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Friday, October 30, 2015

Rick Scott puts his corrupt friend on the state board of educarion

From the I can't make this up file and the Tampa Times:
Former one-term state Rep. Tom Grady, a Naples Republican and friend of Gov. Rick Scott, has won Scott's nod to sit on the Florida Board of Education.
During his brief tenure in the House, Grady was notable for billing taxpayers for flying on private planes owned by a campaign donor. He also pushed for tax breaks for some of Florida's richest residents.
As interim president of Citizens Property Insurance, he also racked up large hotel and travel expenses on the state's dime. During his short time there, he also created a new job for his former legislative aide.
Grady, whose appointment requires Senate confirmation, would join the State Board at a time when it is under siege over testing and accountability issues. In January, the board is expected to take up controversial school grade and cut score rules.
Grady, a wealthy securities lawyer, was not known for education issues. He did serve as a director of the Collier County Education Foundation in the 1990s.

Unfortunately his lack of experience will find like company on the state board.

I don't know if this is a travesty or a farce, or whether to laugh or cry.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The NAEP test it’s the best thing, no wait it’s the worst. (rough draft)

Here is what John Padget of the state board of education said, from the Tampa Times: Fourth- and eighth-grade scores in the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress slid in Florida, after years of steady improvement. Yet the state Department of Education declared "Florida students shine" in its media release, pointing to subsets of positive data that obscured the overall picture.
Vice chairman John Padget, a onetime Monroe County superintendent, was unimpressed.
"The present results are not acceptable to me," he said, mainly referring to drops in eighth-grade scores that he deemed a "disaster."
Now here is what Superintendent Vitti of Duval County said, from WJXT
"Today’s national assessment results recognize the hard work principals and teachers do every day in a large urban district where their performance has only been compared to surrounding, much smaller, less diverse and more affluent school districts," Duval County Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said. "These results are a tremendous step toward in reaching our goal of being the best urban school district in the country.”
I feel like we got two very different point of views there.
Why is that, because they are both politicians and both are pushing their agendas. Padget to do as much damage to the school system from his position as a member of the state board and Vitti, well frankly to keep his job. His rocky relationship with the board can’t handle to many more disasters.
The NAEP tests something like one percent of three (Florida) counties 4th and 8th grades took it and different politicians think its either the best thing or worst thing since slice bed.
The reality is it is a joke.

Poor kids in Duval you’re $#@^ed

At the community meeting last night most of the people had complaints about the new math and language arts/reading curriculum. One set of parents said they desperately wanted to help their child and had even hired a retired math teacher to tutor but even they were struggling with the new math. They asked the super what they could do.
He applauded them for hiring a tutor and suggested they check out several web-sites too.
The problem is what about all those families that can’t afford to hire a tutor or don’t have a computer. What about those kids whose parents aren’t all that involved. Those children my friends are screwed. We have put them in a position where failure is almost guaranteed.
When we disenfranchise parents from helping their children. When we make children hate math, something many did even before the change over and when we make it so only middle class children can easily get assistance then we have lost our way.
The common core cure is worse than the disease.

Did the NAEP call BS on superintendent Vitti?

Once again I will just let his words speak for him.

About what the NAEP, called the nation’s report card, scores mean for Duval, from the Times Union

With this first report, Duval’s scores are too young to show a trend over time, but they do place the district near the top of all 21 major districts measured in NAEP, said Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
And Duval ranks second, behind Miami-Dade, in eighth grade reading and seventh in eighth grade math. Duval’s eighth-graders scored above national averages in reading but below average in math.
Vitti said that shows Duval is better than state report cards reveal — better than many people think when they compare Duval to St. Johns or other area districts. “It should change the conversation in Jacksonville regarding the state of public education,” he said.
“We will naturally always be compared to our neighboring districts but ... the neighboring districts are nowhere near a comparable sample regarding our performance. We are much larger and more diverse. Compared to similar districts, we are outperforming.”
So the NAEP is better suited than the state assessments to determine where Duval is. Who wants to bet that if the results would have been less favorable Vitti would have said, the NAEP just tests a small sample not all our kids and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Now he is right, it is unfair to compare Duval to districts like Clay and St. Johns. Those counties are not nearly as diverse as Duval both with race and socio-economic status. The thing is there aren’t many serious people comparing us to those two counties and when he attempts to do so or implies others are he muddies the waters.
It’s the big counties of Palm Beach, Miami Dade, Hillsborough, Orange and Broward that we should be compared to and sadly we are routinely near the bottom and the NEAP does not change that fact.
Here is Vitti on why Florida and Duval’s math NAAP scores are low, also from the Times Union.
 Except in eighth grade math. Duval like other big Florida districts fell below national averages.
Vitti attributed that to the fact that many of Florida’s eighth graders take algebra 1 in eighth grade and the most advanced students take geometry, but the NAEP tests measure regular eighth-grade math, which he described as “pre-algebra.”
National assessment officials said Tuesday that the eighth-grade test does include algebra and geometry, as well as data analysis, measurement and number properties
Um, did the NAEP just call bullshit on the superintendent there? I am not a fan of most eight graders taking algebra but I guess earnest people can disagree.
Now please don’t confuse my criticism with an indictment of the districts teaching. It’s not. I think we are having success across the district but I think the lion’s share of this happens in spite of the administration who often pulls teachers in superfluous directions and sets teachers and students up to fail. I also sadly think the district has kneecapped us with a reliance on Teach for America and by driving many experienced teachers away.  
As for the NAEP, the problem is if you like it you can find things to praise and if you dislike it you can find things to criticize. It’s also just a sample of a population and even they say it shouldn’t be used to craft policy. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Duval's license to play, clarity on elementary recess

More on this tomorrow.

Here is the super's email about play.

