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madfloridian

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 83,372

About Me

Retired teacher who sees much harm to public education from the "reforms" being pushed by corporations. Privatizing education is the wrong way to go. Children can not be treated as products, thought of in terms of profit and loss.

Journal Archives

FL Republican House does what Democrats should be doing all around the country.

Their motives are most likely not pure ones, but it will take some of the pressure off students, teachers, and parents.

They are cutting back on the testing and lowering the percentage of a teacher's evaluation that comes from the test. Whatever their motives right now, I say good for them.

That does not make me a disloyal Democrat. It means our Democrats have stubbornly continued pursuing a very flawed education policy.


Florida House votes to scale back school testing

TALLAHASSEE — The House unanimously approved legislation Wednesday aimed at lowering the number and importance of tests administered to Florida public-school students, shifting debate on this year's highest-profile education issue to the Senate.

Lawmakers voted 115-0 to pass the bill (HB 7069), which would eliminate an 11th-grade language arts test, bar final exams in classes for which the state or a local school district has end-of-course tests and make a college-readiness test given to some students optional.

The measure would also reduce how much of a teacher's evaluation is tied to student performance, from 50 percent to a third, and provide local districts more flexibility when it comes to testing.

"With the passage of this legislation, we have addressed legitimate concerns about student testing while maintaining a strong accountability system that promotes quality instruction in the classroom, increasing transparency to provide clear and consistent information, and maximizing flexibility for our local school districts," House Education Chairwoman Marlene O'Toole, R-Lady Lake, said in a statement issued after the vote.


This year's new tests have been a huge mess. The FLDOE seems unwilling to face reality about it. The state superintendent thinks it's fine that 90% of the students took it successfully. Not really concerned about the 10% who did not.

Florida flunked the test, failed the kids.

Imagine a 10th grade kid coming into class on test day, already stressing out, knowing his high school graduation hinges on test scores. He tries to log on. He can’t. Or he logs on, begins to take the test, but the computer crashes. Or the server fails. Some kids managed, amid the fits and starts, to finish the test on the allotted day. Others had to return and try again the next day. Some returned to a partially finished test. Others began anew.

Thousands of students in at least three dozen school districts suffered these intermittent computer failures. Yet their scores will be measured against results from schools and districts that weren’t up against these problems. Commissioner Pam Stewart, testifying last week before a state Senate education committee, said that the integrity of the results is dandy. At least I think that’s what she meant when she said, “We are certain that the content of the test is absolutely psychometrically valid and reliable.”

Perhaps Stewart could employ psychometrics to measure the frustration of school teachers, whose raises and perhaps their continued employment hinge on the outcome of this testing fiasco. Test scores belched out by computers that were outfitted with faulty software and breached by hackers — over and over again, according to the DOE — provide the basis for half the teacher performance evaluations. “If nothing is changed in the next 60 days by the Florida Legislature, this mess will provide the baseline for next year’s teacher salaries,” Fedrick Ingram, president of the United Teachers of Dade, told me Wednesday afternoon.

It’s not just the teachers’ unions begging legislators to take a time-out and fix the glitches before students, teachers and schools are subjected to the punitive consequences of unreliable testing. Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who called the testing regime “catastrophic,” asked the state for a two-year moratorium before forcing school districts to take these lousy numbers seriously.


Not just happening in Florida, happening all over the country.

Anxious to see what the state senate does.



Miami Herald's Fred Grimm: Florida flunked the test, failed the kids.

Crossposted at Daily Kos. Linked to Twitter

The Miami Herald's Fred Grimm said it very well the last week.

Fred Grimm: Florida flunked the tests and failed the kids

Imagine a 10th grade kid coming into class on test day, already stressing out, knowing his high school graduation hinges on test scores. He tries to log on. He can’t. Or he logs on, begins to take the test, but the computer crashes. Or the server fails. Some kids managed, amid the fits and starts, to finish the test on the allotted day. Others had to return and try again the next day. Some returned to a partially finished test. Others began anew.

Thousands of students in at least three dozen school districts suffered these intermittent computer failures. Yet their scores will be measured against results from schools and districts that weren’t up against these problems. Commissioner Pam Stewart, testifying last week before a state Senate education committee, said that the integrity of the results is dandy. At least I think that’s what she meant when she said, “We are certain that the content of the test is absolutely psychometrically valid and reliable.”

Perhaps Stewart could employ psychometrics to measure the frustration of school teachers, whose raises and perhaps their continued employment hinge on the outcome of this testing fiasco. Test scores belched out by computers that were outfitted with faulty software and breached by hackers — over and over again, according to the DOE — provide the basis for half the teacher performance evaluations. “If nothing is changed in the next 60 days by the Florida Legislature, this mess will provide the baseline for next year’s teacher salaries,” Fedrick Ingram, president of the United Teachers of Dade, told me Wednesday afternoon.

