8 and 9 year olds in a matter of minutes without thought or “oh, wait, that’s not right?!” moments? Yes, I should, but that was not the case. If I can defend how two answers are correct on a question, then the test is flawed.

I haven't seen the new testing products from Pearson, but I taught the 4th grade when FCAT began. I also could see problems that seemed to have a couple of answers, some that seemed to have none at all.....my test monitors later told me they were stymied.

Why should we have felt that way? Something wrong there....the Mom is right.

   

Jackson’s brothers had 4s and 5s on all their FCATs, perhaps a 3 thrown in here and there. All of which I accepted without hesitation. FCAT was no big deal in our house. They’re smart boys, we are involved parents, they have no stress, their lives are good. But now I pause. Did Carson not make it into GEMS because of an inverse operation problem that my mother-in-law, the former LBHS Pre-Calculus teacher, said was flawed on the 3rd grade test? The problem that my husband, a Georgia Tech graduate, said that there had to be a typo because the right answer wasn’t there? On a THIRD grade problem? Suddenly I want to see my kids tests, see where they went wrong, see what they did right, but parents aren’t afforded that option and neither are teachers. If the test is truly a good indicator of student ability, then the parents and teachers should be able to see the actual test and the student work to help the students moving forward?
She found a item on practice tests and had her 10th grade gifted son read it. She tried to find the grade level, but she was surprised.

   

I typed the whole thing into a grade and reading level decoder and it averaged at 10th grade with all its indicators. For my 8 year old. In fact, I gave it to my “gifted” 10th grader to read and he looked at it for a minute and tossed it aside because he didn’t want to have to really think for the 3rd grade work.
She puts the blame on the testing atmosphere where it belongs.

   

The test emphasis is coming from the higher-ups, the State and Federal Government (that’s another topic all together). I get it. I do not blame the school or the county. Obama’s “Race to the Top” dictates these tests and Common Core through funding. But education is not a race – it is a journey – why must we hurry it along?
In June she was asked to contribute to the Tampa Bay Times. There is a good video there of the mother speaking.

Why I'm pulling my kids out of public school (video)Why I'm pulling my kids out of public school (video)

This post is a condensed version of her original letter, but it gives a chance to post something important from it.

   

This brings us to the elephant in the room. Common Core, or the Florida Standards which are aligned to Common Core. The materials remain the same. Jackson has the same text books as his cousin in California. It all sounds great. It is nice that kids can move on a Friday from New Jersey and go to school in California the following Monday and pick up right where they left off. And every kid will be career and college ready at the end of high school and all on the same page? SIGN ME UP.

    It sounds fantastic when you gloss over it like that. But let's really look at our implementation of Common Core. I've seen it first hand with my third grader this year. Jackson's first- and second-grade lessons were based on the older curriculum. This year a new curriculum is thrown in. Teach it with "fidelity," Seminole County tells teachers — that means that they used only the Pearson materials (you know, the Pearson that has spent nearly $4.4 million in lobbying in recent years) and only Pearson materials, for the first 12 weeks of the school year. And get this, then we'll use the FCAT 2.0 which is aligned with the former standards to decide if this group of third graders is worthy of fourth-grade placement.

Only Pearson materials for the first 12 weeks? And yes, they did give the old FCAT test at the end of the year which had nothing to do with the new Common Core curriculum they were learning. Wow, that is really good planning on the part of the county.

   

Today's public school atmosphere is all about accountability and not about the actual needs of the child. Not everything in education can be quantified. Teacher pay is being affected by those factors, factors that they cannot control. Art and music teachers are being "graded" on how well the kids who come to them once every seven days do on their math and language arts FCAT. That is nonsense.

    The goal of education is to foster the child's fullest potential. I'm lucky, I guess. My kids generally do fit into your perfect little box because they pass tests, they never get into trouble, they will do "fine" at whatever curriculum you throw at them. But I want them to be excited about some aspects of learning, I want my kids in high school to take some classes because the topic interests them without the threat of failing a standardized test associated with an elective.

