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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The big lie that the Jacksonville Public Education Fund is trying to tell (rough draft)

I have said several times that Jacksonville Public Education Fund does some nice stuff but what does it matter if what they do to harm education far outweighs it?

First a little background about the Jacksonville Public Education. Their first foray into education policy brought a “who the heck are these guys" from then school board member Tommy Hazouri.
They were founded by Gary Chartrand the local grocer who has his thumbs in every local education pie from Jacksonville University’s public policy institute to funding WJCT’s education coverage. He brought in the Professional Educators Network, a faux union, the KIPP charter schools, and Teach for America as well. Then he was instrumental in Superintendent Vitti getting hired and he and his friends have given money to at least 5 of the 7 school board members. I would say he was Duval's very own one man education Koch brother but since he really lives in St. Johns county I can't 

Chartrand used his money not just to start JPEF and all of above but to get on the State Board of Education too where he serves as chair. There he helped start Florida’s race based goals, minorities aren’t expected to do as well, expanded charter schools and vouchers, stripped teachers of work protections, brought in common core and several other corporate style reforms.

He undoubtedly influences everything JPEF does and people have to know by now that JPEF is ideologically driven as him. They think what is best is for kids is to be tested (ad nausea) and to be funneled into charter schools and voucher schools, while public schools wither and die on the vine. They just can't come out and say it because they know people would push back.

Please don’t just listen to me but instead you should let their own words do the talking for them.
This past summer they did a school choice study which said, choice siphons resources from public schools, charter schools do worse than public schools and we have no idea how voucher schools are doing because of the complete lack, emphasis mine, of accountability. Their conclusion, we need more school choice.

Then look what they just said about testing.

From the Times Union: The Senate bill caps testing at a level that doesn’t do a whole lot,” Csar said.
Data compiled by the Education Fund, shows Duval County students in K-fifth grade dedicate approximately 1 percent of their school year to statewide standardized tests and just over half a percent to district-level exams. Meanwhile, Duval middle-school students spend about 1.5 percent of their year taking statewide exams and just under 1 percent on district-level exams.

Duval County high-school students dedicate the greatest chunk of their year to testing. The data shows students spend nearly 2 percent of the academic year in statewide exams and just under 1 percent on district-level exams.

Two things, please don’t take my word for how wrong they are ask any teacher and you have got to be $%^*ING kidding me, that they actualy thought they could say that and the Times Union printed it without any analysis.

I asked the reporter Rhema Thompson who usually isn't this bad, Let me ask you a question. Was the only time you spent on the story about testing the time you were actually typing? Or did you spend a lot more time on the piece before you actually started writing. I bet it is the latter. I have yet to hear back from her.

First how long kids are testing is just one of the issues. The stress they put on kids is another. I just wrote recently about a tear fest at a local elementary school had, a scene repeated all throughout the district. Then it is what they are used for too. Testing experts say high stakes tests shouldn’t be used to make policy decisions nor should they be used to judge the quality of educating going on.

How much time we spend on them however cannot be discounted or lied away. JPEF says kids spend just 2.5% of the time on state and district tests, or 4 and a half days. Maybe kids do just spend nearly 32 hours bubbling in scan trons but that’s just part of the picture and to leave out everything else that goes on when talking about testing is at best ignorant but I believe it is agenda driven. I believe since they know people are becoming more and more aware and outraged by the high stakes testing agenda they covered for them, in effect said, what those little tests don't worry about them. I believe they think if they tell the big lie often enough or muddle the facts people will come to believe it.

A few other more knowledgeable sources think we are testing a lot more than the JPEF says.

A study cited by the Washington Post says it is anywhere between 19 days and six weeks.

The Florida Education Association says some students spend 60-80 days a year on testing or testing related activities.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, said last year, "It is outrageous that schools in some states are spending up to 100 days a year doing test-prep or actual testing."

Does JPEF think testing happens in a bubble and nothing related to the test happens ever? If hey do they are ignorant which should concern us all as the line between them and the district is becoming increasingly blurred. If they said it and don't believe, because how could anybody then that is even more troubling.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris,

    In terms of the second half of this post, it appears we are very much in agreement in our concerns. I just wanted to make sure you and your readers are aware that the figures Rhema cited are from a recent white paper we produced on testing time to help inform the community and legislature about this pressing issue. The full paper is available on our website, and here is the direct link:

    The analysis is based on district self-reported administration times for state and locally required assessments. While this obviously does not reflect the full impact that testing and testing-related activities may have on classroom teaching and learning, it is directly relevant to the current discussion because the administration times of required assessments are all that the proposed Senate amendment would regulate.

    In looking at the available data, it is clear that the amendment as currently written will have little to no impact on the current testing situation. Our conclusions in the paper, much like yours, are that any effort to truly address the "testing fatigue" being felt by students, families and teachers throughout the state needs to take a broader view of addressing both the stakes and stresses attached to the tests and the additional host of other testing-related activities (practice tests, optional software and curriculum embedded tests, etc.) not accounted for in the scope of any current legislation.

    We encourage you and your readers to read the full paper on our website and use the tools in our "Take Action" tab to contact your representatives about this or any other issue important to you in supporting our public schools and students.

    As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.

    Jason Rose
    Director, Data & Research
    Jacksonville Public Education Fund