Archives for category: Miami

Miami’s school board was “flipped” by the election of two 1776 extremists. This is a disaster for one of the nation’s largest districts.

Jennifer Cohn ✍🏻 📢⁦‪@jennycohn1‬⁩😳🥵😢 Dear God. This is a disaster for Florida public schools. ⁦‪@DianeRavitch‬⁩

The Miami-Dade School Board met today and reversed its decision on the adoption of a sex-education textbook for middle school and high school.

The Miami-Dade School Board last week rejected a recommendation to adopt a comprehensive health and sexual health education textbook for middle and high school students. On Thursday, the board reversed that decision — again.

The decision came about four hours into a special meeting Thursday that the chairwoman called to discuss the implications of the board’s decision last week, which left the district without a comprehensive health education curriculum and out of compliance with state statute. Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman flipped her vote from last week, this time voting in favor of adopting the textbook, attributing the change to her realization that the district could be penalized for not following state statute and requirements. (The Department of Education did not respond to the Herald’s request for comment regarding possible ramifications of violating state requirements.)

The majority of people attending the meeting favored adoption of the text. The sex-ed course also covers health and nutrition.

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The Miami-Dade School Board voted to reject a sex-education textbook for middle- and high school students. The district will have no textbook for this subject for several months—until a new one is located or until the current one is stripped of all offending content.

In a narrowly divided vote, the Miami-Dade School Board Wednesday reversed its decision to adopt a new sex education textbook for the 2022-23 school year — a move that leaves the district with no sexual education curriculum for at least four to eight months.

The 5-4 vote followed an emotionally charged public comment period that included community members being escorted out of the building and a multi-hour board discussion that strongly paralleled the discussion it previously had in April, when members initially adopted the material in a 5-3 vote….

The book, “Comprehensive Health Skills,” which comes with a version for middle school and one for high school classes and offers research-based health education with topics such as nutrition, physical activity and sexually transmitted diseases, would have addressed the district’s units of study for Human Reproduction and Disease Education for grades six through 12.

But the materials soon came under fire from some parents and community members who argued the lessons were not age appropriate and violated the state’s parental rights law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law in March and which critics have dubbed the ‘Don’t say gay’ bill. They also argued the district’s process lacked transparency.

The pushback included the filing of 278 petitions objecting to the materials and resulted in Miami-Dade Superintendent José Dotres selecting a hearing officer to conduct a public hearing to review the concerns and the materials in question

That hearing, which was conducted on June 8, resulted in the hearing officer recommending the board “deny the petitions and proceed with the adoption process,” according to the district.

This is not the first time school textbooks have been questioned. Earlier this year, the Florida Department of Education announced it was rejecting 54 math textbooks in the state’s public schools, claiming the books contained “prohibited topics,’’ including critical race theory.

“I’m deeply disappointed by today’s decision. I hoped that Miami’s School Board would step up to protect youth in times of crisis,” said Kat Duesterhaus, a board member of Florida NOW and Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity. Not only does providing comprehensive sexual education help prevent sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infections and unwanted teen pregnancy, it’s also important to “building bodily autonomy,” which is important for teens to prevent and identify instances of sexual assault, Duesterhaus said. “We need to equip youth with the ability to navigate their own bodies and consensual situations,” Duesterhaus added. “We’re leaving them ill equipped to have agency of their sexuality and bodies.”

For those who opposed the adoption, the content under question was either inappropriate or “not scientifically factual,” such as vaccinations being the only proven method from viral disease, a notion they would challenge, Alex Serrano, the county director for County Citizens Defending Freedom, told reporters before the meeting Wednesday. Serrano has no children in the district and sends his children to Centner Academy, the Miami private school that last year said teachers and students who got vaccinated for COVID-19 could not interact with students and would risk losing their job.

“We are not against sexual education or human reproduction and sexual education books,” Serrano said. “We are for statutory compliance and age appropriateness in the content … and compliance with parental rights law.” Discussions regarding gender ideology “do not belong” in the books. “That is ideology,” he said. Others who spoke against the adoption also cited their contempt with the books’ discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation as reasons to oppose the materials. But in the board’s decision in April, members agreed to remove the chapter called “Understanding Sexuality” from both middle and high school textbooks, which would have discussed those topics.

More than 40 people — parents, students and community members — signed up to speak on Wednesday. Of those, 38 asked the board to adopt the recommendation given by the hearing officer, according to Vice Chair Steve Gallon III’s count. Just four urged against doing so. “That’s 90% of the speakers that spoke today. You do the math,” he said on the dais. “That data for me provides a greater opportunity to debunk and denounce this narrative that there’s this broad opposition to the board’s adoption of these materials.”