Subject: Clarity on Elementary Recess
Elementary Teachers,
As you know, there has been much discussion about the role and use of recess. Please know that I certainly understand the importance that physical education plays in child development. Therefore, I respect your judgment to know when elementary students need to go outside and play. I know there has been well placed concern with ensuring students are exposed to all of the standards in reading, math, and science while balancing the expanded time for music, art, and PE. This, not to mention, media center time.
With all of that said, I trust that you will balance the academic commitment we have to students with the proper time to take students outside to release energy and socialize as you see fit. 
I know that differences of opinion regarding recess time will be discussed professionally with students’ interest (both academic, social, and physical) in mind between you and principals. I also know that our principals will respect your perspective on this matter.
If determined properly and professionally, then students should also benefit academically through recess.
As always, thank you for serving our children and their communities!
Nikolai. P. Vitti, Ed.D.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Superintendent Vitti ushers in the age of 25 year old assistant principals.

I will let Superintendent Vitti's own words do the talking for him. The following comes form an e-mail he sent the district.

The Jacksonville Summer Principal Academy (SPA) combines rigorous leadership training at Columbia University in New York City and a full-time assistant principal/principal residency with Duval County Public Schools in order to prepare individuals to serve as exceptional school leaders. Selected candidates will be outstanding educators, have three-years teaching experience in urban education, emerging or demonstrated leadership experience, and a commitment to pursuing school leadership within our schools.

First you should know that thus far this program has been an expensive give away for Teach for America members as most of the scholarships have gone to them.

Think about it, the super is saying, hey lets have some 25 year old assistant principals, that's what the district needs. When I started teaching it was about my third year that I started to figure things out. My first year I didn't know what I didn't know. My second I knew most of it but not what to do about it and around my third I started hitting a groove. This isn't to say I was a bad teacher my first couple years but I don't know anybody that says, my first year, now there was some teaching.  

This is a terrible idea from a man who became superintendent at the tender age of 35, and we see how well that has worked out.

Leadership has been a problem here in Duval and just because you can pass a test or get a degree does not make you a leader, furthermore there has been way to much patronage going on as who you know rather than what you could do often takes priority. Bringing in 25 year old assistant principals however is just going to make things worse. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Backward Mapping the Standards, education begins at conception

By Greg Sampson

If there’s one thing we hear over and over about the Common Core, it’s about the goal of having every child “college and career ready,” and that’s why they mapped the standards backwards. That’s why they figured out what young adults need to know when they go off to college and worked out what they needed to learn at each grade level from 12 to 11 to 10 to … kindergarten.

That’s why we demand that kindergarten and first grade children solve word problems in math before they have learned to read.

SCREEECH! I’m dragging the needle across the vinyl record to stop the seductive siren song. (OK, I’m also revealing my age to a generation that only knows music as one-song downloads to a smartphone. ‘Cause even the iPod is ancient history to today’s children.)

Nope, the song continues in our heads because like the Muzak on the elevator, we can’t turn it off.

So why stop at Kindergarten? Let’s backward map those standards into Pre-K and younger. Let’s go all the way back. Education starts at conception. What should pregnant women be reading to their wombs so that their children are born college and career ready?!

Oh, I’m being ridiculous. I’ll accept the criticism in spite of my satire because that means you admit there is a point where children aren’t able to learn something beyond their stage of life.

We have to know where that point is.

Which is why educational standards should be built from the beginning up, not the end down.

The Common Core is something in which to wrap last night’s fish dinner remains and put into the trash.

Common core math is a cure that is way worse than the disease.

First you should know I am not a math teacher, technically, I am however being required to teach watered down middle school math to kids many of who struggle to pick out their own names but this post isn’t about that. It’s about the horror show being inflicted upon teachers and families here and across the nation.

The Times Union did a piece about parent’s concerns about the new math and how basically they were over reacting, according to the district anyways but let’s look at what apparently the only math teachers in the district who like the new curriculum had to say about the new curriculum.

From the Times Union, in italics:

…Diane Briars, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. “We want to engage students so they’re putting forth an effort in math,” she said. “We want a productive struggle.”

Ugh, why do we want them to struggle? These are kids. I am not saying make things easy for them or give them the answers but let’s put them in positions where success is achievable, something the new curriculum isn’t doing.

Furthermore what’s going to happen when kids become discouraged or start to hate math? Has anybody considered we might be doing more harm than good?

One reason many adults don’t like math, or feel they can’t do high-level math, is that we learned algorithms but not how they work or why to use them, Polikoff said. That is also why American students under-perform many peers around the world in math.
That sadly is a lie. When you factor out poverty our math test scores zoom to or near the top of the math rankings. How does common core math address poverty? The answer it doesn’t it just puts kids already behind the eight ball in an even worse position.  
“There’s no question that kids in a lot of countries have much better understanding of the concepts in math than our kids do,” he (Polikoff) said. “When you compare algebra exams in the U.S. to ones from the Shanghai region of China, it’s stunning how much more challenging and conceptually oriented they are.
So we changed our entire system to catch up with the kids in the Shanghai region of China? I don’t know how to put this politely but that is beyond dumb.  
Robert Curran, a math coach at Kings Trail Elementary, gave this example:
Instead of teaching a child to multiply 25 times 14 by putting one of the numbers below the other and multiplying each digit of the bottom number by each digit on the top, Curran would allow students to create a box chart, deconstructing the 25 into 20 and 5, and the 14 into 10 and 4. The students then could add the products of 20 times 10, 5 times 10, 20 times 4 and 5 times 4 together to total 350.
Students also learn visual techniques such as box or circle charts, tape diagrams and number lines to gain deeper understanding of number meaning and math functions, he said.
Even word problems will seem less daunting, Curran said. It may take awhile, even years, for parents to realize it, but today’s elementary students are being turned into tomorrow’s algebra and geometry whiz kids, Curran said.
Or Curan hopes so because even he admits the transfer of knowledge may take years. It seems like we are making a really big gamble with our children’s futures.
So let me sum up we changed the system to catch up with certain small enclaves around the world, we changed it to a system that both ignores poverty (our real problem) and reduces parents ability to help their children and the system is designed to cause frustration and stress in what are basically young impressionable children. It's my bet for every future engineer we create we're going to create a dozen that hate and want to have as little to do with math as possible.
What the %$#^ am I missing here?