I think I love this lady. I had a few like her when I was teaching....they helped me survive the punitive kind of administration the last several years before I retired.
Discuss

They have been planning their moves, and now they are ready.  After the Vergara ruling in California, we heard there would be lawsuits in other states right away.

Reformer groups like theirs have something public school teachers don't have....money and power and contacts.

From Muckety:

Brown and Senor take on New York teachers

Brown, a former CNN anchor, is the founder of Partnership for Educational Justice, which wants to abolish teacher tenure in New York.

She is also a director of Success Academy Charter Schools, a charter school network that has tangled with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Her husband, Senor, is a former adviser to the Romney campaign and spokesman for the Bush administration’s Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Senor is on the board of StudentsFirstNY, another group that has faced off against the teachers unions. The organization is an affiliate of StudentsFirst, founded by former DC school chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Interesting she is on the board of Eva Moskowitz and her Success Charter Network

Eva Moskowitz and her charters work secretly, as does Campbell Brown's group.

The increase for the Success Network is being carried out in a stealth manner, as is an accompanying proposal to reorganize its five Harlem schools — Harlem Success Academy 1 to 5 — under a single nonprofit corporation, even though they are located in three separate community school districts.

Moskowitz submitted a formal application in March to both the state and the city to amend her charters for the five schools, according to documents obtained by the Daily News.

But it was not until a week ago, on the evening of April 17, that the DOE informed local parents and community education councils by email that a hearing to solicit comments on the proposal would be held three days later.

“When we asked to see the actual proposal, we were told we would have to file a Freedom of Information (Act) request,” Noah Gotbaum of the District 3 Community Education Council on the upper West Side said.

Campbell's hubby has aligned himself with Michelle Rhee and her group called Students First

And it looks like both of them depend greatly on good old Morning Joe.  

Meanwhile teachers have a hard time making their voices heard over the reformer propaganda.  

Discuss

They have been basing K-12 school grades on a single high-stakes test which most feel is just about meaningless. Now they are going to start in on grading colleges, and they have the nerve to compare it to buying a blender.

“It’s like rating a blender,” Jamienne Studley, a deputy under secretary at the Education Department, said to the college presidents after a meeting in the department’s Washington headquarters in November, according to several who were present. “This is not so hard to get your mind around.”
Talk about a condescending attitude?

And good old Arne Duncan's back again with the hackneyed term the "reformers" use to refer to public education.....the "status quo".

Arne's words:

   

“We have a financial and moral obligation to be good stewards of these dollars,” Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, said in an interview. He said schools often did a poor job of providing information to prospective students and their parents, making the choice of a college complicated. “To defend the status quo, for me, you can’t do that.”
Trust me the status quo is one heck of a lot better than turning schools over to management companies that are NOT regulated and have no oversight.

And now they want to take on the colleges. The college presidents are angry.

According to a New York Times article  Obama is getting a little belligerent about being questioned about the new policy.

   

But officials said Mr. Obama had repeatedly told his advisers that he was determined not to let college presidents off the hook. Aides said that after the president pledged to deal with rising college costs in his 2013 State of the Union address, he kept rejecting policy ideas as too timid and demanded tougher proposals.

    ....Some college presidents accused Mr. Obama and his top aides of being obstinate.

    ...Ms. Muñoz countered that Mr. Obama had no patience for anyone who attempted to block the effort.

    “For those who are making the argument that we shouldn’t do this, I think those folks could fairly have the impression that we’re not listening,” Ms. Muñoz said. “There is an element to this conversation which is, ‘We hope to God you don’t do this.’ Our answer to that is: ‘This is happening.’ ”

Let them off the hook? For what?

In a post from the Chronicle of Higher Education we learn that Arne Duncan told a committee they would go ahead with this even without the funding. BTW they are seeking millions in funding to grade colleges at a time that our government won't approve the unemployment pay extension, when food stamps are being cut, and our veterans are not being properly cared for.

