"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Schools to Provide the 3 R's and 3 Squares a Day

Missouri's DESE, in partnership with the Midwest Dairy Council, just announced a contest to see which schools could increase the number of children receiving breakfast at school the most. The goal is to increase breakfast participation by 20 percent this year. Schools who make big gains can win awards from $1,000 to $4,000. Sounds good right? Feed kids. Get Money. It's a win-win. But why the big push to have schools be a meal provider?

Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro said,  "The challenge ties in to the Department's goal to become one of the top 10 performing states in education by the year 2020." But to tie to that document you have to stretch causality pretty far to show how supplying a meal meets the goal of having "All Missouri students will graduate college and career ready." None of the strategies listed on DESE's  10x20 plan mention, even a little, the idea of providing food for the children as a strategy or action towards this goal.

If you look further into it, the idea of increasing breakfast participation comes from the USDA which says, "Participation in the School Breakfast Program is important – primarily as a way to help meet the nutritional needs of students, but also to help schools receive maximum reimbursement and run a successful program." (emphasis added)

The Post Dispatch reported,"If 60 percent of children from low-income children in Missouri got a school breakfast, the state would get an additional $7.4 million in federal money to cover the cost, the research center shows." Last year, only 22 percent of students in Missouri participated in a school breakfast program.

So the idea is to sign up more kids so you can get more federal money. I thought the federal government didn't have money to burn, that they had to borrow it from China. Why are we looking to expand their expenditures?

Pay attention private and charter schools, because you are automatically included in this challenge if you participate in the National School Lunch Program and will be categorized into one of four tiers based on district enrollment.They want you dependent on the federal government too.

The USDA site contains all kinds of helpful information to help schools increase their breakfast participation.  Including this chart which seeks to identify the barriers to participation.

Comment - Nutritional Environment, show me the case where children feel any stigma for receiving free stuff these days. Are the writers of this chart living in the 50's?

It is interesting to note that in none of the official information about these programs does anyone mention need. There is no evidence offered, even anecdotal from teachers, that there are starving students in the classrooms who would be star students if only they weren't so hungry in the morning. There is no cry from parents saying "I can't give my children breakfast. I just wish the school were able to help me." All the documentation starts with the assumption that you already have the goal of increasing participation in the breakfast program. According to the USDA, "Important changes generally occur when one person sees the need for change and is willing to take action." Only one person who thinks more kids should have breakfast is all this is needed to launch a massive program.

The Post article goes on to site the programs in Ferguson-Florissant  and DeSoto School Districts which offer in-classroom breakfast programs to all students regardless of need. Not surprisingly these programs have received a positive response. Free food, offered in class so you don't have to start working right away - what's not to like? Even the economics of such a program make sense to some people.

Food service director Scott Williams' comment, "provid[ing] free breakfast to all students regardless of income... makes financial sense for districts with a high percentage of low-income students," needs a little more explanation. Is he looking at the per child cost which of course goes down as you spread that cost over a larger audience? Wouldn't it be even less expensive if the food was only provided to the very small number of students who really needed it and whose parents wanted it, or if parents provided the food?

Another food services director is quoted by the Post as saying, "Kids really liked it, and teachers noticed the students behaved better." The fact that food impacts brain function is not in question. But this broad brush approach to crediting meals with behavior goes a bit far. Where is the data they are so fond of that proves it is the nutritional content of the meal that is making the kids behave better? Perhaps its just the idea of using a social time to energize the kids before the buckle down to work that is affecting behavior. We need the data! (sarc)

The entire program seems to be focused on getting people used to the idea that the school is a meal provider.  They started with lunch. It is now expected that k-12 schools provide a lunch. The child who brings one from home is more likely to be exception than the ones who buy it. So now they turn to breakfast. 

