Archives for category: Florida

This post appears on a Florida blog called Accountabaloney. The blog was started by two parents in southern Florida, a retired pediatrician and a graphic designer. They are Sue Woltanski and Suzette Lopez.

This is the planned statement I presented to the Monroe County School Board, my local district board, on Tuesday, January 26, 2015. In it, I called the alarm regarding Competency Based Education (CBE), data mining and the planned destruction of public school as we know it. Please read it, study the attached links and additional reading, and share the information. We hope it will inspire parents and educators to speak out against efforts to destroy public schools while profiting off our children.

We believe Florida’s accountabaloney system is deeply entangled in this move to CBE. Schools and teachers must be labeled as failing, otherwise there is no political will to completely overhaul them. Years of underfunding public schools has hastened their demise. Voucher programs highlight the concocted need for students to flee failing schools while nothing is done towards funding needed public school improvements. State mandated remediation programs have brought CBE and data mining into our classrooms.

It must be stopped.

Mr. Chairman, Board Members, Mr. Superintendent,

Almost 2 years ago, I first spoke to this board about concerns regarding standardized testing. At that time I quoted State Representative Keith Perry who, during a House Education committee meeting had described the current state of education as a period of “Creative Destruction” in which only by destroying our schools will we emerge in the future with something better. He called this “the American Way.” At last fall’s Excellence in Education Summit, Miami Representative Erik Fresen publicly repeated the need to completely destroy public schools (at 54:45).

“Policy is what matters… The most courageous policy of all, which is: take the entire system that exists right now and disrupt it completely. That will require policy changes.”

Today, I am here to, once again, sound the alarm and to inform you that the complete destruction of our public schools is closer than you think. It goes by the name of Competency Based Education and it has already infiltrated Monroe County Public Schools. Multiple bills are currently being pushed through the Florida legislature this session allowing the unbridled expansion of the policies Mr. Fresen needs to “take down the entire system.”

I will try to outline what is happening:

In this modern computer era, digital personal data is gold, currently being traded like currency. You know when you search for something on Amazon and Google and then you start seeing ads related to that search in your feed? That is the result of data mining.

In a video I have linked, the CEO of Knewton explains how Education is today’s most data mined industry. He explains “the name of the game is data per user.” From Amazon or Netflix they get 1 data point per user per day. Google and Facebook 10 data points per user per day. In education, Knewton gets 5-10 million actionable data points per student per day! Apparently, every sentence of every passage in digital content has a data tag and they can tell how interested a child is in a certain topic, how difficult it was, etc., etc. Ten million data points a day! This data grab is a gold mine to companies that want to market and design products. For venture capitalists, Education is the new hot commodity.

This is probably why last year’s FSA had a reading passage straight out of American Girl… Not only is this, clearly, product placement advertising on our state mandated test, which should be questioned, but, by using a data tagged American Girl passage, data can be collected to see just what parts of the story is most interesting to boys and girls and marketing strategies can be developed.

This is also why, though paper and pencil tests would dramatically reduce testing time, there is an insistence on computer based testing. On a computer based test, more data than just marked answers can and is being collected and shared.

This also explains why state approved remedial reading and math programs have essentially all been computer based. State tests can be created, and cut scores manipulated, in order to fail large numbers of students and state law can mandate each failing student participate in a digital remediation program, ensuring a steady stream of data points to third party participants.

Keep in mind that student test scores are digitally linked to personal identification data, including student address, IEP, free lunch status, health records, and discipline records and god knows what else. What if your “permanent record” went viral? Last November, a U.S. Congressional committee criticized the USDOE, exposing how vulnerable its information systems are to security threats. I encourage you to watch the proceeding. Currently, federal student data is NOT secure.

Monroe County already participates in the sharing of student data through associations with Certi-port, Achieve 3000, iReady, iStation, and more. These are vendors that are known to collect and distribute student data. Can they guarantee our student’s privacy is protected? Who are they sharing the data with? Do we know? We do not.

