Today's news -- July 5, 2017




Floridians must oppose bad education bill * (by Sen. Perry Thurston)

Florida’s efforts to save public education started July 1, the day a new state law went into effect that forces public school districts to divert taxpayer dollars to privately run charter and religious schools. In a cynical effort to expand school choice, the Republican-led Florida Legislature concocted HB 7069, a bill crafted behind closed doors and sprung on state lawmakers in the closing days of the legislative session. Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law despite overwhelming opposition from educators, parents, school system superintendents and school board members. Floridians should not let this onerous law stand. The First of July should take on the significance of the Fourth. Now is the time to start the political groundswell that will persuade state leaders to craft new legislation to stop the damage HB 7069 will do to our public schools. Florida has never been in a sweet spot when it comes to funding public schools. According to the most recent Census data, the national average for per-pupil spending is around $11,000. In Florida, the figure is just over $7,296, a whopping 1.3 percent increase over last year. The figure puts our state closer to the bottom of most national rankings. Charter schools have always been part of Florida’s educational mix. They are publicly funded but independently operated. They are not a part of the traditional public school system, nor are they subject to the same regulations of accountability that govern public schools. Some charter schools have made strides in helping to educate disabled students and students living in low-income communities. But others have been nothing more than fly-by-night operations preying on parents who only wanted a good education for their children. On July 1, these schools — good and bad — will be entitled to a public windfall. Public schools now must give charter schools a portion of their revenue that would have been used to fix aging classrooms or help low-income students reach academic success. In my home county, the Broward County Public Schools will be forced to dole out $12.7 million to charter schools during the 2017-2018 school year, and that figure is expected to increase every year to a total of $100 million over a five-year period. Florida has ample school choice options, including charter schools, home schools, magnet schools, religious schools, school vouchers, not to mention the nation’s largest tax credit scholarship program. Still, most of Florida’s schoolchildren attend public schools, and their interests shouldn’t be hurt by a bad law out of Tallahassee. Public education remains a key building block for Florida and the nation. Good schools hold the keys to growing and vibrant communities in the Sunshine State. Well-educated students become model citizens and members of the highly-trained workforces that bolster our local and state economies. Public schools should be celebrated. Instead, our state now boasts of a law that undermines them in favor of a largely unregulated private school industry. If you believe in reforming Florida’s public school system, now is the time to get engaged in a renewed effort to save it.


Tallahassee overreach on district capital tax dollars


Charter schools have a role, but not to the detriment of their public counterparts


Orange charter school defends spending tax money on commercials


Reminder: Education is not a marketplace and charters are not working


Comments open for state education accountability plan

Aiming to meet new federal guidelines for education accountability, the Florida Department of Education has published its draft Every Student Succeeds Act plan for public input. As anticipated, Florida's plan seeks waivers in areas where it does not agree with the federal law. Commissioner Pam Stewart has made clear since 2016 her view that the federal government cannot force states to adopt new rules beyond the scope of ESSA, which is supposed to give more leeway to states. Stewart reiterated her point after the Trump administration repealed some of the act's key provisions, stating she would not overhaul the department's work in pursuing its accountability program revisions. She convened a group of superintendents to help with the final refinements before releasing the draft plan late Friday. The waiver requests begin on the fourth page of the 67-page document, with its request to get around federal laws involving testing in a student's native language, if not English. The state has fought several years with the U.S. DOE over the testing of English-language learners, and how to count their test results. The federal government has insisted on counting all student results, while Florida leaders have promoted the idea of a timely transition for students who do not have some fluency in the testing language. From the waiver request: "With the goal to matriculate ELLs out of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services in a timely manner, it is in the best interest of students to provide instruction in English and measure proficiency using a valid and reliable tool that indicates grade-level performance for all students." Florida also seeks a waiver on the federal rule about reporting learning gains, saying it would report the information for each student subgroup separately rather than for all students jointly. In a related request, the state asks for a waiver of the rule that school grades be changed if a school does not test at least 95 percent of all students in each subgroup. Read more about the waiver requests here. The public has until July 31 to submit comments on the plan, through this website. The department will then revise the document, based on the comments, and send it to Gov. Rick Scott, who must submit it to the federal government by Sept. 18. Already, 16 other states and the District of Columbia have turned in their plans.