Common core math is a cure that is way worse than the disease.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Common Core Math Curriculum A Math Teacher Comments, it is time for a change.

By Greg Sampson

A recent Times-Union story about elementary math curriculum ( and the reactions to it have prompted me to put out some thoughts about the “Common Core” and why its early education standards and curriculum are problematical. There are three basic issues: Developmental Appropriateness, Teacher Training, and Communication with Parents.

Before I go further, let me disclose that I am a public school math teacher with certification in middle and high school mathematics. I am not a career College of Ed graduate; I am in a second (or third or fourth) career as a teacher. I have taught for ten years, during some of which I was an instructional coach, tasked with helping other teachers. Currently, I am back in the classroom teaching on the high school level.

Florida teacher ethics require me to disclose that this post is my opinion and mine alone. It does not in any way represent the beliefs, policies, or positions of my employer, Duval County Public Schools, or my school, or anyone associated with either.

That being said, I do have experience with the struggles of middle school students and the mathematics they are asked to learn.

Teacher Training: I have looked at internet and social media rants about the homework elementary children are asked to do. What is 43 – 29? What the ranters object to is an attempt to teach children to think flexibly about numbers in ways that make sense to them. We can solve this subtraction problem by working backwards and adding from 29 to 43. 29 + 1 = 30. 30 + 10 = 40. Add 3 more and we have 43. How much did we add? 14: 1 and 10 and 3.

If children are to develop the fluency with arithmetic that they will need to be successful in high school math, beginning with Algebra 1, they must develop flexibility with numbers.

What that means is that children must be allowed to do arithmetic in ways that make sense to them. That solution I outlined in the paragraph above? It is not the only way to solve the problem.

Thus, the first problem with the new math (good grief, I am 58 years old and I was doing ‘new math’ when I was in elementary school) is that the internet and social media posts reflect teachers not granting students permission to make sense of numbers any way they can, but in saying to students, “Here’s the new procedure. Do it exactly this way.”

That is not an indictment of teachers, but an indictment of the rushed way the new standards were put into place. Teachers needed time for their learning and adjustment. They were not given that time.

Superintendents of Schools asked for three years of transition. States, in particular the State of Florida, told them to I will use ‘Go jump in the lake.”

We’re talking Early Elementary education. These teachers are not specialists in mathematics; they are specialists in the development and learning processes for young children.

Give teachers the training they need? Oh, no, this is the era of Arne Duncan, test and punish policies, and school profiteers. Teacher training is not part of their plan.

So teachers struggle as much as the children in dealing with the ‘new math.’

Parental Communication: It is uncanny how quickly adults catch on to the ‘Common Core way’ of doing arithmetic once it is explained to them. Most people need less than a minute.

Why are parents upset? Like Mary Poppins, when called to account by George Banks for the chaos she has set loose, schools seem to say, “I never explain anything to anybody.”

As school professionals, we need to make communication a key focus. If we are changing the ways we are teaching children, we must communicate with parents multiple times in as many ways as possible.

Parents support teachers once they understand what is going on. They are particularly thrilled when we enable them to help their children with learning. We have to take the time to make that communication, which means that school systems need to make it a priority and stop burdening teachers with meaningless work that produces little, if any, results.

As a teacher, my three priorities are planning effective and engaging lessons, evaluating student work and providing feedback, and communicating with parents. Everything else, some of which is important, is secondary in priority.

Developmental Appropriateness: Without parents, we are nothing. We must listen to them with respect. And when an overwhelming number of parents report that their children cry, throw temper tantrums, and say, “I hate school,” we need to admit that something has gone wrong.

When experts in child development, especially early child development, say that the Common Core is developmentally inappropriate for early elementary children, we need to respect their judgment.

While it is desirable for children to think flexibly about numbers, if it is done too early, it is wrong.

(Long have I argued that we should not put students into Algebra 1 before they are ready.  A 7th grade level 3 FCAT result is not the determining factor. Sometimes children need to go through 8th grade math before they are ready for algebra. The State of Florida, with its inflexible policies, used to punish schools for making that decision.)

Developmental appropriateness is crucial. That is why middle school teachers struggle to reengage students who have given up on school. Those students were forced to undergo inappropriate curriculums far too early.

As a teacher of secondary mathematics, I can explain elementary math. But I have no expertise in judging the appropriateness of the age in which students are required to do that math. I must and do rely upon experts and parents who say the curriculum and standards are terrible.

It is time for a change.

Bronzeville and Jacksonville: What We Can Learn

By Greg Sampson

In case you missed it (yes, I will type it out; I’m too old to keep guessing at texting abbreviations like ICYMI), in August a dozen members of a community in Chicago went on a hunger strike to save their local high school:

Enough of the links. The gist of the story is that the mayor of Chicago and his toadies, known as the School Board of Chicago, disrespected the wishes of the community about what they wanted for their community school.

These involved, engaged parents and community members were forced to the extreme of a hunger strike—a willingness to starve themselves to death—in order to have meaningful input into their school and what it would be.

Thank goodness we don’t need that in Jacksonville …

Or do we?

