Archives for category: Florida

Five years ago, Florida’s Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran announced his plan to “save” the state’s lowest performing schools. He called it “Schools of Hope.” The idea behind the plan was to turn public schools over to charter operators.

Corcoran believes in choice. He despises public schools. He wants to replace public schools with vouchers and charters. His wife ran a charter school, and he was Speaker of the House of Representatives before Governor DeSantis put him in charge of education. Corcoran, needless to say, is not an educator.

Billy Townsend tells the sad ending to Corcoran’s bold (but old) idea: Florida’s first charter “School of Hope” is, utterly predictably, abandoning all “hope” in Jefferson after just 5 years.

The failure of a plan to turn low-reforming schools to charter operators should not be a surprise. It has been tried and failed elsewhere: the Achievement School District in Tennessee absorbed $100 million of Race to the Top money without meeting its goals; the Education Achievement Authority in Detroit was an expensive fiasco. Despite the failures of these “models,” other states created their own charter districts, with the same results.

Townsend describes Florida’s own fiasco:

Jefferson County’s public school system is tiny — about 800 kids. Its test scores are historically the lowest of Florida counties. This made it a showcase for Richard Corcoran’s “Schools of Hope” charter law, which was designed to convert zoned public schools with low test scores into unzoned charter schools. The Jefferson experiment predates the “Schools of Hope” law. But when the state seized Jefferson’s three-in-one school campus and converted it into a charter school run by the Somerset company, it was touted as the first “School of Hope.”

Here’s how NPR reporter Jessica Bakeman put it in 2019:

Two years into Jefferson County’s transformation, the still-unproven charter-district “experiment” is being used to justify a potentially massive expansion of charter schools in the state’s poorest communities. A state law dubbed “schools of hope,” first passed in 2017 and broadened this year, offers millions of dollars to charter schools that open near traditional public schools that have struggled for years. Jefferson County is home to the first charter “schools of hope.” Neighborhoods in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville are next.

Five years later, Somerset is straight-up abandoning the kids and community of Jefferson County without explanation. They’re abandoning the “schools of hope” project.

And no other charter “schools of hope” seem willing to tackle the Jefferson challenge. They apparently see no “hope,” as an industry.

So Richard Corcoran’s DoE is admitting abject failure and converting the Jefferson School back to nominal district control — under the direction of what’s called an “external operator.” In some cases, Richard Corcoran’s DoE and Board of Education also saw personal opportunity to make a buck in that transition away from Schools of Hope.

Bidding for that “external operator” role — for the transition and presumably beyond — is what led to the scandal that saw DoE Vice Chancellor Melissa Ramsey and state Board of Education Member Andy Tuck resign in grifty disgrace. You can read my deep dives on the scandal in parts 1 and 1.5., linked above.

Yes, that’s all pretty gross.

Townsend explained the difference between charter schools and “external operators.”

Charter companies and external operators do not always grift; but when they do, which is often, they do so in different ways.

Charter schools, as shown yet again in Jefferson, pick and curate the kids they want to serve. They don’t do ESE, generally, unless it’s a special ESE charter. Charters routinely cut-and-run from any child who does not easily throw off an acceptable contribution to a charters’ aggregate test scores. In Somerset’s case, it’s cutting-and-running from an entire community, which it swaggered into boasting about “hope.” This was entirely predictable. I predicted it; basically everyone who pays any real attention predicted it. I generally referred to “schools of hope” as “schools of fraud” back in 2017. I was right.

External operators, if they’re sorry or lazy, just skim public money off the top of a school to add nothing but boring professional development power points and “critical observations” and “data analysis.” In Polk, under the orders of legislators like Kelli Stargel and Colleen Burton, the taxpayers have fed these people millions of dollars of your money. The external operator grift is just attaching yourself to a giant flow of free money and tick-sucking it. External operators do no operating. They bring no scale because they have none.

Introduced with great fanfare five years ago, “schools of hope” is yet another fraud on the children, their community, and taxpayers. But especially the children.

