Archives for category: Florida

That’s a trick question because a Governor Kemp has stiff competition from several other governors, such as Florida’s Ron DeSantis.

Politico interviewed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. He said his early reopening of schools for full-time in-person instruction was going really well, except for the photo that went viral of high school students packed together in a hall while changing classes.

Under Kemp’s abdication of leadership, Georgia is fifth in the nation on the number of cases of COVID-19.

Photos shared widely on social media last week showed hallways packed shoulder to shoulder with students at North Paulding High School northwest of Atlanta. School officials later announced that six students and three staff members had tested positive for the coronavirus, and that the school would be closed Monday and Tuesday while the building is disinfected.

In nearby Cherokee County, 12 students and two staff members from a dozen schools tested positive for the virus during their first week back at school. The Cherokee County school system reported that more than 250 students with potential exposure had been sent home to quarantine for two weeks.

Cherokee County also drew attention because of online photos. Dozens of students at two of its high schools squeezed together for first-day-of-school senior photos. None wore masks.

Floridians, and everyone else, want to know the answer to this question. Some believe that keeping schools open during a pandemic will destroy them; some fear that opening them during a pandemic will destroy them. Take your pick.

Thanks to Peter Greene, I discovered a Florida blog called Accountabaloney, written by two savvy Floridians who are fed-up with their state’s absurd education policies. Sue and Suzette, welcome!

They write here about a podcast by Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider, questioning whether Betsy DeVos’s newfound enthusiasm for opening real public schools is another front in her war to destroy them.

Listening to the “In the Weeds” podcast, they realized that another con was happening:

Some will read the title and dismiss it as a conspiracy theory. That is exactly what we used to hear if we equated “ed reform” with privatization five or so years ago, when the education reformers were still hiding their desire to privatize public education. In Florida, they now make few attempts to conceal their mission. We hope you will read this summary, subscribe at Patreon, listen to the entire “In the Weeds” segment, and draw your own conclusions. Will the Covid pandemic be used fundamentally alter public education in Florida?…

Keep in mind, the Commissioner Corcoran is a strong proponent of “school choice” and privatization, pushing as both a legislator and as the commissioner for the expansion of charter schools and private school voucher programs. Shortly after he was appointed as commissioner, he was reported saying his goal was to move 2/3rd of Florida’s 2.7 million public school students into private options, envisioning a system where most students attended charter and private schools.

After calling for the campus closures of Florida’s public schools in response to the pandemic in March, at the April 1st State Board of Education meeting, Commissioner Corcoran praised Florida Virtual School (FLVS) for re-allocating $4.3 million of its reserve funding to purchase the servers necessary to expand its capacity be capable of serving the entire Florida student population (2.72 million). He suggested that, should the closures remain necessary, FLVS could serve the entire state’s virtual needs…

Shortly after his inauguration, Governor Ron DeSantis redefined public education saying “if it’s public dollars, it’s public education,” an idea celebrated by DeVos.

I’m so glad to read this post. Florida is very likely the worst, most corrupt state in the nation when it comes to education policy.

David Dayen explains why Florida’s teachers are suing to block Governor DeSantis’ order to reopen all public schools for full in-person instruction.

The short version:

1) Florida is in the midst of a surge in the pandemic.
2) Neither the state nor the federal government has put up the money to provide even minimal safety for students and adults.

First Response
Last Friday the governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, told a right-wing radio host that coronavirus would infect children and we all just have to put up with it. “If they do get COVID-19, which they will,” Parson said, “they’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it.”

The nonchalance of this comment reinforces the impression of the Republican Party as a literal death cult. Not only do children suffer serious injury, and yes, die, from the virus, but as Parson appears not entirely aware, kids don’t teach themselves. And teachers and school personnel aren’t as sanguine as the Governor of Missouri of being marched into a contagious environment and playing the equivalent of Russian roulette.

The flashpoint for this is Florida, where yesterday state and national teachers unions filed suit to block Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order reopening public schools. School districts in the state begin classes as early as August 10, and teachers must report a week earlier. So this is a last-minute effort to prevent a public health disaster.

“Teachers are scared, they have a high trepidation of going back into school buildings, given that Florida is the epicenter,” said Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “We can’t make our schools vectors for the virus, infecting parents and multi-generational families at home. Our goal is to not open schools, it’s to keep schools open.”
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Florida educators have a leg up in this case, because the state Constitution states explicitly that “[a]dequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools.” The words “safe and secure” are paramount here, requiring the Governor and the Commissioner of Education institute policies meet that standard, the lawsuit explains. And they have not done anything close to that.