Last week, the Senate Education Committee voted favorably on SB1714. This bill allows for Competency Based Education pilot programs, funded by massive grants from the Gates Foundation, in Lake and Pinellas County and at P.K. Yonge. An amendment was added allowing Commissioner Stewart to expand the program to other counties. They are expanding the program before they have any data on its effectiveness. By 2022 every single school in Lake County will be converted to CBE.

In Florida, to my knowledge, There has never been a legislative workshop devoted to even discussing what CBE involves. CBE is a data driven education system that follows a set of prescribed standards and requires demonstration of “competency” before advancement. It has embedded testing within the curriculum that collects hidden streams of data via unknown algorithms. Stealth, continuous data–collected by vendors, can be shared with third parties–parental consent not needed.

The goal is to digitalize education so data can be collected and, remember, data is gold.

According to Edweek, researchers are busy developing computerized tutoring systems that gather information on students’ facial expressions, heart rate, posture, pupil dilation, and more. Those data are then analyzed for signs of student engagement, boredom, or confusion, leading a computer avatar to respond with encouragement, empathy, or maybe a helpful hint.” Creepy…

The measurement of social and emotional competencies, like grit, perseverance and tenacity, is a stated goal of the USDOE . Measurement of these non-cognitive competencies is already embedded into education programs.

Monroe has spent millions of dollars increasing our technology capabilities under mandates from the state. Initially we were concerned that all these computers were used for little more than testing and test prep. The mandates may, actually, have been in preparation for CBE.

The good news is that, with CBE, end of course exams and the FSA will become obsolete. When data on student progress can be collected every minute of every day, the “BIG” test is no longer necessary.

The bad news… teachers won’t be necessary, either. Current pilot programs include teachers as facilitators but soon taxpayers will wonder why we need to pay a professional to monitor students engaged in primarily an online education and a move will be made to hire a less expensive substitute. By then high quality teachers, stripped of all professional decision making, will have already left the profession in droves.

Why even have brick and mortar buildings for an education that mostly takes place on line?

Why even call it education anymore when it is really the harvesting of student data?

Consider this the alarm.

In hindsight, it becomes clear that this was the goal all along. We have been allowing our children to participate in this huge data gathering scheme which has the ultimate goal of destroying public school as we know it. Students need face to face interactions with humans. No computer algorithm can allow and encourage the creative mind. America has prospered because of creativity and ingenuity. We must fight to keep that in our schools. We need to stop participating in the system designed to destroy our schools. This is not about accountability and it is certainly not about what is best “for the kids.” What is best for the kids is that everyone stands up and says “our children are not data points for you to profit from.”

Competency Based Education is NOT the answer for the type of quality public education I want my children to have. It IS the complete destruction of public schools that Representatives Fresen and Perry have envisioned. Do not expect prestigious private schools to institute it. CBE is designed for “other people’s children” and it has already infiltrated our schools. And it will make a few people ultra rich.

SB 1714 allows for CBE expansion without any evidence it even works.

It is the start of a Brave New World and we need to keep it out of Monroe County until and unless long term data from these pilot studies demonstrates its effectiveness.

In the meantime, I ask that you protect our children from the data grab. Achieve 3000, iReady, iStation, and other CBE data mining programs are already being used throughout Monroe. There should be significant discussions regarding whether their risks outweigh their benefits.

The alarm has been sounded. Please heed this warning.

Thank you.

ADDENDUM:

While asking for input in writing these remarks, these two remarks were particularly worthy of repeating in full:

From an Electrical Engineer by training, Information Security Professional by career choice and Software Engineer, having developed many commercial applications. He has first hand experienced developing applications for education – and has witnessed the “lure of data data data”:

Your definition of CBE is far too generous and idealistic. Let me just say that CBE and CBT crap has been around for a very, very long time.. The essence of it really comes down to nothing more than one long series of IF THEN ELSE statements preprogrammed to provide the illusion that you are advancing or retracting.