It’s not just the teachers’ unions begging legislators to take a time-out and fix the glitches before students, teachers and schools are subjected to the punitive consequences of unreliable testing. Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who called the testing regime “catastrophic,” asked the state for a two-year moratorium before forcing school districts to take these lousy numbers seriously.


He sums it up in one sentence in his last paragraph. He says "The rush job was ordered because it was politically expedient. It was about politics. Not about education."

Girl finished essay, there was no submit button. Essay was lost.

Today I got to see the frustration and anger on a kids face. She had finished her essay and was ready to submit, but there wasn’t a submit button. The test was saved and then paused. Moved to another computer. Logged in and …. Nothing. All her work was gone. Case opened with FSA. The young lady was really angry. Who could blame her? She refused to “rewrite the essay” or even “submit the test” which was now blank. This is where testing has gone too far. How many students have had to deal with this statewide?

From Orlando Sentinel reporter Leslie Postal: Florida’s new online testing system lost the writing exams of more than 300 Central Florida students who took the test this month. Most of the essays have since been recovered, but about 50 remain missing.

.....“The test was not hacked as the attackers never gained access. Since student responses were not accessed, there is no reason not to use the test results,” Meghan Collins, the department’s communications director, wrote in an email.

Collins repeatedly responded to questions about the validity of the tests by saying only that the department was “proud” that 90 percent of students had successfully taken the writing portions of the new assessments as of Friday.


One spokesperson said it was hacked, this one says it was not. I would not be trusting the scores if I had a child taking this test.

When did it become acceptable to boast that 90% of the students finished without problems?

The other 10% matter.


Caveon, Pearson's eye on internet...We "cast a really broad and deep net".

Crossposted in General Discussion and also linked to Twitter.

Of course many companies monitor the internet for remarks about their companies...for PR purposes.

But if it involves casting a deep net around students many of whom are minors and not keeping parents informed...that's a whole different matter.

Testing spies admit they “cast a really broad and deep net”

Bob Braun appears to be continuing to use the word "spy" on purpose I think. Pearson, PARCC and CaveOn were appalled at the use of the word.

New Jersey is paying nearly $100,000 to a Utah company to go through hundreds of thousands of social media postings to determine whether children are revealing anything about the PARCC tests. The company, Caveon Test Security, is a subcontractor to Pearson, the British-based publishing company.

Caveon will not, however, reveal how it links what it finds to specific students–like those in at least three New Jersey school districts who were caught up in the testing security dragnet. It also won’t say how many students it has snagged in New Jersey.


$100 million and the company won't answer to those who hired them?

The story generally tries to dismiss the importance of the revelation about Pearson’s monitoring of the social media posts of children, not only in New Jersey but in a dozen other states requiring students to take the PARCC tests. Despite the international reaction of shock and anger to the disclosures, the reporter refers to it as “not new or (sic) uncommon.”

Trust me, Mr. Clark, it is new to a lot of people, mostly parents of children who were unaware of it. I have heard from people throughout the world who, unlike you, do not believe it is not new nor uncommon.

But in downplaying the importance of a story it ignored for four days, the outlet—deliberately or not–all but missed a major piece to the spying puzzle. Some people–we don’t know who they are or how they were vetted or what their credentials are–is reading countless numbers of transmissions posted by children.


Caveon says they " use a bunch of different search technology (sic) to cast a really broad and deep net."

We know it is going on in Maryland as well.

The Brave New World of testing expands

No surprise, really–it’s happening everywhere, including Maryland where a state official said he gets daily reports from Pearson, the publisher of the standardized tests. on what students are saying about testing on their internet accounts.

“PARCC has a very sophisticated system that closely monitors social media for pretty much everything (comments like the one you shared, test item questions that students use cell phones cameras and take),” said Henry Johnson, the state assistant education commissioner in Maryland. The state, like New Jersey, has a contract with Pearson.
Henry R. Johnson, Jr. Henry R. Johnson, Jr.

“We get those reports daily.”


Back to the Watchung NJ monitoring problem:

At the Watchung Hills Regional High School district in Warren, three students were caught up in the “monitoring” and at least one of them was suspended. Elizabeth Jewett, the district’s superintendent, won’t say exactly what the students did to violate the rules so we don’t know what the students said and to whom.

Here’s the rub–school officials invoke student privacy concerns to prevent parents from finding out how the privacy of children is violated.