“The only thing the [DeSantis] executive order says is that there will be a brick-and-mortar option five days a week,” Ingram told the Prospect. No guidelines and certainly no money for social distancing policies have been included. If you need to cut class sizes in half to allow children to be separated from teachers, will there be money to hire twice as many teachers? Or give overtime to the existing ones to double their workday?

That’s just the beginning. No testing and tracing regime has been instituted. No money for PPE has been allotted. No decisions have been made on band or chorus rehearsals, recess, or assemblies. If a teacher gets sick and needs to quarantine for 14 days, there’s no understanding of whether they would get their job back. Air conditioning within the schools, a critical issue in Florida, that recirculate air would need to be altered. Buses would either have to run twice as much or with twice as many drivers hired. “I can go through a myriad of issues and we can talk into tomorrow,” Ingram said. Yet no money has been put toward this purpose, in a state that has historically underfunded its schools.

Reopened schools in several countries around the world have generally led to decent results, although that’s not universal. In Israel, schools had to be shut two weeks after opening after outbreaks raged through them, and new studies show children over age 10 can spread the virus as efficiently as adults. Critically, most countries getting back to school have low and decreasing levels of the virus, the opposite of what we see in Florida, which has registered 10,000 new cases every day for the last two weeks. The initial CDC guidelines on reopening generally call for a 14-day drop in cases.

The case, which has the support of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, includes several Florida teachers. One, Ladara Royal, is a young African American man with asthma, who according to Ingram would leave the profession if forced to go back to work. Another, Stefanie Beth Miller, spent 21 days on a ventilator in a medically induced coma from COVID-19. A third, Mindy Festge, has an immunosuppressed son that she’s keeping out of high school, and doesn’t want to bring the virus home to him.

“We’re forcing these parents and teachers to make lifelong decisions,” Ingram said. “We have other teachers making out their wills because they have to go back to school.” He noted that the state started last academic year with over 3,000 classrooms without a certified teacher. That shortage is sure to increase at a time when more would be needed to properly social distance.

The lawsuit calls for emergency relief to protect the first wave of teachers and students set to enter schools in just a couple weeks. A state where over 17,000 children have already contracted the virus would be home to a grisly and uncertain experiment unless the DeSantis order is stopped. The consequences of not opening schools are tragic for students who might fall behind and parents needing to concentrate on work during the day. But the consequences of creating thousands of death traps is worse.

This just in:

July 20, 2020
CONTACT: Joni Branch, (850) 201-3223 or (850) 544-7055

Florida educators file lawsuit to protect health and well-being of students, educators and communities

TALLAHASSEE — Along with educators and parents, the Florida Education Association (FEA) filed suit Monday against Gov. Ron DeSantis, Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the Florida Department of Education, the Florida State Board of Education and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to safeguard the health and welfare of public school students, educators and the community at large. The lawsuit intends to stop the reckless and unsafe reopening of public school campuses as coronavirus infections surge statewide.

“Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control. He needs to accept the evolving science. It now appears that kids 10 and older may pass along the coronavirus as easily as adults. Everyone wants schools to reopen, but we don’t want to begin in-person teaching, face an explosion of cases and sickness, then be forced to return to distance learning.

Florida’s Constitution demands that public schools be safe. Teachers and parents want our schools to meet that basic standard.”

Find the lawsuit online here: https://feaweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Complaint-FINAL.pdf

The leaders of FEA’s national affiliates are fully in support of the suit.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:
“The push to physically reopen schools full time without any precautions or new resources, and, most importantly, amid a skyrocketing COVID-19 surge, ignores science, safety and basic humanity. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order, as carried out by others, puts an entire generation of kids — as well as their families and their educators — at risk. As educators, we know in-person learning is what’s best for students. And while educators want to be back in the classroom, it is not possible when the state or a local region can’t ensure that schools won’t become hot spots for virus spread. That is why across this country, from red states like Texas to blue states like California, where cases are surging, elected officials are putting a pause on in-person reopening. They are leaving it to local control, which has previously been a celebrated, time-honored tradition in Florida.