In other words this is just a three letter word that represents a profession (teaching) being codified into a linear progression of computer steps.

There is far too much faith that this will somehow magically create a more learned student than what a dedicated human being can. CBE and CBT are all about removing the need for professional teachers — fast forward 20 years…

If we let them use our kids to perfect this technology: teachers will look and act more like electronic librarians or proctors. All the courses and supporting standards will have been written I eve, debugged (at the cost of your children’s education) and shrink wrapped into a tidy downloadable virtual machine. Going to school will look a whole lot more like Startreck the search for Spock when Spock was brought back as a boy and forced to relearn a lifetime of knowledge downloaded into computer based CBT and CBE.

This stuff will make a lot if people very very rich, but until it’s fully functional we will loose generations of children to poor education through this grand technological dissection of the educational process. Computer Programmers are quite prone to being godlike – in commanding and getting their own way – after all they are creating their own alternate reality through their profession. That is CBE and CBT – a codified alternate reality that we won’t know if it’s good or bad until we put a classroom if kids through it !

From Peggy Robertson (www.pegwithpen.com)

People truly are not getting what is happening because mainstream media is keeping this very very quiet. Look at Colorado. One of the advanced states. Consequentially, CBE “advanced” states will also be the fastest to move towards alt. certified/fake teachers who stick around for a couple years. Because…… when you have 150 kids on computers and the computer creates the curriculum and the computer assesses students daily and plans for the next day’s instruction, well, golly, it seems there’s no need for a teacher in that picture. All that is needed is facilitators and a teacher here and there when it’s necessary to round up the kids for a computer lesson that the COMPUTER decides a human might actually need to teach. Don’t believe me? Check out Teach to One Math. Check out Carpe Diem. Check out Hickenlooper’s executive order for badges and Relay’s current foothold in Colorado. Check out my blogs that discuss this at http://www.pegwithpen.com. Check out the ESSA which GIVES FUNDING TO MAKE ALL THIS HAPPEN. And they will sell it as inquiry project/performance based that allows children to move and advance at their own pace – and let me tell you what it will really be…..mundane, skill,drill instruction that is tied to standards that will have many many data tags that will be used to track and manage children and make changes within the curriculum based on the shifts and demands within the market – NOT based on needs of children. If they want to, they can tell the public that suddenly we need a flood of pharmacists (for example), they can direct students into this profession via online classes, flood the market, therefore knock down salaries and benefit the corporate regime. Don’t think for a second that this was ever about the common good.

Peggy

ADDITIONAL READING:

The first four are “must reads” but really you should read it all, and more. They are talking about profiting off the total destruction of public school.:

CBE Online is Neither Personalized Nor Higher-Order Thinking!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/11/12/the-astonishing-amount-of-data-being-collected-about-your-children/

The Business of Badging and Predicting Children’s Futures

http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2016/01/personalized-learning

http://emilytalmage.com She documents CBE which is being instituted in Maine Schools

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/01/07/new-student-database-slammed-by-privacy-experts/

In top performing nations, teachers – not students- use technology. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/09/22/study-students-who-use-computers-often-in-school-have-lower-test-scores

https://epic.org/2016/01/epic-warns-education-departmen.html

http://kcur.org/post/missouri-auditor-finds-student-social-security-information-risk#stream/0

http://missourieducationwatchdog.com/data-breaches-and-ostriches/

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/10/internet-companies-confusing-consumers-profit

https://www.facebook.com/notes/alison-hawver-mcdowell/a-troubling-scenario-cbehigher-edindustrystudent-debttechinternet-providers/415669021959739?hc_location=ufi

How to Foster Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance: An Educator’s Guide

Are Monroe County’s Chromebooks protected?

