Struggle over how to evaluate special ed teachers
Since the first day of class this school year, Bev Campbell has been teaching her students how to say their names. Some of the children in her class have autism. Others have Down syndrome or other disabilities. "People don't understand where they've come from," she says. "It's slow." Just one has learned how to say his name. Still, the South Florida teacher sees signs of growth in the nine kindergarten to second-grade students in her class. Those little steps are what teachers like Campbell consider major leaps for students with the most significant physical and cognitive disabilities -- and what are the most challenging to capture on a test. Yet that will be a significant part of the way school districts in Florida and in many other states will evaluate teachers. Spurred by the U.S. Department of Education's $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant competition, more than a dozen states have passed laws to reform how teachers are evaluated and include student growth as a component. For most students, that growth will be measured on standardized tests. But for special education students that is considerably more complicated. "I don't know how they would ever do that for my students," said Campbell, who has 28 years of experience teaching special ed. "The great concern right now in many states is they're using the same criteria for the general education teachers that they're going to use for the special education teachers and there's real resistance to that," said George Giuliani, director of the special education program at Hofstra University's Graduate School and executive director of the National Association of Special Education Teachers. (Mark Pudlow quoted)
Legislators at odds over school funding case
State House and Senate leaders disagree on whether the Florida Supreme Court should answer what an appellate court has called a question of "great public importance" in a school funding case. At issue is a 1st District Court of Appeal decision rejecting the Republican-led Legislature's bid to block a trial on whether the state is violating the Florida Constitution by failing to adequately fund public schools. The appellate court also asked the justices to decide whether the constitution provides sufficient standards for a court to determine the funding issue and provide relief. The state has been accused of shortchanging Florida's public schools in a lawsuit by four parents or guardians and two students from Duval and Pasco counties as well as two advocacy groups: Citizens for Strong Schools and Fund Education Now. In papers filed with the high court in recent weeks, Senate President Mike Haridopolos has urged the justices to rule on the District Court's question along with his appeal of its 8-7 ruling. House Speaker Dean Cannon, however, contends the high court should deny jurisdiction. Cannon's lawyers argued the Supreme Court should wait until after a trial before responding to the question. His legal team, headed by House General Counsel George Levesque, predicted the trial verdict will be appealed no matter how it comes out.
Groups call for testing rollback: Florida not planning to join in
A national coalition of education and civic groups Tuesday joined the growing effort, started in Texas, to see public schools scale back their reliance on high-stakes tests. Organizations including the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, FairTest, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the National Education Association and Parents Across America issued a statement calling upon state leaders "to reexamine public school accountability systems in this state, and to develop a system based on multiple forms of assessment which does not require extensive standardized testing, more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is used to support students and improve schools." They've also asked supporters of the cause to sign an electronic petition. Florida education commissioner Gerard Robinson said he didn't see the issue going far in the Sunshine State. "I don't pretend anxiety doesn't exist. ... I don't make a value judgment on whether we have too many tests, because the question I have is, compared to what? But what I will say is that there are through rule things that we can do to soften what is happening," Robinson said. "The number of tests probably won't change. What can we do to soften or put in some safety guards to deal with the impact on grades are things I can do and things the board will support."
New York admits standardized math tests don't add up
Privatization opponents take case to Bay School Board
Seminole teachers protest again
Manatee schools to reconsider early release day (Pat Barber quoted)
Lee teacher resigns, blames principal (Donna Mutzenard quoted)
Miramar High School music teacher honored at White House
Duval uses a fifth of its reserves to balance budget
Leon schools struggle with public perception of budgets
Volusia School Board votes to close troubled charter
Broward school bookkeepers to keep their jobs for one year
Scott counts on rulemaking to fix early learning problems
On May 4, take a stand against bullying (AFT mentioned)
With university boondoggle, GOP gets “A” in hypocrisy
I'm glad those big-spending, government-expanding Democrats in Florida didn't dream up the state's 12th public university. Oh, what a scandal that would be! It would be cited as another step in the inexorable march to socialism if the Dems had their share-the-wealth fingerprints on the birth of Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland. A tax-and-spend boondoggle like this would send tea party pots to a rolling boil. Florida turning into France, or something like that. For this is a freshly dug trench of new government spending done without even a feasibility study to support it. So who could imagine that a governor who prides himself on tight fisted, big-business acumen and a group of Republican legislators who look in the mirror and see Ronald Reagan could be behind such a headlong push to commit hundreds of millions in future tax dollars on a layer of duplicative government bureaucracy? Luckily, it's the Republicans leading this charge, or some people might be getting called "communists" and invited to self-deport.
Is UF spending almost $100 million on athletics while cutting an engineering program?
Scott raises bar on tuition hikes
University faculty experiences with online distance education
Subsidize students, not tax cuts
Voter law changes backfire
Some state employees to see more retirement cuts July 1
For taxpayers' sake keep eye on business breaks
Counties to appeal decision not to tax online travel companies' services
Pinellas clerk, lawmaker's son left off Scott's reappointment list
Senate rejects bid to nullify union election rules
The Senate has rejected a Republican attempt to overturn new regulations designed to give unions quicker workplace representation elections. The 54-45 vote against a disapproval resolution leaves intact new National Labor Relations Board rules scheduled to take effect April 30. Unions sought the new regulations. Business groups had opposed them. Under the old rules, workers typically voted within 45 to 60 days after a union gathered enough signatures to petition for an election. The new rules could cut that time by days or weeks by simplifying procedures and putting off some potential challenges until after the vote. Republicans claim the new rules won't leave company managers enough time to respond to union organizing efforts. Unions say the rule changes will help curtail corporate stalling tactics.
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