Townsend wasn’t the only one to connect the dots and spot grift. The Tampa Bay Times did as well.

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Education Department is under fire for trying to steer a multimillion-dollar contract to a company whose CEO has ties to the state’s education commissioner.

Records and interviews show that, before the Florida Department of Education asked for bids, it was already in advanced talks with the company to do the work, subverting a process designed to eliminate favoritism.

The company is MGT Consulting, led by former Republican lawmaker Trey Traviesa of Tampa, a longtime colleague of the state’s education commissioner, Richard Corcoran.

During a bidding process that was open for one week, MGT was the only pre-approved vendor to submit a proposal — pitched at nearly $2.5 million a year to help the struggling Jefferson County School District with its academic and financial needs.

Billy Townsend, a former school board member in Polk County, Florida, warns that the state education leaders are rotten. In this post, he accuses several of them of engineering a plan to protect their private interests.

He writes:

Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran and Senior Chancellor for K-12 Jacob Oliva should both immediately resign over the state Department of Education’s Jefferson County state bid corruption scandal. If they don’t, Gov. DeSantis should fire them.

That’s how bad it is. The scandal already quietly took down Melissa Ramsey, former DoE Executive Vice Chancellor for the Division of Public Schools, and former state Board of Education Member and Chairman Andy Tuck. Their resignations were first reported — a month after they happened — by Jason Delgado of the “Florida Politics” website. But Delgado’s story did not detail the most overtly corrupt act.

In sum: Melissa Ramsey directed her immediate DoE subordinate to draft a proposal response for Ramsey and Tuck’s personal company to a DoE Request for Quote (RFQ) to support Jefferson County schools as they transition away from charter school control back to district control.

To restate because it sounds crazy: over a few days in November, DoE Senior Chancellor for K12 Oliva (legitimately, it appears) ordered a state employee to craft a state RFQ for the Jefferson County support work. Vice Chancellor Ramsey then ordered this same state employee — her direct subordinate — to write SIP’s proposal responding to the same government RFQ that same subordinate had just written. 

Just days before, at Jacob Oliva’s direction, this same subordinate had personally drafted the same Jefferson RFQ that Ramsey was now directing her to respond to on behalf of Ramsey and Tuck’s company — known as Strategic Initiatives Partners, LLC (SIP).

Ramsey then submitted the proposal — with sitting Board of Education member Tuck’s enthusiastic support. At the time of the submission, the company’s documents also listed Oliva as a company official along with Tuck and Ramsey.

Conflict of interest much? When the Office of the Inspector General opened an investigation, Ramsey and Tuck resigned. With their resignations, the OIG closed the investigation—case closed—but Townsend insists the case should be reopened to investigate the corruption that enables public officials to betray the public trust.

Townsend identifies the district at the heart of the scandal:

It’s not remotely surprising to me that Florida’s awful, cynical state Department of Education and Board of Education have now shipwrecked themselves on blatant conflict of interest in the tiny, poverty-stricken, majority-black, three-school Jefferson County system.

Five years ago, DoE worked closely with openly conflicted legislators to turn Jefferson County public schools over to charter company Somerset. Here’s how Florida NPR reporter Jessica Bakeman put it in her excellent and thorough 2019 account of the Jefferson charter “experiment.”

In particular, Senate education committee chair Manny Diaz, Jr., a Hialeah Republican, helped secure legislation and funding in 2017 that aided Somerset’s efforts in Jefferson County. Then a committee chairman in the state House of Representatives, Diaz was instrumental in making the district’s transition to charter schools possible.

Diaz is a top administrator at a private college also affiliated with [politically connected charter chain] Academica. Doral College was created in 2010 to offer advanced courses at charter schools, including Somerset Academy schools. Somerset alone pays Doral College more than $100,000 a year in public money for delivering college-level courses at the network’s schools, including in Jefferson County. And Diaz’s boss — the president of Doral College — has led the transition to charter schools in Jefferson as a consultant for Somerset.

Now the charter company — Somerset — is quietly dumping all the kids of Jefferson, as charter schools tend to do. It doesn’t want to operate Jefferson’s schools any more.