“Google’s Chromebooks as used in schools also come with “Chrome Sync” enabled by default, a feature that sends the student users’ entire browsing trail to Google, linking the data collected to the students’ accounts which often include their names and dates of birth. Google notes that the tracking behavior can be turned off by the student or even at a district level. But as shipped, students’ Chromebooks are configured to send every student’s entire browsing history back to Google, in near real time. That’s true even despite Google’s signature on the “Student Privacy Pledge” which includes a commitment to “not collect student personal information beyond that needed for authorized educational/school purposes, or as authorized by the parent/student.”

This is important: Google becomes school official if Chrome books used in classroom, meaning that FERPA rules do not apply. http://www.local15tv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/Google-Becomes-a-39-School-Official-39-if-Chromebooks-Used-in-Classrooms-248827.shtml#.VqLG8sdYfSc

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/12/30/google-a-school-official-this-regulatory-quirk-can-leave-parents-in-the-dark/

Jimmy Qin, a junior at Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida, received a perfect score on the AP Physics examination. He was one of only two students to earn a perfect score. Nearly 23,000 students took the test.

 

Seminole is not a magnet school or a charter school. It is a regular public school.

 

Jimmy is in the International Baccalaureate program at Seminole.

 

Beyond physics, Jimmy’s interests include politics and economics. His favorite magazines are “The New Yorker”and “The Economist,” while his favorite newspaper is “The New York Times.”

 

Jimmy also plays the piano and cello. He’s a member of the Florida Young Artists Orchestra, where he is the principal cellist and has performed as a soloist four times.

 

 

If it were up to the “reformers” in Florida’s legislature, Seminole High School would not exist anymore. It would have been given away to for-profit charter entrepreneurs and turned into a lucrative real estate deal.

Florida’s Democratic leader of the House is urging parents to opt their children out of testing. If other Democrats joined in, there would be a groundswell of support for opting out.

“Florida Rep. Mark Pafford, leader of the House Democrats, is urging parents to consider taking their children out of the annual spring Florida Standards Assessments.

“I hope every parent begins to take the time to understand how serious this issue is,” Pafford said at a recent press availability. “That their children are being subjected to tests that in the end don’t amount to much. That the data that comes from those tests are sometimes shared so late it doesn’t matter.

“And, frankly… you have to question the purpose of these tests, whether they’re being used in the best way for children in advancing the public education system, or whether, in fact, they’re being used to create a bastardized type of education system that’s dependent on the private sector.”

This is a shocking development. Associates of Jeb Bush have filed public records requests about elected local school board members. Behind this tactic is a growing anti-charter sentiment. Floridians have become aware of the numerous financial scandals connected to charters. Because of Bush, Florida is one of the friendliest environments in the nation for the charter industry.

 

 

“Folio Weekly has learned that three of Duval County’s seven sitting board members have been targeted for public records requests by Robert H. Fernandez, a litigation attorney who once served as Deputy General Counsel to Gov. Jeb Bush.

 

 

“Fernandez, a partner in the Coral Gables-based Zumpano Castro Law Firm, has issued two separate public records requests to Duval County School Board members Becki Couch, Dr. Connie Hall, and Paula Wright.

 

 

“Who is Robert H. Fernandez?

 
“As Deputy General Counsel in the then-Governor’s office, Fernandez served as a top lieutenant in Bush-brand education reform, particularly on school privatization efforts. Fernandez and one other attorney represented Jeb Bush in Florida’s landmark school voucher case, Bush v. Holmes. The Holmes case ended Bush’s plan for tax dollars to be used for private school vouchers. (Now, pre-treasury, “tax-credit” dollars are used for private school vouchers through the 501c3 organization, Step Up For Students.)

 

 

“According to his firm’s website, Fernandez “… is considered one of the leading lawyers in South Florida on representation of elected officials and candidates on election and ethics law issues.”

 

 

“Fernandez also once served as a reference for the cousin of charter school lobbyist Ralph Arza.

