Rick Scott, pressure on Florida’s teachers is about to get worse

From the Florida Current, by James Call

Gov. Rick Scott and Education Commissioner Tony Bennett engaged Florida’s teachers of the year Thursday in a roundtable discussion of education philosophies. Most of the talk focused on the transition to Common Corestandards and the assessments that will be used to measure student and teacher performance.
“The implication of Common Core will be one of the largest policy implications lifts the states have engaged in the history of education,” Bennett said during the talk with about 40 teachers. “In the very near short-term we’re going to have to make some decisions about what will be the assessment regimen for Common Core — if you were going to ask me what is item No. 1 for the next 30 to 60 days, that’s item No. 1.”
Florida and 44 other states are adopting a set of achievement standards designed to teach what students need to know to succeed in college and careers. Thursday’s roundtable discussion came amidst concerns about the Common Core transition and expectations that Florida schools are going to post falling grades when school grades are released later this summer.
The roundtable event was scheduled as part of a two-day meeting that brought teachers from across the state to Tallahassee. The idea behind the summit, according to the governor’s staff, is to provide Scott the chance to hear from classroom instructors about best practices and ideas to improve school performance.
The teachers also had a chance to probe the minds of the governor and the education commissioner. In response to a question about a vision for Florida’s education system Scott discussed the importance of preparing young people to work in a rapidly changing world.
“The pressure on education is not going to slow down. I think it’s going to get worse,” Scott said. “Companies that were very successful 20 years ago are gone today. And the change is happening, the expectations of what their employees need to know is going to get more aggressive all the time.”
Reporter James Call can be reached at jcall@thefloridacurrent.com.

Florida’s Worst Legislators

The following legislators got an A rating from the
Foundation for Florida’s Future, Jeb Bush’s pro public school privatization
think tank. Sens.
Anitere Flores, Bill Galvano, Andy Gardiner, John Legg, Gwen Margolis, Bill
Montford, Jeremy Ring, Kelli Stargel and John Thrasher; and Reps. Michael
Bileca, Jason Brodeur, Manny Diaz, Erik Fresen, and Carlos Trujillo.
Half of these so-called legislatures voted on legislation
that would financially benefit themselves or family members and all are part of
the blame the teacher movement. And if you would like to see how, type their
names into the search box. This is no honor roll but instead it is a roll of

read more click the link:

The utter failure of Standardized testing

Standardized tests do have a role to play as a component of
education; the problem is they have become the end all be all instead.
Anybody who hasn’t had their head under a rock for the last
five years knows the tests weren’t designed to evaluate teachers, that they
destroy teacher creativity, innovation and to a degree morale and that they
have led to an erosion of the joy of learning for many children too. It also caused us to give up on the classes like music, art, drama as well as skill and trade programs that many of these kids looked forward and replaced them with intensive this or remedial that.

Yet for
some reason the powers-that-be continue to double down on their implementation
and ratchet up the high stakes. Now many children advancing to the next grade
and teachers keeping their jobs are determined by just a few hours each spring.
The only people who really seem to be benefiting are the high stakes testing
companies, over 3 billion for Pearson last year alone.

Maybe, just maybe in a bizzaro type way
all of above would be worth it if it led to academic gains but as Diane Ravitch
revealed in her blog, they just haven’t worked. She wrote: There were big
achievement gains from
for whites, blacks, and Hispanics, and big achievement gains for students at
every age level tested–ages 9, 13, and 17.
From 1971-2008, in reading, black students at age 9 gained 34
points; at age 13, 25 points; at 17, 28 points.
From 1971-2008, white students at age 9 made gains of 14 points;
at 13 points, 7 points; at 17, 4 points.
From 1971-2008, Hispanic students at age 9 gained 25 points; at
13, 10 points; at 17, 17 points.
However, for the past four years, from 2008-2012, the scores
have been stagnant for every racial and ethnic group and for every age group
with the singular exception of Hispanic 13-year-olds and female 13-year-olds.
From 2008-2012, the acme of the high-stakes testing era, there
were no gains for black students at ages 9 or 13 or 17.
It’s a definition of insanity to do the same things over and
over and expect a different outcome, well friends we have four years of data
that says high stakes standardized tests aren’t working. Wouldn’t it be insane
to continue down the same path? The era of high stakes testing should
mercifully come to an end and then we should track down all the students who
went though it and apologize.
 Want some light reading about the pervasive nature of high
stakes tests? Click the links.