It’s not really clear why Somerest is bailing on Jefferson at the end of its 5-year contract; but I suspect it’s because serving Jefferson’s challenging, traditional school enrollment isn’t easy or profitable enough. When you’re a franchise-based “choice” business like Somerset, it doesn’t pay to operate in places that take a lot more overhead than you’re willing to commit to “succeed.”

Keep that in mind while considering the detailed educratic nihilism I’m about to show you. This massive, barely-reported DoE scandal makes it easy to forget the flesh and blood kids and teachers and communities that become the playthings of grift. We shouldn’t.

Townsend devotes three posts to plumbing the corruption swirling around impoverished Jefferson County. It’s remarkable that so many charter grifters see lucrative business opportunities in poor, mostly minority school districts, not only in Florida but in other states like Michigan.

Townsend calls the second post #1.5 because it is an extension of #1.

He writes:

It was prompted by an anonymous contact I received who pointed to a politically-connected company called MGT that’s all over the DoE/Jefferson bid corruption investigative report in cryptic ways.

MGT is a so-called “external operator,” called in by the state to help operate schools with school grades of D or F in certain “turnaround” circumstances. They are essentially consultants who lead or support local district personnel in school “turnaround.” They are not full-on charter companies, like Somerset, Jefferson’s current operator. When I was a Polk County School Board member, we dealt with an external operator (not MGT) for a few schools.

I should be clear that nothing in the report accuses MGT of wrongdoing — or DoE personnel of wrongdoing in relation to MGT.

However, I was perplexed by MGT’s presence in the report even before my “source” urged me to look closer. I left them out of part 1 because it was already so long.

But I still have lots of questions related to a couple of strange MGT facts identified by investigators. I want to share them with you…

Townsend notes that 25 companies were invited to submit proposals but only MGT responded. He further notes that MGT was in business with the state’s education commissioner in the past.

Curious and curioser.

Peter Greene describes his latest gambit. He is pressing for the adoption of his “Stop WOKE” act.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing his level best to wreck education in his state by politicizing every education policy. It’s a textbook illustration of fear-mongering and race-baiting. How low can he go without scraping his head on the ground?

Greene writes:

Florida owns the Number One spot on the Public Education Hostility Index, but Governor Ron DeSantis is not willing to rest on his laurels. You may have already heard about this, or you may have passed over the news because it’s Florida, but some bad news needs to be repeated, particularly when it comes from the state that launches so many of the bad trends in education.

DeSantis has borrowed from Texas, where a new abortion banhas come up with a clever way to circumvent rules about what a state can and cannot enforce. Now upheld by SCOTUS, the law makes every citizen a bounty hunter, with the right for “anyone to sue anyone” suspected of being in any way involved in an abortion (in a rare display to restraint, Texas exempts the woman getting the abortion from the civil liability). 

The idea of insulating the state is not new to education privatization efforts. Part of the reasoning behind education savings accounts is that it let’s the state say, “What? We didn’t give taxpayer dollars to a private religious institution. We just gave the money to a scholarship organization (and they gave it to the private religious school). Totally not a First Amendment violation.”

So here comes DeSantis with his “Stop WOKE Act” (as in “Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees”– some staffer was up late working on that one). This is legislation he’ll “push for” because of course a governor doesn’t propose legislation–he just orders it up from his party in the legislature. 

The proposal comes wrapped in lots of rhetoric about the evils of “critical race theory,” which DeSantis defines broadly and bluntly: Nobody wants this crap, OK? This is an elite-driven phenomenon being driven by bureaucratic elites, elites in universities and elites in corporate America and they’re trying to shove it down the throats of the American people. You’re not doing that in the state of Florida.

Along with vague rhetoric about learning to hate America, DeSantis brought in crt panic shill Christopher Rufo for his pep rally. And of course he trotted out some highly selective Martin Luther King Jr. quotage, because, hey, he’s totally not racist.