 

 

“Hugo Arza listed Fernandez and one other Bush-affiliated attorney when he applied to serve on the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission in 2007. The commission, which was designed to take charter school decisions out of the hands of local school districts, became defunct in 2008, when the First District Court of Appeals found it unconstitutional. Folio Weekly left a message for Fernandez on his office voicemail, but the call was not returned in time for our publication deadline.

 

 

“Who is Ralph Arza?

 

 

“Ralph Arza, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, turned himself into the police for witness tampering charges in 2006. He admitted to leaving an obscenity-laced voicemail message for fellow lawmaker Gus Barreiro, and to using a racial slur in that recording. Barreiro had previously filed a complaint against Arza for calling a sitting schools superintendent a racial slur. Arza pled guilty in the criminal matter, served probation and community service, enrolled in anger management classes, and apologized publicly for his actions. He also withdrew his name from consideration for re-election to the House.

 

 

“Prior to the scandal, Arza was regarded as an important point-person in the Florida House for implementing Bush’s education reform initiatives. Arza, quoted often in the media as a longtime friend and adviser to presidential candidate Marco Rubio, now lobbies for the Florida Charter School Alliance. FSCA is one of several school-privatization advocacy organizations that are organized under the umbrella “Florida Alliance for Choice in Education,” or FACE.

 

 

“A vocal champion of school privatization, Arza told CBS affiliate WPEC-TV Channel 12 in South Florida, “The parents decide where the money goes, not the school district.”

 

 

“Charter schools have become more controversial in Palm Beach County recently, where, on Nov. 9, the school board voted 6-0 against opening a new CharterSchoolsUSA operation, citing a lack of innovative programming, which state statutes require. Charter schools are privately run, publicly funded organizations. Charter schools operate in privately held real estate assets, which receive public dollars for capital improvements.”

 

 

Florida led the way in creating a system where schools and students are judged by test scores. Florida has seen some test score gains, but it is nowhere near the top of the national field in national examinations. How many hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on testing, accountability, grading, and choice, with little to show for it?

 

Now parents and educators are at odds about how to straighten out a system that few have faith in. Jeb Bush may say on the campaign trail that he modernized education in Florida, but not many in Florida would agree with him.

 

The state board of education just agreed to make tests harder to pass, but easier for a school to get an A.

 

On one side is the business community, demanding higher standards and harder tests. On the other are parents and educators, complaining about the “test-and-punish” strategy. Educators are calling for a total overhaul.

 

But the biggest problem is:

 

“the growing lack of confidence in the 16-year-old education accountability system.

 

“We still contend that our accountability system needs to have another look-see,” said Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning, echoing the state superintendents association’s position. “We need to review it in total, not just pieces.”

 

Groups promoting tougher standards expressed dismay after the board’s vote, suggesting the outcome presents a too-rosy picture of student and school performance. Those who see the current model as “test and punish” were equally disappointed, saying the board stuck to the status quo rather than looking for ways to improve beyond “raising the bar.”

 

Even board members acknowledged their effort was incomplete. Lacking learning gains data, they asked Stewart to restart the conversation in the summer, after students have completed their spring FSAs.

 

“New standards, a new assessment, rollout challenges, and an absence of learning gains all impact the results in ways that we can’t predict,” board member Rebecca Fishman Lipsey said. “It seems responsible for us to wait for a second set of more complete data … then step back and ask ourselves if our grading system is set correctly.”

 

The question of whether school grading accomplishes its stated task of improving schools has long been a focal point of Florida education politics. It came into stark relief in 2013, though, when former education commissioner Tony Bennett — one of the nation’s biggest promoters of accountability and grading — resigned his Florida post over a school grades scandal in his home state of Indiana.

The Tampa Bay Times published an editorial expressing their disgust with the wheeling and dealing of charter school operators. This suggests an awakening. Enough is enough. Thanks to Jeb Bush, Florida is one of the charter-friendliest states in the nation. It has more than 600 charters. They open and close like day-lilies.

