Despite growing opposition to Common Core State Standards — especially among conservatives — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says U.S. schools need high standards, like Common Core. Bush also discusses pre-school, the Florida Virtual School and the impact of Florida’s class size restrictions on education in an interview with EducationNext.
Miami Northwestern High School teacher Daniel Dickey says there’s no silver bullet or secret book which will spark a student’s interest in reading.
Instead, he says he asks questions and listens.
“I sit down with that student and really figure out what is it that drives you?” Dickey says. “Why do you come to school? Why are you here every day?”
He asks them about their plans, their dreams.
“If you could envision yourself in five months, five years, fifty years, where would you be?” he says. “Why? What are your goals in life? And from that I usually assess which book would be best.”
Dickey has launched the Million Word Campaign at Miami Northwestern High School to get his students reading more. Dickey teaches writing, but believes students need to read in order to be good writers and speakers.
Miami Northwestern High School English teacher Daniel Dickey has found a way to make his tenth graders brag about their reading skills.
Mischael Saint-Sume and Ciji Wright tease each other about who’s going to read one million words first — a contest Dickey created.
“Did you put him in his place?” Dickey asked Wright. “Because Mischael, he’s popping in my classroom every day with a new book.”
“Oh don’t worry about it because I’ve got plenty of books for him,” Wright replied.
“But it ends today, by the way,” Saint-Sume said. “I’m going to hit a million.”
“Not if I take my test before you,” Wright said.
Tuesday’s election results mean that President Barack Obama has likely lost his favored tool in education policy — competitive grants. Republican leadership in both the House and Senate say Obama needs to work with them on education.
Broward County school and union leaders want to make changes to test-based teacher evaluations and the county’s high school schedule.
Superintendent Robert Runcie announced two task forces will study the issues and recommend changes.
One goal is to come up with a teacher evaluation system that is less about punishing teachers who earn low scores than it is about training, mentoring and helping those teachers improve.
But the task force is also related to the backlash against the many ways students’ standardized test scores are used. Florida law requires half of a teacher’s evaluation score is based on whether students miss, meet or exceed expected results on state tests.
“As educators, administrators, we need data,” Runcie said. “We need information to constantly guide our practice and where we’re going. So, there’s always going to be some types of assessment.
“We want to change the dynamic…We want to change the conversation around how assessments are used, period.”
Runcie was joined by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Sharon Glickman, president of the Broward Teachers Union. AFT and the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, have led the fight against the widespread use of standardized test scores.
In Florida, those scores are tied to decisions about which students graduate or advance to another grade, school and district performance ratings and teacher pay.
The Bay District School Board will no longer use corporal punishment to discipline students. The district’s attorney said the district is risking a lawsuit spanking children.
Polls show Governor Rick Scott and former Governor Charlie Crist are polarizing. Voters are as likely to dislike the candidates as they are to approve of them.
So both candidates are talking about schools, colleges and scholarships — to motivate their supporters.
“Education is an issue that is helping to appeal to the base,” says Sean Foreman, a Barry University political science professor and chairman of the education committee for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.
Foreman says they’ve got a pretty good idea what a second term of either candidate would mean for education.
“I think Rick Scott is going to focus on more spending, but with that will come more strings attached and more testing involved,” Foreman says. “[Crist] will also call for more spending, but more spending in public schools and less focus on vouchers like the Republicans have.”
So far, the big argument has been over funding for public schools. Both candidates can say they’ve supported more money for schools.
A state senator has asked his local school board to stop — as much as possible — teaching Florida’s new Common Core-based standards. Though Sen. Alan Hays said he wasn’t asking the district to break the law, state law requires students in every grade meet the new standards.
The legal and public relations battle over Florida’s private school scholarship programs continues, with the statewide teacher’s union revising its lawsuit and a school choice group producing a new television ad supporting the programs.
Wednesday, the Florida Education Association amended its complaint challenging a new school choice law. The new complaint adds South Florida parents after a judge ruled the parties named in the previously filed suit lacked standing to challenge the law.
The new plaintiffs are Miami-Dade and Lee County parents and attorneys argue their kids’ education suffers because the tax credit scholarship program diverts money to private schools instead of public schools.
“With the result that the Miami-Dade County Public Schools lost approximately $75 million in funding, which was redirected from the public fisc to private schools,” the complaint says.
The suit challenges a bill approved this year which creates a new voucher program for students with disabilities. But the bill also expands the state’s existing private school scholarship program funded with state tax credits for businesses that donate to the scholarship fund.
The candidates running for three South Dade state House seats — Republican, Democrat, independent — all agree that Florida students and schools spend too much time testing.
Candidates running for the Florida House of Representatives in the 112th, 114th and 115th districts gathered for an education forum Tuesday night at Palmetto Middle School.
“The biggest problem that the assessment process has right now,” said Rep. Erik Fresen, a Republican who represents the 114th district and is chairman of the House Education Appropriations subcommittee, “we have a completely twisted form of actually executing the assessments. Assessments end up drowning the school.”
His challengers, Democrat Daisy Baez and independent Ross Hancock both agreed: There’s too much testing and teachers must adjust their plans and lessons to prepare students for those exams.
In the 115th district, Republican incumbent Mike Bileca and Democratic opponent Kris Decossard agreed. So did Democratic Rep. Jose Javier Rodriquez, who represents the 112th district. His opponent did not participate.
Tuesday’s forum was the latest sign that the political tide has turned against the testing requirements of Florida education policy and local school school districts.