Our current superintendent has proposed a drastic repurposing of many schools in our city. While working groups for community input have begun, the timetable is so short that many suspect that these ‘working groups’ are merely in place to rubberstamp decisions already made by the school district.
As has happened too often in the past. The current superintendent might not know this because he tends to disregard anything that happened before November 12, 2012 as irrelevant.

To our communities, though, it is not.

When Paxon Middle School began its magnet theme, the greatest concern of the community was that it would cease to be a neighborhood school despite the guarantees of the district that they would never do that. Because that is exactly what happened with Paxon High School: the guarantee to the community that it would never become to dedicated magnet with non-magnet students bused to other schools was nullified after a few years.

Paxon Middle School no longer exists. It was merged into Butler, kids bused over, so the campus could be given to James Weldon Johnson Middle School, a dedicated magnet.

Maybe the superintendent needs to do more study of the history of DCPS so he understands why he gets so much pushback, or as he expressed it to the Times-Union Editorial Board, “Reform is hard as hell.”

You cannot find more engaged parents and community members than those of Bronzeville, who are willing to starve themselves to death for the sake of their school.
These working groups: they should not meet to consider the ideas of the district. Their purpose should be to take the ideas of the superintendent and others as a starting point, but to develop their concepts for their schools. Should Northwestern be a vocational magnet or a school for the arts? Let the community decide!

One of the most frustrating things for Jacksonville parents and citizens is that they feel shut out. Give them the chance to shape their schools, and you will see engagement increase exponentially. If they shape the program, they will be invested in it and will make it a success.

That is the lesson of Bronzeville.

Oh, BTW: there is no difference between charter schools and public schools. They both offer the same programs and techniques. But charter schools (do the research), do not have local control. Despite state law, charter boards are mostly out-of-state. The people serve on multiple boards around the country.

Imagine a traditional public school system that honors that proviso. Community boards guide the schools.

Our enrollment crisis would disappear.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Times Union leaves out important details to cover for Vitti

Let me just get to it.

On the thirteenth the school board had a meeting and there was a terse exchange between the superintendent and a few board members. Connie Hall asked to meet with the general council to discuss the super and boards role.

That brings us to the Times Union's article.

“We’re talking about adults…It’s behavior you don’t expect from a person in that position,” Hall said.
She said the issue may be revisited in an upcoming board meeting.
However, Grymes said a board reprimand of Vitti is unlikely.
In an emailed response to Hall last week, she stated that she didn’t believe the issue merited legal review.
“Even though the conversation was spirited and, at times, emotional, we were able to come to an agreement that will allow us to revisit the time frame for the working group process,” she stated.
She maintained that position Friday “We do emotional work…Sometimes people don’t know how they come off.”
Grymes makes it sound like it was no big deal. The problem is Grymes was not actually at the meeting, sure she was there via phone but she was not actually in the room. In fact if you listen to the audio at one point Becki Couch asks if she was still there. 
Here is the audio of the exchange, start at the 21 minute mark.

Shouldn't the Times Union have talked to people actually at the meeting, I mean if they were interested in reporting accurately what happened that is. 

Dysfunction and disharmony on the Duval County School Board (rough draft)

At the October 13th school board meeting there were fireworks, fireworks that went uncovered by the local media which seems more interested in regurgitating the districts narrative rather than reporting and if I sound frustrated its because I am. Go ahead and start listening at the twenty-one minute mark (to about the 27:30 mark) and I will discuss when you get back.

I believe Wright's frustration with the super is well deserved. The super was willing to let an arcane rule made some twenty years ago disenfranchise large swathes of the community.

Just a reminder that Scott Shine and Jason Fischer despite the fact that none of their schools are involved with the supers proposal voted to limit public input over the pleas of he school board members who are potentially having schools affected. This is where the arcane rule comes in as a super majority are required to change a district policy, Cheryl Gyrmes was absent and did not vote.

You can hear the exasperation in Becki Couch's voice as she tells how Shine and Fischer didn't have the nerve to show up after they attempted to hijack the district.

This sadly is what happens when you have ideologues that want to dismantle our public schools, which Fischer and Shine are rather than people who love and want to improve them on our board.

At the end of the day the super's I was just following orders the rules runs hollow. Even Ashley Smith-Juarez seemed to dismiss his assertion.

I just want to add, I am a bit of a school board wonk and have closely followed the board for nearly a decade and I have never seen it this bad.  

Scott Shine and Jason Fischer do the district a disservice.

And don't take my word for it, listen to Becki Couch at the 26:05 mark

These two board members are despicable. They don't care out our schools or children and shame on their communities for electing them. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

School working groups should have reservations about Vitti's sincerity.

Working groups are groups established by schools to discuss changes that the superintendent has suggested. In case you missed it the super has suggested radically changing seventeen mostly inner city schools on the towns west and north sides. The working groups are supposed to discuss the plans and come up with recommendations which could include to do nothing.

This is what he said about the proposed changes in the Times Union,  I’m not going into this process believing everything in the recommendations needs to be done,”

So I asked him, what suggestions he thought the district definitely needs, he liked and which one he was just throwing out there.

He said all the ideas were important, well thought out and he hopes they pass. He however wanted to make sure the communities effected have a say and if any had reservations he would respect them.

That sounds great doesn't it. A super attuned to the needs of the communities he represents.

Except if past is prologue the the super has a long history of ignoring communities.

Last Summer the First Coast Community rose up and demanded the super remove principal Brennan. The super said, Brennans one of our best and he will stay at First Coast.

Last year the superintendent required some schools to get an extra hour of reading above and beyond what is required by law despite several school communities protesting.

Then his first summer here the John E. Ford community begged him to let them keep their new principals and those cries fell on deaf ears.

Vitti time and time has ignored communities, why should we believe things will be different with the working groups?