 

The editorial board writes:

 

Florida has invested heavily in privately run charter schools for years, and the payoff for taxpayers has been uneven at best. While some successful charter schools fill particular needs in local communities, too many have failed and research shows they have not outperformed traditional public schools in the state. Taxpayers also have lost millions in construction costs and other capital investments when charter schools have closed, and state lawmakers should revisit the oversight and funding for these schools.

 
The state has lost as much as $70 million in money for construction, rent and other costs when charter schools have closed over the last 15 years, a recent Associated Press analysis found. In Broward County, 19 now-closed charter schools received $16.5 million. In Hillsborough County, 17 now-closed charter schools received more than $5.4 million. In Pasco County, three now-closed charter schools received more than $900,000, and in Pinellas County three received almost $550,000. In Miami-Dade County, the Liberty City Charter that Jeb Bush helped establish before he ran for governor in 1998 received more than $1 million in capital money from the state before it closed with financial problems. Why should taxpayers be shouldering such financial risk and eating these losses for privately run schools?

 

 

It would be one thing if traditional public schools were flush with cash with no need for new construction or maintenance. In fact, the state’s 67 school districts received no new construction money for three years before finally dividing a modest $50 million last year (a handful of rural counties got another $59.7 million). Those facilities are used by more than 2.7 million students, yet far fewer charter schools that served about 230,000 students split $75 million. This year traditional schools and charter schools each received $50 million, and Gov. Rick Scott recommends public schools and charter schools each get $75 million for construction and maintenance for 2016-17. But a 50-50 split of the money is hardly fair. Pinellas County schools alone have more than $400 million in construction and capital needs over the next five years, yet the district has received just $8.1 million in construction and maintenance money from the state over the last five years.

 

 

Teacher Andy Goldstein reads a poem which is a variation of Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Andy, who teaches in the public schools of Florida, recites a poem called “How the ALEC stole the Public Out of Public Education.”

In Florida, the public school budget has become a playground for hucksters, scam artists, and profiteers. The charter industry has captured the Republican Party and the State Legislature. Crony capitalism at its worst.

Valerie Strauss reports that Florida’s legislature may blow away another $44 million on a program that has been called “the worst and dumbest” in the state. This is the “best and brightest” bonus for teachers who got high SAT and ACT scores when they were in high school.

 

I earlier reported that the Florida Education Association has sued to block this program. But the Legislature evidently has fallen for the idea, even though it lacks a scintilla of evidence for its efficacy.

 

Strauss writes:

 

 

It turns out that about 5,200 teachers qualified and will get the bonuses soon — about 3 percent of Florida’s 170,000 eligible classroom instructors, the Sentinel reported, but there isn’t enough money to pay them all. One teacher not on the list: Florida’s teacher of the year, who was feted last summer at a black-tie event with Gov. Rick Scott.

 

And now, Florida lawmakers want to extend the program to go beyond one year. In fact, the state House education committee recently approved a bill to do just that. So this nonsense could easily last more than one year and waste more than $44 million.

 

Teachers who never took the SAT or the ACT don’t qualify for the bonus, nor do veteran teachers who can’t locate the scores of tests that they took many years ago. This isn’t merit pay or performance pay. It is a signing bonus for bright young people who make no commitment to stay.

 

This is a giveaway to Teach for America, the bright young kids who will get a $10,000 bonus before they start teaching, then leave after two or three years.

 

It is the “worst and dumbest” idea yet. At least in Florida.

The Florida Education Association is suing to block the implementation of a program that gives $10,000 bonuses to teachers with high SAT or ACT scores (taken in high school), but denies the bonuses to regular teachers unless they can not only produce their high school scores (20 years ago? 30 years ago?) but are rated “highly effective.” At the time the bill was passed, even some Republican legislators called it “the worst bill of the year.” It never had a hearing in the Senate. Its author wrote the bill after he read Amanda Ripley’s “The Smartest Kids in the World.”