Districts gird for impact of Florida's new “religious expression” law


SBOE member seeks reappointment to seat


New state law stiffens penalties for failing to stop for school bus



NEA adopts charter school policy statement *

The 7,000 delegates to the National Education Association Annual Meeting in Boston overwhelmingly approved a fundamental shift in policy by passing a new policy statement on charter schools. The new NEA Policy Statement on Charter Schools will boost NEA’s forceful support of state and local efforts to limit charter growth and increase charter accountability, and slow the diversion of resources from neighborhood public schools to charters. Meanwhile, the policy allows the NEA to continue organizing charter school educators who want to provide all students, no matter where they live, with the opportunity for a great education, and are standing up for better, more accountable charter schools. NEA last approved a charter school policy in 2001. Since then, the number of charter schools in the U.S. has risen dramatically and outstripped the ability of states and school districts to hold them accountable. The result has been a massive and burgeoning sector of charter schools that are not subject to the same basic safeguards and standards as public schools. “Charter schools were started by educators who dreamed of schools in which they would be free to innovate, unfettered by bureaucratic obstacles,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Handing over students’ education to privately managed, unaccountable charters jeopardizes student success, undermines public education and harms communities.  This policy draws a clear line between charters that serve to improve public education and those that do not.” Too frequently charters are operated expressly for profit, or are nominally non-profit but managed or operated by for-profit entities. These charters have evolved far from the original concept of charters as small incubators of innovation. Most importantly, the growth of charters has undermined local public schools and communities, without producing any overall increase in student learning and growth. “This policy is the first step to arm our communities and our educational professionals with the tools and voice we all need to ensure a better future for our youth,” said Dave Daly, a high school English teacher at Old Redford Academy, a charter school in Detroit, and a member of the NEA Task Force on Charter Schools, which recommended the new policy. “Profiteers have been stripping away resources for almost two decades by cutting corners and treating children as commodities. I want to thank NEA and its delegates for continuing to fight for educational equity for all and for recognizing that our students deserve better.”


Trump, DeVos: “I do not trust their motives”

The president of the country’s largest labor union, Lily Eskelsen García of the National Education Association, told delegates at her organization’s annual gathering that they would not work with the Trump administration because the president and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos could not be trusted to do what is in the best interests of children. Eskelsen García addressed the 96th NEA Representative Assembly meeting in Boston, accusing President Trump of residing “at the dangerous intersection of arrogance and ignorance” and labeled DeVos as “the queen of for-profit privatization of public education.” She said in part: “Let me say this to all of you as clearly as I can, so that even if you disagree with me, you understand what is in my heart: I will not allow the National Education Association to be used by Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos. I do not trust their motives. I do not believe their alternative facts. I see no reason to assume they will do what is best for our students and their families. There will be no photo-op. We will find common ground with many Republicans and many Democrats on many issues. We will not find common ground with an administration that is cruel and callous to our children and their families. And I don’t just judge them by their words; I judge them by their actions.” Neither the Education Department nor the White House responded to queries for a reaction to the speech. It’s no surprise that Eskelsen García, who became president of the union in 2014, would attack Trump and DeVos. The NEA in January launched an effort to persuade enough senators not to confirm DeVos, a Michigan billionaire who has disparaged traditional public education, as Trump’s education secretary. At the time, Eskelsen García said: “Betsy DeVos is not qualified, and even more than unqualified, Betsy DeVos is an actual danger to students — especially our most vulnerable students. She has made a career trying to destroy neighborhood public schools, the very cornerstone of what’s made our nation so strong.” DeVos, as controversial as any of Trump’s Cabinet picks, was confirmed by the Senate only after Mike Pence became the first vice president in history to break a tie for a Cabinet secretary. Eskelsen García has a history of being blunt. During the Obama administration, she attacked school reforms pushed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, saying in a speech at the 2014 annual NEA gathering, “Stop the stupid. And I’ll try really hard to make that diplomatic.” At that convention, NEA delegates voted on a resolution calling for Duncan to resign after years of protesting his reforms, including standardized-test-based accountability and the expansion of charter schools.