Most people in favor of the textbooks cited the urgent need to provide this information to students. Some pointed to research that found students who receive quality sexual health education choose abstinence longer and have fewer rates of unplanned pregnancies. Others said the materials provide a safe environment for students to learn factual, scientific information and give them the understanding to prevent instances of sexual violence.

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The school board will meet again to reconsider the issue because the district is now out of compliance with state requirements.

The Miami-Dade County School Board is meeting on Thursday to “assess the potential impact” of its decision to reject the adoption of a comprehensive health and sex-education textbook for middle and high school students. The 5-4 vote effectively removed sexual education curriculum for middle and high school students for at least four to eight months and left the school district out of compliance with curriculum requirements and standards set by the Florida Department of Education….

“The issue at hand, as reflected in the item, is compliance with the Florida Department of Education,” Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman said in a statement. The requirements are different for each grade level and everything must be “grade-appropriate.”

Still, she added, “above everything, we must respect parental rights. Parents play an essential role in the education of their children. Parental rights are the bedrock of our school district. Rest assured that this School Board is committed to respecting the rights of parents to make decisions regarding the education of their children.”

The special meeting — scheduled for Thursday at noon — is expected to draw many more parents and community members than last week, said Gina Vinueza, a district parent and one of the organizers behind a petition, Save Sex-Ed in Miami-Dade.

Last week, more than 40 parents, community members and organization representatives flocked to the meeting to speak on the curriculum adoption. Of those who spoke, 38 urged the board to adopt the recommendation given by the hearing officer, according to Vice Chair Steve Gallon III’s count; just four spoke against doing so.

Here is the puzzle: which parent voices count? The board listened to parents opposed to the textbook. The board did not listen to the parents who support the textbook.

Why does the board decide to side with some parents while ignoring others?

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President Biden’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court is a graduate of a Florida public high school, where she was a member of the debate team. Justice Jackson has described her participation on the debate team as a crucial factor in her intellectual development. Debate taught her critical thinking skills, writing, speaking, and self-confidence. The school still exists but the Governor and Legislature have done everything possible to destroy the state’s public schools by favoring charters and vouchers and diverting billions of public school dollars to “choice.”

PINECREST, Fla. — Let Miami Palmetto Senior High School brag for a moment: It has a swoon-worthy alumni roster. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, class of ’82. Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, class of ’94. And Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, class of ’88.

Decades have passed since Jackson, 51, was a stellar student at Palmetto, a large public school nestled among the palm trees of the South Florida suburbs. But the school held outsize importance in her life, thanks to a competitive speech and debate team led by a famed coach who molded her protégés into sharp-tongued speakers and quick critical thinkers.

“That was an experience that I can say without hesitation was the one activity that best prepared me for future success in law and in life,” Jackson said at a lecture in 2017.

From the tightknit and wonky debate team emerged accomplished professionals who remain unusually close 30 years later. (Jackson’s prom date? A guy who would become a U.S. attorney, the chief federal prosecutor in Miami.) Now the team offers a glimpse into how Jackson’s early life led to a Supreme Court nomination — and how her success is inspiring a new generation of debaters to dream big.

“I learned how to reason and how to write,” she said in the lecture, “and I gained the self-confidence that can sometimes be quite difficult for women and minorities to learn at an early age.”

One former teammate, Craig Tinsky, who is a visual artist in Washington, D.C., recalled Jackson delivering a powerful speech about confronting and overcoming fears, as well as a humorous interpretation of the Neil Simon play “Fools” that had the audience in stitches.

Jackson has spoken often, including in her 2013 swearing-in as a judge, about how much high school meant to her. She was the class president and has helped organize class reunions. But above all, she was a top debater.

Not everything was easy. As a 17-year-old, she sat on a panel discussion about race and ethnic relations and recounted having a drama teacher tell her she would not be able to win a role in a play because it was about a white family.
“If you don’t talk about it, you never deal with it,” she said of prejudice in the school, where the student body was 73% white, 16% Black and 11% Hispanic.

Jackson grew up in what she has described as a predominantly Jewish suburb of Miami, attending her friends’ bar and bat mitzvahs. At the time, Palmetto was in an unincorporated residential neighborhood known as East Kendall that is now the upscale village of Pinecrest.

