Sunday, October 30, 2011

Florida's Charter School "Boom"

According to Charter Schools USA, new Florida legislation "has sparked a 38 percent increase in charters applying to open, or nearly 100 more this year over last year’s 252. The state has more than 400 charter schools, the third highest number in the country. More than 130,000 Florida students, or 5 percent of its public-schooled students, attended charters in 2009-2010." This new law provides an easier process for opening new charters for those who have demonstrated academic and financial success.

Nevertheless, elected county school boards are still responsible for determining how many and which charter applications will be accepted. Some disagree with this process and suggest that an independent body should replace local control in these determinations. One proponent of such a change is Charter School USA CEO John Hage, who was an advisor to former Governor Jeb Bush and participated in the drafting of Florida law creating charter schools in 1996. Local school boards express concerns over further erosion of local control.

Polk County rejected Charter School USA's request to open a charter school citing a failure to demonstrate compliance with "the state's new law for duplicating the programs of other high-performing charter schools." Charter School USA has decided to appeal this rejection to the State Board of Education.

Clay County schools is the largest county without any charter schools citing its existing quality programs as the reason. The Clay County school board is unconvinced that charters will exceed what the traditional schools already offer. However, School Board chairman Frank Ferrell worries that "lawmakers would further erode the limited oversight school districts have over charters."

“I think some of that authority is being taken away,” Ferrell said.

Read more in School Board's Getting Tough on Charter Applications.

Charter Schools: Parent Caution Advisory

While charter school expansion continues in Florida, so do the challenges to local decision-making. KIPP is a nationally recognized charter operator; however, KIPP Jacksonville operates a middle school with an "F" performance. The charter's application to open two new charters was questioned by the Duval School Board, which asked KIPP to explain why they should approve an application for more schools when they are operating one with an "F". Duval will vote on the application on November 1; however, KIPP has said they will appeal if their application is rejected.

Parents, community members, and taxpayers rely on school boards, who have the mandated responsibility of approving applications to open charters, monitoring them, and closing those who are non-performing. The application itself does not include reporting on a charter's performance history. Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson does not believe the application should include such information; however he does believe that school boards must consider charter performance as part of their decision-making process. In a Florida Department of Education statement, Robinson's views were clarified:
The Commissioner contends that performance of charter schools should be taken into consideration prior to any new charter school development because providing a quality learning environment for all students is paramount.

The Florida Times-Union quotes Greg Richmond, president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, who said that "a poorly performing school shouldn’t be approved to open new schools."
“KIPP nationally is a great organization, but every school still has to earn its own way,” Richmond said.

“So if you’re an 'F’ school, you’ve got to bring that grade up before you can start talking about opening some more schools.”

The November 1 decision is one to follow as well as Charter USA's challenge to the recent Polk County School Board's rejection of their application.

With mounting challenges to a local school board decision, what can parents rely on to make informed decisions on school choice?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Charter Schools: The Tale of Many Cities

This week Florida Senator David Simmons, chair of the PreK-12 Budget subcommittee, commented at a recent meeting that charter failures in the state are worrisome. Simmons had this to say:
“The finanical impact is great,” he said. “Some of them are failing, and that’s a financial issue…Those that are failing are costing not only a human toll but a financial one.”

Some examples that may have crossed Simmons desk include:

The Miami-Herald reported that two Miami-Dade charter schools, the Academy of Arts and Minds and the Balere Language Academy, were shut down last week.

Many parents have been complaining that The Academy of Arts and Minds the school did not have enough books or teachers when school started in August. Parents have also complained about the school’s governing board decision-making, when the decided to hire the charter founder and landlord, Alonso-Poch, to also be "the school’s manager under a $90,000 no-bid contract." The chairwoman of the school’s board did not vote in this decision; however, Ruth “Chuny” Montaner is Alonso-Poch’s cousin.

Balere Language Academy troubles include a pending foreclosure lawsuit on its school building, $136,000 in outstanding debts, including $99,000 owed to a previous landlord, and is "under investigation after advertisements surfaced indicating that the school was being used as an adult-themed nightclub on the weekends. The school’s principal, Rocka Malik, has denied that the school was doubling as a club — though a phone number on the ads comes back to her husband’s business.

