Archives for category: Bush, Jeb

Kathleen Oropeza leads a statewide parent group in Florida called “Fund Education Now,” which advocates on behalf of public education. She sends the following report of the latest news from the state legislature, which is very charter-friendly. The head of the house education appropriations committee is related to the family that owns the Academica charter chain, one of the wealthiest charter chains in the state. (It is under federal investigation for conflicts of interest.) According to the Miami Herald, Academica has cleverly accumulated a real estate empire worth more than $115 million through its charter acquisitions. To really understand this charter miracle story, read Jersey Jazzman’s analysis.

 

Digital learning is, of course, one of the priorities of Jeb Bush’s organization, the Foundation for Educational Excellence, which is funded by tech corporations (Jeb stepped down as leader of FEE when he announced for the presidency and was replaced by education expert Condoleeza Rice).

 

For the definitive guide to Florida’s politically active charter schools, see this report by the Florida League of Women Voters, especially pp. 13-14, which describes conflicts of interest.

 

Oropeza writes:
Charter Expansion/Open Enrollment/Transfers millage dollars to charters

 
HB 7037/SB 1552/SB 1448/HB 1145 School Choice/Charter Expansion

 
The massive HB 7037 passed out of the House. It’s been sitting in Senate messages and there’s talk of pulling it back to the house to add amendments. It builds on the efforts of previous sessions to accelerate the expansion of charters, regardless of need through funding a pseudo-marketing/oversight arm, at Florida State University called the Florida Charter School Innovation Institute. It erodes the power of local school boards by allowing “open enrollment” across district lines, allows students to transfer to another classroom based on concerns about the teacher, creates a “charter school district” giving principals increased autonomy from local district rule, allows unrestricted replication of high performing charters in high-need areas. Removes eligibility requirements for enrollment in public K-12 virtual education and allows more charter school systems to act as a Local Education Agency for purposes of administering Federal funding.
In addition, this bill requires districts to give charter school developers a portion of the money raised through millage levies to fund district capital school improvements and new construction. Charters received $100 M and $50M over the past two years via PECO. The issue is two-fold: PECO dollars must be allocated each year to charters by the legislature and so far this has not happened in 2015. Second, Voter-approved millage increases are the sole source of capital funding for district schools. HB 7037 states that charter chains must be given a percentage of local tax dollars to pay for & improve buildings the public may never own.
This vastly increases the money sent to Charter chains to purchase real estate and develop schools. It represents approximately $137 million dollars. If the legislature does not designate PECO to charters this year or in future years, districts will have to pay millions of dollars that they cannot possibly afford in locally raised tax dollars to support unfettered charter school growth.

 

 

Digital Learning

 
SB 1264 – Digital Classrooms by Legg is scheduled for its last committee stop on 4.21.15. This bill is significant because the technology was not addressed in the testing bill/HB 7069. This bill establishes requirements for digital classroom technology infrastructure planning by the Agency for State Technology or a contracted organization; requires the Office of Technology and Information Services of the Department of Education to consult with the Agency for State Technology in developing the 5-year strategic plan for Florida digital classrooms; specifies conditions for a school district to maintain eligibility for Florida digital classrooms allocation funds.

 

 

Allocates $10 million to be spent by the Agency for State Technology (AST) on a vendor of their choice. Look for amendments to this bill to address the technology funding deleted from the testing bill.

 

Testing

 
HB 7069 was signed into law by Gov. Scott this week. The bill address some issues raised by districts, teachers and parents, which is good. The fact remains that the law does not go far enough. Most of Florida’s standardized tests and the rules used to punish students, teachers and schools remain intact. That said, public education advocates have made an impact regarding Florida standardized testing and HB 7060 reflects that. Read a full description of what this bill does and does not do here.

No sooner did Mercedes Schneider post a blog about the disintegration of Jeb Bush’s “Chiefs for Change,” than the group decided it needed a makeover. After all, as Mercedes pointed out: As of March 10, 2015, it boasts only four members, down from 13 in October 2014. The remaining members are John White of Louisiana, Deborah Gist of Rhode Island, Hannah Skandera of New Mexico, and Mark Murphy of Delaware. And one of the four, Deborah Gist, is on her way to Tulsa to become superintendent. Which brings the “Chiefs” down to only three. The “Chiefs” have been a reliable echo chamber for Jeb Bush’s policies, favoring high-stakes testing, the Common Core, charter schools, evaluation of teachers by test scores, digital learning, and A-F school grades. The new leader of this tiny group of three Chiefs is John White, a big supporter of vouchers, for-profit charters, and the rest of Jeb Bush’s agenda.