Is Vitti the king of our schools or the superintendent of them? (rough draft)

First let me applaud the superintendent for this listening tour and encourage more citizens to come out and ask questions.

At this last one, I reminded the superintendent about what he said on the radio program First Coast Connect about play. "I have given schools the flexibility and teachers the flexibility, saying this on the air so everyone hears it, all you parents, if a teacher believes it is time to take kids outside to run around and to expend that energy they have the flexibility to do that."

I asked him if he would be willing to let the teachers and principals of the district know that and to make sure that principals didn't impose repercussions on teachers that wanted to take their kids out.

He said that as a father of young children he believed in play and then went onto tell a story about how earlier in the week it was one of his children's birthdays and he and his wife showed up with non healthy snacks and his child's class got to go out and play and how nobody got in trouble.

I think that's great, I think things like that should happen often but the superintendent  has to know if Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones showed up with some non healthy snacks at most schools and wanted their child's class to go out and play it probably wouldn't happen. It's almost like he is deaf to the plight of all the rest of the children in the district. His kids get parties and to go out to play and he started a special school to serve his child with dyslexia, while other parents and children around the district just have to take it.

Maybe that's about to change a little bit. 

Kids should be allowed to go out and play and the super has said he will let the district's principals and teachers know that they will be allowed to, he said if I think my kids need it then other kids do too. hopefully he will start to think about what other kids need even if his don't.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Times Union to parents, stop complaining you have no idea what you are talking about.

That was the gist anyways in a piece about how parents are concerned about the new math curriculum.
The reporter sited several district coaches and teachers that said, settle down, it may take time (years one teacher said) but we are on the right track.
The Times union must have found the only four teachers in the district that like the new Common Core engage Ny curriculum as I hear constantly that it is between a disaster and not so great.
With just a minimal effort the Times Union could have presented an alternate point of view that showed many teachers are frustrated with the new curriculum as well but instead of choosing to inform the people of Jacksonville they chose to parrot the district’s all is well message, and like the district they are doing our kids a disservice.
To read the TU piece click the link:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

School Accountability (Exposing the Lie)

By Greg Sampson 

One of the biggest arguments made for the regime of standardized assessment by the States, for the State, of the State’s people, is that we must have school accountability. Without the BS test (Big Standardized test, credit to Peter Greene, Curmudgucation, for coining the term), how will we know whether schools are any good?

We must have school accountability.

Without the test, there is no accountability.

Which must come as a great surprise to the accreditation agencies that have been reviewing schools since the mid-20th century and longer. Even the federal government keeps track and gives its “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” to the agencies that meet its demands. (

Unlike the school grading process inaugurated in Florida under then-Governor Jeb Bush, which relies mostly upon one standardized test result and a few other criteria constantly under revision, the purpose of which is to maintain whatever narrative the Florida Department of Education wants to trumpet to the media, the accreditation process takes place over months. At its culmination, a team of professional educators (unlike the amateurs consisting of politicians, do-gooder philanthropist businesspersons, and anyone else who thinks that having gone to school as a student makes them more of an expert than people who have actual experience teaching) visits each school to observe classes, meet with the administration, talk to teachers and students, review work, and assess the learning environment. Afterward, they review the evidence they acquired and determine whether to continue to give the school accreditation.

It is a serious process. Teams of stakeholders (admins, teachers, parents, and more) meet for months in advance of the visit to make sure everything is up to scratch. If not, corrections are made.

Accreditation is not automatic. In a decision that is still remembered today, Duval County Public Schools lost its accreditation in the 1960s:

It was a galvanizing action. City leaders reacted, the loss was a major motivation behind the city/county consolidation, and after that became a reality, the schools received the necessary support and gained back the accreditation they needed.

Accreditation is a rigorous process.

We have school accountability through the accreditation process. We do not need a flawed, invalid, unreliable test manipulated by bureaucrats, politicians, and profiteers. We do not need a school report card like the one Florida inflicted upon the nation.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Jason Fischer takes nearly 73 thousand dollars from special interests