The J.P.E.F. really, really, really wants you to like Common Core.

Trey Czar, Gary Chartrand fan and director of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund wrote, The
Jacksonville Public Education Fund — along with Duval County Public Schools,
the Florida Department of Education, Governor Rick Scott and others — believe
that all children deserve a chance to learn at the highest levels and succeed
in the 21st Century world. Common Core is an important step in this goal.

Wow! Can I believe that
all children deserve a chance to learn at the highest levels and succeed in the
21st Century world and not believe in common core? Am I dooming them to
mediocrity by thinking we should slow things down?

A lot of people’s problem
with common core is it is too much too soon. They don’t believe schools have
the technology to support it and teachers don’t feel they have the training to
adequately implement it. Then in Florida teachers will have their salaries and
in many cases their employment determined by how their students do on high
stakes tests, which the common core brings in spade. This makes many reluctant
and the anti-teacher Florida legislature has done nothing to dissuade their
Czar then wrote: Opponents
are claiming that it’s too expensive, too difficult, or will brainwash the
minds of students in the United States.
In his defense some people
really do believe those things but he doesn’t mention that some opponents
instead of rushing to implement Common Core just want us to slow down and get
it right.
Maybe he wouldn’t love common core so much if his job was on the line.

To read his piece, click
the link:

Polk County becomes Duval South as six administrators head that way.

Kathryn Leroy was hired to be
the superintendent of Polk County and she has taken 5 long time Duval
administrators with her. 
Jacqueline Byrd, will be deputy superintendent,
and Tony Bellamy and Kenneth Reddick will be r
egional assistant superintendents. Jaquelyn Bowen, will be the senior director of reading
and Aaron Smith will be the senior director of math. All
five will earn six figures.

Byrd, Bellamy and Reddick had been reassigned to schools
as principals before their departures. 
To read more
click the link:


Arne Duncan insults teachers and enrages the Bad Ass Teacher Association

The bad ass teacher association is a fast growing internet
group of teachers who are fed up with the bad teacher narrative, high stakes
testing agenda and the public school privatization aims of many influential
individuals and groups. In short they are tired of being the whipping boys and
girls for the ills in education and have decided to push back and today Arne
Duncan stepped into a hornets nest of righteous indignation. 
Just go ahead and skip to the 23-minute mark, up till then
it is just blah, blah and more blah. Then this man who has never worked in a
classroom has the nerve to insult the nations teachers.
He says we should look to South Korea, Singapore and Finland
and emulate what they do. He claims that their teachers come form the top third
of college graduates and America’s teachers come from the bottom third. First
there is no study that backs this up which means he is just parroting
anti-teacher right-wing talking points at best or talking out of his less than
bad ass at worse.
But lets look at his claims, first Finland is highly unionized,
they don’t believe in standardized tests and funding education is a top
priority for them not an after thought as it often is here. Mr. Duncan how come
you omitted those points?
I am a little less familiar with Singapore though I imagine
since they cane people discipline isn’t a problem and South Korea though I
wonder if the teachers there are so great then why two different organizations
have tried to recruit me? I am glad they are all doing well but to point to
their teachers class rank as the reason is short sighted and quite frankly it’s
what you might expect a bright 12 year old, the equivalent of Jeb Bush, to come
up with and not the secretary of education.
The main
argument that Arne and the other teacher haters have is people who go into the
colleges of education have low GPAs and SAT scores. First there is a lot of
debate about where the education deformers got their information and its
reliabilityhttp://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2009/11/15/do-teachers-really-come-from-the-bottom-third-of-colleges-or-is-that-statistic-a-bunch-of-baloney/  and

 I get it though, each side could say I’ll see your study and show you one
more but I want you to think about this. Only slightly over 30% of all
Americans over the age of 25 have a four-year degree, where 100 percent of
public school teachers have them. So in effect the education reformers who are
so critical are saying that teachers are the worst of the best.


Then according to the national center for education statistics, 52% of teachers
have advanced degrees where only 10% of the general public does and doesn’t
that shoot a hole in the poorly educated teacher theory?

Within 9
hours the original post by Bonnie Cunard questioning Duncan’s validity has 197
comments from all over the nation as teachers, who on Monday also swamped the
White House switchboards with their demand that Duncan be replaced with an
educator, voiced their dissatisfaction.
Why Mr.
Duncan would choose to insult millions of teachers beyond me but it is
indicative of his corporate style reforms and to be honest it doesn’t seem that
smart of a thing to do.

