Florida’s citrus grower board member has opposed evolution

Oy vey and we wonder why Florida has the issues it does.
From the I can’t make this up file. The Tampa Times has said
our newest state board of education member has opposed the teaching of evolution.
Hey don’t have any actual teaching experience? Don’t believe
in science? Go with your gut rather than facts and evidence? Then the state
board of education may just be the place for you.
Here is an old quote from Andy Tuck our latest addition to
the board.
“As a person of faith, I strongly oppose any study of
evolution as fact at all. I’m purely in favor of it staying a theory and only a
theory,” he said. “I won’t support any evolution being taught as fact
at all in any of our schools.”

Florida’s latest attempt to end teaching as a profession

Steal 3% of their pay, subject them to odious teacher
evaluations, end tenure, double down on high stakes testing, tie their salary
to test scores and the list goes on and on. Florida has been downright
unfriendly to its teachers.
The latest blow to the profession kind of just sneaked in
and that was the raising of certification scores, now the tests that teachers
have to take to keep their jobs will be harder. That’s the set up.
With the appointment of Rebecca Fishman-Lipsey to the state
board of education Teach for America now has unprecedented access at the state
level and do you know what Teach for America recruits will never have to do
because the vast majority only stay two years is? Take and pass a certification
test that’s what.  
Typically teachers get a temporary certificate which gives
them three years to pass their certification tests and often times satisfy
other requirements too. Teach for America teachers won’t have to worry about it
because they are off to law school or Wall Street by the time year three rolls
Now here is the rub, since there will be fewer and fewer
professional teachers do you know what that makes room for? More teach for America
teachers that’s who. Hobbyists who think I will give that a try and who go
through five weeks of training and then into our most needy schools where they
will be replaced by another batch in 21 months.
Friends Florida’s leadership is doing all it can do to end
teaching as a profession.

Florida Board of Education Member Rebecca Fishman Lipsey dishonors Florida’s teachers

When talking about raising the passing
scores for teacher certification tests, Mrs. Fishman-Lipsey said
Board member Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, a
former teacher, said requiring higher scores is “giving honor to the
profession” by making it a more exclusive club. 
Okay I guess we can debate about that
but my real question is what would she know,  her only education experience comes through TFA
and those teachers since they only stay for a cup of coffee will never have to
take certification tests. Isn’t there a bit of hypocrisy her being in favor of
tests she never took and is never going to have to?
Here is her teaching experience taken from
her Linkedin bio:
Member / NYC DOE Public School Teacher
Nonprofit; 1001-5000 employees;
Education Management industry
2004 – 2006 (2 years) Greater New
York City Area
She has some nerve talking about
honoring the profession when she and the man who appointed her, Rick Scott so dishonor it.
This is an embarrassment to Florida.

Gary Chartrand gets his citrus grower

The other day Gary Charrand the chair of the state board of
education and a grocer by trade said what the state board of education needs is
a citrus grower, well today he got his wish as citrus grower and dabbler in
education Andy Tuck joined the board. He joins Chartrand and Teach for America
recruiter and New York transplant, Rebecca Fishman Lipps. Between the three of
them they have zero experience teaching in a Florida classroom but hey what
could go wrong.
Since it is Florida, I wondered what other profession needed
representation on the board, teachers of course are excluded.
How about a surfer because we need somebody to hang ten,
which coincidently enough is the number of changes Florida has done to its
accountability system over the last couple of years and nearly the amount of education
commissioners there has been under Scott.
How about a killer what trainer because the powers that be
already think all you have to do is throw teachers the occasional fish.
An astronaut, I know Chartrand would love to blast the
teacher unions into space.
Finally how about Mickey Mouse, oh wait the state board is
already a Mickey Mouse club.   

The Chutzpah of the school choice movement

The ReDefined Ed pro privatization blog likes to highlight kids who go to
charter and private schools to accept vouchers. The young man they highlighted
today attends a small private Christian school but also a neighborhood public
school where he attends the NJROTC class.
To be honest I am not for charter school kids, private school
kids or home school kids participating in public school sports, classes or activities.
I feel like if the parents want their kids to be separate for their educations then
that’s how it should be for everything.  Let
them start a club or a team where they are at. I don’t like it that they want
public money to finance their choices, then they want their kids to play with teams
and join clubs at public schools and have public schools bend over backwards to
meet their needs but then they don’t want have anything to do with.
The reason however that this story caught my eye is the private
Christian school that the young man takes public money to attend teachers
creationism as science. It seemed more than strange that Redefined ed which has
worked hard to change the school choice narrative to one of collaboration that they
would celebrate the public school for taking this kid in and not mention that
his regular school teaches him junk science, though with groups like ReDefined
Ed you rarely get the entire picture.
Creationism and a dismissal of science is what you get from
a lot of these small schools that take vouchers but you also often get non certified
teachers and teachers without degrees making ten bucks an hour.
The main problem with vouchers isn’t that they siphon out
much needed resources from public schools; it is that there is very little
oversight with what they are teaching and who is doing so.
I wish this kid good luck but I believe both his parents and
ReDefined Ed are doing him a disservice.     