First they will get us used to that idea, that kids can come in early and get a full breakfast or a grab-n-go meal to be eaten in the classroom (because teachers don't have enough distractions already and custodial services needs more rooms to clean from food debris.) Then will come the cries that what is provided isn't healthy enough. It's not magically turning the students into great learners and that is the fault of the quality of food provided. Think that's crazy?  Isn't that exactly what we are hearing about the school lunch programs? Next thing you know our little gesture at helping kids who might need a little something extra in the morning has become an expensive far reaching program. 

The last step will be to have the school also provide dinner.  This is not conjecture. It is already in the Community Schools descriptions. I know the federal government would like to be our parent and provide everything a parent is supposed to. They seem to look on low income families as in desperate need of their services, if only they could make them more readily visible, available and convenient. Apparently they haven't met the low income families who take it as a matter of pride to provide for their children so, even though they qualify, they will not sign up for such programs. The government is worried about stigmatizing the child who comes in to eat breakfast. Why aren't they worried about offending the low income family, who is providing food for their children, by insisting that they need the school to do it for them?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

EAGnews Buys into the "Bad Teacher" Argument

There are many factors in a failing school.  Why just blame "ineffective" teachers...and just how are there "ineffective" teachers measured?

This morning we posted how the Missouri Riverview Gardens school district scores were not better even as the state took over the district's educational delivery for the last two years.  We questioned if Missouri DESE's Chris Nicastro should be fired as an "ineffective"  administrator.  According to a letter to the editor and a former Riverview Gardens teacher who was fired, the reasons a school fails could possibly be for additional reasons, not just that "ineffective" teachers cause low student achievement.

Augsut 23, 2012
Pennsylvania teachers told no more raises until they demonstrate their value
School board should be commended for demanding higher standards
From staff reports
     BROWNSVILLE, Pa. – The truth hurts.
     That’s a lesson teachers at the Brownsville Area School District learned this week when school board members explained their reasoning for rejecting a proposed contract with the local teachers union.
     In a public meeting, school board Director Nena Kaminsky said she couldn’t vote in favor of the contract because “we have the highest paid teachers in Fayette County and we have the worst test scores in the state,” the Herald Standard reports.
     In other words, the community isn’t getting its money’s worth and the board will not settle for that.
     The comments sent the teachers union into a tizzy.
     The Brownsville Education Association held rallies at two local elementary schools where dozens of teachers held signs reading, “We deserve respect.” The rallies, union officials said, were prompted by Kaminsky’s comments, not the rejected contract.
     “Yes, we do have some schools that are struggling, but we are working toward trying to improve the test scores,” union president Barbara Gera told the newspaper. “We don’t have the worst test scores in the state. We are very upset with the school board’s perception of teachers.”
     “We are not outraged or disappointed; we are just hurt,” said high school teacher Brian Nicholson, a union negotiator.
     Sometimes the truth hurts. Whether the district’s student test scores are technically the worst in the state, or close to it, is beside the point. It’s clear that students aren’t learning as well as they could and the school board should be commended for demanding higher standards.
     Too often, school boards adopt a go-along-to-get-along mentality that does nothing to improve student instruction. In Brownsville, school officials made it clear that classroom performance matters.
     The BEA would be wise to take the criticism to heart, work with the district to improve teaching techniques, and implement new methods to help students achieve their potential. Then, with student test scores on the rise, they’ll be in a much better position to negotiate for the amount of money they believe they’re worth. But first, they will have to demonstrate their value.
     That’s the way it should be in every school district in the nation.

I'm stunned by this myopic vision of what makes a school an "effective" school and what makes an "effective" teacher.  Kids may not test well:
  • If the standards and assessments are faulty or unproven/untested (common core standards)
  • If students are not able to learn the material
  • If students don't make the effort to learn
  • If parents don't/can't/won't support their child's learning
  • If the material is not appropriate for a child's' individual learning style 
EAGnews should be ashamed.  The Riverview Gardens experiment with Teach for America and firing "ineffective teachers" is just one example of how teachers are just one part of the equation in successful or non-successful schools.  EAG is blaming teachers for all the woes of education.
Why are they wrong?  Here's a tweet I received after the first article appeared this morning:

Hmm, what's worse, teaching what shouldn't be taught('what color is math', 'we are a Democracy')ineffectively or effectively?

