ImageEveryone across the country has a different way of evaluating the states on Education. Education Week’s magazine is the one school superintendents and school boards like to use because they always give them a high grade in Accountability and it is a big word and sounds important – but it is nothing. Accountability in this case means they are merely turning in their reports which measures student progress toward the following goals; highest student achievement, seamless articulation and maximum access, skilled workforce and economic development, and quality efficient services and they have turned their reports in a timely manner. Big deal! Their FCAT scores show there is no improvement to warrant an A rating. The powers to be would tell us the state ranks 4th in the country but in fact it was 10th, 8th & 9th for 2009, 2010 & 2011 respectfully – but in Accountability not QUALITY of Education provided.Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy based in Tallahassee also has a problem with those A scores. In January 2010 they wrote the “Rankings Deserve A Closer Look.” The report states “the ranking does not mean that Florida’s K-12 schools are eighth best in the nation (2010) . . . the report evaluates selected Accountability and Performance Policies but does not in any manner constitute a definitive statement of quality or outcomes of a state’s education system.”  So what did that report really say about Florida’s public education?Florida enacted almost all the accountability and performance policies recommended by the current generation of “school reformers” (NCLB) earning that A grade and that is fine for as far as it goes. And this is not surprising since Florida’s school reform efforts since the early 1990’s has centered on the Sunshine State Standards, FCAT and various mechanisms like school grades designed to increase accountability.

The fact remains that other results documented in the assessment by Education Week in Florida’s latest ranking aren’t superlative. Three grades in the report make the case:

          Student achievement (scores on national standardized tests): D- minus

  • Funding per student (compared to the national average): F   Here I would like to add that I do not necessarily believe more money is the answer, but suggest the following:
    1. They should stop paying school board members so much money for so little time spent on the children’s futures and they certainly should not be entitled to pensions – in fact going back to volunteer school boards might not be a bad idea either – they still do that in most of the mid-west and north-east.
    2. We are spending far too much on administration – a report done earlier this year showed Florida #4 in the country for receiving Education funds (not ARRA or Title I) – but on the bottom of the charts in comparison as to the amount spent in ratio of admin to student.
    3. School boards have become too political – you hear more in a school board meeting about brick, motor and cement then you do the words children, students or kids. You are not given the opportunity to show disappointment or distain in how money is being spent nor do they seem to remember who is paying their salaries.
    4. Stop all International Curriculum Programs from being used in our schools. International Baccalaureate has cost this state BILLIONS of dollars since it was first introduced at Winter Park High School in 1983 by former Commissioner of Education Eric Smith.
    5. Insist on proper oversight of the textbooks and curriculum’s being used by the Charter Schools. They are allowed to choose what they want to use – UNESCO/UN curriculum’s should not be acceptable to anyone. School boards have learned Charter schools have made less work for them but they are not living up to their duties as the sponsor’s of the Charter schools according to Florida Education Statutes.
  • College Readiness:  F

The assessment also noted that Florida’s high school graduation rate is 45th in the nation and the state also ranks below the national average in the percentage of young adults with a degree or enrolled in college.

A very disturbing fact of the report to me was that more than half of the students graduating and entering into a 3 or 4 year college program in Florida require remedial classes in reading and math.

Former Governor Jeb Bush did our students no favors in implementing No Child Left Behind (NCLB), is a supporter of Race To The Top (RTTT), and a very strong Progressive. It was sad to learn but true. We are now left with the challenge to turn this around. The Common Core Standards (CCS), written by a man with no Education background and paid by Bill Gates, is geared to bring our scores down further. Teachers have not been properly instructed but yet are to be held “accountable” for the success or failure of their students. (I am not a teacher).

One of the main problems with the CCS is the fact there is no scope or sequence which is an important aspect of curriculum requirements. In other words, a student sitting in a classroom and going from one grade level to the next, it is vitally important that the curriculum requirements be tightly linked from one grade level to the next or else huge chasms will occur of which the child will fall into. In other words, if a student has not learned in one grade level how to use a preposition they certainly will not know in the next grade level not to put one at the end of a sentence. If they did not learn in one grade level what a participle is then certainly they will not know in the next grade level what a dangling participle is.

Unless the standards used increase the depth and complexity in a smooth transition from one grade to another, holes in the children’s cognitive progression will occur. These holes represent the lack of prior knowledge. It is the lack of prior knowledge that keeps students from proceeding successfully to the next concept. This is particularly true in the area of grammar and usage which are competency based. Some would say how this is important when they have fallen into a world of “texting”. Have you seen the result of how your children and grandchildren talk as a result of a life of texting?

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