Jewett did write, in a private email to her colleagues, that one of the students singled out for special treatment by the New Jersey Department of Education/Pearson testing police, had twittered about the test after the end of the school day and had not taken a picture of the test question.

Caveon, Pearson's eye on internet...We "cast a really broad and deep net".

Of course many companies monitor the internet for remarks about their companies...for PR purposes.

But if it involves casting a deep net around students many of whom are minors and not keeping parents informed...that's a whole different matter.

Testing spies admit they “cast a really broad and deep net”

Bob Braun appears to be continuing to use the word "spy" on purpose I think. Pearson, PARCC and CaveOn were appalled at the use of the word.

New Jersey is paying nearly $100,000 to a Utah company to go through hundreds of thousands of social media postings to determine whether children are revealing anything about the PARCC tests. The company, Caveon Test Security, is a subcontractor to Pearson, the British-based publishing company.

Caveon will not, however, reveal how it links what it finds to specific students–like those in at least three New Jersey school districts who were caught up in the testing security dragnet. It also won’t say how many students it has snagged in New Jersey.


$100 million and the company won't answer to those who hired them?

The story generally tries to dismiss the importance of the revelation about Pearson’s monitoring of the social media posts of children, not only in New Jersey but in a dozen other states requiring students to take the PARCC tests. Despite the international reaction of shock and anger to the disclosures, the reporter refers to it as “not new or (sic) uncommon.”

Trust me, Mr. Clark, it is new to a lot of people, mostly parents of children who were unaware of it. I have heard from people throughout the world who, unlike you, do not believe it is not new nor uncommon.

But in downplaying the importance of a story it ignored for four days, the outlet—deliberately or not–all but missed a major piece to the spying puzzle. Some people–we don’t know who they are or how they were vetted or what their credentials are–is reading countless numbers of transmissions posted by children.


Caveon says they " use a bunch of different search technology (sic) to cast a really broad and deep net."

We know it is going on in Maryland as well.

The Brave New World of testing expands

No surprise, really–it’s happening everywhere, including Maryland where a state official said he gets daily reports from Pearson, the publisher of the standardized tests. on what students are saying about testing on their internet accounts.

“PARCC has a very sophisticated system that closely monitors social media for pretty much everything (comments like the one you shared, test item questions that students use cell phones cameras and take),” said Henry Johnson, the state assistant education commissioner in Maryland. The state, like New Jersey, has a contract with Pearson.
Henry R. Johnson, Jr. Henry R. Johnson, Jr.

“We get those reports daily.”


Back to the Watchung NJ monitoring problem:

At the Watchung Hills Regional High School district in Warren, three students were caught up in the “monitoring” and at least one of them was suspended. Elizabeth Jewett, the district’s superintendent, won’t say exactly what the students did to violate the rules so we don’t know what the students said and to whom.

Here’s the rub–school officials invoke student privacy concerns to prevent parents from finding out how the privacy of children is violated.

Jewett did write, in a private email to her colleagues, that one of the students singled out for special treatment by the New Jersey Department of Education/Pearson testing police, had twittered about the test after the end of the school day and had not taken a picture of the test question.

York PA schools temporarily saved from being turned over to underperforming FL charter company

Not long ago a judge handed over all city schools in York PA to a Florida charter company.

The owners actually had a yacht named Fishing for Schools.



In what appears to be a last-ditch effort to carry out a two-year-old plan to turn all of York’s schools over to for-profit charter corporation Charter Schools USA, Pennsylvania’s Department of Education filed a petition in a York County court earlier this month to take away almost all local control from the school board, and put the district in the “receivership” of state-appointed York education official David Meckley.

Meckley, a local businessman who once served on the board of a nearby school district, was appointed in 2012 to oversee York’s financially beleaguered school system under a 2012 law that allowed the state to appoint “recovery officers” for any school districts with significant debt. His plan for York involves a slew of concessions from the district, from teacher layoffs to extracurricular cutbacks. But the most controversial part is the handing over of the entire operation of the district to Charter Schools USA.

..... Charter schools are public schools that receive state tax dollars, but function with their own boards of directors and enjoy substantial independence from state and local regulations. Charter Schools USA is a for-profit company which operates 58 schools in several states, including Florida, for a combined 48,000 students, however, both Hage and Pozzuoli send their children to Pine Crest Schools – a private school located in Fort Lauderdale.

There are big dollars in those students numbers. If Hage and Pozzuoli make $100 off each of those 48,000 students, that would be a $4.8 million dollar annual payday.


Well, now David Meckley has resigned as recovery officer after many complaints.