Jack Ross of California-based Capital & Main posed the question: Will Alberto Carvalho, who was recently hired away from Miami-Dade public schools to become the new superintendent of the Los Angeles public schools, expand the number of charter schools in L.A.?

At Carvalho’s first press conference, the first question to him was about where he stood on charter schools. This issue has prompted billionaires like the late Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, and Reed Hastings of Netflix to pour millions into school board races. The current board has a 4-3 pro-charter majority.

Ross wrote:

So where does Carvalho stand? During his 13 year tenure in the Sunshine State, the number of charter schools in the south Florida district rose from 65 to 145 (while more than 30 charter schools also closed). More campuses were converted into magnet programs offering specialized education in subjects like robotics, computer science or performing arts: In 2010, around 41,000 Miami students attended magnets, and by 2019 that number had risen to more than 72,000. The Miami magnets, however, are operated by the school district and not by private owners. “I have always been a proponent, and dramatically expanded, publicly offered, accountable choice in Miami-Dade public schools,” Carvalho said at his press conference, referring to his investment in public magnet schools. “In Florida, charter schools are enabled by Florida statute, and school boards, by and large, do not have great latitude in the approval of charter programs.”

Carvalho liked the story so much that he tweeted it with a comment:

Alberto M. Carvalho@MiamiSup
Publicly accountable choice, under the leadership of representative boards, that serve all children, regardless of their diverse abilities, not profits, is a model that has worked well. Will L.A.’s New Superintendent Expand Charter Schools? @capitalandmain

Right below Carvalho’s tweet was a response from Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education.

Opposed to for-profit @miamiSup? Why did largest for- profit Academica more than double # of schools in your district?

Academica is a huge for-profit chain based in Florida that is unusually avaricious and highly political.

The board of the Los Angeles Unified School District has hired Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of the schools in Miami-Dade, too PPP become superintendent of the Los Angeles. Carvalho has served in Miami as superintendent since 2008. Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to hire him in New York City in 2018, but Carvalho backed out after the appointment was announced.

Alberto Carvalho, who has led Miami-Dade County Public Schools since 2008 and is among the nation’s most experienced and admired school district leaders, has been named the next superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, district officials announced Thursday.

The Board of Education made the announcement after a special, closed meeting. In recent weeks board members have interviewed and deliberated over candidates in a series of closed sessions.

In coming to L.A. Unified, Carvalho, 57, moves from heading the fourth-largest K-12 public school system in the country to the second-largest, taking on one of the highest-profile and most challenging posts in public education…

Born in Portugal, he came to the U.S. at age 17. Carvalho learned English as a young adult and quickly worked his way up from construction and restaurant jobs as he attended Broward Community College. He later won a scholarship to Barry University and enrolled on a premed track. He excelled academically, but took a hard turn in his career path when, in his mid-20s, he interviewed for a teaching position at Miami Jackson Senior High. He was offered a job the same day, a Tampa Bay Times profile reported in 2019.

After four years in the classroom — teaching physics, chemistry and calculus — he became an assistant principal. The superintendent at the time was so impressed that he brought Carvalho to work downtown without his having been a principal. Carvalho oversaw federal programs and later became the district’s chief communications officer. He gained further experience by overseeing grant administration and lobbying state officials.

Under Supt. Rudy Crew, Carvalho launched several initiatives, including a Parent Academy and a School Improvement Zone, focusing on schools with low academic achievement.

After becoming superintendent, Carvalho eventually filled a gap in his resume, serving as a principal. He put himself at the helm of a new campus called iPrep Academy, a pre-kindergarten-to-12th-grade magnet school “designed to promote respect and responsibility among the students and staff,” according to its website. All students are required to take honors classes.

As the Miami-Dade County school board considering awarding a multi-million dollar contract to the for-profit K12 Inc. to supply remote learning to all its students, the virtual learning company made a very very generous contribution to a nonprofit chaired by Miami’s superintendent of schools.

The matter is being investigated.

K12 delivered subpar services, and the board nixed the contract.

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Office of the Inspector General for Miami-Dade County Public Schools has launched an investigation into Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s nonprofit following a donation from K12, the much-maligned online learning platform axed by the district.

A memo from Inspector General Mary Cagle states her office “will begin a review of the transfer of approximately $1.57 million dollars from K12, a virtual instruction provider, to the Foundation for New Education Initiatives, Inc.”

Frankly, it’s hard to understand why Miami public schools chose for-profit K12 Inc. as it’s provider of remote instruction. Ten minutes or less on google would have turned up multiple articles about its terrible track record: high attrition, poor curriculum, low test scores, low graduation rates. NCAA strips accreditation for 24 schools using K12.

