May 6, 2011
(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Keep reading the story past all the complaints about cuts…
While praising Orange educators, Weingarten, a former New York City teachers-union leader, was sharply critical of the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott, whom she accused of taking “a wrecking ball” to the academic progress Florida has made.
Though not all teachers agreed with all facets of the state’s reform efforts in the past decade — pushed initially by former Gov. Jeb Bush — most embraced the effort to improve public education, she said.
And across the country, Florida gained notice for improved test scores, better national rankings and winning a share of the federal Race to the Top grant last year.
“There was a real sense of Florida schools moving in the right direction,” she said.
Ok- so let me catch my breath here.
The story seems to be Florida used to be making progress, but now that the housing bubble crash is forcing spending cuts and Florida law is no longer going to treat teachers as interchangeable widgets, it is all going to fall to pieces.
“Not all teacher agreed with all facets” is a true statement. It would also be true to say that “teacher union leaders opposed almost all facets” of the reforms and that the NAEP has revealed their opposition to have been utterly and totally indefensible.
Sorry Randi- as Jay has noted, teacher union leaders have approximately the same level of credibility on education reform as tobacco executives have on cancer research. If you didn’t dislike the latest reforms, there would be something wrong with them.
April 29, 2010
(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Today is the final day of session in Arizona, and I am thrilled to say that it looks like major pieces of the Florida reform cocktail will be passing. These include grading schools A-F based on student test scores and growth, alternative teacher certification, 3rd grade social promotion curtailment, expanding sources for charter school authorization, and increasing the size, transparency and accountability for our scholarship tax credit program. Arizona lawmakers also passed a provision specifying that school districts cannot use length of service as the sole criteria when laying off teachers during a reduction in force.
Governor Bush and Patricia Levesque spent their valuable time here in Arizona last October in a series of events, and Patricia came back a few months ago to do followup meetings with key players. Key philanthropic leaders stepped up to the plate with both their money and their personal time. Governor Brewer and her staff prioritized Florida reforms in her State of the State address, and the Chairmen of the Senate and House Education committees, Senator John Huppenthal and Rep. Rich Crandall, personally introduced the centerpiece bills. Many of the bills gathered strong bipartisan support.
We have many miles to go in Arizona. Our NAEP scores have been below the national average 36 out of the last 36 exams. We aim to change that, and we know it isn’t going to happen overnight, and that much hard work lies ahead. We’ve taken the first steps to turning our illiteracy crisis around, and I am enormously grateful to all of the many people who helped make this happen!