Meckley resigns as recovery officer for York City schools

The York City School District's chief recovery officer resigned Friday, saying that the Wolf administration's opposition to converting schools to charters made it "impossible" to move forward.

David Meckley, who was appointed by the state in late 2012 to craft a plan for turning the district around financially and academically, said he submitted his letter of resignation to the education secretary on Friday afternoon.

Then, Gov. Tom Wolf took office and brought in a new education secretary.

The Wolf administration's "anti-charter position has made it impossible" to move forward with existing plans, Meckley said in a statement.

Meckley said in an interview that, around December, he, district administrators, the proposed charter board and some community leaders had crafted an alternative plan that involved a mix of district- and charter-run buildings. He said he had significant conversations with the Wolf administration about it, but "ultimately the position came down that charters are off the table."


Kudos to Governor Tom Wolf.

FL testing a mess. Girl finished essay, there was no submit button. Logged in on another computer..

essay was lost.

That is just one of the problems not being covered by our news media. These are the high stake tests that judge our students, teachers, and schools.

More from Bob Sikes Scathing Purple Musings blog.

Pam Stewart, FLDOE Are Keeping the Truth From Floridians on FSA Collapse

From an anonymous Florida teacher:

Today I got to see the frustration and anger on a kids face. She had finished her essay and was ready to submit, but there wasn’t a submit button. The test was saved and then paused. Moved to another computer. Logged in and …. Nothing. All her work was gone. Case opened with FSA. The young lady was really angry. Who could blame her? She refused to “rewrite the essay” or even “submit the test” which was now blank. This is where testing has gone too far. How many students have had to deal with this statewide?

From Orlando Sentinel reporter Leslie Postal: Florida’s new online testing system lost the writing exams of more than 300 Central Florida students who took the test this month. Most of the essays have since been recovered, but about 50 remain missing.


There should be none missing.

The Miami Herald adds more:

State ignores big question: Was student test fair?

“The test was not hacked as the attackers never gained access. Since student responses were not accessed, there is no reason not to use the test results,” Meghan Collins, the department’s communications director, wrote in an email.

Collins repeatedly responded to questions about the validity of the tests by saying only that the department was “proud” that 90 percent of students had successfully taken the writing portions of the new assessments as of Friday.

But critics argue that a post-test analysis is vital because the stakes of the results are so high. The test will be used to determine whether high schoolers can graduate, and whether teachers can keep their jobs.

Parents and educators have plenty of doubts after the sputtering launch of the Florida Standards Assessments, a new, tougher and highly controversial replacement for the old Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.


How about the other 10% like the student who could not find the Submit button and whose essay was lost?

There should be lots of outrage.

A Guide to Centrism

From Dave Belden at Tikkun Daily Blog 2009

Testing company Pearson, NJ, spying on social media of students taking PARCC tests.

This was reported by Bob Braun's Ledger but his blog is very slow tonight.

” Pearson, the multinational testing and publishing company, is spying on the social media posts of students–including those from New Jersey–while the children are taking their PARCC, statewide tests, this site has learned exclusively. The state education department is cooperating with this spying and has asked at least one school district to discipline students who may have said something inappropriate about the tests.


He posts communication from the Watchung Hills NJ superintendent:



Since his blog appears to be bogged down right now, there is more at Diane Ravitch's blog about it.

Breaking News! Bob Braun Reports that Pearson Is Spying on Social Media of Students Taking PARCC Tests

Pearson, the multinational testing and publishing company, is spying on the social media posts of students–including those from New Jersey–while the children are taking their PARCC, statewide tests, this site has learned exclusively. The state education department is cooperating with this spying and has asked at least one school district to discipline students who may have said something inappropriate about the tests.

This website discovered the unauthorized and hidden spying thanks to educators who informed it of the practice–a practice happening throughout the state and apparently throughout the country. The spying–or “monitoring,” to use Pearson’s word–was confirmed at one school district–the Watchung Hills Regional High School district in Warren by its superintendent, Elizabeth Jewett.

Jewett sent out an e-mail–posted here– to her colleagues expressing concern about the unauthorized spying on students. She said parents are upset and added that she thought Pearson’s behavior would contribute to the growing “opt out” movement.


The amazing battles between Rahm, Howard Dean. So glad Dean endorsed Rahm's opponent.

He may not admit it is payback, but I betcha deep down it is.

Not that fond of Chris Cillizza, but I did like his February article on this topic.

The long (and amazing) feud between Rahm Emanuel and Howard Dean

As it became clear on Tuesday night that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wasn't going to get the 50 percent he needed to avoid a runoff, a fiery statement landed in the Fix inbox.