A West Melbourne charter school is in danger of closing due to poor performance. The charter's parent management company has sent $1 million to keep the school going and redirected to improvement. Nevertheless, parents have been pulling their children out of the school. A Florida Today article reviews the rather interesting real estate purchases and sales that has flowed into the investment. Two Imagine Charter schools, located in North Lauderdale, are also failing as identified in an investigative report by Scathing Purple Musings. This report revealed that 15 of 31 "F" schools in Florida are charters. Imagine Schools CEO Dennis Bakke was on Governor Scott's education transition team.

As charter applications are on the rise, Simmons interest is timely. Such events are not limited to Florida.

Who pays? Who benefits?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Parent Across America submits proposals for ESEA reauthorization

Parents Across America wrote to Senator Harkin, starting the letter this way:
Dear Senator Harkin,

Your proposed revisions to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act show that you and the HELP Committee have listened to some of the concerns voiced by parents and others about the problems with No Child Left Behind.

The letter was followed by a list of proposals Parents Across America wish to see excluded in the new legislation as well as items that they recommend be included.

Below are three of the listed recommendations for inclusion:

• Less emphasis on standardized testing and more reliable accountability and assessment practices including local, teacher-designed assessments supplemented with teacher and parent surveys and site visits.

• A full range of parent involvement opportunities including a stronger parent voice in decision making at the school, district, state, and national levels.

• The right of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests.

Grumpy Educators hopes that Senator Harkin, the full committee, and the U.S. Congress pays attention to the concerns of parents, community members, and taxpayers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Florida Tea Party Network Want Governor Scott to Quit Race to the Top

Hat tip to Scathing Purple Musings for posting the announcement by Florida's TEA Party on Race to the Top. For months now, Grumpy Educators has been asking where they stood on the issue.

Here's a segment:
The Tea Party Network, a consortium of 70 tea-party organizations statewide, argues that “for states to regain control of education and bring it back to the local level, they must stop taking federal money and the strings that come with the money.”

Read the entire article Florida Tea Party Network Want Governor Scott to Quit Race to the Top for their complete statement.

UPDATE: Governor Scott signed the grant proposal and says he will return the money IF there are any strings attached. The Pre-K funding is not a gift and to know the strings, someone has to analyze the grant application and requirements first. Much has already been written about the requirements. Scott does not say what parts he found helpful and which less so.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ESEA legislation: Which way is the wind blowing?

Legislation regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act hit the proverbial fan. Some of the key initiatives promoted by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other education reformers are being revisited, reduced, diminished, or disappearing. One thing is clear, there is bipartisan support for shifting authority over education away from Washington D.C. and back to the States.

Several articles to help understand these current events can be found here:

Ed Week journalist Alyson Klein says there are over 144 amendments to the recently filed Harkin-Enzi bill, the one to replace NCLB. Klein points to areas to watch for in Wednesday's markup.

Alexander Russo of the Scholastic Administrator notices the absence of ed reformers with the announcement if the Harkin version of new education legislation.

Rick Hess gives his views of the Harkin-Enzi proposal and a follow up on the current legislative events in Harkin-Enzi ESEA Madness.

Shifting Focus by Joy Resmovits in the Huffington Post points to changes in direction on federal mandates regarding teacher evaluation.

And one more about Senator Lamar Alexander's proposal, what he thinks of Harkin-Enzi legislations, and the concerns over a "national school board."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ed Week follows up on S.C. parent

Ed Week followed up on parent Gretchen Herrera. What I found interesting was this comment at the end of the article:

This is a classic instance of retaliation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA. I hope the parent pursues an OCR complaint and other remedies. She and others needing help with lawless school districts might want to join the Council of Parents, Advocates, and Attorneys (COPAA) at and participate in the listserve, for lots of helpful free advice and support.

The South Carolina parents have filed Office of Civil Rights complaints and the investigation is ongoing.

Grumpy Educators reported that the student has now enrolled in a public middle school and his complex medical condition and recommendations of the medical team apparently will be honored.