 

But now that their number has diminished so dramatically, the group has decided to open its ranks to city superintendents (allowing Gist to remain a member). And now that Jeb Bush is a Presidential candidate, it will strike out on its own, no longer an adjunct to Bush’s “Foundation for Educational Excellence.” The group says it is looking for “bipartisan education leaders” and hopes to have a voice in the debate about the future of No Child Left Behind.

[Reposting in case you missed this story last night, DR]

 

The Néw York Times tells the sad story of the life and death of Jeb Bush’s charter school. Bush now recalls his involvement in the school to demonstrate his prowess as an education reformer. But the actual experience of the school shows the perils of Bush’s free-market ideology.

In 1996, Jeb Bush co-founded Florida’s first charter school, called Liberty City Charter School, in an impoverished black neighborhood in Miami. His co-founder was head of the city’s Urban League. Two years earlier, he had narrowly lost the governor’s race. When asked what he would do for blacks if elected, he responded, “Probably nothing.” Looking ahead to the next election, he needed to “soften” his image. The founding of a charter school for poor black children was his vehicle.

After he was elected governor in 1998, Jeb Bush created a model of tough accountability, pre-dating his brother George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law. Among other things, Jeb graded every school, A-F. His charter school won an A in 2006, and he was very proud.

However, the school sunk into financial trouble, and its grade plummeted to D. Bush’s second term as governor ended in 2007, and he did not do much to help the school as it struggled with debt. In 2008, it closed.

What did Jeb Bush learn from the failure of his model school? Not much. He certainly didn’t learn about the limits of the free market in education.

Nonetheless, the now defunct school still remains valuable to Presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

Times’ reporter Jason Horowitz writes:

“But with Mr. Bush all but certain to be running for office again, this time for the White House, the school he once championed is again useful. As he tries to sell himself to the conservative Republicans wary of his support for the testing standards they consider emblematic of government overreach, he can speak with authority on charter schools, funded largely by taxpayers but run by private companies, as a free-market antidote to liberal teachers’ unions and low performance.

“And his firsthand experience in the education of underprivileged urban grade-schoolers lends him credibility in a party that has suddenly seized upon the gap between the rich and poor as politically promising terrain. In his first speech as a likely presidential candidate in Detroit last month, Mr. Bush credited Liberty City Charter School with helping “change education in Florida”

“But Mr. Bush’s uplifting story of achievement and reform avoided mentioning the school by name or its unhappy ending. For all his early and vital involvement during his 1998 campaign for governor, and for all the help he offered from afar in the governor’s office, Mr. Bush’s commitment to his school project was not as enduring as some students and teachers might have hoped.”

Others might view Liberty City Charter School as a symbol not of “achievement and reform,” but of the impermanence and empty promises of charter schools.

Roseanne Woods was a high school principal in Florida for 32 years. She is now a protester and a blogger. She is outraged by Florida’s punitive testing and accountability regime. In this post, she describes a state that cares more about testing than teaching.

For her steadfast dedication to real education, I place Roseanne Woods on the blog’s honor roll.

She writes:

“Children are stressed out and parents are m ad enough to want their children to “Opt-Out” of all high-stakes testing. Frustrated teachers are leaving the profession and superintendents are demanding real change. Lawmakers: how about some real relief?

 

“Florida schools are about to hit the big testing/school grades accountability iceberg this spring. Why? This year, instead of FCAT, all 3rd-11th grade students will be taking brand new tests on the extremely challenging Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), aka, Common Core Standards. Third graders who don’t score well on reading will be retained and high school students who don’t pass will not graduate. Schools will receive A-F school grades based on these scores.

 

“Not to worry—districts have been assured by DOE that the scores will be “normed” (manipulated) to match last year’s scores. Somehow, that gives little comfort

 

“Here’s a sample 3rd grade math problem— ‘A bakery uses 48 pounds of flour each day. It orders flour every 28 days. Create an equation that shows how many pounds of flour the bakery
needs to order every 28 days.’