“We must all stand together”: NEA honors top educators


NEA honors Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton with Friend of Education Award


NEA-Retired elects new president


Review finds key omissions in school staffing report


Schools rethink meal-debt policies that humiliate kids


I finally found a way to get students talking in class: Teach it online


SEC settles fraud charges against defunct for-profit college company ITT


Study: Economic impact of arts, culture growing in South Florida


Deny Scott’s power grab on state high court


Miami judge rules state’s new Stand Your Ground law is unconstitutional


Cabinet's net worth grows 47 percent, reports show


Trump touts “great jobs numbers” that aren't actually so great


The economy President Trump loves looks a lot like the one candidate Trump hated


Business confidence boomed after the election. The economy hasn’t.


Why do we think poor people are poor because of their own bad choices?


Trump’s voter suppression efforts have begun


GOP official quits voter fraud panel as 44 states refuse to hand over data


Trump's voting fraud panel: What you need to know


Lawsuit slams election commission’s request: “Without precedent and crazy”


America’s future is Texas


Scott mum on Trump voter inquest as Democrats pounce


Florida musn’t open voter info to a witch hunt


Investigators explore if Russia colluded with pro-Trump sites


What everyone should know about the potential missing link in Trump-Russia probe


Mueller probe could draw focus to Russian crime operations


Months of Russia controversy leaves Trump “boxed in” ahead of Putin meeting


The narrow path forward for the GOP health insurance bill


Congress moves to stop IRS from enforcing health law mandate


Trump is trying to blow up the Obamacare strategy he pushed for


Republicans say Medicaid doesn't work. Here are all the ways they're wrong.


Five misleading Republican claims about health care


Hiaasen: The rich are worried sick, but (tax) relief is on the way!


At parades and protests, GOP lawmakers get earful about health care


Republicans asked for “Obamacare horror stories.” It didn’t go well.


Tampa Bay residents say Obamacare repeal would threaten lives and livelihoods


Republicans just quietly got some very good Supreme Court news


The threat Trump poses that gets almost no attention


Supreme Court’s take on the Muslim ban has already created a huge mess


Don’t count on the Supreme Court to stop Trump’s travel ban


After backing Trump, Christians who fled Iraq fall into his dragnet


Thanks to the Feds, an Afghan all-girl robotics team’s inspiring story ends in tears


Keep Dreamer protections


Pentagon considers canceling program that recruits immigrant soldiers


Happy Fourth of July! Show us your papers


Looming beyond the health-care fight is a GOP deadlock over the budget


The quiet effort to legalize discrimination against women who take birth control


Trump and Pruitt are the biggest threat to the EPA in its 47 years of existence


Trump's alarming environmental rollback: What's been scrapped so far


Federal court blocks Trump EPA on air pollution


Trump’s risky offshore oil strategy (co-written by Bob Graham)


Why the Republicans’ climate policy obstruction is indefensible


Justice Department expert says Trump conflicts made work feel hypocritical


Trump still hasn’t filled top jobs, and he has (mostly) himself to blame



Trump’s chaos is covering for stealth escalation overseas


Trump’s trade choice: Follow the postwar order or blow it up


U.S. nuclear inspection results now concealed


For Trump, threats but few options in confronting North Korea


On visit to Kabul, GOP senators say U.S. needs to win in Afghanistan


Trump's Poland visit sparks fears of widening divisions in Europe


All the president’s lawyers


Trump’s tweets are not a distraction: They demonstrate a new level of instability


Renewing our faith in America's ideals


Patriotism in the Trump era


The country I love


The biggest threat to American democracy isn't Trump's uncivil speech


Declaration of disruption


Our president is an insult to our founders


On Trump and the state of the union


What Trump has wrought


What will it take for the U.S. to eradicate racist ideas?


Want to get rid of Trump? Only Fox News can do it.


Trump’s attacks on the press don’t hurt the press. They hurt you.


Free-press groups warn of violence against media


Think Trump’s press-bashing doesn’t affect local journalists? Think again.




 0 user(s) rated this page
Login to leave a comment
No Comments yet