What is most important?  An "effective" teacher or "effective" standards, assessments and curriculum?  Oh, that's right.  That idea of  standards, assessments and curriculum upon which "effectiveness" is based is now decided by the CCSSO, the NGA, and other private special interests unaccountable to taxpayers.  How this "effectiveness" is measured is mandated by the DOEd, not local districts.   Should we be celebrating that we can now measure teachers based on national standards that may or may not be appropriate in content, learning style and the fact that local communities have no voice in their crafting? 
Does EAGnews realize or care that teachers must "demonstrate their value" by teaching unproven, untested and unfunded mandates?  NCLB was a failure and common core is already raising much concern on its effectiveness.   Does this organization really believe "That’s the way it should be in every school district in the nation"?

Is Getting Rid of "Ineffective Teachers" THE Panacea to Education Reform?

Firing all those bad teachers hasn't helped Riverview Gardens scores. Oops.

Absolutely failing students

Regarding "First day of school, report cards are in" (Aug. 14): Well, I guess all those bad teachers were not the problem at the Riverview Gardens School District after all. Since the state of Missouri hijacked the district two years ago under the auspices of No Child Left Behind, firing dozens of dedicated, experienced teachers, what has been accomplished there? Riverview Gardens' test scores are the absolute worst in St. Louis County, and the district's measurable academic achievement surpasses that of only a handful of the city's charter schools. One might suppose it's on the upswing, but the article on MAP scores tells us, "Riverview Gardens ... had a decline in the percentage of students passing communication arts, to less than 18 percent." The district has only 4 of the 10 points needed to gain accreditation.

What is going on in Riverview Gardens? This is not just "another unaccredited district," as the article identifies it, but rather a ward of the state of Missouri. The state, under the leadership of Riverview's former superintendent, Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro, is absolutely failing in its duty to the students there and needs to be held accountable for its educational neglect. This abject failure warrants more than a paragraph.

What's really behind this second year of abysmal scores that all of our state taxes are paying for?

Lisa M. Hummel • University City
Former teacher at Riverview Gardens

Riverview Gardens is now under the authority of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and appointed a 3 member board for the school's daily operation.  This district had many problems including incredible corruption by the superintendent who plead no contest on two counts of felony theft and three counts of tax fraud.    The St. Louis Post Dispatch article noted in 2010 three particular issues plagued the district: 

The 6,500-student district in north St. Louis County lost its accreditation in 2007, the result of financial problems, low student achievement and corruption.

We wonder if DESE and Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro has an answer to Ms. Hummel's question.   Should DESE and the 3 member board , like some fired teachers, be deemed "ineffective" and deserve termination?  Why are the fired "ineffective" teachers in Riverview Gardens blamed for low student achievement...and the low (and lower) student achievement still exists two years later?

Maybe Wendy Kopp's Teach for America teachers with their 5 weeks of experience haven't been as effective as hoped in Riverview Gardens to improve test scores:

Placement schools range from North County's Hazelwood, Riverview Gardens, and Normandy School Districts to more central locations like the St. Louis Public Schools.

Could we have a serious discussion from DESE, Chris Nicastro and state legislators about the reasons (note the plural of "reason"...it's not just that a school needs "great teachers") why abysmal scores are unchanged or trending downward?  Why is there only reform that creates mandates pushed by special interest groups?  These groups take money funneled through taxpayers and meanwhile, education "reform" can't move test scores for some schools.  Could it be that getting rid of the "bad" teachers isn't the only problem plaguing failing schools?