 

“Any wonder many parents are having trouble helping their children with homework?

 

“There are now 154 of the 180 days on the Florida State Testing Calendar devoted to a variety of required state assessments in grades K-12 that effect schools’ grades. Any wonder that schools are spending more and more time prepping and practicing for these tests?…

 

“To make matters worse, schools also have to implement Florida Statute 1012.34– requiring 50% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on “rigorous” tests for every subject/course taught. So, at great expense, school districts have been scrambling to create over 1200 tests on courses not covered by the required Florida Standards Assessments, FSA. These district assessments must cover quite the spectrum including art, physical ed., drama and guidance counselors. By law, elementary students must take 6-7 end-of-course tests to prove their teachers did a good enough job to be eligible for a performance bonus.”

 

Florida is a very sick state. Please, someone, invite the Governor and the State Board of Education to visit Finland! All that time and money for testing is wasted.

Jeb Bush prides himself on being a master of technology. He was one of the main movers behind a report called “Digital Learning NOW!,” which was underwritten by a score of technology companies. Many of those same companies are sponsors of Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence, and he has actively promoted replacing teachers with technology. A reporter in Maine traced the links between Bush and his sponsors and won a major journalism award for this story.

 

But technologically speaking, this was a bad week for Jeb Bush. First, in an effort to demonstrate transparency, he released a trove of private emails, not knowing that he was making public the emails, addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases, social security numbers of people who had corresponded with him. Then, he had another tech problem. He hired some guy to be his campaign’s technology director who had a long trail of misogynistic statements, referring to women as “sluts,” for example.

 

Read about it here.

This scintillating article by Alex Leary in the Tampa Bay Times explores the curious but close alliance between Jeb Bush and the Obama administration. Jeb, Arne, and Barack are on the same page. They all believe in testing, high-stakes, charter schools, closing schools, and the Common Core.

He tells the story of the day in March 2011 when the three pals met at Miami Central High School to celebrate its successful “turnaround” after the firing of most of the staff. Leary doesn’t mention that while the President and Duncan were in Miami, thousands of protestors were demonstrating at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker and the legislature were stripping away the rights of public sector unions.

He also doesn’t mention, probably doesn’t know, that one month after the Bush-Obama-Duncan photo op at Miami Central, the state notified the school that it was on the list to be closed because of its low scores.

Strange buddies, indeed. Allies in promoting truly terrible education policies.

Renowned educator Condoleeza Rice is taking charge of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence while Bush runs for President.

Former Secretary of State Rice established her credentials in K-12 education when she co-chaired a task force with Joel Klein at the Council on Foreign Relations, which concluded that public education in America was so dreadful that it threatened our national security.

The Néw Yorker has a long article about Jeb Bush’s passionate interest in reforming public education by high-stakes testing, report cards, and privatization. Since his own children attend private schools, they are not affected by his grand redesign of public education.

To boil down his approach, regular public schools get loaded down with mandates and regulations. Charter schools are free of mandates and regulations, and many are run for profit. As public schools are squeezed by the competition with charters, they get larger classes and fewer programs. Meanwhile, Bush’s friends and allies get very rich.

It is a thorough story about Jeb Bush’s mission to turn public education into an industry.. One conclusion: If he were elected President, it would be the end of public education as we have known it for more than 150 years.

Republican Governor Susana Martinez is a strong supporter of Common Core and PARCC. She is a follower of the Jeb Bush model of school reform, with ratings and grades for everyone.

 

Democratic State Senator Linda M. Lopez has introduced legislation to withdraw from Common Core and PARCC. It will be interesting to see if any Republicans are willing to buck the Governor or if any Democrats are willing to stand with the veteran Senator Lopez.

 

Governor Martinez selected Hanna Skandera as Commissioner of Education, but the Democratic-controlled State Senate has not confirmed her because she has no teaching experience as the law requires. Skandera previously worked for Jeb Bush, and before that for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Skandera is currently leader of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change and a strong supporter of Common Core, VAM, and high-stakes testing.

Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post reported on Jeb Bush’s foundation and his use of it to advance his political goals and the financial interests. It’s a great story. Read it.

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