Please feel free to check
out the page and if so moved voice your dissatisfaction as well.

It is tough to be a black kid in Florida

I could have written “poor kid” but we should all know by
now that nobody cares about poor kids.

Lets get right to it.
Charter schools are being put in poor neighborhoods and
being sold as miracle cures, unfortunately snake oil is closer to the truth.
Stanford’s CREDO, the definitive study on charter schools said that kids in
Florida charter schools lose an average of seven days in reading and hold
steady in math, which is hardly a miracle right. However it is worse because
when you factor in selection bias, low numbers of ESOL and ESE students, the
ability to counsel out poor performers, kick out kids with discipline problems
and their ability to impose requirements on parents, with all that going for
them, they should be killing public schools but they aren’t and instead they
are lagging behind. http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/charter-study-floridas-students-gain-more-in-reading-in-traditional-public/2128489
Then there is Teach for America, which does the exact
opposite of what we know to be best practices. They take non-education majors
and put them through a five week teacher boot camp and then put them in our
neediest classrooms, you know the ones with all the black kids, err make that
poor kids. There they stay for two years and leave, or most of them do anyways,
only 8% of Jacksonville’s first class of TFA teachers made it to year 4. That’s
right instead of recruiting our top teachers to work with our most needy
students we would rather have an ever-revolving door of neophytes, so much that
the champions for, privatization, err, change recently pledge to invest 11 million
dollars into the program. http://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/trojan-horse/Content?oid=2886793
Say some of them do somehow make it through all this and
graduate with a well rounded education, well there is no guarantee they will be
able to go to college since the state changed the bright future rules. From the
Gainesville Sun: The percentage of Alachua County high school seniors receiving
Bright Futures will drop by 63 percent under the new guidelines. Low- and
middle-income students will feel the brunt of the changes unless action is

The Miami Herald also weighted in: Starting next
year, Florida students will need to post higher scores on the SAT and ACT
scores to qualify for the state-funded scholarships. The change will likely
cause the number of college freshman receiving Bright Futures awards to drop
dramatically, with poor and minority students suffering the most.

Who is going to pay for college, oh some of you are thinking
they can get student loans, well not so fast. According to the Washington Post,
The Obama administration’s rules
for approving student loans are causing a disproportionately large number of
blacks to be denied because of blemished credit histories.
A reduced chance of getting a quality education, coupled
with no scholarships and no loans to go to college for those few that do make
it is sadly what many of our neediest kids are now facing. Sadly that’s what I
believe many of their parents and grandparents faced too.
The real problem is the only
time the state doesn’t ignore poverty is when it says poverty is an excuse,
well look where all the schools that are struggling are. There isn’t a school
in Mandarin or at the beach doing poorly. St. Johns has zero charter schools
too. They are all in high poverty areas.
Poverty, by the way, is the
number one quantifiable measurement in education; those students that live in
it as a group do worse than those that don’t. But that’s not to say we should
just throw our hands up, quit, dismantle public schools, though many
influential members of the state government would like us to and ship the
students out.
Instead we should employ
common sense solutions that don’t break the bank or reinvent the wheel, and
perhaps most importantly that don’t wreck neighborhoods in the process. We
should have disciplined and rigorous classes. We do students no favors when we
pass them along without discipline, or a work ethic, or the basic knowledge
that they need. We need to provide legitimate after school and summer school
opportunities to catch the kids up to where they should be. We could make the
schedules more manageable (8 classes at a time, really) and make school more
enjoyable to kids by making sure each student had a least one elective on their
schedule. That and we can make many of their education experiences more
meaningful by offering more trade, skill and arts opportunities. We can’t continue to make school such drudgery or irrelevant
for kids and then wonder why so many do poorly or drop out.
we need social workers and mental health counselors because often why a kid
does poorly in school has nothing to do with school. We could make a change. We
could be doing so much better if we wanted to.
Please forgive the pun but a lot of kids, our poor white
kids and our poor black kids start behind the eight ball and we don’t do much
to help them get out from behind it. It is almost like the plan from the
beginning is to keep the cycle of poverty that affects so many of them going.
It is tough to be a black kid in

I could have written “poor kid” but we should all know
by now nobody cares about poor kids.