Without comment

Citizens/groups with charter and/or voucher ties
2015   M1       01/01/2015       250.00    CHISHOLM JOSEPH                13760 DEER CHASE PLACE                   JACKSONVILLE, FL 32224                   EDUCATION
2014   M12      12/23/2014     1,000.00  DEVOS, JR RICHARD              126 OTTAWA AVENUE NW, STE 500            GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49503                   INVESTOR
 2014   M12      12/22/2014       250.00 SHANAHAN KATHLEEN              2625 WEST SUNSET DRIVE                   TAMPA, FL 33629                          CONSTRUCTION
2014   M12      12/29/2014       500.00   BRADSHAW PAUL                  1345 DUPONT RD                           HAVANA, FL 32333                         ATTORNEY      
2015   M3       03/16/2015       500.00    BRADSHAW PAUL                  1345 DUPONT RD                           HAVANA, FL 32333                         ATTORNEY
2014   M12      12/29/2014       500.00   WEBB STACEY                    3789 OVERLOOK DRIVE                      TALLAHASSEE, FL 32311                    PUBLIC AFFAIRS
2015   M2       02/05/2015     1,000.00   JEFFERSON MONROE CONSULTING LL        2031 MISTY HOLLOW RD     TALLAHASSEE, FL 32312   GOVERNMENTAL CONSULT
2015   M2       02/26/2015       594.39    GRAY ROBINSON      50 NORTH LAURA STREET, SUITE 1100        JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202         LAW FIRM             INK FOOD
2015   M2       02/27/2015       100.00    BERGOSH JEFF             5905 FOREST RIDGE CIRCLE                 PENSACOLA, FL 32526                      ATTORNEY           
2015   M3       03/02/2015       500.00    LEONHARDT FREDERICK       1317 SPRING LAKE DR            ORLANDO, FL 32804                        BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
2015   M3       03/25/2015       250.00    HAWKES PAUL                    ***************                          **************                           ATTORNEY
2015   M3       03/25/2015       500.00    MITCHELL PAUL         3876 W. MILLERS BRIDGE RD                TALLAHASSEE, FL 32312                    ATTORNEY                                   
2015   M3       03/25/2015       600.00    SPARTAN STRATEGIES, LLC        317 EAST PARK AVENUE            TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301                    PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONSU
2015   M8       08/31/2015       250.00    GRYMES JR. WARREN              3667 SPINNAKER COURT                     JACKSONVILLE, FL 32277                   NON-PROFIT
2015   M4       04/01/2015       500.00    FLORIDA CONSERVATIVE ALLIANCE            2640-A MITCHAM DRIVE         TALLAHASSEE, FL 32309      POLITICAL COMMITTEE
2015   M2       02/11/2015     1,000.00   WORKING FOR FLORIDA'S FAMILIES          2640-A MITCHAM DRIVE       TALLAHASSEE, FL 32308        POLITICAL COMMITTEE
2014   M12      12/10/2014       500.00   SHINE SCOTT                    4390 RICHMOND PARK DR. E.                JACKSONVILLE, FL 32224                   REAL ESTATE
2015   M4       04/01/2015       500.00    FLORIDA CONSERVATIVE ALLIANCE            2640-A MITCHAM DRIVE       TALLAHASSEE, FL 32309       POLITICAL COMMITTEE
2015   M1       01/05/2015       500.00    FLORIDIANS PAC                 612 S WEST ST                            GREEN CV SPGS, FL 32043                  POLITICAL COMMITTEE
2015   M1       01/05/2015       500.00    COMMITTEE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOP       818 AIA N SUITE 208        PONTE VEDRA, FL 32082          POLITICAL COMMITTEE
2015   M2       02/11/2015     1,000.00   WORKING FOR FLORIDA'S FAMILIES 2640-A MITCHAM DRIVE        TALLAHASSEE, FL 32308            POLITICAL COMMITTEE
2015   M5       05/29/2015     1,000.00   THE VESTCOR COMPANIES, INC.    3030 HARTLEY ROAD, SUITE 310             JACKSONVILLE, FL 32257       REAL ESTATE                        
2015   M5       05/29/2015     1,000.00   TVC DEVELOPMENT INC.           3030 HARTLEY ROAD, SUITE 310             JACKSONVILLE, FL 32257     DEVELOPER  
2015   M8       08/31/2015     1,000.00   COMMITTEE FOR A STRONGER FLORI 115 EAST PARK AVENUE, SUITE 1            TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301                    PAC   
2014   M12      12/11/2014     1,000.00 HALVERSON STEVE                111 RIVERSIDE AVENUE                     JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202                   ENGINEERING
2014   M12      12/11/2014     1,000.00 STELLAR           2900 HARTLEY ROAD                        JACKSONVILLE, FL 32257                   ENGINEERING
2015   M6       06/29/2015       100.00    FOSTER JR ROBERT               ***************                          **************                           POLITICAL CONSULTANT
2014   M12      12/19/2014     1,000.00 CRYSTAL FREED                  3826 REEDPOND DR N                       JACKSONVILLE, FL 32223                   HOMEMAKER
2014   M12      12/23/2014     1,000.00 BOSTON FINANCE GROUP, LLC      4912 CREEKSIDE DRIVE      CLEARWATER, FL 33760             FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT                  
2014   M12      12/23/2014     1,000.00 GRAVITAS TECH LLC         4912 CREEKSIDE DRIVE                     CLEARWATER, FL 33760                     FINANCIAL INVESTMENT             
2014   M12      12/23/2014     1,000.00 GRAVITAS II, LLC               4912 CREEKSIDE DRIVE                     CLEARWATER, FL 33760                     PRIVATE EQUITY       CHE                       
2014   M12      12/23/2014     1,000.00 AUSTIN COLBY COMPANY           4912 CREEKSIDE DRIVE           CLEARWATER, FL 33760          MANAGEMENT SERVICES                    
2014   M12      12/23/2014     1,000.00 BOSTON CAPITAL LEASING, LLC    4912 CREEKSIDE DRIVE            CLEARWATER, FL 33760                     FINANCIAL SERVICES  
2014   M12      12/23/2014       500.00   CUMBER HUSEIN                  2325 RIVER RD                            JACKSONVILLE, FL 32207                   TRANSPORTATION                          