 
December 21, 2015 Contact: Mark Pudlow 850.201.3223 or 850.508.9756

 
FEA files discrimination charges against
Best and Brightest teacher bonus program

 
The Florida Education Association (FEA) filed age and race discrimination charges today against the Florida Department of Education and the state’s school districts over implementation of the controversial Best and Brightest bonus program that was slipped into the state budget at the close of June’s special session of the Florida Legislature. FEA filed the charges with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

 

“Too many high-quality teachers in Florida were denied access to this bonus program because of the unfair and discriminatory rules and short timeline set up by lawmakers,” said FEA President Joanne McCall. “This bonus plan wasn’t thought out very well and wasn’t properly vetted in the Legislature and that has resulted in many good teachers unfairly denied access to this bonus.”

 

In the complaint, FEA notes that the Legislature appropriated more than $44 million for salary bonuses of a maximum of $10,000 each to teachers who received an evaluation of “highly effective” and who scored in the 80th percentile or above on their college admission test, either the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) or the ACT (American College Testing). The law exempts all first-year teachers from the “highly effective” requirement.

 

The complaint says this bonus program discriminates against teachers who are older than 40 and minority teachers, providing these reasons:

 

· Because no percentile data is available from ACT or SAT for teachers who took these tests before 1972, such teachers are disqualified from receiving the bonus.

· The October 1 deadline for submitting applications for the bonus further discriminates against teachers older than 40 years old, because a disproportionate number of them took the ACT and SAT many years ago and were unable to get access to their scores from the testing programs before the deadline.

 

· The exemption of first-year teachers from the requirement that they provide evidence of being rated “highly effective” under the respondent employers’ performance evaluation system further discriminates against and has a disparate impact on teachers older than 40 years old. First-year teachers are overwhelmingly younger than 40 years of age.

 

· The bonus program also discriminates against African-American and Hispanic teachers by using the SAT and ACT as qualifiers. It has been well-established in the courts and peer-reviewed scholarship that the SAT and ACT are a racially and culturally biased tests that disparately impact test-takers on the basis of African-American and Hispanic race.

The complaint also notes that the SAT and ACT were not designed for measuring teacher performance, for use in granting salary bonuses, or for any other aspect of the Best and Brightest bonus program.

 

FEA is seeking to make sure all qualified teachers are able to get access to the bonus money if they are qualified.

 

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 140,000 members. FEA represents pre K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

In Florida, there are laws governing how many minutes must be devoted to reading but there is no law requiring recess.

 

Some elementary schools have eliminated recess altogether. Some make it available only once a week.

 

The state does require 150 minutes of physical education each week. But that is not the same as recess, where children can play without adult direction.

 

Folks, we are talking about little children. They need time to stretch and run and play. They need time to exercise their bodies. Why are state officials allowing schools (or, compelling schools) to eliminate activity that is necessary for good health?

 

Fortunately, parents have begun to organize to demand that their children have recess every day.

 

Time for recess has been squeezed out in recent years, but now social media is helping parents, such as Lakeland mother Amanda Lipham, organize recess supporters.
Lipham says she organized the push for recess in Polk when she saw changes in her five year old son.

 

“He was losing his enthusiasm for school,” Lipham says. “His attitude was changing. I could see his spirit being broken.”

 

First, Lipham handed out flyers in the car line at her son’s elementary school, and she spoke out at a school board meeting. Then, she formed an online petition that garnered thousands of signatures.

 

Now parents are creating similar online petitions around the state. More than 2200 people have signed a petition to make recess mandatory in Pinellas County, This fall, Parents in Osceola County also started a petition demanding recess. And a similar effort in Orange County last year led to a school board resolution recommending that schools provide the breaks.

 

And that’s the way change might happen, says Judy Stockman, who teaches at Sykes Elementary school in Lakeland — when parents get involved.

 

You may be sick of hearing about Finland, but consider this: Elementary school students get a 15-minute recess after every class. They go outside and run around and play. Then they return to their classes refreshed and ready to learn. Sounds good to me.

 

 

 

 

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