“Further complicating getting our schools physically open again is the abject failure to date of both the president and the Senate to follow the House of Representatives’ lead to provide schools with the resources they need to fund safe reopening plans. Here in Florida, the governor has a constitutional obligation to make schools safe, and he’s failed. If he won’t look out for students’ and teachers’ best interests, we will.”

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García:

“No one wants to be back in the classroom with students more than educators, but we must do so only if we can ensure it is done in a safe way. Unfortunately, Gov. Ron DeSantis, like Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, has no plan to solve the real issues facing public schools during a pandemic, and that’s a major concern to students, educators and parents. He needs to listen to health experts and educators to do this right — and not pressure school districts to rush to reopen putting students, educators and communities at risk. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequities facing our most vulnerable students — particularly for Black, brown and students living in poverty. We must address these inequities now — not push for school reopenings that will harm those students the most — and that requires equitable tools and resources from the federal government, which has failed to act. Whether school buildings are open or not, educators are preparing to ensure all students have the best possible learning, and the Senate needs to do its job by passing the HEROES Act.”

About the lawsuit:

The FEA lawsuit has been filed in state circuit court in Miami, in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida. FEA is joined in the litigation by Broward teacher Stephanie Beth Miller; Ladera Royal, an educator in Orange County; and Mindy Festge, a teacher and parent in Miami-Dade County,

The lawsuit contends that ordering an unsafe return to onsite instruction at public schools is a violation of Florida’s Constitution, which requires the provision of a “safe” and “secure” schools, and requests a declaration that the state defendants’ actions and inactions are unconstitutional. In a second count, the suit seeks a declaration from the court that the state defendants are putting arbitrary and capricious demands on public schools through the education commissioner’s unfunded emergency order.

A third count in the suit seeks an order enjoining the state defendants, along with Mayor Gimenez, from forcing millions of students and educators to report to unsafe schools that should remain physically closed during the spike of the pandemic; ordering defendants to implement a meaningful online instruction plan with accessible internet connectivity and computers; ordering that before schools reopen they must have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies, reduced class sizes, social distancing, staffing, and school clinic capabilities in compliance with CDC guidelines and other health authorities.

Florida’s push to return students to classrooms comes as evidence grows that reopening while case numbers and test positivity rates remain high could lead to dire results — worsening the spead of the virus while endangering the lives of children, educators and communities at large.

Our state currently has more than 350,000 diagnosed cases of coronavirus and has been adding to that total by more than 10,000 cases per day, with test positivity rates averaging above 12 percent. Hospitals in areas such as Miami-Dade are overloaded with patients suffering from Covid-19. More than 5,000 deaths have been recorded statewide.

It is notable that countries that have successfully reopened schools without igniting an increase in cases, have done so after case levels were pushed to near zero and transmission rates were low. That is clearly not the case in the Sunshine State. Our situation might be better compared to that of Israel, where reopening saw cases resurge.

Meanwhile, the jury is out on the risk of long-term damage to children who contract the virus. Evidence mounts, however, that older students can spread the disease. A large new study from South Korea finds that kids between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do.

Educators want to return to our schools and be with their students. Distance learning is not the preferred solution for our kids, but protecting the safety and well-being of students, educators and communities must be paramount to other concerns. Keeping kids and adults healthy should be our first goal.

Whether school buildings are open or not this fall, we need to ensure that we’re preparing to provide students with the best possible learning experience — meaning all students, whether they are Black, brown or white, have the tools and resources necessary to succeed.

And when students return, we must ensure they have better conditions for learning. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequities facing our most vulnerable students, in particular students of color and children living in poverty, and we must address these inequities now.

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Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia has boldly asserted his claim to be the dumbest governor in the nation. This makes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis very unhappy, as he claims that title.

Kemp suspended all local laws and orders that mandate mask-wearing as the number of coronavirus cases rise in Georgia. He “encouraged” people to wear masks, but no mandates permitted.

Bob Shepherd explains why Florida is miffed:

 

FROM: the law offices of A. Wayne Kerr, Esq.