UPDATE: A comment added to the Ed Week follow up article is worth reading.
"Thanks for the followup on this story. I am concerned that any virtual school does not recognize medical advice as official. I thought virtual schools were often chosen by families because of medical conditions a child might have that would make attending a regular school difficult. This situation seems to have flown in the face of what was best for this student. After reading your original article, I contacted this school via facebook and was advised that to eliminate the possibility of a medically fragile student having to endure any state mandated tests, it would be best to enroll said child in the private virtual school also run by this company.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

SC parent finds help in local school district

After a protracted battle with the South Carolina Virtual Charter School, a K12 franchise, over standardized testing, parent Gretchen Herrera has enrolled her son in a public middle school. Mrs. Herrera reports that her first experiences with school staff have been positive, they appear knowledgeable, and willing to accommodate her son's complex medical condition as indicated by his medical team while addressing his educational needs.

Grumpy Educators wishes this family best wishes and good luck to Anthony. We look forward to hearing of his progress and success in middle school.


No family should have to fight this long and this hard to ensure the health and well-being of their children in public school or publicly-funded charters. In this environment of charters springing up like mushrooms, the message to parents is: Buyer Beware.

Ed Week recently reported on this story.

Friday, October 14, 2011

NCLB Reauthorization: Who gets control?

The U.S. Congress is showing mixed results in addressing the reauthorization of NCLB legislation in spite of broad consensus that it requires urgent attention. According to the NY Times, the U.S. House education committee leadership wishes to proceed in a "piecemeal" fashion; however, few pieces have been forthcoming. The New York Times sees the House actions this way:
"The House leadership has appeared unwilling to move toward a full rewriting of the law, which could give Mr. Obama a domestic policy triumph going into an election year."

The U.S. Senate has filed a comprehensive bill. According to Senate education committee chair Senator Tom Harkin, this bill was developed in bipartisan fashion and returns some of the powers to the states that were taken away via NCLB legislation. Accountability remains in place.

"Mr. Harkin’s bill would keep the law’s requirements that states test students in reading and math every year in grades three through eight, and once in high school, and make the scores public.

But for about 9 of every 10 American schools, it would scrap the law’s federal system of accountability, under which schools must raise the proportion of students showing proficiency on the tests each year. That system has driven classroom teaching across the nation for a decade.

States would still face federal oversight for the worst-performing 5 percent of schools, as well as for the 5 percent of schools in each state with the widest achievement gap between minority and white students. Districts in charge of those schools could lose federal financing under the Harkin plan if they failed to raise their student achievement."

There are critics who maintain that local control is the problem.

“Harkin’s bill would return control to the state departments of education and the local school districts, and they’re the ones that got us into the mess that No Child was designed to fix,” said Grover J. Whitehurst, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who headed the Department of Education’s research wing under President Bush. “Districts and states have not been effective in delivering quality education to children from low socioeconomic backgrounds, so why should we think they’ll be effective this time around?”

Other groups advocating for minority and special education students fear that the relaxing of sub-group accountability turns back the clock for these students.

Ed Week provided more perspective on the Senate ESEA draft bill. Adequate yearly progress requirements will disappear and replaced by state identified continuous improvement and ability to use either a yearly test or interim measures that show progress. The comprehensive Senate bill proposes to:

  • Codify the Race to Top, Investing in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhood programs, all top Obama administration reform initiatives.

  • Require states to set college- and career-readiness standards, either with other states or alone.

  • Largely keep the law's testing system in place, but eliminate the 2013-14 deadline for bringing all students to proficiency in math and reading.

  • Require states to develop new teacher evaluation systems.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More groups pushing back on the Common Core initiatives

Via Truth in American Education.

In a letter to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Alabama legislators ask that the state retain control over "academic standards, curriculum, instruction, and testing" and reject national initiatives.

The National Federation of Republican Women (Nebraska, Delaware, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Tennessee) passed a unanimous resolution, "Defeat National Standards for State Schools." The resolution opposes "national standards, national curricula, or national assessments."

Resolution proposed to NCTE to oppose common core standards...

This resolution was submitted to the National Council of Teachers of English for their consideration.

Schools Matter: Resolution: NCTE will oppose common core standards...: Resolution on National Standards and Tests Submitted to National Council of Teachers of English, Committee on Resolutions...

South Carolina parent responds to charter school

On Friday, October 7, Education Week covered the complaint and concern of South Carolina parents of special needs student and high stakes assessments. Read here.

On Saturday, October 8, parent Gretchen Herrera received notification from the SCVS director that her son was expelled for her failure to give permission to her son to take assessments. She also protested the rules and regulations on the SC State House steps that day.

