Thursday, May 5, 2011

SB1620/HB7197: Digital Learning Bill Passes

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Sandra in Brevard

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.

Read all of Sandra's Blogs at Grumpy Educators

*****Grumpy Note*****
I highlighted the part about the blog that mentions outsourcing.. Sandra will have to fill in a blank, but, one Charter School, not in Florida, is already using teachers from Turkey.  In theory, Virtual Charter Schools will be considerably less expensive than conventional Brick and Mortar schools.   A lot less expensive if the teachers live in so called developing nations... Turkey's been a developing nation since the birth of civilization. 
If cost alone becomes the primary driver,  Virtual Charter Schools will start to replace conventional public schools.  For the Computer and software industry it creates a huge potential market, China and India will thank us.  Pearson Testing, the folks that haven't been able to deliver FCAT Scores on time for two years straight has been given the green light by the Federal Government to develop the courses the government will accept.  Pearson is based in the UK, the Brits will thank us too..
At a time when US Corporations are being demonized for sending jobs to other countries it bothers me to see our government writing laws that encourage the practise.
Sandra's done an amazing job here this year.. I don't know of anyone else who would have the patience to read dozens of boring newspaper articles about education every night.  We all know, No One Except Sandra bothers to read the bills in front of either Congress or the State Legislatures.  The elected representatives that pass them don't..
I sincerely hope she makes her break from blogging a short one.  I know I'm going to miss the hell out of her research, opinions and insight.  I'm still trying to find something to bribe her with, no luck so far.


  1. A national charter school, with NO presence in Florida, "imported" teachers from Turkey.

    The bill that passed this week included the American Board certification as enough for out of teachers, who teach in Florida virtual charters. If you go to their website, you will see that they certify internationals. The door for outsourcing just opened.

    Thanks Grumpy for the kind words.

  2. Legislators want to make room for another group to get taxper money for schools. This might get some attention
    A section of the Florida Constitution that bans taxpayer money from funding religious institutions could be deleted if state lawmakers who view it as discriminatory "against all people of faith" have their way.

    A bill in both the House and Senate would ask Florida voters to erase a 39-word sentence from Florida's state constitution that's been the law since 1885. Known as the "no aid" provision or "Blaine amendment," it states that "no revenue of the state" can be given "directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.".....

    .......The move to alter the constitution comes as the Legislature considers bills that would expand parents' abilities to use taxpayer money for private schools, including religious ones. But the measure's backers say school vouchers aren't their only motivation,0,7379213.story

  3. This may come before the voters and connected to using public money for religious charters. Folks like to think of religious schools in terms of their religion, and then object its use for other faiths. For sending kids to school, I prefer the separation of church and state. We don't have unlimited resources and this is a solution for what problem? Did unemployment go down while I slept last night?

  4. The report's due out later I believe, but jobless claims jumped again.

  5. All Government works best that is closest to the people. A sad day indeed when the chasm of political discourse at all levels has widened to the point that we neglect what is truly the most important need. (Our children)

    Thank you Sandra for your tireless and mostly thankless effort. You have my respect and admiration. In any running debate or controversial issue, I want to be on your side.

  6. Add my thanks to you Sandra, you've done a great job of ferreting out the truth in this matter. And Kudos to you Grumpy, for your assistance. Jobs well done.

  7. Bud... I just tagged along for the on this one. Sandra did the research, put the pieces together, figured it out and wrote about it.. Now the stuff she warned about is is becoming law..

  8. Sandra - Any chance you could tackle the "Sanctuary Cities" issue?

  9. It is important to watch what the U.S. Congress does on the reauthorization of NCLB whenever they get to it. If you have followed the Grumpy Educator blogs, you have the facts and I didn't invent them. That information may make following what the Congress does a little easier to understand.

    USMC1949: The only thing I intend to tackle for awhile are recipes and enjoy this beautiful Florida weather. 50 blogs with all the research takes a lot of time. I need a break, plumb worn out!

  10. Marine, don't scare her.. with any luck this Florida weather will get hot to enjoy.. or cook, and she'll get bored... Meantime send her some chocolate covered cherries, soaked in brandy.. she uses them for headaches

  11. Sandra - R&R rightfully deserved. Hope some of those recipes include apples and cinnamon.

    You do know that when you apply for your PHD, these columns could be your dissertation. Just saying. :)


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