The Republican double speak in Tallahassee

Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said his
priorities for the upcoming legislative session would include “restoring
trust and integrity into the school grading system.”
those are pretty damning words and can there be any doubt that he is talking
about disgraced former ed commish Tony Bennett who was run out of town after
inflating the grades of a charter school that was owned by a financial backer.
friends we have to be careful because Bennett is back and pushing his new
employer’s tests as the cure to Florida’s testing ills.  
Who wants to bet that Tony Bennett rebounds nicely and
Florida’s schools foot the bill?
This however isn’t the only hypocrisy coming from the
republican leadership in Tallahassee. While extolling the virtues and need for
technology, Will Weatherford also wants to steal money supposed to go to public
schools and instead divert it to private schools that take vouchers of which
over 160 teach creationism as science.
Look I think creationism can have a role to play in
education just in a religion or philosophy class but the truth is it has no
business in a science class. Regardless, how can Tallahassee say how important
science and technology is and how we need to channel kids into those fields while
filtering money into schools that ignore and denigrate science.
Then all of this is on the heels of Scott requesting 81
million in maintenance money for charter schools and not one single solitary
penny for public schools.

Finally I would like to point out that there are
problems in Florida’s education system but it is the Republicans that have been
completely in charge of the system here for going on 16 years now. Isn’t enough
enough?  Aren’t you tired of them and their
friends profiting off of public education while kids have to go without and
teachers have to dig into their pockets to pay for the basics?

Rick Scott thumbs his nose at Florida’s public Schools. 81.3 million reasons to vote against him

This is really the type of story that should make your blood
boil. Rick Scott is hyping his educational bill as historical and it’s not, it
doesn’t even get us to 2007 levels but that’s not what is really outrageous.  

He is recommending 81.3 million dollars for school maintenance
a number most experts agree is woefully low, the thing is he doesn’t want public
schools to see a dime of that money as it is all earmarked for charter schools
the majority of which are for profit, profits that will be getting bigger and
bigger with this infusion of public cash.
There are currently 520 charter schools, some 250 others
have open and closed throughout the years and they serve a little over 200
thousand students. He wants them to get 81.3 million dollars.
On the other hand there are over 3,600 public schools and
they serve nearly 2.6 million kids.  He
wants their share of the maintenance budget to be zero.

 Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, said he was disappointed that no PECO dollars had been earmarked for traditional public schools.

“Let the governor explain to the children in crumbling public schools across Florida why they don’t count, too,” he said.


I hope that is all the reason 2.6 million families need to
vote against him.

Valerie Strauss blasts the president’s SOTU speech: rhetoric versus reality!

From the Washington Post

There’s nothing new about President Obama giving speeches in which he
talks about school reform in ways that have little to do with reality
(see, for example, here and here), but there was something especially disconnected about the education rhetoric in his 2014 State of the Union speech.

He managed to criticize standardized tests in which kids simply “fill
in a bubble” without betraying any irony that it is his Education
Department’s policies that have led to their growth in number and
importance in public schools.

He  said that “research shows that one of the best investments we can
make in a child’s life is high-quality early education,” but he failed
to mention that his administration only made it a top reform priority
last year when there was no chance he could persuade Congress to fund
any serious early-education proposal.

He talked up his signature education program,  Race to the Top,
without a hint about the controversy its reform demands on states that
accept federal funding has stoked for years. He said the Race
has ”helped states raise expectations and performance” with “the help of
governors from both parties,” a reference to the Common Core State
Standards which he did not mention by name most likely because there is a
growing revolt against the initiative 
in many parts of the country. Some states, in fact, are actually
changing the standards and dropping the Common Core name because they
don’t want to be associated with it.

He did make one apparent nod to the Common Core opposition when he
said “some of this change is hard,” but he did not note that one of the
reasons it is so hard is because the administration has promoted
untenable implementation policies with timelines that states say are
impossible to meet. He also said that change requires things including
“more demanding parents.”

He praised “the great teachers” who
helped a boy named Estiven Rodriguez learn to speak English and get an
education that is allowing him to go to college — without a hint of
acknowledgement that teachers around the country feel abandoned by his
administration as it pushes evaluation systems that unfairly evaluate
educators by student standardized test scores. 

He noted that “we’re shaking up our system of higher education to
give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer
better value,” without noting that the administration’s proposal to
create ratings of colleges and universities based on criteria that may
include how much money graduates make has been met with a lot of
understandable opposition in the academic world.

He gave an awkward nod to Tennessee
and Washington D.C. Public Schools for “making big strides in preparing
students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical
thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math” — an apparent
reference to increased scores on the National Assessment of Educational
Progress. The NAEP scores don’t actually measure technology and
engineering, and there are big questions about whether his policies had
anything to do with the rise in the scores.
In the District, for example, while there were rises in math and reading scores on the 2013 NAEP, the school system still has the largest achievement
gap among urban school systems, NAEP scores were rising well before
Obama became president, and there are questions about changing
demographics in the city.