But the highlight here is creating a “private right of action” for parents, an actual alleged civil rights violation. Anyone who thinks their kid is being taught critical race theory can sue (and this will apply to workplace training as well). Parents who win even get to collect attorney’s fees, meaning they can float these damn lawsuits essentially for free– watch for Florida’s version of Edgar Snyder--attorneys advertising “there’s no charge unless we get money for you.”

Allowing parents to file lawsuits would have the effect of making the operating definition of crt even vaguer–it’s whatever Pat and Sam’s mom thinks it is. You can say that using a bad definition that loses the lawsuit would limit this vaguery, but that misses the point–the school would still have to defend itself in court, costing money and time…

Open the link and read the rest.

Greene predicts that teachers will not feel free to teach about America’s racist past. I agree with him.

A few nights ago, I watched a PBS documentary about the life of Marian Anderson, who was hailed in her lifetime as one of the greatest singers in the world. She toured the capitals of Europe to great acclaim. Yet for most of her life, she sang to racially segregated audiences in the United States. The documentary showed that Hitler admired America’s segregationist laws and practices and saw them as a model. Today, those who remember Anderson’s name know her as the black woman whom the DAR (Daughters of the Revolution) prohibited from performing in Constitution Hall in 1939, D.C.’s premier concert hall. D.C. was rigidly segregated. Instead she sang at the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 75,000 people. Her opening number was “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

I expect that no teacher in Florida would show that documentary in class. It may be factual, but some students’ parents would complain and sue the teacher for exposing their children to CRT.

Sometimes I think our nation has time-traveled back to the 1950s, when demented people made demented demands of the public schools and accused them of “indoctrinating” children with “socialist” or “Communist” or other labels. The crazies are back, as Billy Townsend reports from his town of Lakeland, Florida. These crazies want to protect their children from seeing certain dangerous words, specifically, “anus” and “bladder.”

Billy begins his post:

You would think that Polk County’s so-called County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF) would welcome inclusion of anuses in school curriculum. 

After all, Steve Maxwell and Jimmy Nelson and Hannah Peterson and the other “leaders” of CCDF have been very supportive of anuses in the last year — particularly those anuses who tried to overturn the presidential election and who cheered on the Capitol Lynch Mob. 

Back in May, the CCDF even made one of those anuses — convicted felon and coup advocate Michael Flynn — the guest of honor at some big local event/fundraiser. A fuller account of CCDF’s scandalous flirtation with Capitol Lynch Mob-supporting anuses can be found here.

Given the CCDF’s celebration of figurative anuses, I find it curious that a number of them showed up to yell at School Board members Tuesday night about biological anuses and bladders, or least clinical diagrams of them. 

As near as I can tell, the CCDFers thought they had some sort of gotcha when they found a 6th grade health curriculum diagram labeled “the reproductive system” that had the “anus” and “bladder” labeled. That’s it. Just identified and labeled. There was no hint of sexual content — beyond the clinical “reproductive system” label….

Excited by the words “anus” and “bladder,” a number of CCDFers berated the School Board Tuesday night — over and over and over again — about “anal sex,” which they clearly think about far more than 6th graders do. 

See this dude for an example, starting about 58:30 of the board video hearing, linked here. Paraphrase: was this anatomical diagram with an “anus” and “bladder” labeled on it a secret coded nod to “homosexual behavior?…”

“Bladder?” Is bladdering a thing? 

I guess I’m just an old school, traditional, 26-year married, sexually-sheltered man; because I can’t figure out, mechanically, where the bladder fits into the CCDF sex fantasies. I suppose I could ask the CCDF, as curriculum experts, to explain their sexualization of the bladder to me so I could understand it. But … I really don’t wanna. 

The anti-choice anus people think they own your kids’ education

So, just go ahead and label the drawing “reproductive and excretion system” and/or “the plumbing” if your mind rushes off to weird sex images when you see the words “anus” and “bladder” written down on a clinical anatomy diagram in a 6th grade curriculum packet. 

But, in that case, you also might consider intensive therapy. Normal people and parents don’t suffer from that pathology. 