Yesterday, Mrs. Herrera replied to the charter school director.

My reply to the director's letter about Anthony's expulsion.

Ms. Reid,

I received a letter from you stating that my son is withdrawn from your school effective 10/10 because I refused to let him take the PASS test.

My son is a 12 year old little boy with Aspergers and a brittle diabetic. I presented Cherry Daniels and Donna Strom with a letter from his diabetes team stating my son should NOT take the test. It stated clearly that he would have a dramatic reaction in his health, but still he took the first part.

My son's blood sugar spiked over 200 points in 30 minutes!

I had sent ANOTHER letter in as well to his homeroom teacher stating that not only did his blood sugar go up, but while there was all of this turmoil, after I refused to let him get ill AGAIN by finishing the PASS tests, his overall blood sugar (A1C) was dangerously high! All of the stress he went through over will he or won't he be allowed to come back because he didn't return to a situation that made him physically and dangerously ill caused his A1C to reach 9.0 from a 7.0! That is documented.

Your school ignored the letter from his endocrinology team and subsequently caused him to be in a very harmful situation with his health.

Your letter states that you have to follow the SAME rules and regulations of the brick and mortar schools of this state. I have spoken to the SC DoE and was told my son can go in, sign in and leave. That would fulfill his participation. I have also spoken to my child's special needs director for Palmetto Pediatric and was told children with my son's illness and disabilities have been opted out before.

You had the appropriate documentation. Your school had a letter in hand stating clearly NOT for Anthony to take the PASS test. There was no doubt about what it was saying.

Yet, because he has a disability that exacerbates an already tricky condition, you've removed him from your school.

From where I sit Ms. Reid, your school is valuing it's testing prowess higher than a child's health.

Now surely, that can't be. Can it?

You were correct in your closing line. SCVCS didn't meet my son's needs. I trusted your school would WANT to keep my child safe. I see I was wrong.


Gretchen Herrera

Sunday, October 9, 2011

South Carolina Virtual School sends student packing

On October 8, 2011, South Carolina parent Gretchen Herrera was informed that her son was withdrawn by the virtual public school school officials due to her refusal to allow her son to take further standardized testing. School officials have ignored the complex existing medical condition and doctor's evaluation that the testing exacerbates the condition. The parent received this letter:

Dear Learning Coach,

The South Carolina Virtual Charter School is a virtual public school of choice, whereby students and their learning coaches are required to follow school policies and procedures to remain compliant and in good standing. As you recall, as part of the enrollment process, we requested that all families carefully read the 2011-12 Parent Student Handbook, sign the contract (located on page 27) and return to your homeroom teacher. By your signature and that of your son/daughter, this indicates your commitment to adhere to the schools rules and regulations addressed in the document.

Please understand that as a virtual public school we are obligated to the same state policies and procedures that our sister brick and mortar schools are required to follow. Therefore, we are accountable for student attendance, progress, reading, and answering K mails, submitting work and attendance at state testing and overall, being in good standing with the school.

As a result of your decision of being non-compliant, your student will officially be withdrawn from SCVCS October 10, 2011 and their name and contact information will be forwarded to the public school district in which you reside.
In closing, I am disappointed that SCVCS virtual learning did not meet your expectation and I wish you the best in your future endeavor.

Director of Elementary and Middle School Education

Recent report on this story:
Shah, Nirvi, "Testing, No Testing, Too Much Testing", Ed Week, October 9, 2011.

Friday, October 7, 2011

South Carolina parents get a national spotlight

Grumpy Educators has been following the experiences of South Carolina parents who sought waivers from high stakes assessment for their students with complex medical conditions. If there is a poster child for compliance-driven testing that fails to protect the health and well-being of children, second guesses medical input, and hinders parent rights and involvement, then South Carolina takes the prize.

At long last, this important story has garnered some national attention. In "Testing, No Testing, Too Much Testing," Nirvi Shah, Education Week's On Special Education journalist, writes about South Carolina parents and reports on California trends to increase the number of tests all students must take, including those with special needs. Citing the California Bee, Ed Week notes the following:

"Repeated failure on the regular test was beating down many special education students, Sacramento City Unified district spokesman Gabe Ross told the Bee."

"Is it more accurate to give students who have special needs a test that we know they will not be proficient in?" he asked. "How does that give you an accurate picture of student learning?"