TO: The State of Georgia

OK. We here in Flor-uh-duh are not happy. We’ve spent years, literally, building our reputation as the dumbest state in the union. We’ve built rope swings over pits of alligators. We’ve worn “Seriously, I have drugs” T-shirts when we were carrying drugs. We’ve organized people to shoot down hurricanes. We’ve claimed in court that we weren’t drinking and driving because we only swigged alcohol at stop signs. We’ve committed criminal assault with fried chicken. We’ve passed resolutions banning Satan from our towns. We’ve committed armed robbery with transparent bags on our heads. We’ve elected Ron DeSantis our governor. We’ve passed stand your ground laws. We’ve driven on highways with a “Car in Toe” sign in the back window. And we’ve issued an order to open all our schools to full in-person instruction on the very day that we set a national record for new cases of Covid-19.

In short, we have worked extremely hard to build the brand of Flor-uh-duh Man. Now, the state of Georgia thinks it can capriciously encroach on our brand by rescinding its order to wear masks in public during the pandemic. This cannot stand. Please cease and desist from further stupid.

Thank you.

This is worrisome. Those demanding the speedy and full reopening of schools have taken for granted that children are unlikely to become infected with coronavirus.

But the latest data from Florida show that complacency is unwarranted. 

Those localities where the pandemic is growing and out of control should be cautious and aware of the risk to children.

The Huffington Post reports:

Nearly one-third of children who have been tested for the coronavirus in Florida have tested positive, according to data from the state’s Department of Health that comes amid ongoing debate and uncertainty over whether schools will reopen this fall.

Of the 54,022 people under the age of 18 who have been tested for COVID-19 in Florida, 16,797 of them, or roughly 31%, have tested positive, data released Friday shows. In comparison, roughly 11% of everyone in the state who has been tested for the virus — roughly 2.8 million people — has tested positive.

Nearly half of the state’s positive cases among children were in the counties of Broward, Dade, Hillsborough and Palm Beach.

Cases throughout the Sunshine State have risen at alarming rates in recent weeks. On Thursday the state set a new one-day coronavirus death record while also reporting nearly 14,000 new cases of COVID-19 ― the second-highest daily total that the state has seen. Its highest total reported last weekend set a national record.

Amid this growth, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has continued to push for schools to reopen this fall, with him on Tuesday telling mayors in south Florida — the state’s hardest-hit area for cases — that doing so is low-risk.

Bob Shepherd reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn state laws banning public money to religious schools if the state is subsidizing other private schools. Bob lives in Florida, which already funds private and religious schools to the tune of $1 billion a year and has just increased the funding for them. Religious schools in Florida do not take the state tests, do not have to hire certified teachers or principals, and are not accountable to the state in any way:

Post-Espinoza Business Plan 1 (We Put the Duh in Flor-uh-duh):

Come on down to our “Race to the Top of Mount Zion Enrollment Jubilee” in the old K-Mart parking lot this Saturday and sign yore kids up for Bob Shepherd’s Real Good Floruhduh School. You can use yore Florida State Scholarships to pay for it, and so its absolutely FREE!!!! No longer due you havta send yore children to them gobbermint schools run by Socialists whar they will be taut to be transgendered! We offer compleet curriculems, wrote by Bob’s girlfriend Darlene herself, including

World HIStory (from Creation to Babylon to the Rapshure)
Political Science (We thank you, Lord, for Donald Trump; the Second Amendmint; and protecting our Borders from invading hoardes of rapists and murderers)
English (the offishul langwidge of the United States, and the langwidge the Bible was wrote in)
Science (the six days of creation; how to make yore own buckshot; and how Cain and Abel survived among the dinosaurs)
Economics (when rich people get tax brakes, that makes you richer)

And much, much more!!! Plus, you don’t havta worry yore hed about safety, cause all are teachers is locked and loaded!

Bob’s Real Good Florurduh Skool, located across from Bob’s Gun and Pawn right next to Wild Wuornos’s Adult Novelties.

It’s been real good runnin’ this here skool. Free innerprize! So much better then tryin to live on Darlene’s disability! Make America Grate Agin!

Post-Espinoza Business Plan 1 (Akashic Kakistonics, or Opening Heaven’s Gate to Every Child):

Tired of those failing public schools? Want to send your child a true Akashic Academy where he/she/they can receive nourishment for the mind AND the soul?

Then enroll him/her/them in Enlightened Master Bob’s AYAHUASCA SCHOOL FOR LITTLE COSMIC VOYAGERS.

Here at Enlightened Master Bob’s, your child will learn how he or she can skip breakfast, lunch, and dinner and draw nourishment directly from Father Sun in our Solar Temple.