And yes, normal parents, this handful of anus people want to control what your kids are allowed to encounter and learn in school. They want to dominate you and your child with their anal sex fantasy talking points. That’s not a joke. Not remotely.

From bladders to Beloved, they think they own your kids’ public spaces and the content they can engage in a classroom. These book-banning, sex-obsessed charlatans are the most fervent anti-choice force in education today.

Two of these anus people are already running against lifetime teacher and public education warrior Sarah Fortney in 2022 School Board re-election campaign. Another anus person is running for a different seat. So expect to hear a lot of talk about anuses in education in the coming year.

Open the link and read more about the anus people of Lakeland, Florida.

A new virtual reality charter school will open in Florida in the fall of 2022. It is called Optima Domi, and it presents itself as the most innovative step forward in homeschooling/virtual learning.

Unlike old-fashioned virtual charter schools, Optima Domi will immerse students in “virtual reality.” Each student and their teacher will dons headgear that immerses them in the sounds and sights of an actual classroom, even though their classmates are avatars, not humans. The curriculum, says the promotional material, will be classical, based on the Great Books.

The Governing Board of Optima Domi is heavy with financial executives and two medical doctors. The Optima Foundation is deep into school choice. Many of the leaders have experience in the charter school sector. Several are graduates of Hillsdale College, a small, ultra-conservative college in Michigan that refuses any form of federal aid for students or for any other purpose. The CEO of the Optima Foundation is a CPA and wife of a very conservative Florida Republican member of Congress, who was endorsed by Trump.

One may safely assume there will be no teaching about “divisive concepts” here. It seems to be the perfect site for programming students, although I can’t imagine many teenagers who would enjoy getting their “schooling” in complete isolation, with a headset turned on for most of the day. Most schools have teachers who come from different backgrounds and bring different perspectives to their work; students too come from different worlds and enrich class discussions by offering their views. In the virtual reality world, the lessons will be carefully designed to enforce the school’s perspective, without the intervention of teachers or students.

Blogger Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) explains the competition between Donald Trump and Florida Ron DeSantis for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 (both want to turn the clock back to 1924!)

Trump made DeSantis by endorsing him for Governor when he was an o score Congressman. Trump does not like ingratitude.

GOT describes DeSantis’ passion to ban mandates for masking in the schools.

How does Ron do it? One way is throwing raw meat, bloody and dripping, to the party’s base. Meat like convening a special legislative session to bar local school boards from implementing mask mandates as a public health measure during a pandemic….

The rallying cry these days for tearing apart public education and dividing the spoils among … edupreneurs, hedge fund investors, and TFA champions who signed up to spend two years in a classroom because they hadn’t figured out what to do with their lives and realized that they had staked out a claim to a gold mine.

DeSantis defends parents’ rights, among them the right for parents to spread sickness and disease to other people’s children.

It’s no surprise to GOT that he has had several children home in quarantine during November. It’s no surprise that he is receiving daily emails from students that they will not be in school. If they don’t say they have Covid, they say they don’t feel well, are running a fever, or having other symptoms.

Some mention a diagnosis of strep throat. It’s not only Covid that’s now running through the bodies of children. But we have discarded the lessons of the pandemic, that a simple mask and common sense regarding classroom practices go far to keep children healthy….

No masks, no vaccine, DeSantis is the cancerous version of that Vegas cliche: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

He wants to be president. If that doesn’t frighten you, this should: he would likely bring Richard Corcoran to Washington to be his Secretary of Education. Trust GOT, that would make you nostalgic for the days of Devos.

Peter Greene realized that supporters of public education have been lacking the very thing that catches the attention of the public and the media: reports backed by data. Especially reports that rank states as “the worst” and “the best.”

Greene’s Curmudgation Institute constructed rubrics to rate the states and developed the Public Education Hostility Index. He has created a website where he defines his methodogy and goes into detail about the rankings.

The #1 ranking, as the state most hostile to public education, is Florida.

The state least hostile to public education is Massachusetts.

Where does your state rank? Open the link and find out.