Wired tells the story in Miami, which recently severed its contract with K12.

ON THE MORNING of August 31, the first day of school, the 345,000 students in Miami-Dade County’s public schools fired up their computers expecting to see the faces of their teachers and classmates. Instead a scruffy little dog in banana-print pajamas appeared on their screens, alongside an error message. “Oh bananas!” read one message from the district’s online learning platform. “Too many people are online right now.”

A rudimentary cyberattack had crippled the servers of the nation’s fourth-largest school district, preventing its 392 schools from starting the year online. But even once the district had quelled the distributed denial-of-service attack and a local teen had been arrested for the crime, “Banana Dog” didn’t go away. If anything, the security breach merely obscured for a few days the crippling weaknesses in the district’s plan to move every aspect of its schooling—including a revamped curriculum—onto a platform that had only ever supported half as many students (and never all at once).

The platform was built by virtual charter school company K12, backed by one-time junk bond king Michael Milken and US secretary of education Betsy DeVos. Doug Levin, an education tech consultant, calls the decision to use K12 “atypical.” Another ed tech analyst, Phil Hill, calls it “weird.”

The rapid pivot to, and even faster pivot away from, K12 amounts to a case study in how not to deploy a massive new software project. It also illustrates how, in a few intense weeks of summer decisionmaking, a charter-school curriculum written by a for-profit company was chosen and installed, with little scrutiny, across one of the largest districts in the country.

Alberto Carvalho made the decision on his own, without consulting the board. They trusted him.

It was a disaster from the start.

K12’s software promised to replace all the other apps that schools had been using. “It was billed to teachers as the Rolls-Royce of software,” says Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of the United Teachers of Dade. The district and the company rushed to implement it. At the end of August, all of Miami-Dade’s educators sat through six days of K12 training—and that’s when they started to panic.

The teachers received demo logins to try out the platform, but they didn’t work, and even the trainers struggled to access it, West says. From 8 am until 3:30 pm each day, teachers took notes without once trying the software themselves. “The training was make-believe, it was so, so complex,” says one teacher. “Even our techie teachers were lost.” On Facebook, teachers shared GIFs of dumpster fires and steaming poop emojis in response to the experience.

“That’s a very complex, aggressive undertaking. And to do it with 345,000 students and in less than a month? There’s a lot of hubris involved.”

Once the school year began in earnest, technical challenges persisted. Some students struggled to log in. Uploads could be excruciatingly slow. A particular sore point was the platform’s unreliable built-in video conferencing tool, called NewRow. It had issues with sound and screen-sharing. After about 15 minutes, the video quality started to degrade. It didn’t work on iPads or iPhones.

And then there was the built-in curriculum. K12 provided content, though teachers could change or supplement it. The lessons had been devised for K12’s virtual charter schools: for-profit schools that are entirely online and receive taxpayer money for every student enrolled. When some Miami-Dade teachers examined K12’s materials, they were horrified by what they found. One teacher came across a quiz for second graders with one question: “Did you enjoy this course?” Clicking “yes” allowed the student to ace the test. Several classes relied on K12’s paper workbooks, which the students didn’t receive. “One thing our educators complained about was, the rigor was not there. It was a very watered-down curriculum,” Hernandez-Mats says.

A highly experienced, very successful high school English teacher clung to her favorite literature textbooks.she preferred them to the digital textbooks adopted by the district. One day recently, she arrived in her class to discover that all her textbooks were gone. Her defiance was unacceptable to the state, the district and the principal. The state wants all children using digital material. It is de-emphasizing fiction and literature, replacing them with “informational text.” In short, the Common Core strikes again.

Audrey Silverman arrived at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High last week ready to finish “The Necklace,” the English class staple short story about the deceptiveness of appearances and the dangers of martyrdom with her gifted, honors ninth-grade students.

But when the literature teacher entered her classroom Thursday morning, 50 textbooks, including the teacher’s edition with years of annotations Silverman said she personally purchased, were missing from the baskets beneath the students’ desks. A student told Silverman she saw the books carted away the prior evening.

“They’re gone,” said Silverman. “Nobody knows where they are.

What happened next has culminated into a tussle between teacher autonomy and embracing new, digital curriculum. Silverman filed a pre-grievance with the teachers’ union against her principal, Allison Harley, for breached academic freedom. Harley, Silverman says, launched an internal investigation with Miami-Dade County Public Schools against her for improper use of email.