There also seems something contradictory about
praising Tennessee for improving science and critical thinking skills
when at the same time it is one of the leading states in the country in
terms of numbers of public schools that teach creationism as a
legitimate alternative to evolution. The Tennessee and D.C. references came straight from an op-ed that Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently had published in The Washington Post in which Duncan said: “We
don’t know all the reasons why students did better in Tennessee and the
District in 2013 than in 2011. But it is clear that they shared a
similar approach to bettering education — taking common-sense, but
politically hard, steps to help students.” Actually, that isn’t clear, but never mind.)

Perhaps the biggest disconnect
between what Obama said and facts on the ground was this: “Change is

…. but it’s worth it — and it’s working.”

Working? How? For whom?

We’re all ears, Mr. President. 


President Obama spoke about education and I hurled (rough draft)

The following is about the parts of President Obama’s state
of the union speech that had to do with education.
Teachers got a mention right off the bat; he talked about
how their sacrifice had led to the highest graduation rates of all time. It
didn’t get a clap.  Okay the speech had
just started so lets give that a pass.
Later he talked about how all children deserved access to a
world-class education and used the example of one New York Student who had
great teachers and innovative tutoring programs and was going to college. These
are the meat of his comments:
Race to the
Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise
expectations and performance.  Teachers and principals in schools from
Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with
skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science,
technology, engineering, and math.  Some of this change is hard.  It
requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding
parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our
kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test.  But it’s
worth it – and it’s working.
That last
sentence is very debatable.
In praising Race to the Top, his signature education agenda
for raising standards, he has in effect given a thumbs up to blame the teacher
evaluations and doubling down on the high stake testing that has sucked the joy
out of learning for so many teachers and students alike. Furthermore if he
doesn’t want kids to fill in bubbles he needs to let his secretary of education
and Pearson testing know because they have been doing that more under his
administration than ever before. I guess since he sends his daughters to an
exclusive prep school which doesn’t kill and drill and then over tests its
students he might not know that’s what is happening in our public schools but
at the end of the day he is in effect sentencing our kids to go to schools he
wouldn’t let his children near.
He also mentioned how working with governors from both
parties standards were being raised. He didn’t call it common core but anyone
who was paying attention knows that was exactly what he as talking about. This
is the same Common Core that teachers all across the nation are fighting
against, and not because it is some government takeover, though it is RttT
traded cash strapped states desperate for money the equivalent to pennies to
give up local control but because it ignores poverty, doubles down on high
stakes testing, siphons millions if not billions out of the class room and as
New York’s Carol Burris put it because they have seen the standards, Support is disappearing, not because
schools don’t have the Common Core curriculum, but because for the first time
they do.  After last year’s testing debacle, teachers are frantically
attempting to implement the standards using the modules provided by the state.
Kids and parents are reeling from the effects of teaching the Common Core
standards, at the fast pace needed to get through them in time for the tests.
But did you notice how he never mentioned common core? If he
wants it and believes in it then why didn’t he have the courage to mention it?
He had the courage to parrot a recent comment by Arne Duncan
about how things have improved in Washington DC, a district wrought with
cheating accusations and voucher and charter school scandals and Tennessee, the
state with the most schools that teach creationism as science in the country.
How does the president connect his call for increased
research in technology and science and his praise for the state, Tennessee,
which thumbs its nose at science by teaching creationism, more than any other?
Oh I guess it’s the same way he can pat the back of teachers, praising their
sacrifice but then subject them to Race to the Top.
Finally I would like to mention poverty, something he
mentioned over and over but instead of recognizing how it effects and holds
back children mired in it he ignored that fact.
Poverty, higher standards will fix that.
President Obama spoke about education and I hurled

Science isn’t for poor kids in Florida.

Bob Sykes from Scathing Purple Musings did an excellent piece about how on one hand Florida’s leadership screams about the need for science education but on the other hands sentences poor children through the use of vouchers to schools that ignore science. 164 schools that take public money in Florida teach creationism as science. We’re paying for that with our tax dollars by the way.

Here is the piece.

The nation’s supposed need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) professionals drives much republican education policymaking in Florida. Governor Rick Scott turned a state college over to the influence of a state senator in the interest of graduating STEM grads. Mouthpieces for Common Core never stop lecturing about the need to prepare students to “compete in a global workforce” that’s largely STEM dominated.
But such focus is at odds with another republican obsession: school choice. Gradebook’sJeff Solochek reported yesterday that 160 Florida private schools teach creationism while accepting state voucher money.
So, yes, to STEM, but don’t worry about teaching evolution, today’s most important scientific life science theory. Such blinders justify President Barack Obama’s assertion that republicans don’t really want “science in its rightful place.”
The nation’s science teachers – the majority of which are union members – responsibly teach evolution and its companions like Darwinism and the Primordial Soup Model astheories – which are all backed by scientific research and collected data. Creationism,  or as textbook publishers are often tasked to do by ideological school boards, Intelligent Design, is not.
I guess those Florida republican legislators who are always looking for loopholes to expand the tax credit scholarship voucher program aren’t looking to get any STEM professionals from those 160 private schools.  Neither are those corporations who contribute and get the tax breaks.