We offer complete holistic health training, using our proprietary textbooks on the Ethereal Body, including uncapping and aligning children’s Chakras so they can download DIRECTLY from the Mother Ship the Cosmic Light necessary for the coming Transformation from Earth-bound Homo Sapiens to Interdimensional Beings.

In our history classes, students will learn all about Atlantis, Lemuria, Camelot and Glastonbury, the Black Rock Desert, and other places of Places of Power throughout the Ages.

Students will also learn how to protect themselves against the forces of the Evil Galactic Emperor Xenu and his band of sometimes invisible, shape-shifting reptilian aliens from Alpha Draconis.

But don’t delay! Soon, as our galaxy moves into proximity to the Pleiades, the vibrational tone of the entire planet will rise to such a pitch that we will either undergo Ascension or explode, and everything—the FATE OF THE PLANET– depends on how many young Lightworkers we can bring into Alignment and Cosmic Consciousness before then!

Of course, all this is absolutely FREE because you can use your State Scholarship Voucher to pay for it.

And best yet, all classes are taught by the Spiritual Wives of Enlightened Master Bob himself!!!!

Two states—Texas and Florida—are moving forward to open their schools for five-day, in-person instruction, even though the rate of coronavirus infections in both states is rising.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has demanded that schools across the nation restart and become fully operational, although she has no power to force schools to reopen when local officials believe it is unwise and unsafe. She and Trump are trying to force schools to open as if there were no pandemic and no risks to students and staff. They think that opening schools will be good for the economy and help his re-election. It’s hard to see how it will help his standing in the polls if the pandemic continues to spread and claims more victims.

DeVos made a point of praising Florida Commissioner Richard Corcoran (former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives who has no background or qualifications in education and has expressed his desire to totally voucherize every school in the state) for ordering every school to reopen fully in mid-August.

As reported in Education Week, Corcoran left a loophole:

Corcoran’s Monday order says that, when they reopen in August, “all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students.” But those decisions are “subject to advice and orders of the Florida Department of Health, local departments of health” and other state orders.

Calling on schools to open “at least five days per week for all students” seems to eliminate the possibility of hybrid remote learning plans that have been among the most popular models for districts around the country. While the Trump administration has not clarified what exactly it expects from schools, DeVos has criticized hybrid plans as inadequate.

The school boards in Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade have announced that they will seek exemptions and continue remote or hybrid programs rather than reopen fully.

Texas has been promoting reopening, but local boards and teachers in hard-hit areas of the state are resisting.

The Trump administration has been citing the American Academy of Pediatrics as its justification for forcing schools to open, but AAP President Sally Goza pushed back and said that schools should not reopen without the financial resources to do so safely.

She told NPR that the AAP does not support rigid state mandates:

“We will be sticking to what our guidelines say —that if it does not look safe in your community to open schools, that we need to really have that looked at. We also need to make sure that schools have the needed resources to reopen safely so that a lack of funding is not a reason to keep students home, which we’re hearing in a lot of communities—to do what we’re asking people to do to make schools safe is not really financially feasible in some of these communities.”

Want to know why Florida, Texas, and Arizona are the new hot spots for the coronavirus?

Watch this video and you will see and hear why some people refuse to protect themselves and others.

What would Dr.Fauci say?

 

The Wall Street Journal editorial board has three core beliefs about education.

1. Public schools are horrible.

2. Teachers’ unions are evil.

3. Non-unionized charters and vouchers are the remedy to all that ails American education.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The three highest performing states in the nation—Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey—have strong teachers’ unions. None of the non-union states are at the top of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Unions fight for adequate resources and decent salaries for teachers, in addition to fighting for teachers’ right to fair treatment on the job. The resources help their students, and the job rights help retain career teachers.

Most recently the WSJ wrote a glowing editorial about the alleged success of vouchers in Florida, one of its favorite states because its governor and legislature have diverted $3 billion from public schools to non-union charters and vouchers. The editorialists are thrilled because Florida just recently expanded its voucher program.

Most vouchers in Florida are used in religious schools, most of which are evangelical Christian schools. The voucher schools are not required to take state tests. They are not required to be accountable in any way. They are not required to hire certified teachers or principals. The voucher schools are allowed to discriminate against gay students, staff, and families. They do not have to adopt the state standards and may use the Bible as their science textbook if they wish. The Orlando Sentinel wrote a revealing series about Florida’s voucher program, called “Schools Without Rules.”

