Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SB1620/HB7197: Digital Learning Bill Passes

Late Monday, I noticed that the House ditched its version of so-called digital learning and voted on a new bill that matched the Senate version. Last week I read the 50 plus page Senate bill and called my legislator to voice my concerns. The entire Brevard delegation supported the bill. As written, the bill opens the door for outsourcing virtual charters. The requirements for teachers include a type of certification for individuals who may live outside the United States, but no Florida teacher certification requirements are needed. These virtual charters do not require a physical presence in Florida; however, all who offer services must be approved by the Florida Department of Education. This bill is also an unfunded mandate requiring school districts to provide access for those who do not have the proper equipment and internet access. The bill was introduced by Florida Senator Anitere Flores, who is listed as a member of the digital learning committee on the education foundation established by former Governor Jeb Bush.

On another note, UCF won a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant to develop national standards for blended learning that seems will apply to higher learning. Blended learning means students attend class AND complete some coursework online. This approach has years of supportive research as the most successful application of online learning and so noted on the UCF website. More students successfully finish courses in blended learning than other formats. SB1620/HB7197 does not acknowledge the research and takes a step backward in successful application of virtual capabilities.

This blog marks #50 and coincides with the near end of the Florida legislative session. So-called education reform sped through legislatures nationwide with barely any public discussion and even less media coverage. Non-public entities with no accountability are establishing national policy on national standards, national assessment, and national curriculum. Local control has been vastly diminished. Soon the U.S. Congress will be taking up the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. Many of the issues connected with education reform will likely re-emerge. Grumpy Educators serves as a resource for Brevard County residents and others who are interested in education reform and may be helpful for those who are interested in the reauthorization when it comes up. Hopefully, the national media will take greater interest in covering these issues when they are debated in Congress.

Education reform is a complex topic and moves faster than a speeding bullet. I have attempted to break it down into small enough chunks so the entire picture could be understood. I hope it has been helpful. Now, as last year, Sandra In Brevard will take a blogging break. However, there are two separate groups who have organized to push back on the efforts to nationalize education that I am following closely.

Best regards to all readers of Grumpy Educators.


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