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dont Fall For the Candidate Debate on Education

Have you ever walked into a Best Buy to get a television but had to go through the computer department to get to the tvs, and while passing through a sales rep comes up to tell you about the latest iMac with all its great features and cross device connectivity, but after a short while another sales rep tugs at your elbow to show you the all the great things HP has added to their line of desktop processors attempting to sway your decision with talk of terabytes of memory and faster than light processing speeds, and then found yourself walking out the door with a brand new computer? Unless you completely lack personal direction, or are someone who is easily swayed by a hard sales pitch, the answer is no. You have a need, a goal and a budget to get a television.  What the sales reps have to say about computers is irrelevant.

The volleying back and forth between the presidential candidates about their vision for education is very much like the two sales reps trying to get your attention for something you didn't want in the first place - federal intervention in education.

The Obama campaign released an ad attacking Romney's position on education as laid out in Ryan's proposed budget. It is quite easy to get sucked into the debate about whether class size is important, or testing, or teacher quality.  Those are all quite useful debates to have, if the goal was to pick one single form of providing a public education. They are both trying to make you think that is what you came in to buy.

While some degree of uniformity is desirable (thank you mattress manufacturers for selecting 4 basic mattress sizes so that bed frame makers and linen manufacturers can reduce the number of different sizes they have to make and focus more on design variety), complete uniformity in education is both undesirable and impossible. Every student is different. Every community is different. A vision for education in America should include as much flexibility as possible, which means local control.

Neither the President, nor his Department of Education, should be deciding American education policy.  Don't get sucked into the debate on the fine points.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Local Control is Another Name for Special Interest Driven Education Policy

You pay for it.  You send your children. You have no decision making abilities on how your money is spent or what is taught....but private foundations sure do.

Does your state worry about funding Common Core?  My state should.  It's estimated to cost Missouri $350 Million.  As Missouri can't even fund its basic educational formula, it's a mystery on how it will come up with this funding for the mandates.
New Jersey figured out how to fund turnaround strategies mandated in this educational reform.  Just have a private foundation fund the mandates.  Why have the taxpayers pay for something they didn't vote for?  This issue was addressed here:

Administration Looks to Outside Experts for School Turnaround Strategies: Developer of Common Core Standards will be working with state to help ameliorate lowest-performing schools.  

From the article:

 "The Council for Chief State School Officers, the national association of state education commissioners and superintendents best known for developing the Common Core State Standards, has entered into a $1.55 million contract with New Jersey’s education department that will focus on so-called school turnaround strategies. "
 A reader writes:
I have just been doing a little digging into this contract.  We can be relieved that this is not being funded with our tax dollars (or those of the great state of NJ).  We, or the folks in NJ, can be relieved, once again, of more elements of local control.  The contract NJ has with the CCSSO is being fully funded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.....another case of individuals with a foundation buying the implementation of unproven policies and practices in our education system.

Here is more information about New Jersey's contract with CCSSO but if your state is under common core standards, your state is facing the same mandates with the same funding issues.

Read Christie's plan for education reform below.  Can we just call "local control" for what it is?  It's non-existent and education has been taken over by special interests  and the state doing the bidding of the federal government and private interests.   Check out page 6 of the governor's document detailing education reform measures.  If the local boards don't do what the turnaround experts want them to do, 
NJDOE will exercise its authority to ensure that every child has access to a quality education.

Just be aware that the "quality education" is being set by private organizations (funding the turnaround "experts") and supported by the NJDOE.  There really is no reason for local school boards to exist.   

From the article: "The Council for Chief State School Officers, the national association of state education commissioners and superintendents best known for developing the Common Core State Standards, has entered into a $1.55 million contract with New Jersey’s education department that will focus on so-called school turnaround strategies. "

Monday, August 20, 2012

Homeschoolers, Beware of Educational Carrots Offered by Virtual School Courses

Homeschoolers: Beware of the carrots of virtual school courses offered in Missouri in 2013. They may magically transform you into a public education student.

We recently wrote "Will Home Schooled and Private Schooled Students have to take Common Core Assessments" and state legislation about this issue being questioned by a private school in Deland, Florida.  The school was requesting clarification from the Governor about language which seemingly indicated private school credits would not transfer to public schools in certain courses because the private school tests were not under the same assessments (common core) as the public schools.