It was from Democracy for America -- the liberal advocacy organization that grew out of Howard Dean's unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign. "Tonight, Chicago's progressives not only forced Rahm Emanuel to become the first mayor in Chicago history to face a primary run-off election, they also beat back his SuperPAC and its corporate funders' efforts to kneecap the Chicago City Council's progressive champions," said Jim Dean, brother of Howard and the head of DFA. "Rahm Emanuel and his corporate cronies have awoken a massive grassroots army across the city committed to ending his agenda of privatization, public school closings, and pension cuts."

..... Ridiculing the effort, Emanuel told Dean that he had seen no sign of it. "I know your field plan. It doesn't exist," he recalled saying. "I've gone around the country with these races. I've seen your people. There's no plan, Howard."

Democrats won everything that election and both Emanuel and Dean proclaimed victory. Many people assumed the feud was over. The two principals did everything they could to give that impression, meeting for lunch in April 2009 -- soon after Emanuel became chief of staff to newly-elected President Obama -- and insisting that any conflict had been squashed.


And from Lloyd Grove at The Daily Beast in 2011:

Once banned by top Obama staffers, the former DNC chairman has patched it up with the president

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean—who as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and then as an outside advocate for health-care reform, regularly annoyed President Obama’s lieutenants Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod—is apparently back in the good graces of the Obama White House.

....As White House chief of staff, Emanuel made sure to publicly humiliate Dean by banning him from the DNC announcement ceremony when Obama appointed Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as Dean’s replacement. Media guru Axelrod was equally scornful—and an April 2009 White House lunch did little to bury the hatchet.


Okay so posting about this is a little "divisive" as I am quite sure I will hear. But Rahm started it, and though I now often disagree with some of Dean's stances.....I am so glad to see that he endorsed Rahm's run-off opponent.

Rahm had no business cursing at Dean as he did.

Rahm in The Thumpin'...we have no base.

The relationship that epitomizes the rift between Emanuel and the party base is the congressman's tenuous partnership with Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean. As the book relates, Emanuel spent most of the campaign furious with Dean, whose Fifty State Strategy to build up party infrastructure nationwide he saw as little more than a way to throw money to the wind. In May 2006, Emanuel and Senator Charles Schumer, his counterpart in the Senate, met with Dean to ask for more money for their respective campaigns. Banging his hand on the table, Emanuel chided Dean's grassroots plan, "No disrespect, but some of us are arrogant enough, we come from Chicago, we think we know what it means to knock on a door. You're nowhere Howard. Your field plan is not a field plan. That's fucking bullshit." The two wouldn't speak again until election time.


Go Jesus “Chuy” Garcia...win that runoff.

Defunct Cleveland charter school faces $9.4 million suit from Ohio attorney general

Defunct Cleveland charter school faces $9.4 million suit from Ohio attorney general

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Attorney General Mike DeWine's office is suing to recover almost $2.6 million found to be illegally transferred from the now-defunct Lion of Judah Academy to people and businesses associated with running the Cleveland charter school.

The lawsuit, filed Monday against 19 individuals and businesses affiliated with the East Side charter school, also seeks more than $6.8 million in damages under the state's organized crime law.

Academy officials diverted nearly a third of the school's resources to other companies they controlled and also received bonuses and other financial perks, according to the lawsuit. Lion of Judah took in nearly $8.2 million in public funds between 2007 and 2013, when the academy was shut down, the lawsuit stated.

Meanwhile, the school itself continually languished in academic emergency - the institutional equivalent of an "F" - and legitimate debts were ignored, according to DeWine's lawsuit.


Last year the State Auditor's office released some of their shocking findings.

Lion of Judah Academy Owes $1.3 Million, Carl Shye Involved

The audits covered 2007-2010 and identified a total of $1,292,858 in findings for recovery. Included in the findings were practices known as “kickbacks” where administrators, including Romey Coles, Superintendent of the now closed Lion of Judah Academy, would receive monies from payments made to contracted companies.

One instance of “kickbacks” occurred when the academy made payments to Eclypse International, LLC, totaling $112,000. With the $112,000, Eclypse International made “kickback” payments to academy administrators totaling $43,500.

The audits identified a total of $1,170,116 in findings related to unlawful interests in public contracts. The audit also identified $89,495 in unsupported expenditures, $19,762 in unallowable expenditures and $13,485 in unsupported bank withdrawals.

...Carl Shye served as the academy’s treasurer during the 2008-09 audit. In 2012, Shye was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay more than $472,000 in restitution for a federal embezzlement charge related to his employment as treasurer for various community schools in Ohio.


Such a waste of taxpayer money that should have gone to learning.
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