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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Is Florida purposely hurting its children?

If Florida weren’t so intent on dismantling and privatizing our public schools we could really do a lot of good for our children. Northwestern University just completed a study that said class size helps and helps a lot. Unfortunately Florida has gutted the class size amendment to the point it is nearly unrecognizable.

We also know there is a teacher shortage and almost half of all new teachers leave in five years but the Florida legislature seems to be intent to do whatever it can to handicap the profession. Not only our Florida’s teachers some of the worst paid in the nation but we have saddled them with evaluations, tied to pay based on the junk science of Value Added Measurements which the Department of Education even admits are wrong more than a third of the time.

Florida has also stifled creativity and put a premium on teaching to the test. If we paid teachers a competitive wage and allowed them to be creative and innovative and didn’t saddle them with an evaluation system no one thinks is valid and a punitive test then immediately we would both attract and retain more teachers.

Then there is poverty which Florida thinks it can fix by ignoring it and blaming teachers for not being able to overcome it.  How about we helped instead by putting in measures that mitigate poverty like smaller classes, a longer school year and wrap around services for our neediest children.

Finally we need to stop siphoning off precious resources to charters and vouchers. Despite advantages charters perform worse than public schools and the system is set up so we have no idea how vouchers are doing.  That should infuriate everyone.

Florida could really do some good for its children unfortunately almost everything we do does the opposite.

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