Missouri Senator Jane Cunningham introduced SB706  in January 2012 that should have triggered concern in the homeschooling community.  The bill contained language for virtual schooling which has been offered to home schoolers by various school districts:

A student may enroll in the virtual courses or programs
2 offered by any virtual education provider or school district in Missouri
3 that meets the standards of the department of elementary and
4 secondary education and is accredited. The department may offer its
5 own virtual courses or programs. Any student who enrolls in a virtual
6 course or program under this section shall be considered a public
7 school student and shall take the components of the statewide
8 assessments under section 160.518 that relate to the virtual course or
9 program in which they are enrolled.
The virtual nonresident student's
10 district of residence shall pay the school district or charter school
11 providing such virtual education an amount equal to seventy-two and
12 one half percent of the previous year's statewide average current
13 expenditure per average daily attendance.

(pg. 27/37)

What caught our attention about this bill in January 2012 was the  highlighted sentence above.  Like the private school concern in Florida, we were concerned that home schooled students taking virtual courses would have to take the mandated common core statewide assessments as traditional public schools.  From the witness statement MEW provided the education committee concerning our objection to various parts of the bill:

Virtual Schools
·         (p 27) 167.418  This section requires virtual schools to have accreditation.  It does not state which agency must grant this accreditation.  If it is MOSBE accreditation, which comes with strings attached, then the virtual schools will be no different than public schools. The language should be the same as the language for accreditation for private schools which allows outside accreditation with no strings attached.

·         Virtual schools would receive an amount equal to 72 ½ % of average per pupil expenditure.  This seems excessive and quickly drains money away from the home district. It could be used by districts as a way to make money. For example, a school could offer virtual courses for less money, take the state’s full payment, and pocket the difference.  It would be more reasonable for the state to offer a flat rate for virtual courses equal to the average cost of a course plus a computer or at the very least say that they may spend “up to but not exceeding 72 ½%.” 

·         This section also classifies anyone who takes a virtual course as a public school student who is subject to the required state assessments for that course. The language should read, “Any student receiving state money for virtual courses shall be considered a public school student. “ 

Was this legislation a back door effort to have home schooling students become part of the common core data base or an oversight?  Would home schoolers have to give up their educational autonomy by taking advantage of virtual online courses?  Posted on Facebook in February was this statement from a Missouri constituent passing on this statement from the senator's office:

Senator Jane Cunningham has removed the entire section dealing with the testing on virtual schooling in the new versions of our legislation. A number of analysts did affirm that the original language posed no threats to homeschooling families, regardless the substitute for both SB706 and SB451 will have no testing requirement on virtual schooling.

We contacted the senator's office and were told it had been changed and a draft was sent to us.   From the senator's draft:

167.418. A student may enroll in the virtual courses or
programs offered by any school district, charter school, or the
virtual public school established in section 161.670, provided
that the virtual instruction complies with the requirements of
subsections 4 and 5 of section 162.1250.

What does the May 18, 2012 final version of the bill (that did not pass) state about virtual schooling and testing requirements?  Virtual school students still would be under state standards and assessments (pg 29/46):

The students of a school district that has been declared
131 unaccredited under section 161.092 may be enrolled in the virtual
132 school of a district, the state, or any virtual program that conforms to
133 state standards,
as an alternative to or in addition to such enrollment
134 under this section.

VIRTUAL SCHOOLS: A student may enroll in the virtual courses or programs of a virtual education provider or school district that meets Department of Elementary and Secondary Education standards and is accredited. The Department may also offer its own virtual courses. Students enrolled in virtual education must take the components of the statewide assessment that relate to the student's virtual courses or program. The Department shall withhold the tuition amount, as described in the act, from the district of residence's state school aid, and may seek local moneys, as described in the act. (Section 167.418)

What's happening in Florida legislation was attempted in Missouri legislation: the inability for private companies (virtual school operators) to provide their own assessments and curriculum aligned with those assessments.  State legislators either knowingly or unknowingly are mandating these private entities march in step with common core standards and assessments.

