Friday, June 23, 2017


The third category of protest by educational advocates about the new law known as HB 7069 (Florida) is CONTENT.

Despite some good provisions, such as the proviso that mandates 20 minutes of recess for elementary students (well, not if you're in a charter school, those 'public schools' are free to ignore child development needs for movement, free play, and socialization in favor of drills to get that last math answer correct on the TEST ...)

Don't argue that traditional public schools and charter schools are on an equal playing field. They are not.

Even though state tests do not begin until 3rd grade, even kindergarten students face standardized tests from districts, who feel they cannot wait for 3rd grade to train the little buggers how to get them the scores they need ... thus the disappearance of recess ...

It is not a victory, but a condemnation, that a state law is needed to force administrators to meet the needs of children. It should cause you to question what has gone wrong with the system.

Not the system of public schools, but state legislators who act out of ideology and ignorance.

The system of adults who now seek to serve their survival interests by preserving their positions, influence, and salary, rather than doing what's right for children.

Yes, good people, we are dealing with a systemic problem that goes beyond individuals, neighborhoods, and schools. (Hold that thought.)

Back to the CONTENT.

1. School districts now have to share capital dollars, raised through local property taxes, with charter schools. For a district like Duval, where most of the buildings are 50 to 100 years old, the loss of capital dollars to repair and replace these buildings is a challenge. We do not want to become like Detroit, which did not have the money to replace broken windows and the birds flew in and <ahem>ed on the floors and walls. They became so deficient of funds they could not pay a janitorial crew to clean it up. Roofs leaked. Mold grew. Health was imperiled.

The promise of charters has been that they are so much better that they can do it for less and get better results. Why now are they demanding every single dollar they can suck away from traditional public schools? They can't do it for less and they are not doing it better. More or less, the charter sector as a whole only matches the results of public schools. For every charter you can produce that excels, there is one that does much worse. Studies that are not produced by self-serving bodies, and that includes the Florida Department of Education, show that.

That's before we begin the debate over judging schools by one narrow measure: standardized testing.

Suffice it to recognize that school systems have less capital dollars to maintain their facilities.

That is one HUGE problem with charter operations and states. What states are trying to do is establish and run multiple school systems with the resources sufficient for only one.

2. Schools of Hope. In a few paragraphs, I will argue that you cannot conclude these schools are failing from a flawed, once a year test. We have many more expectations of our schools than test performance. This is one of the many ways the public is being bamboozled by billionnaires, hedge funds, and politicians.

What hope do these schools offer? The legislation specifies charter chains like KIPP or (if not intended specifically) Eva Muscowitz's New York Success Academies.

But how do these schools achieve their 'success?' Is it through 'Got To Go' lists such as the Success Academies were  caught keeping?

Is it through 'Teach Like a Champion' techniques and rigid student control methods such as demanding that students keep their eyes on the teacher at all times (tracking) or that they must rigidly sit in their chairs (SLANT)?

Will these Schools of Hope offer hope by counseling out troublesome students as charter schools are known to do?

Will they offer hope by addressing the trauma of violent households and neighborhoods that these students experience every day--so much so that they consider that the normal human experience?

Will they offer hope by arranging for wrap-around student services? Will they provide the support as IEPs demand? Or will they put these students on a Got-To-Go list?

And what makes people think schools are failing because of a flawed, once-a-year test? Florida does not measure student learning and growth. The state only provides a determination of proficiency as defined by debatable standards that ignore child development principles. Any growth measure from the state is really a proficiency standard in disguise.

Who will take on these Schools of Hope? Only those who can pick and choose students and watch the rest of them get on buses to go elsewhere in the school district. Charters know better. That is why they offer the same excuses <ahem> reasons as public schools for why they don't get better results in impoverished neighborhoods.

---Intermission-- I am keenly aware of the internet attention span and it is time to close this post. Enough words. I will carry on in the next.