StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee has advised Gov. Rick Scott. Rhee is one of the scheduled guests on the Tell Me More/StateImpact Florida special.
If you’re interested in the future of education in Florida and our nation, you’ll want to be next to your radio, computer, or smartphone on Oct. 10.
That’s when the NPR show “Tell Me More” and StateImpact Florida are teaming up for a special show.
We’ve convinced some of the heavy-hitters in education to be part of the forum — including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the provocative former leader of Washington D.C.’s public schools, Michelle Rhee.
Florida has tested students for decades, but since its inception 14 years ago the FCAT has evolved from a simple measure of student learning to an all-encompassing arbiter of student, teacher and school performance. The test factors into third-grade promotion, high school graduation, class placement, teacher pay and evaluations, even whether a school stays open.
Even though one teacher tries to downplay the FCAT to her students by calling it the F-Kitty, the story includes lots of examples of little kids experiencing insomnia and, let’s just say, intestinal distress because of test anxiety.
There’s a growing drumbeat from parents and county school board to de-emphasize the test.
The actual FCAT appears to be on its way out, replaced by new tests based on the national Common Curriculum.
But even though the names may change, the desire to test remains the same.
Florida could join California, Texas and Mississippi in passing a “parent trigger” law this year. It would allow a majority of parents to vote to make changes at their child’s school.
Supporters include several big Florida players, including (surprise, surprise) Jeb Bush and his Foundation for Excellence in Education. Opponents say parents could be manipulated into throwing out the school’s staff and leadership and replacing it with a charter school operator.
Karen Francis-Winston joined the advisory committee at her child’s school, intent on improving academics and discipline. Things did get better at the Ocala middle school, but she always wished she had more leverage. Francis-Winston specifically wants a “parent-trigger” law that would force public school administrators to heed the wishes of moms and dads.
New investigations by the Miami Herald and StateImpact Florida raise serious concerns about Florida’s charter schools – including who’s profiting from them, and whether they are serving kids with severe disabilities.
Fernando Zulueta, president of Academica, gets a drink at the bar in Cain at The Cove, Friday, September 16, 2011, an exclusive beach club in the Bahamas' Atlantis resort. Academica held a leadership retreat for principals of several charter schools there. MIAMI HERALD PHOTO
That’s the topic of a one-hour radio special, “Cashing in on Kids,” by WLRN/Miami Herald News in conjunction with StateImpact Florida and WUSF Public Media.
Both stations aired the program at 2 p.m. Thursday (a first time this has happened in recent memory) and there was a great response from callers and followers on Twitter.
Two callers said they were parents of kids with disabilities who had seen charter schools rejecting students with special needs themselves.
StateImpact Florida reporters Sarah Gonzalez and John O’Connor talked about the main finding of their three-month investigation: that 86 percent of Florida’s charter schools do not serve a single child with a severe disability.
For the past three months, StateImpact Florida has been working on an investigation of charter schools. Wednesday morning, the truth comes out — both here and on NPR’s Morning Edition.
The question: How many of Florida’s charter schools serve children with severe disabilities? Here’s a hint: surprisingly few.
Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald Staff
Jeremy Rosende participates in his first-grade art class at the Renaissance Charter School in Coral Springs.
This is being done in conjunction with a six-month investigation involving the Miami Herald called “Cashing in on Kids.” Check out their findings on self-dealing by charter school officials and even politicians cashing in on the system.
Other stories have included anecdotes suggesting charter schools are cherry picking their kids, and excluding kids with disabilities.
StateImpact Florida got the data (it wasn’t easy, more on that later) and it shows some interesting patterns.
Charles Reed is the former chancellor of Florida's university system, and now leads the nation's largest system in California.
Charles Reed says Florida’s colleges and universities have lost their way.
He paints a picture of a disjointed, parochial higher education system where every university and college is out for itself, and “It’s turned into what the local chamber wants, not what the state needs.”
“That’s no place for a polytechnic university,” he said. “That’s no Silicon Valley. California has only two polytechnics for 38 million people — and we have Silicon Valley.”
Why should you care? Reed has a unique perspective, as chancellor of the State University System of Florida from 1986 to 1998, and chancellor of the California State University system since 1998. Continue Reading →
Florida C.A.N. promotes college-readiness, access, and success for limited-income, first generation, and underrepresented students.
Now that the drama over USF Polytechnic is behind us (at least for now,) higher education officials are back to focusing on less showy things…like helping more Florida students to graduate successfully and get good-paying jobs.
That last part is the mission of Florida College Access Network (Florida C.A.N.) They’ve issued “A Call for Leadership” that urges state leaders not to focus on bright shiny objects (like proposed Texas reforms that don’t seem likely to take place even there).
(Full disclosure: Florida C.A.N. is a financial supporter of StateImpact Florida. As part of our agreement, they exercise no influence over what we report or how we report it.)