Bear in mind that the size of a voucher—less than $8,000–guarantees that it will be accepted only by low-tuition schools, not by the schools of elite families, where tuition may be as high as $35,000-40,000 a year.

Here is the text of the WSJ editorial:

The headline is “Florida’s School Choice Blowout.”

The subtitle is: “The State Expands Its Successful K-12 Scholarship Program.”

Good news from Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed the biggest private school voucher expansion in U.S. history—giving families in Democratic, union-controlled states another reason to move to the Sunshine State.

Florida established the Family Empowerment Scholarship last year for low and middle-income families. The private school vouchers run between $6,775 and $7,250 per student depending on the grade level, and 87% of recipients come from households below 185% of the federal poverty level (about $48,470 for a family of four). Most are black or Hispanic.

Vouchers had been limited to 18,000 students this year with annual growth capped at about 7,000. This wasn’t enough to meet parental demand, and there are 35,000 eligible students on scholarship waiting lists. Republicans have now quadrupled the cap on annual growth so that 28,000 more students can benefit each year. If the voucher program’s capacity exceeds demand from eligible families, the new law will increase the household-income limit (currently 300% of the poverty line) by 25% so more middle-income families can apply. In short, supply of vouchers will now automatically expand to meet demand.

As a political trade, Mr. DeSantis gave public schools $500 million for salary increases—not that this appeased the teachers unions that oppose all school choice because it forces unionized public schools to compete for students. While voucher studies have shown mixed effects on academic performance, one reason is probably that giving parents more choice forces improvements at public schools. A National Bureau of Economic Research study this year found higher standardized test scores and lower absenteeism among students, especially low-income ones, who attended Florida public schools in areas where more students had access to private-school choice.

Notably, fourth-graders in Washington, D.C., and Miami-Dade in Florida showed the most improvement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores among large urban school districts since 2011. Both Florida and Washington, D.C., offer robust private-school choice and have eliminated teacher tenure. By contrast, student scores in most districts including Houston, Philadelphia and Baltimore have been flat or declined.

Jeb Bush kicked off Florida’s school choice movement two decades ago, and Rick Scott (now Senator) and Mr. DeSantis have built on his success. More than 130,000 students in Florida now receive scholarships. Florida is helping to increase social mobility and future incomes by expanding educational opportunity for all.

Here are the facts:

Florida’s scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a sample test of reading and mathematics in grades 4 and 8 for the nation, states, and some urban districts, have been mostly flat over the past decade. The NAEP scores don’t include voucher schools, because they are not held accountable in any way. The WSJ asserts that Florida is a great “success” story, that its fourth graders showed dramatic improvement from 2011-2019, but that is false. Why leave out the eighth graders? Could it be because the eighth grade scores in both Florida and Miami were flat?

Here are the NAEP results for 2019 in reading.

Here are the NAEP results in mathematics for 2019.

You can look at average scores over time for every state and for urban districts that asked to be tested, including Miami-Dade.

You can compare 2019 to previous years. The WSJ chose to compare 2019 to 2011, but I chose to compare 2019 to 2009. It’s not impressive for Florida or Miami no matter which year you choose.

Let’s check the progress of Florida and Miami on NAEP (public schools only):

Fourth grade reading: Scores unchanged since 2009.

Eighth grade reading: Scores unchanged since 2009.

Fourth grade mathematics: Scores unchanged since 2011 (Remember that Florida retains low-scoring third graders, which tends to inflate fourth -grade scores).

Eighth grade math: Scores unchanged from 2009-2019.

Since the WSJ refers to NAEP as evidence of Florida’s amazing performance, it’s worth noting that Florida has flat-lined for the last decade on NAEP.

We don’t know anything about the “success” of vouchers in Florida, since their students don’t take state tests or NAEP.

But we do know that rigorous voucher studies in other states—Louisiana, Ohio, Indiana, the District of Columbia—have shown that voucher students lose ground compared to their peers in public schools. (See here and here and here.)

Far from “expanding opportunity,” vouchers enable children to attend low-cost schools where they abandon their civil rights protections at the door, are instructed by uncertified teachers, and are likely to fall behind academically or return to their public school. One of the unexplored issues associated with voucher schools is their high attrition rates. When voucher boosters boast about their high school graduation rate, they fail to mention the number of kids who didn’t make it to senior year. Only the elitist Wall Street Journal would think of this as a boon for children and families.