2014   M12      12/23/2014       500.00   H.A. CUMBER & COMPANY, INC     2325 RIVER RD                            JACKSONVILLE, FL 32207                   TRANSPORTATION  
2015   M3       03/12/2015       500.00    FLORIDA EAST COAST INDUSTRIES, 4601 TOUCHTON ROAD EAST, Bldg 300, S     JACKSONVILLE, FL 32246       RAILROAD
2014   M12      12/29/2014     1,000.00 GREY DANE        76 SOUTH LAURA ST., SUITE 1702           JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202                   TRANSPORTATION
2014   M12      12/30/2014     1,000.00 MESKEL & ASSOCIATES ENGINEERIN           8936 WESTERN WAY, SUITE 12      JACKSONVILLE, FL 32256          ENGINEERING
2015   M2       02/09/2015       250.00    MESKEL TINA                    8936 WESTERN WAY                         JACKSONVILLE, FL 32256                   ENGINEERING
2014   M12      12/30/2014       500.00   MAINOCEAN PORT SERVICES, LLC   1814 INDUSTRIAL BLVD.      JACKSONVILLE, FL 32254         MARINE CARGO HANDLIN
2014   M12      12/30/2014        50.00    SHAH DIPA                      2305 DOVEWOOD ESTATES COURT              VALRICO, FL 33594                        ATTORNEY
2015   M2       02/01/2015     1,000.00   THINK GROUP MEDIA, INC.        PO BOX 11254                             SAINT PETERSBURG, FL 33733               MEDIA
2015   M9       09/14/2015     1,000.00   FIRST COAST CONSERVATIVES      115 EAST PARK AVENUE, SUITE 1     TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301      POLITICAL COMMITTEE
2015   M1       01/23/2015     1,000.00   W.W. GAY MECHANICAL CONTRACTOR 524 STOCKTON ST.      JACKSONVILLE, FL 32204      MECHANICAL CONTRACTO
Contributes to multiple School Choice Groups
2015   M3       03/13/2015     1,000.00   FLOIRDA BLUE                   PO BOX 2210                              JACKSONVILLE, FL 32203                   INSURANCE
2014   M12      12/19/2014     1,000.00 EVERINSURANCE                  P.O.BOX 40766                            JACKSONVILLE, FL 32203                   INSURANCE                              
2014   M12      12/19/2014     1,000.00 EVERBANK FINANCIAL CORP        P.O.BOX 40766                            JACKSONVILLE, FL 32203                   FINANCIAL SERVICES  
2014   M12      12/19/2014     1,000.00 ELITE LENDER SERVICES          P.O.BOX 40766                            JACKSONVILLE, FL 32203                   INSURANCE
2015   M7       07/29/2015       500.00    AT&T SOUTH FLORIDA PAC    150 SOUTH MONROE STREET, SUITE 400   TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301    POLITICAL COMMITTEE               
2015   M7       07/29/2015       500.00    AT&T FLORIDA PAC       150 SOUTH MONROE STREET, SUITE 400       TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301     POLITICAL COMMITTEE
FL Consortium of Public Charter Schools
2014   M12      12/22/2014     1,000.00 MOUNTAIN MOVING STRATEGIES, IN   7367 WATER DANCE WAY          LAKE WORTH, FL 33467          STRATEGY PLANNING  
2014   M12      12/22/2014     1,000.00 ARZA CONSULTING GROUP INC.     7367 WATER DANCE WAY                     LAKE WORTH, FL 33467
Charter School of Excelence
2015   M2       02/17/2015     1,000.00   HAAG BOB                       807 W. PLANTATION CIRCLE                 PLANTATION, FL 33324                     EDUCATION
Florida Charter School Alliance
2014   M12      12/09/2014     1,000.00 THE HORNE GROUP                P.O.BOX 8339                             FLEMING ISLAND, FL 32006            BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
2014   M12      12/30/2014     1,000.00 HORNE JIM                      2117 LAKESHORE DRIVE NORTH               FLEMING ISLAND, FL 32003                 SENATOR
2014   M12      12/29/2014     1,000.00 STRATEGOS PUBLIC AFFAIR, LLC   5550 W EXECUTIVE DRIVE, SUITE 550        TAMPA, FL 33609                    PUBLIC AFFAIR       
Charter School USA
2014   M12      12/18/2014      1,000.00     CHARTER SCHOOLS USA INC.     800 CORPORATE DRIVE, SUITE 124       FT. LAUDERDALE, FL 33334     EDUCATION            
2014   M12      12/18/2014      1,000.00     RED APPLE DEVELOPMENT, LLC    800 CORPORATE DRIVE, SUITE 124    FT. LAUDERDALE, FL 33334           CONSTRUCTION 
2015   M6       06/18/2015     1,000.00   HAGE JONATHAN                  2841 NE 38TH ST.                         FT LAUDERDALE, FL 33308                  EDUCATION                                 
2015   M6       06/18/2015     1,000.00   HAGE SHERRY                    2841 NE 38TH ST.                         FT LAUDERDALE, FL 33308                  EDUCATION
2014   M12      12/30/2014     1,000.00  TRAVIESA TREY                  943 HARBOUR BAY DRIVE                    TAMPA, FL 33602                          INVESTOR
2014   M12      12/29/2014     1,000.00  V3 PARTNERS, LLP               5550 W EXECUTIVE DRIVE, SUITE 550        TAMPA, FL 33609                          VENTURE CAPITAL
2015   M2       02/01/2015       500.00    CIGNA POL ACTION COMMITTEE     1601 CHESTNUT STREET, TL16B       PHILADELPHIA, PA 19192           HEALTHCARE
Charter Schools Development Group LLC
2014   M12      12/22/2014     1,000.00     SUMMIT CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT     421 SOUTH SUMMERLIN AVENUE     ORLANDO, FL 32801      CONSTRUCTION        
Larry Williams Consulting- consults for charter schools
2015   M2       02/25/2015       150.00    WILLIAMS LARRY            2754 EASTWIND DRIVE              FERNANDINA BEACH, FL 32034               EDUCATION CONSULTING
2015   M2       02/25/2015       150.00    LARRY WILLIAMS CONSULTING LLC           2754 EASTWIND DRIVE  FERNANDINA BEACH, FL 32034      EDU CONSULTING
2014   M12      12/30/2014       100.00   WILLIAMS LARRY      2754 EASTWIND DRIVE          FERNANDINA BEACH, FL 32034               PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONSU
2014   M12      12/30/2014       100.00   LARRY WILLIAMS CONSULTING LLC           2754 EASTWIND DRIVE          FERNANDINA BEACH, FL 32034         PUBLIC AFFAIRS   
