Friday, March 4, 2011

Are you sure it's about the teachers

  It's not often I agree with Jeff Parker, for the most part I think he steers a little West of North... If he reads anything I write, he probably thinks I'm headed East.. This time Jeff nailed it and he nailed it right. The Legislature played the teachers, using them as a smoke screen and laughing about doing it. You see SB 6 isn't all about teachers, but the teachers are making so much "Poor Me Noise" all the legislators had to say was, "See we're protecting you voters from those greedy teachers." The teachers  inadvertently gave the Tally GOP the perfect cover,, This isn't all about the teachers, it's about all of us. It's about the legislature for reasons known only to them to passing a law that is completely flawed...

I wrote that almost a year ago, right after the Florida Legislature passed SB 6.  Not much has changed. Charlie Crist, in a last ditch effort to save his butt politically, vetoed the bill, hoping grateful teachers would make him a US Senator.  SB 6 is back, slightly different, the name's been changed but the big issues are still there.  Unlike last year, the legislature isn't lying about having the Race To The Top Federal Grant.  It's only $700,000,000 instead of the non-existent $900 Mil they claimed to have a year ago, no problem for Tally, that's what tax payers are for.  This year we've found out about some very serious privacy issues we didn't know about last year.  Another potential issue has The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aligned with the Board Foundation offering districts a plan to place foundation trained personal at the superintendent level, the scheme, being tried out in Hillsboro is an invitation for corruption.  Just like last year, the legislature refuses to tell us what "Reform" will cost.

The teachers are happily offering the legislature the same smoke screen they provided last year.  Unemployment in Florida is at dangerously high levels.  Most people have forgotten the last time they saw a pay raise.  At a time when the slightest change in a some one's budget can cause a family to become part of Florida's already high foreclosure statistics, taxes and utility costs are going up.  On top of that the civil war in Libya and futures speculation is driving up the cost of the gasoline people need to get to work.  Like they did last year the teachers, are acting like they're the only ones getting hurt by the economy, and like their only ones that Tallahassee will hurt if they pass this monster they're trying to disguise as Education Reform.

From time to time I talk to a very liberal and very vocal educator, who is also a serious blogger.   She blogs almost daily and posts them on several different sites.  Needless to say, she's not a fan of Florida's GOP controlled legislature or their Education Reform Proposals.  This year and last I've suggested she might want to explain to her readers how the reform bills would hurt everyone, not just teachers.  She must not have thought it was a good idea, as far as I know she never mentioned it. There must be some unwritten liberal rule against working with conservatives, even when you're on the same side of an issue.

On the other hand, conservatives, tired of hearing teachers use the same overworked line about about being over worked and underpaid they've used for the last sixty years haven't paid much attention to what's actually in the new law.  They want accountability in the school systems.   Many got stuck personally with bad teacher it took a district years to fire.  They want a way to measure teacher performance.  So do I,  I belive strongly in prefornance based compensation, but it has to fair to everyone.  The Tallahassee Politicians are promising to do just that, and telling all of us, the teachers are screaming because so many are incompetent, they feel entitled and don't want to face reality.  Here's a fact no one is talking about.  From the Brevard Public Schools Grant Application:

The District realizes there is a need for additional funds to fully accomplish the reform goals and commits to providing those funds in year 4 to supplement the grant. Funds equivalent to approximately 20% may be reallocated, redirected, or sought from tax based sources for use in the RTTT project 

So much for Tallahassee's "we got the costs covered" line of manure.  Remember how angry many of you got, first when you were told no one in Congress Reads a bill,   then when Pelosi said you have to pass Obamacare to find out what's in it.  The only way we learned what was coming was when we started taking it upon ourselves to find out what was in it.  That's the only way you'll know how SB736/HB7019 are going to affect the schools, the teachers, your children and your wallet.  Sandra has the easiest to read and most comprehensive coverage of the proposal's I know off, archived on Grumpy Educators.  She has been researching Florida Educational Issues for almost two years that I'm sure of.  Long before she posted her first blog on the subject she and were discussing education on Florida Today forums.

One other thought, in Florida it's called FCAT, (please click that link) other states have other names for it.  No mater what the name or the state it boils down to teachers spending most of the school year preparing students for a single test.  The results of that one test determine funding, school classification and a host of other thing I don't know about.  Every teacher and parent I know of complains about spending five or so months a year teaching to a single test.  I've heard of kids getting physically sick on "The Day".  If you think it's bad now;  Wait until 60% of a teacher's pay check depends on one test a year.  They will teach to the test, I for one can't blame them. 

This little video was designed to reassure kids to reasure kids about taking FCAT

What the hell will they do for Merrit Pay


    Pasco school board member bumps into Governor Scott, who believes "school districts had done a poor job of providing information about how they spend their money." Board member Altman answered that, with all due respect, the details are available through audits and annual cost reports.
    "He handed me his card and said, 'I would like to have that,' " Altman said.
    Altman promised to collect documents and deliver them to Tallahassee.
    Then Scott talked about school boards, Altman said. The governor suggested some districts are unwilling to accept change.
    Again, Altman expressed frustration with unfunded mandates coming from the state and federal levels, followed by finger-pointing at local officials who get the blame for a perceived desire to cling to the status quo."

    Pasco board members are sure RT3 will not give them all the money they need.
    One member thought "the district would have to incur major expenses to comply with all the new accountability standards moving through the Legislature. Taking the federal grant, she said, would help "ease the unfunded mandate."

  2. Kudos Grumpy....great blog. I found no detail on costs today.....again.

  3. "Taking the federal grant, she said, would help "ease the unfunded mandate."
    As our friend Lewis has said several times, Federal Money is nothing more than bribe money. If you take it you have to spend it the way they want. If they don't give you enough to comply with their rules, you have to nail local taxpayers

  4. Best blog yet. They can take those Fcats and stick 'em where the sun don't shine. My teacher was my tester. She knew first hand who was trying and which kid had to repeat from lack of effort.


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