EDUCATION POLICY & PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT UPDATE
CLASS SIZE REVISION MOVES AHEAD IN SENATE COMMITTEE
S002 and H7039 are identical bills that would allow schools to meet the constitutional class size requirement through an average class size calculation. The average class size in grades PK-3 would be 18, but would allow individual classrooms to have as many as 21 students. The average in grades 4-8 would be 22, with a maximum number of 27 students in any given classroom. For grades 9-12, the average would be 25, with up to 30 students allowed in any single classroom. The Senate version was approved by the Education PK-12 Committee by a vote of 6-1 earlier this week, and now moves to the Senate Policy & Steering Committee on Ways and Means. If approved by both houses, the measure would be put to Florida voters in the November 2010 general election.
* * * * *
APPOINTED SCHOOL BOARD PROPOSED FOR DUVAL COUNTY
The Duval County Charter Revision Commission has determined that its first education priority will be propose a major change in school board governance. The proposed changed would have school board members appointed by the mayor rather than elected by citizens. Under the new proposal, school board members would receive no salary. Direct mayoral control of of schools has not been practiced in Florida in the modern era, and whether or not such a governance plan is permitted under the Florida Constitution is still under debate.
* * * * *
ESEA REAUTHORIZATION HEARINGS REBOOTED (AGAIN)
In yet another attempt to kick-start the long-delayed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently referred to as No Child Left Behind), Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Education and Labor Committee announced new plans for a bipartisan revision of the massive federal education law. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the chairman of the committee, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the senior Republican of the committee, Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), the chairman of the subcommittee on elementary and secondary education, and Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE), the senior Republican of that subcommittee announced the new hearings would begin soon. The first hearing, scheduled for February 24, will concern charter schools.
U.S. House of Representatives
* * * * *
ANOTHER EFFORT TO REVISE NATIONAL SCIENCE STANDARDS BEGINS
As the headlong rush toward developing "common core standards" by a 48-state public-private consortium continues, a parallel effort by the National Research Council has begun. (The NRC provides Congress with science, technology and health policy advice under a congressional charter originally signed by President Lincoln.) The NRC is developing a framework for "next generation" standards for K-12 science education, and the panel is apparently working with the intent of reducing the scale and scope of the standards in favor of deeper understanding of the actual nature of science. Although this effort is technically separate from the effort of the Common Core Standards Initiative, there is considerable overlap in the influence of Achieve, Inc., which is heavily involved in both efforts. Achieve is a non-profit organization funded largely by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a consortium of other major technology, manufacturing, and insurance companies.
* * * * *
2009 BUNKUM AWARDS FOR WORST EDUCATIONAL "RESEARCH" ANNOUNCED
The Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC) is a collaborative effort by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Arizona State University. They regularly review major education studies, especially those generated by policy think tanks. This service provides a much-needed peer review to studies that otherwise usually escape this essential step in scholarship.
Each year, they issue "Bunkum Awards" to the worst studies released in the preceding year, and cite their many shortcomings. This effort seems important, given the many threats to the integrity of educational research. The awards are well worth a look by those concerned with good research and good public policy.
Education and the Public Interest Center
* * * * *
RUNNING THE NUMBERS
(1) Number of K-12 positions in Florida currently funded from federal stimulus funds: 25,921
(2) Number of Florida State Board of Education Rules that will be considered for revision at the Board's March 16th meeting: 20
(3) Percentage of U.S. school districts currently connected to the Internet: 100
(4) Percentage of U.S. school districts with written policies on student use of social networking sites: 76
(5) Percentage of U.S. school districts that require teachers to be trained in the use of Internet resources for instruction: 15
(1) U.S. Department of Education http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/spending/arra-program-summary2.pdf
(2) Florida State Board of Education https://app1.fldoe.org/rules/default.aspx
(3, 4, 5) NCES http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2010/2010003.pdf