Billy Townsend is outraged that the Florida’s voucher industry has the nerve to name its new super voucher program after one of the nation’s (and Florida’s) greatest civil rights leaders.

He writes that Mary McLeod Bethune:

…would look at Florida’s corrupt, failed, and yet lavishly-funded low income school voucher programs with disgust.

She would marvel and protest the squandered voucher billions in corporate tax shelter money and direct tax money. She would object to Doug Tuthill and Step Up for Students getting rich through massive commissions, while scamming millions of kids and building no meaningful private capacity to provide quality education to low income children — or anyone else. She would ask: how does anyone whose heavily segregated, low income voucher programs have two- and three-year drop out rates of 60 and 75 percent have a job?

Mary McLeod Bethune would look with horror at the voucher betrayal of the descendants of her first students. She would not want thousands of black Florida children chased by useless public school testing into brutally substandard, unaccredited, unsupervised, segregated “schools,” which is what Florida’s voucher programs provide. She would not want her name associated with such failure, grift, and incompetence….

Astonishingly, Step Up for Students and various Florida grifters, the people who created and maintain this colossal racist voucher grift, have made it much worse in the last year. They are now desperately trying to launder their failure and incompetence by putting Mary McLeod Bethune’s name on Florida’s disastrous new super voucher grift pot of money.

They’re trying to Bethune-wash.

But I assure you, in 2021 America, Mary McLeod Bethune would not want her good name attached to “Preparing the Way Academy” in Lakeland …

Or “A’Kelynn’s Angels Christian Academy” in Winter Haven, where the state shut down a Pre-K of the same name because it was substandard, but the voucher grift rolls on unabated….

Step Up for Students is the unelected state School Board for vouchers. But it performs no oversight — at all. It just hands out checks and pockets commission.

Last legislative session, Step Up worked closely with Florida legislators like Kelli Stargel and Gov. Ron DeSantis to destroy the well-established Gardiner and McKay voucher programs for children with disabilities. While those programs — particularly Gardiner — had some grifty problems, they also functioned a million times better than the atrocity of unsupervised grift that is Florida’s low income voucher program.

Florida’s GOP-dominated government, in its corrupt wisdom, took these functioning programs, and threw them together with low income vouchers with one giant super-voucher pot of grift.

The effect of this is to funnel tax money and tax-sheltered corporate donations away from children with disabilities and to the operators of segregated scam schools like Preparing the Way, A’kelynn’s Angels, and Endtimes Christian School of Excellence.

On top of that, Step Up has thoroughly botched implementation of the new super-voucher grift pot. Parents of kids with disabilities, who were told they would still get Gardiner and McKay-like vouchers for services, are finding Step Up is too incompetent to deliver…

William Mattox and Doug Tuthill: Critical Race Theorists

Tuthill and company want to name the super voucher pot of grift after Florida’s greatest educator and racial freedom activist. They want to use her honored memory as a shield.

Mired in a systemic meltdown entirely of their own making, reflecting their own greed and incompetence, Tuthill and Step Up are doing what they always do when they get in trouble. They’re retreating to their long-standing, hard core version of “Critical Race Theory.” It goes like this:

If you’re a parent — of any kind — who likes quality public schools or quality state-funded services for disabilities — and you don’t want resources diverted from those services so grifters can scam families of color at scale, you’re the real racist.

This CRT has worked many times for Tuthill before. It’s been the refrain of the entire Jeb Bush era. The shameless appropriation of Mary McLeod Bethune is just the latest incarnation…

Billy Townsend of Florida writes here about an emerging development: the end of high-stakes testing. As a candidate, Biden promised to end it, but didn’t. Now Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis says its day is done. Even his state commissioner loves testing but turned on a dime to support the Governor. The vaunted “Florida model” of test-punish-choice is dead, writes Townsend.

No state has been more devoted to standardized testing than Florida, so the fact that its leaders are adopting anti-testing rhetoric suggests that the wind is shifting.

Townsend begins:

Last month, Ron DeSantis turned heretic. Without any warning, the 2024 GOP presidential hopeful publicly trashed the Republican education policy scripture Jeb Bush wrote 25 years ago.