College-Rating System Will Go Forward, Duncan Says

The U.S. Department of Education plans to continue its push for a college-rating system, even if Congress doesn’t shell out the $10-million the agency is requesting to develop the program and put it in place.

When Education Secretary Arne Duncan appeared before a Senate subcommittee that oversees appropriations for education on Wednesday to discuss the department’s proposed budget, Sen. Jerry Moran asked what the agency would do if it didn’t get the money.

Mr. Duncan responded by saying the department would move forward with the initiative, but the money "would be very, very beneficial."

It's hard to believe that public school teachers and parents across the country who are deeply concerned about Arne's policies are all wrong. It's hard to believe that college presidents around the country who are calling the president "obstinate" about policies they believe will be harmful are equally wrong.

Too many people in the field of education are stunned and appalled at this administration's educational policies.

It's time to listen to them. There's a word to describe when politicians and basketball players set themselves above those involved in the education system......it's called arrogance.

It's setting up to be a contest between educators and politicians. Doesn't need to be that way.

I often feel this administration has a punitive attitude toward public school teachers.  Perhaps college presidents are feeling a little like that now.  

Discuss

A Florida teacher wrote a letter to the editor at the Tampa Bay Times at the end of April.  She apologized to her students for something that was not her fault at all.  She made it clear how all-consuming high stakes testing has become.

Spring Hill teacher publicly apologizes for FCAT

She makes it clear that the FCAT scores were based on one set of standards even though they had been covering the new Common Core standards for which testing begins next year.  

Studied and concentrated on one set of standards while being tested on others? That's simply unfair to all.

I'm sorry that for the six years you've been in school, you've had the FCAT looming over your head. I'm sorry that when you were just 8 years old in third grade, you had your entire year of work summed up by the state on a two-day test.

I'm sorry that you've had the pressure of trying to get a specific score on the test when they change how they grade the test each year.

I'm sorry that you've had to be tested on the Florida Sunshine State Standards this year, even though we've been learning on the new Common Core Standards, because I really have tried to make sure everything was covered.

I'm so sorry that you have been taught that your educational worth is based on one flawed test.

...FCAT may be going away, but testing obsession and overuse isn't. And for that, my dear students, I'm sorry.

I remember the hours we teachers spent making sure our gradebooks accurately reflected the work of our students.  I remember the time the students and I spent together keeping student portfolios up to date.   I also recall the teacher-made tests for our grade level that encompassed what we had actually studied.

I am glad I am retired now in this time when all that seems to have been thrown out the window, and that one single test on one single day is the ultimate decider.

Discuss

It doesn't get returned to the public schools.   There are so many inequities like that in this state.

The worst lately is the spin of oh goody they are giving more money to education this year....well, no, not public education.  

From the Bradenton Herald.

Legislature's political game with public schools

Florida's Legislature and governor boast about blessing K-12 education with an additional $547.8 million in the coming fiscal year, bringing total spending on public schools to a record $18.9 billion.

On the surface, the infusion of a half billion dollars certainly looks like a banner year for public schools. Dig deeper, though, and another perspective comes to light. Two phrases -- truth in advertising and follow the money -- come into play.

.....The upshot of this year's education budget: The burden of paying for public schools is increasing for local property taxpayers, continuing a legislative shift that began in the 1990s with a pause during the recession as property values fell.

The article points out that the PR spin fails to tell us that for two long years public schools got no money for building and maintenance.  None.  

Yet $200 million was allocated for charter schools to be built and maintained.  

There are 2.7 million public school students versus about 230,000 students in charters. Vastly unfair.

But one of the worst parts is that even though charter schools get the per pupil funding, there's a catch.  If the student is sent back to public schools or if the charter school closes....the money stays with the charter school companies.

Charter schools, often operated by for-profit management and real estate development companies, spend far less money on instruction than public schools, and they expend large amounts on management fees and leases.

When charter schools close, those capital assets don't revert to the taxpaying public that paid those costs but remain in private hands -- expanding on the inequity.

Discuss
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