When folks proclaim they will just pull their children out of public schools to get away from government indoctrination...well, your child's education may just very well be just as "common" as the public schools thanks to your state legislatures.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Teacher who knows what Common Core Means to the Teaching Profession

There is an interesting discussion on Hotair.com regarding teacher tenure.  There are some interesting comments specifically about tenure but the conversation expanded on how the real problems in education are much deeper and wider than just teacher tenure.  Read the full article and thread here.


All I want to do is teach. And I wish people would just let me teach the kids who want to learn. The ones who do not I try my best to inspire.
But in the end, I cannot make them. I should not be held accountable for that.
Badger40 on August 19, 2012 at 2:53 PM
You are absolutely correct. No where in the education “reforms” set forth by this administration or Michelle Rhee (the Democratic progressive Republican RINOs love) is responsibility spelled out for students and parents. What do you do with students who don’t/won’t/can’t learn and parents who don’t/won’t/can’t support their children’s educational progress or lack of progress?

This blaming of teachers (and I know good ones AND bad ones) is a screen for the real problems that plague education and it furthers the privatization movement. But think about it. The privatization is not really “free market”. The charters and vouchers operate under governmental strings. The “entrepreneurs” are using taxpayer money to open these schools, NOT their own money. There’s no gamble. It’s the SAME education.

The teacher tenure issue is something to talk about but it is not the reason schools are in the situation they are in. The reason is local school districts only have the authority to hire teachers and pay for buildings. They can’t set standards, assessments and the curriculum will need to adhere to the Common Core standards. Meanwhile, taxpayers have to pay for whatever expensive boondoggle Congress passes (NCLB) OR the $4.35 Billion check it gave Arne Duncan to “fix” education…it didn’t even VOTE on the plan (Race to the Top) which causes states to sign onto mandates that are unfunded/underfunded. One facet of RTTT, Common Core standards, creates a nationalized curriculum and will cost my state $350 Million (at least) and my state agency is $900 Million underfunded as it is.

Teacher tenure is minor in the big picture and that’s what the elites want people to focus on.

manateespirit on August 19, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Also – it is time for Conservatives to discuss the coming Common Core Standards authored by Arne Duncan. This is the most insidious attack on local control of education in the history of this nation. I fear it is a done deal and within in 5 years we will have the few remaining teachers with a conscience leaving the system and the children they are forced to leave behind so indoctrinated they will never recover.
InTheBellyoftheBeast on August 19, 2012 at 4:05 PM
I’m sure you’ve been, or will be doing, inservices on this crap. I just got through with 2 days of it.

Now the way they present it, there are some good things about common core. But overall, it steals even more local control from communities. This is an outrageous power grap.

I think it IS a done deal. The state of ND is fed up with NCLB & even if Common Core doesn’t make it, we’ve got something similar they’re implementing called ND Mile. But at least THAT is a state initiative.

This Common Core BS has seriously made me continue considering other employment. I’m really really thinking about quitting teaching here in the next 5 years. I love teaching. I think I was born to do it. But this $hit is just getting more & more ridiculous & I didn’t think that was possible.
Badger40 on August 19, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Will Home Schooled and Private Schooled Students Have to Take Common Core Assessments?

What happens when "choice" schools can't choose their own assessments due to legislative action?  What kind of choice is that for students and parents?  They will have the same education from either traditional public or "choice" schools.

There is some concerning news coming from Florida regarding private school testing requirements that bears watching not only in that state but other states as well.  There has been concern raised to Governor Scott by a private school administrator in Deland about possible testing changes in store for private schools.

The smooth system of transferring credits from private schools to public schools has apparently been eliminated. According to an email sent to Governor Scott, the Volusia County Director of Assessment informed the Trinity Christian Academy in Deltona that credit will not be given to private school students who transfer to public school for courses, such as Algebra and Biology, because the standardized end-of-course tests are not available to them. If this information is correct, the Florida legislature, Commissioner of Education, and State School Board, by an act of incompetence or by design, have removed all alternative testing measures available to students in a private school that would serve in lieu of end-of-course-exams, leaving students unable to graduate from a public high school.