South Carolina parents protest punitive high stakes assessment on South Carolina State House steps, Saturday, October 8, at 10 AM.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Education Matters: Florida faces $1.2 billion education shortfall

Education Matters: Florida faces $1.2 billion education shortfall: From the A triple threat of factors will have Florida lawmakers scrambling to close a projected $1.2 billion shortfall ...

NUT Report: Portland Maine parents to opt-out

Bangor Daily News reports parent requests to opt-out of high stakes standardized testing. Maine education officials say that every year a small group of parents request opting out of mandated high stakes assessment, but find no increased trend district-wide. Officials recognize parent concern regarding the amount of time test prep and testing is taking out of instructional time and note more conversation among parents on how to opt-out.

"Maine Department of Education spokesman David Connerty-Marin also noted the danger too many opt-outs present for schools in terms of complying with federal laws, but said school officials cannot compel parents to put their kids in the testing rooms."

“Every year we get a small number of folks who decide to [opt out], and we move on,” he said. “We can’t force students to take standardized tests. There’s no real ‘opt out’ provision in the law, but there’s also nothing that forces students to take the tests. Just like if there’s a parent that doesn’t want their child dissecting a frog in science class, we can’t force them to, or if there’s a parent that doesn’t want their child going on a particular field trip, we can’t force them to.”

Robert Schaeffer, public education director for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, sees a national trend developing this year as more parents realize that there will be no testing relief through the reauthorization of NCLB and as parents "learn their rights and go public with their complaints."

“There has been, just this year, a resurgence in interest in opting out of tests,” he said. “Earlier this decade, we saw small movements [in certain places], but this year, as frustration has grown with the damage that NCLB and state testing requirements have done, more and more parents have looked into opting out, and more have taken advantage of it.”

On Saturday, October 8 at 10AM, South Carolina parents will protest punitive high stakes assessment on the S.C. State House steps. Unlike Maine, South Carolina education officials second-guess medical input to force testing in spite of parent request to opt-out for their students with complex medical conditions. Instead of helping, South Carolina's policies protect the testing and not the students.

Some resources for opting out information:

Some resources on Facebook:
Parents and Kids Against Standardized Testing
OPT-OUT of the State Test: A National Movement
Testing is Not Teaching! PBC citizens united to make a difference.
Parents Across America

15 Things Parents, Community Members, and Taxpayers Want the Nation to Know About Education

Lisa Nielsen attended the recent Education Nation conference and reported on the last panel, consisting of students. She reported on the students' perspective in the blog 20 Things Students Want the Nation to Know About Education. In response, a teacher and blogger wrote 20 Things A Teacher Wants the Nation to Know About Education.

So I decided I'd better write one to reflect the important part of the whole discussion - parents, community members and taxpayers. I listed 15 things leaving the last five for input from readers. Here's my list:

1. End the expensive, ineffective, and punitive high stakes assessment.
2. End classrooms environments that have been converted into test prep and testing centers.
3. Use the savings from #1 and 2 to return interesting and valuable electives - drama, art, home economics, computer skills, physical education, and vocational education courses.
4. Use the savings from #1 and 2 to maintain manageable class sizes so that teachers are able to meet individual needs.
5. Stop sending large sums of dollars to Pearson, McGraw-Hill and other companies for the purpose of implementing unfunded and unfundable compliance and data-driven mandates.
6. Use the savings in #5, to restore reasonable class size for core classes, vocational education, and electives.
7. Hold Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and these other companies accountable to the same degree as schools are being held accountable.
8. Apply greater transparency regarding deals and paid for "junkets" made with Pearson, McGraw-Hill and other companies jumping into the profitable education sector. Unsure on the "junkets"? Read about 10 state commissioners of education who traveled around the world on Pearson's tab, "When Free Trips Overlap With Commercial Purposes."
9.Ensure meaningful school-based accountability that meets the NUT principle (No Unnecessary Testing).
10. Use existing measures, such as NAEP, to give a snapshot of student achievement and to report on sub-group accountability.
11. Support local control via publicly elected School Board members.
12. Ditch the preschool through college longitudinal database and maintain parent rights guaranteed under FERPA, requiring consent for sharing of student data.
13. Ensure parent rights to opt out of any and all assessments, punitive-free.
14. Leave it to local control to implement teacher evaluation systems that are not dependent on students taking high stakes assessment.
15. Support communities and families so that all students are fed, housed, and receive medical care versus supporting runaway testing initiatives.

