I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Putting Themselves Ahead of Kids, Obstructionist Union Costs Schools $60 Million

Yes, sad but true.  Luckily this is not happening here but in New York--- it still aggravates me though.  I hate it when adults put themselves and their needs ahead of students and it happens everyday in America, and it has to change. 

From today's NY Daily News

"New Yorkers have 58 million reasons to jeer teachers union President Michael Mulgrew.
Thanks to him, 33 schools in desperate need of money to improve have just lost $58 million in funds intended to turn them around. Thanks to him, some of the worst teachers at some of the worst schools will continue to be protected at the expense of the kids in their classrooms.  Thanks to him, the state may soon have to forfeit $700 million in additional federal Race to the Top money awarded based on promised reforms."

A more union sympathetic viewpoint is below, from the WNYC blog.

"The New York State Department of Education awarded the funds, called School Improvement Grants (SIG), on the condition that school districts and unions revise their collective bargaining agreements to include a new evaluation system for teachers and principals. New York City is one of 10 districts statewide to be promised the funds.  "Sadly, the adults in charge of the city's schools have let the students down," said John B. King, state commissioner of education, in a written statement. "This is beyond disappointing. The city and the unions have known about this deadline for many months, but there’s no evidence of any real progress."

Read more here

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Florida Loses out on RTTT Early Childhood Education Grant

Thirty-five states and Puerto Rico applied for federal ECE money, but so far only 9 states have received the awards.  Florida's application was rejected, in part, due to a lukewarm application package laden with conditions.

From the Orlando Sentinal

"Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the state's application, said the state would accept the money only if "no federal strings" were attached and no "new burdensome regulations" were placed on private child-care centers...Scott said Friday that sticking to those conditions cost Florida. "Unfortunately, our insistence against irresponsibly using one-time dollars for recurring government programs did not win the favor of the administration in Washington," he said in a statement.  Florida will continue to push for "a world-class education system," the governor said. "We will accomplish this goal for the benefit of our current students and generations of Floridians to come without sacrificing responsible spending."

Not winning this particular award will not damage our schools in my opinion.  I remain somewhat skeptical about the effectiveness and benefit (relative to the costs) of  spending tremendous sums of money (Federal and or State) on ECE, given that the evidence of long-term learning gains measured after the third grade between students that received preK services compared to those who did not is very thin.  Some even would assert that the government spending huge sums on preK ammounts to nothing more than an additional entitlement program, as preK and childcare should be an individual, parental responsibility.  So losing this grant is not going to keep me awake at night 

By contrast, however--- Florida's winning of the $700Million  K-12 RTTT Grant has been tremendously impactful to our schools and will bear fruit for many years to come in this state as it has put the status quo directly into the cross-hairs of reform.