"Standardized end-of-course (EOC) tests" can be translated into Common Core assessments....meaning  the private school needs to utilize curriculum that tests well on Common Core assessments, otherwise, their students transitioning into public school settings will not receive credit for those private school courses.

The blogger continues:

Is this lapse a way to insert Florida's controversial testing and accountability system into private schools and exert control over religious schools? Will the standardized end-of-course requirement ultimately be required of all schools, public and private? Does the requirement apply to homeschoolers who transfer back to public school?


Florida Governor Rick Scott followed through on his promise to be more open and created Project Sunburst, a web site which would publish the emails he receives and sends as governor. One email easily catches the eye of education policy observers across the state. It’s from a director of students affairs at a Florida private school.
Dear Governor Scott:
I am an administrator in a SACS accredited private school. Recently, laws have been passed requiring End of Course (EOC) assessments for classes such as Algebra I and Biology. I have been informed that students leaving our school will be denied credit for these classes because the EOC is not available to them, nor is there an alternative test that can be taken. This seems unfair to me since our students’ families pay their taxes as much as public school students.

What’s more, these families bear the cost of education that our government would have had to carry. Private school students should not be penalized for choosing to go to Florida’s private schools. Again, I have been informed by Volusia County Director of Assessments that our students who have received credit for these classes on their transcripts, will not be given credit in a Florida public school if they should transfer. Also, we could not give an EOC ourselves because it would not be a state standardized test. What are we to do?

On another front, given the current failure rate of Florida students on these tests, it seems short sighted to not have an alternative plan for these students. Our public school system will be burdened with students repeating classes and Florida’s drop-out rate will increase. There are many students who are poor test takers, but excellent students. I have seen these students flourish in college, but now, these same students would probably not have a chance to graduate in order to go to college. How does this benefit our state?
I would appreciate an answer to this email. Thank-you for your consideration in this matter.
Darlene Hellender, MS of Ed
Director of Student Affairs
Trinity Christian Academy, Deltona
There are countless imperfections to the “choice” theme which drives Florida’s policymakers. Clearly concerned for her students, Hellender knows that Trinity’s students may return to public schools for any number of reasons. The accountability system that republicans have rammed down Floridian’s throats puts voucher and private school students in a serious  Catch-22. They could certainly take the test when they get to their new school, but they would be at a significant disadvantage as they did not go through an Algebra of Biology class which covered the standards which would be on the test.  Extending EOCs and other high stakes tests to private schools defeats the purpose for families who chose private schools to get away from tests.

Meanwhile Floridians will vote on Amendment 8 – the fraudulently named Religious Freedom Act – which will open the door for vouchers to schools like Trinity. The school’s SAC’s accreditation indicates it’s a fine school and the professional concern that Hellender has for her students is commendable. There are sure to be more instances where Florida’s test obsession puts families and children who are going to private schools or have vouchers in a bind.

It’s doubtful that Jeb Bush’s foundation doesn’t want Floridians to know about such problems when they vote on Amendment 8 in less than 80 days. They afterall named it in such a misleading way to begin with. Suppressing flaws, engaging in propaganda and attempting to trick voters is the way education privatization zealots roll.


The question and concern then is this:

there is a quiet effort underway to slip the common core standards, assessment, and database into private schools. Vouchers and the Blaine Amendment are connected to this.

Ms. Hellender understands the danger of governmental interference in her school's testing decisions.  All of a sudden those vouchers that give parents "choice"....don't really give them "choice" at all when it comes to what their children are learning.  What their children learn in private school must adapt to the assessments mandated by the government.

Tomorrow we'll have a story about how Missouri legislators may have tried this same trick this past session.  It possibly could have affected home schoolers and required them to take common core assessments for credit.

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