KIPP Charter School
2014   M12      12/29/2014     500.00      MAJDANICS THOMAS      1479 EDGEWOOD AVENUE SOUTH       JACKSONVILLE, FL 32205               NON-PROFIT EXECUTIVE
2015   M6       06/30/2015       250.00    MAJDANIS THOMAS                1479 EDGEWOOD AVE S                      JACKSONVILLE, FL 32205                   EDUCATION   
2014   M12      12/11/2014     1,000.00 CHARTRAND GARY                 139 PONTE VEDRA BLVD                     PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL 32082              INVESTOR                       
2014   M12      12/11/2014     1,000.00 CHARTRAND NANCY                139 PONTE VEDRA BLVD                     PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL 32082              HOMEMAKER
2014   M12      12/08/2014     1,000.00    NORCROSS GARY                  4548 ORTEGA ISLAND DR N                  JACKSONVILLE, FL 32210                   FINANCIAL SERVICES
2014   M12      12/10/2014     1,000.00       BAKER JOHN                     200 W FORSYTH ST FL 7                    JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202                   TRANSPORTATION
2015   M9       09/25/2015       244.34    FLORIDA FOUNDATION FOR LIBERTY 115 E. PARK AVE, SUITE 1         TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301        POLITICAL COMMITTEE
2014   M12      12/10/2014     1,000.00 BAKER TED              200 WEST FORSYTH STREET, SUITE 1200      JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202                   MATERIALS COMPANY   
2014   M12      12/10/2014     1,000.00  BAKER TOM                      503 PONTE VEDRA BLVD.                    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL 32082              TRANSPORTATION
2015   M7       07/10/2015       500.00    VULCAN MATERIALS COMPANY FLORI          1200 URBAN CENTER DRIVE                  BIRMINGHAM, AL 35242                     PAC 
2015   M6       06/29/2015       500.00    THE FIORENTINO GROUP     31 W ADAMS STREET, SUITE 204         JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202      GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
2015   M6       06/29/2015       500.00    JAXPAC                31 W ADAMS STREET, SUITE 204             JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202                   POLITICAL ACTION PAR
2014   M12      12/08/2014       500.00   THE FLORENTINO GROUP      31 W ADAMS STREET, SUITE 204       JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202        BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
2015   M1       01/15/2015     1,000.00   CAPITOL INSIGHT, LLC       301 S. BRONOUGH STREET, SUITE 500        TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301      PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONSU
2015   M2       02/03/2015       250.00    BUSH JOHN ELLIS                100 ANDALUSIA AVENUE                     CORAL GABLES, FL 33134                   INVESTOR
2014   M12      12/03/2014       500.00   SKB CONSULTING GROUP           317 E PARK AVE         TALLAHASSEE, FL 32301             MANAGEMENT CONSULTIN
2014   M12      12/01/2014     1,000.00 RUMMELL PETER                  2538 RIVER ROAD                          JACKSONVILLE, FL 32207                   REAL ESTATE    
2014   M12      12/05/2014     1,000.00 WEAVER WAYNE                   2358 RIVERSIDE AVE                       JACKSONVILLE, FL 32204                   RETAIL DISTRIBUTOR
2014   M12      12/05/2014     1,000.00 DAR GROUP INVESTMENTS INC.     501 RIVERSIDE AVENUE, SUITE 900      JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202      INVESTMENTS
2014   M12      12/05/2014     1,000.00 WDW AVIATION INC.              1 ALLTEL STADIUM PL              JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202         MANAGEMENT SERVICES
2015   M1       01/13/2015     1,000.00   PETWAY III THOMAS              375 ATLANTIC BLVD, SUITE 200             ATLANTIC BEACH, FL 32233                 INSURANCE
2015   M7       07/28/2015       500.00    HASKELL PRESTON H.             111 RIVERSIDE AVE.                       JACKSONVILLE, FL 32202                   ENGINEERING 
2015   M7       07/29/2015     1,000.00   NORCROSS AMANDA                4548 ORTEGA ISLAND DR N                  JACKSONVILLE, FL 32210                   HOMEMAKER
Step Up For Students
2014   M12      12/17/2014     1,000.00 KIRTLEY JOHN                   511 WEST BAY STREET, SUITE 350           TAMPA, FL 33606                          INVESTOR
2014   M12      12/18/2014       250.00   URETEK HOLDINGS, INC.          4759 DRANE FIELD ROAD                    LAKELAND, FL 33811              SINK HOLE REMEDIATION
2015   M3       03/06/2015        73.00     FISCHER JASON        2630 STONEGATE DRIVE        JACKSONVILLE, FL 32223         ENGINEER        INK CARDS & POSTAGES
2014   M12      12/04/2014       100.00   FISCHER JASON                  2630 STONEGATE DRIVE                     JACKSONVILLE, FL 32223                   ENGINEER
ALS – works with  charter school in jax
2015   M8       08/31/2015     1,000.00      ALS EDUCATION, INC.            2636 ELM HILL PIKE, SUITE 500            NASHVILLE, TN 37214                      EDUCATION        
2015   M8       08/31/2015       500.00    BRAMAN BARBARA                 1034 KINGSLEY RD                         RYDAL, PA 19046                          EDUCATION
2015   M8       08/31/2015       500.00    ENGEMAN J. GREG                1302 GOLFSIDE DR.                        WINTER PARK, FL 32792                    EDUCATOR
2015   M8       08/31/2015     1,000.00   RICHARDSON RANDLE              2636 ELM HILL PIKE STE 500               NASHVILLE, TN 37214                      ATTORNEY       
PAVE Accademy
2014   M12      12/17/2014     1,000.00 GERSON RICHARD                 260 PARK AVENUE SOUTH APT. PHB           NEW YORK, NY 10010 INVESTOR
2014   M12      12/22/2014     1,000.00  GRIFFIN JOHN                   660 MADISON AVENUE                       NEW YORK, NY 10065            INVESTOR

= $72,861.73