What did I miss?

UPDATE: Responding to a private comment on the importance of these views. Ed reformers, who share Chester Finn's view on local control, will no doubt find any list and input from parents, community members, and taxpayers disruptive to their plans. If parents and the public are excluded from decision-making in their communities and over the lives of their children, what is it that we have exactly?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Missouri Education Watchdog: The Trouble With Data

Missouri Education Watchdog: The Trouble With Data: Several weeks ago, I listened to our high school principal extol the virtues of data that they will use to "guide" every one of their decisi...

Gov. Rick Scott e-mails 'cleaned out' from third source - St. Petersburg Times

Gov. Rick Scott e-mails 'cleaned out' from third source - St. Petersburg Times

Something fishy in the disappearing emails that cannot be retrieved.

Imagine a world without local school boards | Education articles blog on schools in Florida & Tampa Bay: the Gradebook | & St. Petersburg Times

Imagine a world without local school boards | Education articles blog on schools in Florida & Tampa Bay: the Gradebook | & St. Petersburg Times

Local school boards are troublesome to education reform efforts according to Chester Finn, who has great responsibilities to the non-public entity driving common core standards. Finn states the following:
These traditional structures are lethargic, bureaucratic, and set in their ways; while people within them may have experience managing schools and complying with rules, they seldom have the capacity to innovate, to make judgments about matters beyond their customary duties, or to stage successful interventions in failing districts and schools. Moreover, many of these people fiercely oppose the policies they are asked to implement.

Finn gives no support for his claim; however, local school boards are in fact accountable to the parents, community members, and taxpayers in the area they serve. Is he suggesting that democracy is troublesome? Maybe it is a good thing that "many of these people fiercely oppose the policies they are asked to implement."

In this compliance-driven-distantly-mandated landscape, parents have little to say about the educational environment of their students. "Fierce opposition" by parents, community members, and taxpayers is growing and more visible.

South Carolina parents protest punitive high stakes assessment on the State House steps on Saturday, October 8 at 10 AM. They do so because at all levels of educational officials, medical professional advice was ignored so the testing would proceed without regard to parental rights and the duty to protect the health and well-being of children. Grumpy Educators supports these efforts.

Read more:
Previous posts related to South Carolina parent opposition to excessive testing:
The State Op-Ed: South Carolina parent asks why students cannot opt out of high stakes assessment
South Carolina parents to protest high stakes assessment
A letter from a 12 year old---
Bringing Parent Opposition and Resistance Out of the Shadows
South Carolina Parents Challenge Standardized Testing
NUT Report: No parent involvement wanted

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Speed bump: New teacher evaluation process in Brevard County, Florida

A front page story in the paper edition of the Florida Today caught my eye today in the supermarket. "Teaching tool or trouble brewing?" describes the implementation of the new requirements for teacher evaluation in Brevard County, Florida schools. By 2014, this evaluation system will be used to create a merit pay system, which will affect teacher pay in accordance with recent legislation. So far, the article has not appeared in electronic format.

According to the article, "school board members have heard that the evaluation process is not being consistently implemented in the schools - leading to frustration and confusion among some of the 5,000 teachers." The process speed bump seems to center on the teacher-written professional growth plan, which accounts for 50% of the evaluation procedure. Teachers in the district report different directions on how to proceed with professional growth plans, apparently at the school level. School district official, Joy Salamone, said the district would fix the issues if the union provided specifics.

The Florida Today article described at least two specific incidents in adequate fashion for the district to act. The new process is a dramatic change, so confusion can be expected. While teachers and administrators should be focused on school students, their attention is diverted to non-instructional tasks. Let's hope the school district can create and maintain an atmosphere where confusions can be clarified without fear and without substantial time taken from classroom instruction.

The other 50% of teacher evaluation will be based on student performance results on FCAT reading scores or standardized end-of-course exams. It is still unclear, at least to this community member, how student performance will apply to P.E. teachers and special education teachers and how the algorithm will be developed.

It is refreshing to see the Florida Today do some reporting on educational issues and hope they do more.

Reference: Ryan, Mackenzie, "Teaching tool or trouble brewing?," Florida Today, October 1, 2011.