He joined U.S. president Joe Biden in publicly rejecting the cornerstone of America’s dying “education reform” movement: the big money, high-stakes, end-of-year, badly designed, standardized test.

Bipartisan/institutional American power has used these tests to label and punish American children, teachers, parents, schools, and communities for a generation, with no measurable or perceivable life benefit.

In Florida, we call this test the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA).

Ironically, in killing the FSA, DeSantis and his pro-test Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran used the language teacher unions and Opt-Out activists and public school advocates have used for years and years. – “I want more learning and less test prep,” DeSantis said.

“From April to May, we basically shut down schools for testing,” said Corcoran, who also called the Florida test he championed for years “archaic.” For Corcoran particularly, this is the equivalent of a Wall Street investment banker publicly repudiating capital as “archaic.”

In theory, the massive testing period near the end of the year will be replaced by three “progress monitoring” windows during the school year. Everyone in the state will use an as-yet unbuilt state-owned, state-run assessment platform.

But the policy detail is actually much less important than the political rhetoric this time.

With Joe Biden rejecting the current use of high stakes testing during his campaign; and DeSantis rejecting “test prep” and the experience of testing in Florida, the autopilot awfulness of American test-based “reform education” has lost all organized political support. It has enormous unelected money to sustain the inertia for a while. But, I believe, it is doomed.

“Absolutely central”

To understand what an earthquake this announcement was for the Florida Model of education, which has set the toxic American “education reform” template for a generation, you shouldn’t look to me.

Listen to a smart champion of “reform” and the Florida Model instead.

Travis Pillow long worked as a top editor — and by far the smartest voice — for ReDefined, the Florida-based “choice” PR/media shop. ReDefined is funded by Step Up for Students, the massive “charity” that doles out Florida’s various vouchers. Now he writes for an “education reform” site called the “Center on Reinventing Public Education.” Here’s what Travis tweeted after the DeSantis announcement. It’s completely accurate:

“The biggest piece I think non-Floridians (and some Floridians) are missing in this news is how absolutely central A-F school grades are to so many facets of our state’s education policy and how critical it will be to make sure test data can still be relied upon for them.”

As Travis understands, wiping out the FSA wipes out the functional totality of the elementary school grade formula. And it wipes out huge chunks of the middle, high school, and overall district grades. It requires Florida to completely rebuild the grade system, almost from scratch. This includes the basic legal definition of words like “growth” and “achievement” in a way that the “data” from an as-yet unbuilt state progress monitoring platform can feed.

The FSA is also the basis of Florida’s cruel and educationally unsound 3rd grade retention policies, for which there is no supportive research, and which exists only to pump student scores on another big national test, the 4th grade NAEP.

Indeed, Florida’s school grades have been entirely political tools and destructive fraudssince the day they were introduced after Jeb’s election in 1998. They have been used to advance the privatization agenda by driving public school children into un-FSA-tested, ungraded voucher schools.

Please keep reading. Open the link.

Billy Townsend zeroes in on Lakeland, Florida’s mayoral campaign to illustrate how far off the rails the Republican Party has gone. The Republican candidate is promoting an extremist agenda that shows no concern for people who don’t agree with her. She is a Trumper through and through. Townsend sees her as symbolic of the loss of citizenship as a unifying principle.

She is running to represent people who agree with her. She reflects the bitter partisanship that is tearing the country apart.

He writes:

Saga Stevin will not represent the people who don’t believe the same way she does. She can’t — or won’t — even see them. They exist outside her frame of citizenship.

In a debate with the incumbent mayor, Stevin states bluntly:

“I don’t believe in equity,” she says to start the answer and then she ends it like this: “Lakeland’s a lovely mix of people. And I think we’re people who have American values that want a traditional family kind of lifestyle, conservative views…”

Shrinking Lakeland’s frame of citizenship to conform to her frame is the entire reason she’s running. Not representing the people who think and believe differently is the entire point of her campaign.

When you read Townsend’s post, you will worry about the fate of our democracy.