Silverman, a 30-year veteran teacher whose scores deem her one of the best teachers in the state, has been using a textbook called “McDougal-Littell Literature” for a decade, although students were using an edition from four years ago. It’s got poems, essays, short stories, Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare — a curriculum she says challenges and rivets her students.

But the Florida Department of Education phased out that textbook five years ago and introduced new titles that districts could use. A committee of teachers picked “Collections“ by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a digital textbook that aligns with new Florida standardized tests that heavily emphasize nonfiction and informational texts.

That digital book was adopted by the district in 2015 while rolling out a tablet-based program for high school freshmen, who could bring their own device or check one out from the school.

“It makes the learning a lot more interactive,” than using just a static book, said Lisette Alves, the assistant superintendent over academics.

Silverman had been quietly hanging on to her hardcover books until last week, when a group of district officials stopped by her classroom. District spokeswoman Jackie Calzadilla said an instructional review of all subjects took place at Krop on Sept. 26 and determined that the material Silverman was using “was not aligned with the Florida Standard” and was outdated.

The next morning, the books were gone. Not in the closed cabinets where she kept the spares, not under desks, not in her own desk.

“I felt that this may happen one day,” Silverman said.

Alves and Sylvia Diaz, assistant superintendent over innovation and school choice, say the district does not make the call to remove books. That decision was made by the principal.

“We do occasionally hear about a teacher using older materials,” Diaz said. “We advise the principal.”

“If we see it as we’re doing reviews, then we advise the principal to make sure they’re using [the adopted books],” Alves said.

Harley, the principal at Krop, would not comment and referred a reporter’s questions to the district. The district said Harley repeatedly asked Silverman to use the approved material and she refused.

Spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said books were removed from Silverman’s class two summers ago, “but the teacher retrieved them and brought them back into the classroom.”

“So, they had to be removed again,” Gonzalez-Diego wrote in an email.

Silverman said this incident has been the first and only time books have been removed from her classroom. She said she’s kept these books in her cabinet for three years.

“That is an outright lie,” she said.

The district also said all other language arts teachers at Krop were using the approved material.

Ceresta Smith, a 10th-grade intensive reading teacher who returned to Krop after a decade at John A. Ferguson Senior High, said she doesn’t use any of the approved material. She uses a collection of materials she’s put together over her 30-year teaching career.

“I said to the principal when I … came back to Krop, I said, ‘Don’t expect me to follow the pacing guide. I’m a veteran and I’m a professional and I know what I’m doing.’ ”

Read more here:

The story goes on with more horrifying detail.

Celesta Smith, be it noted, is a National Board Certified Teacher, a founder of United Opt Out, and a BAT. Nobody dares to tell her what to teach.

No one should tell Audrey Silverman what to teach. She is a professional.


Ms. Silverman, google the literary selections and forget about the textbook.


According to Politico, Alberto Carvalho will be the new Chancellor of the New York City public schools. 

“Alberto Carvalho, who has led Miami’s public schools for the last decade, will be New York City’s next schools chancellor, Mayor Bill de Blasio will officially announce Thursday.

“Carvalho will replace Carmen Fariña, who has spent the last four years at the helm of America’s largest school system after de Blasio coaxed her out of retirement in late 2013. He will officially take over as chancellor sometime in the next month. The announcement was delayed because of the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

“De Blasio’s requirements for the role of America’s second-most-important educator were largely unspoken, but obvious: a longtime educator with experience running schools for vulnerable children, a Spanish-speaking person of color, and a New York City outsider who is also considered a rising star in the national education world.

“Carvalho checks every box.

“The current Miami-Dade schools chief is a Portuguese immigrant, and came to America illegally as a broke 17-year-old who had saved up $1,000 for the airfare from Lisbon to New York City. After leaving New York for Ft. Lauderdale and later Miami, he worked as a busboy and a day laborer. Carvalho was the first person in his family to finish high school. Fariña, the daughter of immigrants from Spain, was the first person in her’s to earn a college diploma.

“Carvalho started his 20-year career in Miami’s schools as a physics, chemistry and calculus teacher at Miami Jackson Senior High, where he earned the nickname “Mr. Armani” for his sartorial presence. He went on to be an assistant principal and deputy superintendent. Along with his current superintendent duties, he’s the principal of two Miami schools. He helped earn his reputation for being a savvy political operator while serving as a communications officer and a lobbyist for Miami-Dade’s schools.”