Saturday, January 14, 2017

Before DeVos, look at Florida's school 'reform' mess - Orlando Sentinel

Before DeVos, look at Florida's school 'reform' mess - Orlando Sentinel:

Before DeVos, look at Florida's school 'reform' mess

Betsy DeVos wants to bring education 'reform' nationwide. In Florida, even 'reformers' regret what they did
This week, Congress began vetting Donald Trump's Cabinet nominations.
Fireworks flew as members vetted nominees such as Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State.
I don't know Tillerson from Adam. So I'll leave the fighting over him to the D.C. politicians.
But I'm very familiar with the school "reform" movement championing Betsy DeVos as Trump's pick for education secretary — because Florida has been Ground Zero on that front.
And here in Florida, that so-called "reform" has been a disaster.
Don't take it from me. Take it from a bipartisan coalition of legislators who have admitted that Florida's testing-obsessed brand of "reform" has spiraled out of control and ultimately hurt both students and teachers.
Just last week, Republican legislators vowed to roll back some of the testing overkill started by Jeb Bush — the man leading the charge to put DeVos in charge of schools nationwide.
The problems are evident. Under Florida's so-called "reform" and "accountability" movement…
•Testing mandates have been so intense that some schools reported that test-related activities interrupted more than 60, 70 and even 90 of the 180 school days each year.
•Three years ago, Orange County had to create 1,000 new standardized tests — for everything from P.E. to band — to keep up with mandates.
•Science and art classes have been cut — sometimes entire courses, sometimes nine full weeks of curriculum, just so students could run more testing drills.
•Teachers have fled the state's public schools — so much that the state's own research show 40 percent of new teachers leave within five years after they start.
This is why Republican legislators have already begun repealing some of the very "reform" measures they used to champion.
But here's the real problem with the "accountability" movement: It is bogus.
Reformers bog down public schools with mandates that parents and teachers hate — but then offer vouchers to schools that don't have to meet the same standards.
Think about that. It's an obvious double standard with a goal of driving drive people away from traditional schools and to the private ones.
It's like offering someone two plates of barbecue ribs. You're free to choose whichever plate you want ... oh, but first we're going to place a big steaming pile of dog poop on top of one of them. Now choose!
Of course you're going to choose the poo-free platter.
If these folks were honest, they'd require every school that takes one nickel of public money or tax credits to meet the same standards. Some. None. Just be consistent.
But they don't. Because that would be a fair fight.
A few years ago, legislators actually talked about requiring private schools that receive vouchers to meet the same "accountability" standards — and the private schools went bonkers.
One pro-voucher group even penned a column in the Sentinel saying that forcing them to play by the same burdensome rules would "threaten private-school appeal."
Well, no kidding. The private schools basically said: What you are doing to public schools is so bad that, if you do it to us as well, people wouldn't choose us anymore.
It was basically an admission that the "reform" movement — with "accountability" for Before DeVos, look at Florida's school 'reform' mess - Orlando Sentinel:


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